Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Climb Mount Phousi and have an amazing view

See the locations on Luang Prabang Google Map

Hike up from Sisavong Road in the centre more than 328 steps to Mount Phousi and visit Wat Phra That Chomsi, built in 1804 by King Anourathurath. From the terrace below the golod stupa (that) you have a panoramic view of the more than 30 temples in the town with gold-leaved roofs and the hills with dense forest around. Every time when the monks are pounding on their drums, you will feel as you were in meditation. Or watch the sunset over the Mekong River from here! A legend surrounds Mount Phou Si, it’s about a deep pit that led to the centre of the earth. Read, why the drums, gong and cymbals are beaten every three hours at nearby Wat Thum Thao.

South of Mount Phousi: Nam Khan River, newer parts of the town and mountains.

Northeast of Mount Phousi: Old town and Mekong river.

Buddha on Mount Phousi at Wat Chom Si

Go down now on the staircase to Phousi Road. you will come to Wat Tham Phu Si, a small cave temple, and Wat Phra Bat Nua, where you discover a yard long footprint of the Buddha.

Buddha in the cave of Wat Tham Phu Si

Wednesday Buddha

Tuesday Buddha

Friday Buddha

Saturday, December 27, 2008

From silk to art: Shops and galleries

See the locations on Google Map and get the kmz-file for Google Earth.

Art on Tile Gallery: Painted works from local artists.

Baan Khily: Sakarine Road. At this gallery in the old Alliance Francaise Building you can buy sǎa, handmade paper sheets, books and lanterns made from mulberry bark as well as other Lao crafts. and write about Oliver Bandmann, the owner. He also introduced elephant-dung paper production and created the Help Elephants Foundation.

Camacrafts: Above JoMa Bakery. Handicrafts from Hmong and Lao village women.

Lifescene wallhanging from Camacrafts. The Lifescene contains images of Hmong and Lao life that are embroidered onto “story cloth”. Each wallhanging is a unique original. There are no patterns. The artists stich the scenes from their life experience.

Caruso Lao: Sakarine Road. Caruso Lao's carvers, turners, silversmiths and weavers transform the natural treasures of Laos into handcrafted furnishings and fashion accessories.

Fibre2Fabric Gallery:

Kopnoi: Near l'étranger books and tea and on Sisavangvong Street in front of primary school. Eco-dyed cotton apparel collection for men, women & kids. Also silk apparel & accessories, designer jewelry, spices and delicacies.

Laha Sinh: The Pouthai women of Savannakhet Province are well known for hand woven, organically-grown, indigo-colored cotton fabric. Laha Sinh company is marketing their work.

Mulberries: Upstairs from JoMa Bakery and Café. Silk shop.

Ock Pop Tok. Lao Textile Gallery and Waving Centre. Ock Pop Tok is the Lao translation for east meets west. Two Galleies and shops with clothes and wall hangings in the old town and a weaving centre two kilometres south of the old town, 50 metres after Phosy Market. Read more about Lao Textiles.

Samsara Restaurant & Gallery:

Satri Lao: Sisavangvong Road. Silks, jewellery, home furnishing.

Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre: The Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre is a museum. It is dedicated to the collection, preservation, and interpretation of the traditional arts and lifestyles of the diverse ethnic groups of Laos. The Museum Shop promotes handicrafts from village artisans. Le Patio Café is part of the museum.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Tours from Luang Prabang

See the locations on Luang Prabang Google Map

Tad Kuang Si waterfall: Around 30 kilometres south of Luang Prabang you find this series of falls and many pools to swim in. Two buses a day (11.30 am and 1.30 pm) bring you there. You can also do a three hours trekking from the Hmong Village Ban Lang Lao to the springs of Tad Kuang Si with or

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Bears! Of course not dangerous for you, because they are behind a wire mesh fence. The Asiatic Black bears live at the "Free the bears rescue centre" near Tad Kuang Si, 30 kilometres south of Luang Prabang. These bears have been confiscated from poachers and traffickers. You can see pictures of the individual bears and read their stories here. The money for their life comes from the Australian Fund Free the Bears. Read more about the Asiatic Black bear.

