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Laos' number one tourist attraction, Luang Prabang, is an enchanting place surrounded by mountains, with the Mekong river lapping at its banks, dilapidated French colonial buildings scattered throughout and dozens of Buddhist temples, among them a handful of spectacular UNESCO listed buildings. In the mornings at sunrise hundreds of monks file down the street collecting alms, while at more reasonable times of day tribespeople from the hills can be seen wandering to and from local markets.
Luang Prabang is a city located in north central Laos, on the Mekong River about 425 km north of Vientiane, and the capital of Louangphrabang Province. The current population of the city is about 103,000
The city was formerly the capital of a kingdom of the same name. Until the communist takeover in 1975, it was the royal capital and seat of government of the Kingdom of Laos. The city is also notable as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
While travel to Luang Prabang by road is possible, the trip is not recommended. Travelers from Chiang Khong can hire a barge for the Mekong River crossing. The road from Huay Xai,the town across the river from Chiang Khong, to Luang Prabang takes about 12 hours to travel, is poorly maintained, remote, unlit, unmarked and extremely dangerous for the unfamiliar traveler. A 4x4 is a must.
Travelers from Nong Khai can take the Freedom Bridge across the Meekong River. The road from Vientiene, the capital of Laos and town across from Nong Khai, to Luang Prabang is generally well paved, but remote, narrow, curvy, unmarked, and unlit. A 4x4 is not a must, but is highly recommended.
The Mekong is an important transportation link. Huay Xai, upriver near the Thai border, can be reached by slow boat in two days, typically with a stop at Pakbeng.
More information can be found on wikitravel at: www.wikitravel.org
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