Luang Prabang is the former capital city of what once was The Kingdon of Luang Prabang, it remains to this day the capital of Luang Prabang Province. It is situated in the North central area of the country and sits on a peninsula between of two rivers, the Nam Khan and the Mekong. It is an outstanding and beautifully preserved old city. In 1995 it was inscribed by UNESCO onto its list of World Heritage Sites. UNESCO described it as being a remarkably well-preserved townscape, illustrating the blending of Traditional architecture with that of the French Colonial authorities, who ruled between the 19th and 20th centuries.
It is surrounded by delightful sandstone hills that dominate the vista. Legend has it that the Buddha rested here for a day, smiled and professed that one day, it would be the site of a wealthy and powerful capital city. It rose to prominence in the 14th century due to its position at a crossroads of the old silk route. It was also a centre of Buddhism and the home of the Royal Family. The Royals and in fact the government remained here until the communist takeover in 1975, when they moved to Vientiane. Vientiane had become the capital of Laos way back in 1560.
The city is beautiful, the old commercial buildings lining the river and have old houses intermingled with them. There is a grand boulevard called Avenue Pavie, which runs the length of the peninsula and has Temples and the old royal residences lining one side. Facing these are the old imposing French colonial houses and some traditional ones as well. Ancient monasteries and chapels are evident everywhere. These temples are communal places with shrines, chapels, libraries, and stupas.
Luang Prabang is an important part of the Laos travel industry. Its close proximity to the Pak Ou Caves and the Kuang Si falls merely add to its worthiness as a travel destination. City elephant rides and the nigh market draw vistors and the other well known historical sites of the Haw Kham Royal Palace Museum and the Wat Xieng Thong temple are just the icing on the cake.