Tad Sae waterfall: Go south on the road N 13 for 15 kilometers. After you have arrived in the village Bana Enesavan you hire a motor boat. After around ten minutes on the Nam Khan River you arrive at the waterfall. Tadsae has astonishing emerald water. The waterfall has three steps. From the first you walk 10 minutes to the second step, from there to the third you walk another 20 minutes. There are Ton Nong and Xang Hong trees (the elephant crying trees). Locals say, when a leave of this tree falls onto an elephant, he feels pain and cries. You can see the elephants bahting in the morning at noon and in the afternoon. Of course you can ride the elephants too. read more.

Picture by Alessio.zz

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You can also take a cycling tour from Luang Prabang to the waterfall. More here.

Or you can do an one-hour elephant ride to the waterfall, starting at the Tiger Trail Elephant Camp. Read what The Guardian wrote obout the camp.

The Tiger Trail Elephant Camp Video:

Pak Ou Caves: In these two caves in a limestone cliff on the Mekong more than 4000 statues of Buddhas have been placed by pilgrims during the centuries. Tham Ting is some metres above the river. For Tham Phum you have to climb 226 stairs and then you need a torch, because this cave is dark. Read, how describe the two-hours-boat-trip from Luang Prabang to Pak Pu. And read the wonderful adventures of Denise in the Pak Ou Caves.

Tham Ting above the Mekong

More than 4000 statues...

Entrance to Tham Phum. Look inside through the pictures of Khanh

Ban Xang Hai: This village on the Mekong, at the mouth of the Ou river, on the way from Luang Prabang to Pak Ou, is known for its rice whisky distillation. Before the people here crafted stoneware jars. Read about the stoneware kilns of the Middle Mekong region here. See Khanh's Gallery. There was a lot of change in the last years, before there were wood houses, now a lot of brick houses and many shops for tourists.

Silk Shop in Bang Xang Hai

Because Pak Ou Caves are around 20 kilometres north from Luang Prabang, you have first to take a trip, either on the street along the Mekong or on a boat. Here you get some impressions from the boat trip:

Mekong boats in Luang Prabang, waiting for you

The hills on the side of the Mekong are hidden in the mist, when you start in the morning. With the sun comes the blue sky.

There are some obstacles in the river, sometimes also trees float down the Mekong. So the boat drivers must be attentive.

Mountains in the background - Laos is rich of them

Shangri Lao Classic Explorer Camp & Expedition: Re-live the footsteps of French explorer Dr. P. Neis in the 19th century along tranquil streams and through dense jungle: You stay in a luxury tent camp (with spa, pool and jacuzzi) at the Nam Khan River near Ban Xieng Lom. There is an elephant village (with map) and with the elephants or without you do treks into the nature. See a video. Read tour description by thomaswanhoff

Picture by Thomas Wanhoff
Elephant Tour with Shangri Lao

Tour Operators:
Tiger Trail Outdoor Adventures:

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Markets in Luang Prabang

See the locations on Luang Prabang Google Map and get the kmz-file for Google Earth

Night Market: Sisavangrong road, the main road, turns every day from 5 pm to 11 pm into a Night Market, selling a large variety of local textiles and ethnic handicrafts. From diamonds to silk, opium pipes, artists

Picture by Edward's Diary

Picture by

Picture by Kleinmatt66

Morning fresh Market: On the west side of Royal Palace. Everything from pythons to silkworms, as you can read and see on mmm-yoso!!!

Phosy Market: The biggest market of Luang Prabang. You reach it by a ten minutes tuk-tuk ride out of the town. You find household items, clothes (in chinese style) and all kind of food, the products come from Laos, Thailand and China. Open every day from 7 am to 5 pm. Read more in Trippin' Mag.

Rice, picture by Hanoi Mark See more pictures by annamatic 3000

Chinese Market: On the street to Vientiane, across from the bus station. Here the merchants speak Chinese.

Darat Market: Uscale shops.

Hmong Market
: On the corner across from the Phousi Hotel and Post Office, the handicraft market with quilted bags, pillow cases and bed spreads made mostly by Hmong. It is open during the day (the vendors then move to the night market after 5pm).

Between heaven and earth

See the locations on Luang Prabang Google Map

About the details of Luang Prabangs most important temples you can read at, which has a lot of pictures.

See the locations on Google Map and get the kmz-file for Google Earth.

Until the beginning of the twentieth century all buildings in Luang Prabang were made of wood. The only exception: The temples were built of bricks and mortar. Today only three - Wat Xieng Thong, Wat Pak Khane and Wat Khili - have retained their original structure and decoration. Read more background here.

