Luang Prabang day trip
Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, Luang Prabang is dominated by 33 temples and has a long history as a centre for the study of Buddhism. Named after the golden statue, the Prabang. Luang Prabang was the first capital of Laos and has somehow managed to remain unscathed by war and (so far) modernisation. It’s one of the few places where you feel this is the genuine article and one that retains its unique ambience.
Start at 08 00 am, visit Vat Visoun, the site of an impressive stupa, That Makmo, stylistically more Srilankalese than Lao. Then walk to the nearby Vat Aham, which is one of the city’s major tutelary shrines, dedicated to Deveta Luang (spirit) Pu Gneu Ya Gneu (ancestors).
Climb Vat Phousi hill for an outstanding view over the city. Continue to visit Vat Sene and Vat Xieng Thong, considered as the most beautiful temple. The sim of the Vat represents the classic Luang Prabang temple architecture with roofs that sweep low to the ground. In the compound stand several small chapels housing bronze Buddha, which were displayed in Paris in 1911.
After lunch, drive to the nearby traditional weaving village Ban Phanom, populated by the Thai Lu. This village is famed for its intricately woven textiles and special weaving techniques – in former times, it was the weaver colony of the Luang Prabang Royalty.
The very scenic Tad Se Waterfall can be reached on the Nam Khan from Ban Phanom by long-tail boat – best during and after the rainy season. Its numerous cascades and pools are an ideal place for bathing.
On the way to the Tad Se Waterfall lies the tomb of the 19th century French explorer Henri Mouhot, the first European to rediscover Angkor Wat and to visit the Royal Kingdom of Luang Prabang.