Luang Prabang, Xieng Ngeun, Nan, Pak Ou, Nambak, Ngoi, Pakxeng, Phonxay, Chomphet, Viengkham and Phounkhone
Luang Prabang sits on a narrow finger of land formed by the confluence of the Khan River with the much larger Mekong. The old city, where most of the sights are, is just 300 meters wide and about one kilometer long. One road follows the rivers completely around the city. The town's main road, which goes by many names, but which we call Sisavong Vang Road in this guide, runs down the 'spine' of the finger. Another small lane parallels Sisavong Vang and runs from the Royal Palace Museum up to the back of Wat Xieng Thong. Small brick paved footpaths lead off the main road towards the rivers on either side. The city's main sights are at either end of the old town. Near the tip of the peninsula is the royal temple of Wat Xieng Thong. At the base of the thumb are Phu Si hill and the Royal Palace Museum. In between are numerous other temples and some former royal residences. You can walk the whole way around town in just one day, but its quite easy to spend several days criss-crossing the city to see everything.
History The exact founding date of the city is rather fuzzy. The area may have been settled as long as 2,000 years ago. What is known is that the city became the capital of a small Lao principality sometime in the thirteenth century. A hundred years later, in the mid fourteenth century, it became a kingdom in its own right. 'Lan Xang Hom Khao' - the land of a million elephants and the white parasol - as it was called, was founded by Fa Ngum, whose family went on to rule Laos for six centuries. Originally, the city was called Xieng Thong, but early in the sixteenth century the king accepted the revered Bang Buddha image from the Khmer royal family. Later on in the Sixteenth century, at about the same time that the administrative capital was moved to Vientiane, the city was renamed Luang Prabang The French first arrived in Luang Prabang in 1867. Later that same century, the Haw from southern China sacked the town and practically burned it to the ground. This is the event that essentially forced the Lao to accept French protection. The French rebuilt the town, and managed to stay for a hundred years before the Pathet Lao ended both French rule and the monarchy.