Luang Prabang, previously the capital of the former Royal Kingdom of Laos and now the jewel of the communist Lao PDR, has been a UNESCO’s World Heritage town since 1975 and named the most popular tourist destination by a British travel magazine for three years in a row.
Situated on a peninsula where the Khaan River runs into the Mekong and surrounded by mountains, Luang Prabang has its magical power that draws many people around the world to visit and get to know its serene beauty. Luang Prabang is known for its harmonious culture and beautiful traditions, such as the ritual daily round by hundreds of Buddhist monks to receive alms of sticky rice offered by locals who sit and wait along the streets in the early morning hours.
Luang Prabang also has the most
preserved mixture of Lao and French colonial architecture-style houses that still stand in good condition, one of the criteria that enables the town to maintain its World Heritage status after a ten-year review by UNESCO.
In a recently interview with VOA by phone from Luang Prabang, Deputy Governor
Dr. Khampheng Phengsomphone said that the tourism industry in Luang Prabang has expanded dramatically for the past decade, after Laos opened its door to the world in the 90’s. Last year, over two hundred thousand tourists came to visit Luang Prabang, an increase of about 30% from the year before.
Dr. Khampheng Phengsomphone added that the Luang Prabang Tourism Office is working hard to continue to improve and expand the service sectors to accommodate the increasing number of tourists. But he added that due to budget constraints, Luang Prabang is moving very slowly, and he appealed to foreigners to invest and help develop his town in the areas of infrastructure, hotels and resorts, entertainment industry and others, saying, “Luang Prabang was based on agriculture in the past and now, it depends mainly on the tourism and service sectors. Tourism officials are doing all they can to help improve and provide greater services to tourists. We have brochures in Lao, English and French languages to provide basic information about the town, its people, culture and traditions.”
The Wanderlust magazine of England this year again selected Luang Prabang for the third consecutive years for a golden award for being “The most voted popular tourist destination,” in a contest of more than 600 cities selected from over 100 countries from around the globe. Dr. Khampheng Phengsomphone was in London to receive the award.
The New York Times newspaper and the Town and Country travel magazine in the United States also name Luang Prabang as one of the top ten must-visit tourist destinations. The beauty of Luang Prabang contains much more than words can describe. One must go and see for oneself.
Click on our audio files to hear more of the interview with Luang Prabang’s Deputy Governor in Lao.
Photo by: Vannasone Keodara