Louangphabang, (Lao: ຫລວງພະບາງ) or Luang
Phabang (pronounced [lǔaŋ pʰa.bàːŋ]), commonly
transliterated into Western languages from the pre-1975 Lao spelling
ຫຼວງພຣະບາງ (ຣ = silent r) as Luang
Prabang, literally meaning "Royal Buddha Image", is a
city in north central Laos, consisting of 58 adjacent villages, of
which 33 comprise the
UNESCO Town Of
Luang Prabang World Heritage
Site. It was listed in 1995 for unique and "remarkably" well
preserved architectural, religious and cultural heritage, a blend of
the rural and urban developments over several centuries, including the
French colonial influences during the 19th and 20th centuries.
The centre of the city consists of four main roads and is located on a
peninsula at the confluence of the
Nam Khan and
Mekong River. Luang
Prabang is well known for its numerous Buddhist temples and
monasteries. Every morning, hundreds of monks from the various
monasteries walk through the streets collecting alms. One of the
city's major landmarks is Mount Phou Si; a large steep hill which
despite the constrained scale of the city, is 150 metres (490 ft)
high; a steep staircase leads to Wat Chom Si shrine and an overlook of
the city and the rivers.
The city was formerly the capital of a kingdom of the same name. It
had also been known by the ancient name of Chiang Thong. It was
the royal capital and seat of government of the Kingdom of Laos, until
Pathet Lao takeover in 1975. The city is part of Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang Province
Luang Prabang Province and is the capital and
administrative centre of the province. It lies approximately
300 km (190 mi) north of the capital Vientiane. Currently,
the population of the city as a whole is roughly 56,000 inhabitants
UNESCO protected site being inhabited by around
1.1 World War II
Laotian Civil War
Laotian Civil War era
2 Monarchs of Luang Prabang
7 Sister cities
8 See also
11 External links
Muang Sua was the old name of
Luang Prabang following its conquest in
698 CE by a Tai prince, Khun Lo.
Khun Lo had been awarded the town by
his father, Khun Borom, who is associated with the Lao legend of the
creation of the world, which the Lao share with the Shan and other
peoples of the region.
Khun Lo established a dynasty whose fifteen
rulers reigned over an independent
Muang Sua for nearly a century.
In the second half of the 8th century, Nan-chao intervened frequently
in the affairs of the principalities of the middle
resulting in the occupation of
Muang Sua in 709.
Nan-chao princes or administrators replaced the aristocracy of Tai
overlords. Dates of the occupation are not known, but it probably
ended well before the northward expansion of the
Khmer empire under
Indravarman I (r. 877–89) and extended as far as the territories of
Sipsong Panna on the upper Mekong.
In the meantime, the Khmers founded an outpost at Xay Fong near
Champa expanded again in southern Laos, maintaining its
presence on the banks of the
Mekong until 1070. Chanthaphanit, the
local ruler of Xay Fong, moved north to
Muang Sua and was accepted
peacefully as ruler after the departure of the Nan-chao
administrators. Chanthaphanit and his son had long reigns, during
which the town became known by the Tai name Xieng Dong Xieng Thong.
The dynasty eventually became involved in the squabbles of a number of
principalities. Khun Chuang, a warlike ruler who may have been a Kammu
(alternate spellings include Khamu and Khmu) tribesman, extended his
territory as a result of the warring of these principalities and ruled
from 1128 to 1170. Khun Chuang, a single family ruled over a far-flung
territory and reinstituted the Siamese administrative system of the
7th century. At some point, Theravada
Buddhism was subsumed by
Mahayana Buddhism. Xieng Dong Xieng Thong experienced
a brief period of Khmer suzerainty under
Jayavarman VII from 1185 to
1191. By 1180 the
Sipsong Panna had regained their independence from
the Khmers, however, and in 1238 an internal uprising in the Khmer
outpost of Sukhothai expelled the Khmer overlords. Xieng Dong Xieng
Thong in 1353 became the capital of the
Lan Xang kingdom. In 1359 the
Khmer king from
Angkor gave the
Phra Bang to his son-in-law, the first
Lang Xang monarch
Fa Ngum (1353-1373); to provide Buddhist legitimacy
both to Fa Ngum's rule and by extension to the sovereignty of
was used to spread Theravada
Buddhism in the new kingdom. The capital
name was changed to Luangphabang, where it was kept, named after the
Buddha image.:225–226 The capital was moved in 1560 by King
Setthathirath I to Vientiane, which remains the capital today.
