Follow Us:

Phase I : Pilot project in Luang Prabang

About Luang Prabang

A view of Luang Prabang and Mekong River from Phousi Mountain © UNESCO

Luang Prabang, Lao PDR, is an extraordinary historic city that was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lane Xang. Founded as early as the 14th century, Luang Prabang was one of three important Laotian political centers. After the establishment of the French protectorate in 1893, Luang Prabang remained an important city, especially as the residence and traditional capital of the ruling family of Luang Prabang.

Apart from its historical importance,  Luang Prabang  is  notable  for  the  large  number  of  surviving  monasteries  dating  from  the  fifteenth  century  onwards,  its  buildings  of  the  colonial  period,  including  the  Grand Palace  (constructed  1904-09) ,  and  its surviving  traditional  Lao  residences and  structures.   Luang Prabang  survives  today  as  one  of  the  best  preserved  traditional  cities  in  all  of  South  east  Asia. 

The beliefs and practices of Theravada Buddhism mold the culture and character of the people of Laos and the other countries of the region where Buddhist temples characterize the streetscapes of the villages and towns.  The temples furthermore, played, and continue to play, an important educational and teaching role within lowland Lao village society.  In a physical sense, most of their walls, ceilings and doors are decorated with elaborate woodcarvings and painted murals that illustrate the stories of the Buddha and his moral teachings to the faithful.   The monks themselves were and are the teachers of village society.  This scenario also describes other parts of the Theravada Buddhist world –Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Myanmar and the Xishuangbanna.

Today the town remains significant as the site of numerous Buddhist temples (vat), some dating from as early as the 15th century, and other buildings, such as the royal palace constructed between 1904-09, associated with the Luang Prabang Kingdom. There is also a remarkable collection of mostly early 20th century shophouses, lining the principal commercial street, and many older wood and masonry private houses, demonstrating a variety of Laotian traditional building forms, materials and construction techniques.

Luang Prabang was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1995, a point of great pride to local residents and the Laotian people.