Each monastery in Luang Prabang is demarcated by a peripheral masonry wall. Doors in the form of prasat - a small, square, tiered and crowned tower, perforated on opposite sides by two large arched bays connected by a continuous passageway allow access to the sanctuary and its building annexes.

Almost always confined to the northern part of the viharn is a building without walls and sometimes on stilts. By token of the shape of its roofing, it resembles a plain sanctuary which is used as a shelter for the pagoda’s great drum. Like the gong, the drum is used for the call to prayers as well as to announce holy days, to mark important events like the Laotian New Year, village festivities, bereavements and festivals. The drum is made from a single piece of tree trunk of about 1 meter in diameter. It is hollowed out and covered at both ends with taut cowhide.

The temples of Luang Prabang are characterized by immense two- or even three-layered roofs covered with flat tiles, sometimes with a change of roof gradient. Another characteristic is the existence of a peripheral nave.

Roof ornamentation, which is very varied in Luang Prabang, is overall characterized by horned ridge-tiles portraying a naga’s upper torso; these may be richly decorated or sometimes reduced to a simple schematic contour. A medial spike, often with three, seven or nine small prasat rises from the top. Depending on the number of spikes, the prasat represent Mount Sinew (the most important mountain in the Buddhist cosmology, with seven annular chains on either side.

Haw Pha Bang: Also: Ho Pha Bang. The Chapel of the Royal Palace, built from 1963 to 1993, lies in the northeastern corner of the ground of the Royal Palace. It has been constructed as the home for the Pha Bang. This is a golden statue (83 cm tall) brought to Luang Prabang in 1359. Then the Khmer king gave the Pha Bang to his son-in-law, the first Lang Xang king Fa Ngum. Read more details an

This altar is intended to hold the Pha Bang.

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Wat Xieng Thong: The "feast for the eyes and the soul" has been built around 1560 by King Setthathirat. It is one of the most important monasteries in Laos. The Lao kings have been coronated here and it was the center of numerous annual festivals honoring the Buddha and various folk spirits. During the 1960s it has been renovated and redecorated. The roof was repaired. The entrance was gilded. The interior and the exterior walls were covered with black, glossy lacquer and decorated with figures and symbols in gold leaf. On the back wall a large flame tree, a tree of life, was set in colored glass mosaics. So it became the temple we admire today.

Where the guests used to arrive from the water way: Stairs leading from the Mekong up to Wat Xieng Thong.

The sim (temple hall): The exterior and the interior are decorated by a rich grandeur. The stenciling on the façade recounts scenes from the jataka and shows images of the punishment of evil-doers. Read a detailed description on

The "Dok so fa" with seventeen elements. The more elements this decoration on top of the roof has, the more important is the monastery.

The Tripitaka Library: This chapel from 1828 has many names: Haw Kawng, Haw Trai or Hor Tai. Here the Tripitaka, the 'three baskets' of the Theravada Buddhist canon of scriptures, were stored. Outside colorful glass mosaics show scenes of local life and traditions. Read a detailed description on

The Red Chapel (Haw Tai Pha Sai-Nyaat): On the outside you see a red stucco inlaid with glass mosaics that illustrate religious and everyday life. The mosaics were added during the restoration in 1957. The original date of the construction of the chapel is not known. The bronze reclining Buddha inside, dating from the 16th century, is one of the most valuable of Lao Buddhist images (see picture). Read more details on See also a picture taken in 1973 by Gert Holmertz.

The flame tree, the tree of life in mosaic, you find on the back of the sim.

The Carriage House (Hóhng Kép Mien or Hor Latsalat): Built 1962 it contains the funeral chariot of King Sisavang Vong (1885-1959), King of Luang Prabang, 1904-46, and King of Laos, 1946-59. The sculpted and gilded teakwood panels on the exterior show the Lao version of the Ramayana, the Pha Lak Pha Lam. Read more on See also this foto taken 2001 by Gert Holmertz.

Seven nagas dominate the royal chariot. It was used to carry the remains of King Sisavang Vong to the field near Wat That Luang for his cremation in April 1961. There are three ornate gilded sandlewood urns, that contained the remains of the king's father (in front) and mother (in the rear); Sisavang Vong's remains are given the central place of honor under the canopy. Read more on

Wat Siri Moung Khoung: Also: Wat Si Muang Khun. It has been built in the 18th century.

The Sim of Wat Siri Moung Khoung.

He looks quite wild.

Wat Sop Sickharam: Right next to Wat Sensoukharam. It has been built by King Theng Kham (1479-86).

