Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Luang Prabang, Laos

Thu Oct 21, 2010 10:00pm EDT
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By Helen Massy-Beresford

LUANG PRABANG, Laos (Reuters Life!) - Luang Prabang, the historic former royal capital of Laos, is an enchanting mix of tranquil Buddhist temples, French architecture left over from colonial days, lush foliage and sweeping river views.

Named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995, the city is no longer the sleepy backwater it once was and boasts boutique hotels and chic restaurants. But there are still plenty of glimpses of the peaceful, other-worldly city of the past.


6 p.m. The main historic area fills a peninsula formed by the meeting of the town's two rivers, the Nam Khan and the Mekong, and can easily be explored on foot. Walk around the peninsula, on streets lined with French houses and towering palms.

You may pass locals playing "petang," Laos's answer to the popular French game of petanque or boules, a remnant of the colonial past.

Stop for a Beer Lao, the country's ubiquitous and delicious national beer, at a riverside bar and watch the sun set.

Later, sample Lao barbecue at one of the riverside restaurants. You cook slivers of meat on a metal tray heated over a bucket of hot coals in the center of your table, while vegetables, herbs, egg and noodles bubble away below.

SATURDAY   Continued...