Visa to Laos
Luang Prabang, by the
banks of the
Mekong, some 500 kilometres upriver from
Vientiane and 300 metres
above sea level, is Laos' oldest town still in existence. For the
most part of her history the town was the seat of kings. In 1563
King Setthathirat moved his government to Vientiane; but by then, Luang
Prabang had already been capital for some 800 years.
True, the kingdoms
ruled from Luang Prabang had not been large for the first 600 years of
Only Prince Fa
Ngoum made Luang Prabang the capital of a kingdom of significant
The small town (about
20,000 inhabitants today) is beautifully located at the foot of a
high, rocky mountain - Mount Phousi - by the banks of the Mekong river,
and the town has a romantic atmosphere even though most buildings
are not very old (despite the town's history of many centuries). The
reason: surrounded by almost infinite forests the town's
inhabitants always used as building material what they had, in
abundance, at their disposal: wood.
In the course of its
long history the town had often been conquered and burnt down.
The last time this happened in the 80's of the 19th century at the hands
of the Chinese. The town had also been a frequent target of hostile
visits by Thais and Vietnamese.
After invasions, many
destroyed structures were rebuilt, some of them again and again,
roughly the same as they have existed before an invasion. Though
physically no longer present, architecture dating back many centuries
shapes the town and contributes to Luang Prabang's unquestioned charm.
To this, the numerous Wats in and around the town provide a spiritual