Wat Sensoukharam: Also: Wat Sene. Sakkarine Road. Built in 1714, surrounded by 11 small stupas.

Wat Sensoukharam has richly decorated windows, on both side you see apsaras standing on beasts. See more picturey on

Wat Mai Souvannaphoumaham: Sisavangvong Road. Across from the Royal Palace, the biggest Buddhist temple in Luang Prabang. Its name means "The new monastery of the golden land". It has been constriucted 1796-1797 by King Anourout. King Manthatourat (1817-1836) has renovated it. During Pimay, the Laotian new year, the Phra Bang is exposed in the temple for three days and the people from Laos come to splash water onto the holy statue for the ceremonial cleansing. Outstanding are the walls of the front verandah. They show scenes from the Ramayana and Buddha's penultimate incarnation. Lacquered columns that are elaborately stenciled. It served as a temple for the royal family and has been the residence of the Pra Sangkharat, the highest Laotian Buddhist dignitary, for longtime. Read more at

Gold facade with the central door. Nak Naga figures join the colums to the roof.

Gilded stucco near the entrance.

Stupa and chapels.

Picture by Lorna87. And see also the picture by

Wat Hosiang: Also called Wat Hosian and Wat Hoxian. Adjoining to Wat That. Ho Siang was founded by Khouane Sene Muxa in 1705 or early 1706. The wat was destroyed by a storm in 1900 and rebuilt. The octagonal pillars and the verandas on the northeast and southwest sides of the sim were added in 1952. More details on

See pictures by and by and wallpaintings by Dany and Maryse

Wat Mahathat: Also: Wat Pha Mahathat or Wat Si Mahatat. Founded by King Say Setthathirath in 1548. The sim collapsed during a storm in 1900 and was rebuilt between 1907 and 1910. Here are also the ashes of the revered Prince Phetsarath, who declared Laos independent in 1945, and Prince Souvanna Phouma, his younger half-brother, who served as prime minister and sought to retain Lao independence in negotiations with the Pathet Lao. More details on
Wat Phra Mahathat is one of the most important places in Luang Prabang for the celebration of the Lao New Year. On the third day of Phimai (the day when the deity of the year arrives), the abbots of Wat May, Wat Xieng Thong, Wat Aham and Wat Wisun arrive in a solemn procession to attend a sacred dance of the town's guardian spirits, Phou Nheu and Nha Nheu.

The stairway from Fa Ngum Road shows Thai influence. It reminds of the stairway to Wat Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai.

Picture by Viv and Matt's Travels

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Wat Aham: This means „The temple of the flourishing heart“, it has been built at the beginning of the ninetenth century and is a centre of meditation.

Entrance to Wat Aham, picture by Hanoi Mark. See more pictures by davieshongkong. See also Banyan Tree and Wat Aham, picture by Esther Kalandjai
. And more details by

Wat Pha Phon Phao:

Picture by Hanoi Mark

Wat Wisunarat: The oldest operating temple in Luang Prabang is also called Wat Visounnalat or Wat Visounlalat. Visoulalat is the name of the King who built it in 874 of Burmese calendar, which is 1512 in international calender. After a fire 1887 set by the black bandits it has been rebuilt from 1896 to 1898. In front of the temple you find the Makmo stupa. It looked like the half shape of the watermelon, so it was called That Makmo. In the temple you see the 835 years old Lao Manuscript, six stones with writing in Lao an Dharma Language. read more.

Jade Buddha at Wat Wisnunarat, pictures by Kleinmatt66

That Makmo (Watermelon Stupa), picture by Kleinmatt66

Wat Saen: Picture by Esther Kalandjai

Santi Chedi This place has many names: Wat Phol Phao, Wat Phom Phao or Wat Phra That Khong Santi Chedi. It lies on top of a hill, from where you have a good view over Luang Prabang. The stupa has been completed in 1988. Inside you find heavenly and apocalyptic paintings.

Picture by annamatic3000. See also pictury by and frescoes inside by

Wat Long Khun: Before Lao kings were coronated, they spent three days in this wat. See pictures by and by

Pictures by 5 mois de voyage en asie du Sud Est

Wat Nong Sikhounmuang: It has one of the biggest pagodas in Luang Prabang. It has been constructed in the style of vientiane.

Picture by

See pictures by Mai An Hoa, by Alain Travels.

Wat Sen in Luang Prabang, picture by