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Luang Prabang Travel Guide
Encircled by mountains and charmingly situated at the meeting of the Mekong and Khan Rivers, Luang Prabang, the 'Jewel of the Mekong', conveys an atmosphere of remote serenity and informal splendour. Its main attraction is its old temples and the thriving religious life of its people, which seems to endow everything with meaning.
The heart of a powerful kingdom for more than a thousand years, today it is a sleepy mixture of ancient temples, cobbled lanes, interesting backstreets, French-Indochinese architecture and ochre-coloured colonial buildings. Trees line the streets above the banks of the river where children swim and play, while farmers carefully tend to their tiny, irregular riverside plots of agricultural land. In the mists of dawn, throngs of barefoot orange-robed monks silently make their way from the monasteries to the streets, where locals wait to gain spiritual merit by filling their wooden alms bowls with rice, before disappearing once again into their places of refuge and meditation. Unhurried people drift past stalls of spicy papaya salad, noodles, omelettes and fruit drinks. Luang Prabang gives visitors a taste of the real Laos; it is an ancient city with a distinctly village-like feel, endowed with a historical legacy so rich that it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Tourists to Laos simply shouldn't miss this unique and fascinating city.
National Tourism Authority of Laos, Vientiane: +856 (0)21 222
Laos Embassy, Washington DC, United States (also responsible for Canada): +1 202 332 6416.
Laos Embassy, Paris, France (also responsible for United Kingdom): +33 (0)1 4553 0298.
Laos Embassy, Canberra, Australia (also responsible for New Zealand): +61 (0)2 6286 4595.
American Embassy, Vientiane: +856 (0)21 267 000.
British Embassy, Bangkok, Thailand (also responsible for Laos): +66 (0)2 305 8333.
Canadian Embassy, Bangkok, Thailand (also responsible for Laos): +66 (0)2 646 4300.
Australian Embassy, Vientiane: +856 (0)21 353 800.
South African Embassy, Bangkok, Thailand (also responsible for Laos): +66 (0)2 254 2530.
Irish Embassy, Bangkok, Thailand (also responsible for Laos): +66 (0)2 632 6720.
New Zealand Embassy, Bangkok, Thailand (also responsible for Laos): +66 (0)2 254 2530.
191 (police), 190 (ambulance).
Skimpy or revealing clothes are generally not acceptable. Public displays of affection are taboo in Lao society. Avoid touching anyone on the head or using your feet to point at anything. Appropriate dress and behaviour when entering places of worship is essential. The Laos government prohibits any sexual contact or relationships between Lao nationals and foreigners, unless married under Lao law; penalties may involve heavy fines or imprisonment. It is illegal not to carry an identity document. Photographing military sites is prohibited.
Most foreign passengers to Laos can obtain a visa on arrival, provided that: (i) they are arriving at one of the following airports: Vientiane International, Luang Prabang, Pakse, Warray; (ii) they are holding a return/onward ticket and the necessary travel documentation for their next destination; (iii) they have a confirmed hotel reservation in Laos; and (iv) they are in possession of three photographs, size 3 x 4 cm. These tourist visas are valid for 30 days (with one extension possible), and cost USD 30. Note that a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required to enter Laos, if arriving within six days of leaving or transiting through an infected area. NOTE: It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.