Luang Prabang is an extremely easy place to navigate and get around. By crossing the bamboo footbridge, we are close to the town center, a few blocks from the Mekong, and close to the tip of the peninsula. There is a lovely fusion of asian and colonial architecture and the town is well preserved and maintained. Sidewalks and relatively little traffic make for easy sightseeing.
The many pagodas or “Vat” in Luang Prabang, which are considered to be among the most sophisticated Buddhist temples in Southeast Asia, are richly decorated. The 16thC Wat Xieng Thong comprises a number of the most complex and beautiful structures of all the pagodas of the town.
Located in northern Laos, and surrounded by lush, green mountains, the town was built on a peninsula formed by the Mekong and Nam Khan River. Legends related to the creation of the city include one that the Buddha “would have smiled when he rested there during his travels, prophesying that it would one day be the site of a rich and powerful city.” Luang Prabang (“Royal Buddha Image”) has a long history dating back to the 7th century. From the 14th to 16th century Luang Prabang was, in fact, the capital (known as Xieng Thong) of the powerful kingdom of Lane Xang (Kingdom of a Million Elephants). Its strategic location on the Silk Route wielded wealth and influence in those times. After the colonization by the french in 1893, Luang Prabang once again became the royal and religious capital, and remained so until Ventiane became the administrative capital in 1946 following their independence in 1945.