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LUANG PRABANG
 

     Luang Prabang is the ancient capital city of the Lane Xang kingdom. According to legend, its first name was Muang Swa. Later it was known as Xieng Thong. In recognition of the city's vast array of Lao monuments and its historic and culturally significant setting, UNESCO declared Luang Prabang as a World Heritage Site in 1995.
Luang Prabang is situated at the confluence of the Khan and Mekong rivers. It is surrounded by green hills and impresses travellers with its gleaming temple roofs and crumbling French architecture. Luang Prabang offers a numerous attractions.


Vat Xiengthong: with roofs that sweep low to the ground. Vat Xieng Thong, built in 1560, represents classic local temple architecture richly decorated as well as the rnosaic setting on red background on the walls. Its sim (chapel) has a notable roof sweeping low to the ground. Other interesting temples are Vat Wisunalat, Vat Aham and Vat That Luang.

Phousi Hill: The town is dominated by the Phou Si hill; getting up to the top takes 328 steps. On its slopes several vats can be visited, and it is peaked by a 24-metre high stupa, That Chomsi. The top of Phousi affords astonishing views, especially during the serene sunsets which are characteristic of Luang Prabang.

Former's King Palace ( National Museum ): The Royal Palace Museum was constructed 1904- 1909 as King Sisavang Vong's palace. These days it functions as a museum. It houses the royal throne and some interesting royal artefacts. The building itself features a mixture of French beaux-arts styles and traditional Lao motifs. The ground floor of the museum is divided into several halls and rooms in which are displayed gifts from other countries to the Lao Kings and collections of swords and Budda images. The room to right of the entry, hall, once the King's reception room has walls covered with large-scale murals painted in 1930 by the French artist Alix de Fautereau. They depict scenes from traditional Laos life. A room in the rear of the former palace contains a small collection of traditional musical instruments and dancers' masks used for performances of the great Indian and Southeast Asia epic the Ramayana.

Pak Ou Cave: Equally fascinating are the Pak Ou caves which can be reached by a 2-hour boat trip (30 km) upstream from Luang Prabang. They are located within the steep rock-cliff, which rises vertically from the waters of the Mekong River at the point where it meets with the Nam Ou River. The lower cave, called Tham Ting, and the upper cave, Tham Prakachay, shelter numerous Buddha images of varying styles, ages and sizes, which have been brought to the cave by generations of Buddhists.

The visit is combined with a stopover to see the rice wine distillation at Ban Xanghai. After visiting the caves, picnic lunch will be served at the bamboo cottage on the river overlooking its beautiful sceneries on the confluence between the Mekong and Ou rivers.

Hmong village: Can be visited during a full day excursion on the dusty road by four wheel-drive vehicles.

Khouangxi Waterfall: The spectacular Kuang Si waterfall is situated 29 km south of Luang Prabang deep in the forest. The waters tumble over multi-tiered limestone formations into several cools, turquoise-green pools ideal for relaxation and swimming. Nearby, visit to Kmu minority village is foreseen.

Bane Pak Ou: On the eastern bank of the Mekong river opposite the caves of Tam Ting is Bane Pak Ou. It is a fishing village that regularly supplies fish to the market in Luang Prabang. The village grow rice in the paddy fields behind the village. The village is a peaceful place with a thriving elementary, school small shops sell among other things sweets and bottled drinks.

Laos New Year in Luang Prabang It is held every year. In 2000 it will take place on April 13-14-15 and occurs during the hottest time of the year when the symbolic renewal of washing, played out by ceremonial washing of the Buddha images in the temples and people chasing and drenching each other with water, is physically refreshing to all celebrants of the New Year in Luang Prabang. Enjoy festive parades through the town of the Nang Songkran (Princess of New Year).
 

     
     

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