The best-preserved city in Asia according to UNESCO. The most romantic city in Southeast Asia according to popular opinion. The two superlative titles go hand in hand. In Luang Prabang, pristine temples shine as brightly as they did when they were built centuries ago. Stately French colonial buildings show off their columned arcades along immaculate tree-shaded streets. Hazy mountainous horizons form the backdrop to picture-perfect townscapes. Tranquillity reigns.
Time seems to slow down here. Traffic is kept to a minimum and bicycles are the preferred form of transport when exploring the city. The fragrance of frangipanis fills the air. Referred to as the ‘Refuge of the Last Dreamers’, Luang Prabang is in no hurry to develop and evolve. Why change something so perfect?
The town is built on a peninsula formed by the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers in northern Laos. Set 700 metres above sea level, it is surrounded by mountains and rice paddies. Before Luang Prabang came into existence, its destiny was sealed by Buddha himself. For during his travels he rested here, declaring that a rich and powerful city would one day grace the beautiful site. Time proved him right when Luang Prabang became the royal capital of the kingdom in the 14th century.
Today the town is no longer the capital, having handed that responsibility to Vientiane, yet it remains the spiritual centre of the country. Much of its charm lies in the eclectic mix of colourful wats (temples), colonial mansions and traditional Lao architecture. Historic buildings have been granted new lives as coffee shops, boutiques or restaurants in the old town centre, which has preserved all its original splendour thanks to UNESCO. Ceremonial processions often wind their way through the streets to appease evil spirits and preserve the sanctity of this one-of-a-kind place. The rituals appear to be working.
To get a better feel for Luang Prabang, leave town for an afternoon. Heading out into the countryside allows for great views of the peninsula from a distance. About 30 minutes to the south are the Kuang Si Falls – a naturally formed playground of cascading waterfalls and limpid pools. There’s also a bear sanctuary, where visitors can observe Asian black bears that have been rescued from illegal trade. Pullman can organise outings – an ideal way to spend an unforgettable day with the family or to engage in some seriously fun team-building activities with colleagues.
Best-preserved… Most romantic… It’s easy to see how the town earned its stellar reputation. Pullman Luang Prabang also has quite a few superlatives of its own, from largest conference centre to greatest dining capacity and most exclusive wedding venue. A flagship 5-star resort in an exceptional World Heritage destination. Holidays in Laos don’t get better than this.
Around the hotel
Ban Pong Wanh, 06000 LUANG PRABANG