A weekend in Luang Prabang, Laos
Possibly one of the most beautiful towns in the world…. I first went to Luang Prabang by accident, after an ill-fated (my translator spoke no English…) undergraduate trip to study community tourism up in Luang Namtha in 2004. Back then the fancy magazines and newspapers weren’t waxing lyrical about Luang Prabang, but nor could I claim it was ‘undiscovered’. A few years later, I ended up writing my masters dissertation about tourists’ perceptions of authenticity in Luang Prabang, so I won’t write too much now. Needless to say, it has remained charming, despite my fears to the contrary when writing my dissertation. All new buildings and renovation work is strictly controlled as it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (for more about the history from UNESCO please click here).
It remains a wonderful place to potter past temples and colonial buildings, while enjoying the stunning natural scenery that surrounds the town. Food is delicious – whether you want traditional Laotian fare involving copious lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf, or French or Swiss bistro food. Laotian silk textiles are also exquisite. Although there are many silk shops, OckPopTok is a great place to visit and learn more about the process as well as what they are doing to promote the industry and empower women. Although only one hours flight from Hanoi, Luang Prabang feels a world away from the hectic bustle. As the old adage goes ‘The Vietnamese plant the rice, while the Laotians listen to the rice grow.’ Laotians are incredibly laid back and friendly, and it is a lovely place for a relaxing few days.