Laos II: Luang Prabang - UNESCO Gem in a Mekong Valley - VIDEO
Desítky prastarých chrámů, původní laoské domy i francouzské vily z přelomu 19. a 20. století tu tvoří harmonický celek a skoro se až zdá, jako by tak město vypadalo od nepaměti. Také proto je od roku 1995 zapsáno na seznamu světového dědictví UNESCO.
Dozens ancient temples, original Laotian houses, late 19th century villas make a harmonious city. It seems that the city has looked like this since ever. Since 1995 the city has been on UNESCO world heritage list.
Luang Prabang is located on the meeting point of the Nam Khan River and the Mekong. The city is at the altitude of 700 meters and 400 kilometers away from the capital, i.e. 10 hours by bus. Right in the city, an international airport offers direct flights to Vientiana and also to Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and China.
I recommend you to begin your tour in the city at some of many temples, or the museum in the royal palace . It is hard to assess one temple as the most beautiful because even the smallest have their own magic (unlike the large ones these are usually empty).
For lunch, visit some of dozens restaurants where they offer interesting mix of European and Asian food. At a street stall, try some French baguette variation that are freshly baked.
Don’t forget about local coffee. They will make a fresh one for you coming from southern Laos. It doesn’t matter whether it is an espresso, filtred, or traditional Laotian recipe. The latter is a strong filtered coffee from which sweet condensed milk is made. You can even try a traditional French pie or delicious butter croissants.
To see sunset, you can either go to the Mekong’s bank, or to the temple on the top of the mountain in the city center. From there you would have beautiful view of entire Luang Prabang and its surroundings. On the banks of both rivers, there are many other restaurants or bars allowing you to obseve sun and many boats. The Mekong is busy with water tnrasportation. You can even take a boat to get you to the border with Thailand.
Part of the main street transforms to a large market that is live late in the night. You can by there everything. Starting with bracelet, clothes, or scorpions and cockroaches pickled in alcohol. Traditional street food stalls offer meals for couple of crowns.
Many travelers eventually end up in some local bar drinking Beer Lao – local bear considered the best in southeastern Asia. Or are lured to drink dangerously strong spirit Lao Lao. I recommend you to stay away from social life for one night to wake up earlier. There are monk parades in the morning in Luang Prabang. They wear orange habits and beg for food. This tradition is abided by in entire Laos yet you will see so many monks only in Luang Prabang. In the sunrise, the view is magical and it seems that there have been no tourists or colonialists at all.
Should you choose only one place to see in Laos, then you should seriously consider Luang Prabang. It is very open to foreigners yet it preserves it specific atmosphere. In the last years, even families with children come there to enjoy an exotic vacation.
Text/photo/video: Matouš Vinš
Music: Kai Engel
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