LOUANGPHABANG (Lao : ຫລວງພະບາງ) or LUANG
PHABANG (pronounced ), commonly transliterated into Western
languages from 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
World Heritage Site
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 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 with the UNESCO
protected site being inhabited by around 24,000.
* 1 History
* 1.1 World War II
Laotian Civil War
Laotian Civil War era
* 2 Monarchs of
* 3 Tourism
* 4 Gastronomy
* 5 Transportation
* 6 Climate
* 7 Sister cities
* 8 See also
* 9 Gallery
* 10 References
* 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
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
In the meantime, the Khmers founded an outpost at Xay Fong near
Vientiane , and
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
Buddhism . Xieng Dong Xieng Thong experienced a brief period
of Khmer suzerainty under
Jayavarman VII from 1185 to 1191. By 1180
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
Angkor gave the
Phra Bang to his son-in-law, the first Lang Xang
Fa Ngum (1353-1373); to provide Buddhist legitimacy both to Fa
Ngum's rule and by extension to the sovereignty of
Laos and 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
Vientiane , which remains the capital today. Market in Luang
Lan Xang fell apart because of a dynastic struggle and Luang
Prabang became the capital of the independent Kingdom of Luang
Phrabang . When
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
WORLD WAR II
Damage caused by a communist ground attack on Luang Prabang
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
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
more independent, with
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
Sisavang Vatthana as representative to the Japanese.
Following Japan's surrender to the Allies, Free French forces were
sent to reoccupy
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 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. During
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
Laos 1946–59 Buddhist
Haw Kham (Royal Palace) complex
MONARCHS OF LUANG PRABANG
Khun Lo , warlord who founded the city
Fa Ngum , prince of
Luang Prabang who founded
Oun Kham , king who ruled under the French
Kham Souk (Zakarine), king who ruled under the French and who
pushed for independence
Sisavang Vong , king under the French, and who, when France
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 ,
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.
Haw Kham Royal Palace Museum and the
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 interesting place.
Luang Prabang received
'Best City' in the Wanderlust Travel Awards 2015.
O-lam, the most popular dish in
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 with
non-stop flights to adjoining countries.
Luang Prabang is linked by Route 13 with
Vang Vieng and
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
Huay Xai , across from Thailand, downstream to Luang Prabang
takes two days by slow boat, typically with a stop at
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
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
* Ban Yang
Phou si summit facing south-east
Monks collecting alms at dawn,
A young monk,
Luang Prabang night market
Buddha images at Vat Visounarath
Boats on the
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