Luang Prabang pre-1901
Lan Xang fell apart because of a dynastic struggle and Luang
Prabang became the capital of the independent Kingdom of Luang
France annexed Laos, the French recognised Luang
Prabang as the royal residence of Laos. Eventually, the ruler of Luang
Prabang became synonymous with the figurehead of Laos. When Laos
achieved independence, the king of Luang Prabang, Sisavang Vong,
became the head of state of the Kingdom of Laos.
World War II
Damage caused by a communist ground attack on
Luang Prabang airfield,
The town was the scene of many events during and in the aftermath of
World War II and it was occupied by several foreign countries during
the war (Vichy France, Thailand, Imperial Japan, Free France, and
Nationalist China). Initially the Vichy French controlled the city but
lost it to Thai forces following the
Franco-Thai War of 1940–1941.
On 9 March 1945, a nationalist group declared
Laos once more
Luang Prabang as its capital but on 7 April 1945 two
battalions of Japanese troops occupied the city. The Japanese
attempted to force
Sisavang Vong (the King of Luang Phrabang) to
declare Laotian independence but on 8 April he instead simply declared
an end to Laos' status as a French protectorate. The King then
secretly sent Prince
Kindavong to represent
Laos to the Allied forces
Sisavang Vatthana as representative to the Japanese. Following
Japan's surrender to the Allies, Free French forces were sent to
Laos and entered
Luang Prabang on 25 August, at which time
the King assured the French that
Laos remained a French colonial
protectorate. In September the Chinese Nationalist forces arrived
to receive the surrender of the remaining Japanese forces but also
quickly set about buying up the Laotian opium crop.
Laotian Civil War
Laotian Civil War era
In April and May 1946 the French attempted to recapture
Laos by using
paratroops to retake
Luang Prabang and drive Phetsarath
and the Lao Issara ministers out of
Laos and into
Vietnam. During the
First Indochina War
First Indochina War the
Viet Minh and Pathet Lao
forces attempted to capture the city several times in 1953 and 1954
but were stopped before they could reach it by French forces.
Laotian Civil War
Laotian Civil War of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, a secret
American airbase was located at Luang Prabang and it
was the scene of fighting.
Luang Prabang remained the royal capital
until 1975, when the
Pathet Lao communist forces seized power with
North Vietnamese support and dissolved the ancient monarchy.
Statue of Sisavang Vong, King of Luang Phrabang 1904–46, King of
Buddhist Temple at
Haw Kham (Royal Palace) complex
Monarchs of Luang Prabang
Khun Lo, warlord who founded the city
Fa Ngum, prince of
Luang Prabang who founded Lan Xang
Oun Kham, king who ruled under the French
Kham Souk (Zakarine), king who ruled under the French and who pushed
Sisavang Vong, king under the French, and who, when
Laos independence, became king of the whole country
Phra Bang Buddha, palladium of
Lan Xang and namesake of Luang
Prabang, Laos. The
Phra Bang is regarded as the most sacred and
culturally significant Buddha image in Laos. The image is Khmer in
origin and cast using an alloy of bronze, gold and silver.
