Luang Prabang is the capital of the province of the same name in the mountainous north of Laos and is considered a historical natural beauty on the Mekong. Luang Prabang has also been the capital of the historic kingdom of Lan Xang and the French protectorate. Until the abolition of the monarchy in 1975 it was the royal city.
Although Laos has had a one-party communist government since the end of the Indochina War in 1975, tourism in the country has been privatized since 1991.Luang Prabang is one of the tourist centres of the country, is in the high season around the turn of the year hopelessly overcrowded. You can get everything here, as long as you put enough money on the table.
I arrived in town on December 31st around 6:00 p.m. The room search had turned out to be more difficult than expected, because almost all of them were occupied due to the high number of visitors. But after a suitable one was found, I went straight to the center. I was really surprised what was going on there on New Year’s Eve.
By coincidence I came across a group of friends, most of whom were already on the same boat – an Austrian with her German husband, an Englishman, an American, a German, two Australians. As it happens on such occasions, we were on the road until 4 o’clock in the morning. Punctually at midnight we had Laotian sparkling wine – the bottle was nice, the taste horrible – it tasted like raspberry fizz without alcohol. Unfortunately the DJ of the restaurant could not deliver the Danube Waltz.
Although it is much cooler in the mountains than in the south, the city really comes to life at nightfall. Street kitchens and the night market for tourists are set up, flying merchants offer their goods for sale, the restaurants fill up, the locals move their dining room to the sidewalk and hundreds of people stream through the streets.
Luang Prabang is also called the city of 1000 monasteries and temples. I do not know how many there really are, but it will take a few days to visit them all. The pagodas are by far not as modern and cheesy as it is very often the case in Thailand. If you walk through the complexes you will notice the centuries of history and the connection of the population with the Buddhist faith. The religion is lived out here and is carried by the people, which can also be seen in the number of monks who live here.
I could not visit all of these temples, although it would certainly have been worth it. I could visit those that are close to the city centre – the rest are on my bucket list – so if I should come here again, they will be visited. Unfortunately I have to continue relatively quickly towards the south.
Best regards, Henry