LuangPrabang, the ancient capital of LuangPrabang Province in northern Laos, lies in a valley at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers. Inhabited for thousands of years, it was the royal capital of the country until 1975. It’s known for its many Buddhist temples, including the gilded Wat Xieng Thong, dating to the 16th century, and Wat Mai, once the residence of the head of Laotian Buddhism.

 

LuangPrabang – This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the former capital of Laos, and you’ll see everything from golden-roofed temples to vestiges of colonial French architecture here. Buddhist monasteries abound in Luang Prabang, and early every morning, monks process through the streets collecting alms (their food for the day). If you want to watch or participate, though, ask your hotel for a brief etiquette lesson first—you have to distribute the food in a specific manner.

 

Over the last 25 years Luang Prabang has seen a flood of investment, with once-leprous French villas being revived as fabulous boutique hotels, and some of the best chefs in Southeast Asia moving in. The population has swollen, and yet still the peninsula remains as sleepy and friendly as a village, as if time has stood still here.

Beyond the evident history and heritage of the old French town are aquamarine waterfalls, top trekking opportunities, meandering mountain-bike trails, kayaking trips, river cruises and outstanding natural beauty, the whole ensemble encircled by hazy green mountains.

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