Luang Prabang has both natural and historical sites. Among the natural
tourism sites are the Kuang Si Falls, Tat Sae Waterfalls, and Pak Ou
Caves. Elephant riding is offered at some sites. Phou Si, in the
center of the town, has broad views of the town and river systems, and
is a popular place to watch the sun setting over the
Mekong River. At
the end of the main street of
Luang Prabang is a night market where
stalls sell shirts, bracelets, and other souvenirs. The
Haw Kham Royal
Palace Museum and the
Wat Xieng Thong
Wat Xieng Thong temple are among the best known
historical sites. The town, particularly the main street, is dotted
with many smaller wats such as Wat Hosian Voravihane. Every morning at
sunrise, monks walk in a procession through the streets accepting alms
offered by local residents, an event popular with tourists but subject
to some controversy surrounding tourist etiquette. Mountain
biking is quite common, with people often biking around the town or to
the waterfalls for the day. Down the
Mekong River, a 15-minute boat
ride from the city centre, Ban Chan (the pottery village ) is an
Luang Prabang received 'Best City' in the
Wanderlust Travel Awards 2015.
O-lam, the most popular dish in Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang has a rich artistic and culinary history and the city's
cooks were hired by the king. Typical local dishes
include: O-lam (Or lam, the favourite dish of
Luang Prabang locals),
Luang Prabang sausage, mokpa (steamed fish), and
Mekong River moss
(served fried) with its chilli sauce (cheo bong).
Luang Prabang International Airport, Apr 2014
Luang Prabang is served by
Luang Prabang International Airport
Luang Prabang International Airport with
non-stop flights to adjoining countries.
Luang Prabang is linked by Route 13 with
Vang Vieng and Vientiane, and
by Route 1 with Muang Xay. Route 13 also connects the city to
The road from
Huay Xai to
Luang Prabang is poorly maintained, remote,
unlit, unmarked and dangerous for the unfamiliar, particularly in the
wet season. Buses regularly travel the route in 14–16 hours.
Route 13 from Vientiane, passing Vang Vieng, to
Luang Prabang is
paved, though the surface is in poor condition at places. It is also
relatively narrow, with sharp curves. There are no markings or
lighting on the road. Since 2014, a new road connects Kasi (close to
Vang Vieng) to Luang Prabang, allowing the trip to be made in about 3
hours (compared to 5 hours via Route 13). Several daily buses run from
Vientiane to Luang Prabang, taking 11–13 hours.
Mekong River itself is also an important transportation link. At
Chiang Khong it is possible to hire a barge to cross the river. A trip
from Huay Xai, across from Thailand, downstream to
Luang Prabang takes
two days by slow boat, typically with a stop at Pakbeng.
If coming from Vietnam, sleeper buses can be caught from Hanoi to
Luang Prabang or Vang Vieng.
Luang Prabang features a tropical wet and dry climate (Aw) under the
Köppen climate classification. While the city is generally very warm
throughout the year, it is noticeably cooler during December and
Luang Prabang also experiences wet and dry seasons, with the
wet season from April until October, and the dry season during the
remaining five months. The city receives approximately 1,450
millimetres (57 in) of precipitation annually.
Climate data for Luang Prabang
Record high °C (°F)
Average high °C (°F)
Daily mean °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Record low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Average rainy days
Average relative humidity (%)
Mean monthly sunshine hours
Source #1: NOAA (1961–1990)
Deutscher Wetterdienst (extremes)
Luang Prabang Range
Big Brother Mouse
Pak Ou Caves
Phou si summit facing south-east
Monks collecting alms at dawn, Luang Prabang
Royal Palace, Luang Prabang
Primary school, Luang Prabang
A young monk, Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang night market
Buddha images at Vat Visounarath
Boats on the
Mekong at Luang Prabang
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to Luang Prabang.
Luang Prabang travel guide from Wikivoyage
City portal of
Luang Prabang on Luangprabang-laos.com
Coordinates: 19°53′N 102°08′E / 19.883°N 102.133°E /
Districts of Laos
Pak Tha (
Ban Houayxay city)
Pak Sé (city)
Luang Namtha city)
Luang Prabang (city)
Boun Neua (
Kaysone Phomvihane (
La Mam (
Vientiane Capital City
World Heritage Sites in Laos
Town of Luang Prabang
Associated Ancient Settlements within the Champasak Cultural Landscape