Luang Prabang, in north central Laos, has been an important Buddhist spiritual center for hundreds of years. As a result, it has some of the most ancient and exquisite Buddhist temples in the region.
Visiting these beautiful temples doesn’t take a great deal of planning. Just walk in any direction, and you’re guaranteed to stumble into a couple of extravagantly decorated temples. In fact, as we quickly discovered on our visit, undecorated surfaces were the exception in local temples.
As architectural buffs, we’ve developed the habit of studying not only the building as a whole, but also its individual elements. You may have seen our Beguiling Baltic Doors, or the Unique Shop Doors of Kotor. In Luang Prabang, we fell in love with columns of Buddhist temples.
Luang Prabang temples have a distinctive style, and are well known for their gleaming gold leaf ornamentation.
Some of the temples are quite old, built as early as the 16th Century. Given the harsh climate of the highland area, their state of preservation is astounding.
And to my eye, the color palette, even though vivid, is also quite elegant and appealing.
In our travels in Southeast Asia, we saw countless temples, but the Buddhist temples of Luang Prabang were some of our favorites.
We are there right now! Loving the temples. Went for a looong trek yesterday – bit stiff and sore today but off to the waterfall anyway 🙂
Were staying here for only 6 days but this morning changed it to 12. Love Luang Prabang.
LP is a wonderful place to just wander around. We loved the night market. If you haven’t discovered it yet, there’s a tiny alley just off the main street that is jammed with street vendors during the night market. A couple have small “buffets” that are wonderful. Also, we had an excellent lunch at a place called Tamarind (check it on Tripadvisor). It’s on the river (not the Mekong, but the other side), with a nice porch and cold beer. We did a post with some food photos
Too funny – we had dinner at one of those buffets tonight! Best chicken we’ve had for a long time.
I’ll check out Tamarind – maybe for tomorrow night.
Ah, Luang Prabang. One of my favourite cities (if you can call this tranquil place a city) in the world!
Thanks Chris. I agree that tranquil is the word. LP is the perfect place to kick back after hustling around SE Asia. We came here from 2 weeks in Bangkok, and it was perfect.
Great pics. Have you seen the Buddhist temples & monasteries of Ladakh,India ? A must see
No. Our travels in India have mostly been around Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. But thanks for the recommendation, maybe on our next trip.
Thanks for the preview! We haven’t been to Luang Prabang yet, but are looking forward to going. Hopefully this year!
Thanks Kelly. Definitely put LP on the list. In addition to all the wonderful Buddhist temples, there’s also tons of perfectly preserved French Colonial buildings. It’s quiet and laid-back, and was the perfect place to decompress after a couple of weeks in Bangkok. Pick one of the small restaurants with a beautiful deck hanging over the Mekong, order a beer, and life will be good.
Amazing place – somewhere I dream of going back to again and again…
The architecture there is indeed incredible.
This little reminder of LP makes my morning that bit better.
I’m with you, it’s one of those places I could definitely go back to just to feel the serenity in the morning and craziness at night! ~Terri
Amazingly detailing ornaments for these temples. Beautiful post!
They had a workshop for Monks to teach them how to do that incredibly detailed painting. Looks like it requires a very steady hand and immense patience. ~Terri
These are so colorful and beautiful! What a cool thing to just stumble upon while you’re walking.
Hi Jessica, Luang Prabang blew our minds with its “everyday beauty.” It must be quite special to grow up surrounded by these ornate temples and buildings. ~Terri
Wow, this is REALLY beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing!
Hi Allie, We’re so glad that you liked it!
Thanks for the tour. Your photos are exquisite. We are contemplating a visit to Southeast Asia next winter.
Hi LuAnn, Thanks and you’re welcome. You and Terry are so adventurous, so I think you would really enjoy Southeast Asia. It would be a great winter escape. All the best, Terri
Luang Prabang is still on my wish list, nice pictures tho…
Hi Nin, It’s always fun to have inspiring places on your wish list. Luang Prabang was on mine for years before we finally made it there. ~Terri
Love it. So much more ornate than Cambodia.
We didn’t see many Buddhist temples in Cambodia, but I have to say that columns couldn’t be much more ornate that the temples in LP. Thanks for the comment.
Soooo beautiful. One day, I need to go there. 🙂
Thanks Liz. LP definitely should be on you list. We’ve traveled throughout SE Asia, and LP has a calm, laid-back vibe that I haven’t experienced much.
love love love!
Thanks so much Sarah.
Hi Ricky, Great post! Thanks so much for linking to us. All the Best, Terri & James
You captured the temples beautifully. Luang Prabang is one of my favorite places of all times. Thanks for bringing back lovely memories.
You’re welcome Lori. Luang Prabang was a wonderful surprise for us – even better than we’d anticipated. I thoroughly enjoyed your post on the Alhambra – one of our favorite places. Thanks for the memory and congrats on the FP – so well deserved. All the Best, Terri
This is more my cup of tea! And you’d be warm here too. 🙂
From what I can tell Jo, the heat never stops! Luang Prabang was one of our favorite stops in that part of the world. ~Terri
Absolutely stunning — Laos, another place I need to go! Thanks for sharing James and Terri! Cheers.
Thanks Steph. We only spent a week in Laos, and all our time was in Luang Prabang. Laos, (at least the parts that didn’t get destroyed by American bombs) still has lots of French Colonial architecture that is very cool as well as tons of Buddhist temples. If you get to SE Asia, check it out. ~James
Hi Ricky! Thanks so much for the link to our Luang Prabang post. Much appreciated! 🙂 All the best, Terri
What a terrific preview of LP – I was excited about our trip before I landed on your post, now I’m bouncing with impatience!
We spent a week in LP, and loved it. Before arriving we’d been in Bangkok for a couple of weeks, and LP was such wonderful, quiet, relaxing change. It truly is a charming village, and the mix of Buddhist Temples and French colonial architecture is very cool. There are tons of tiny restaurants with outdoor terraces overlooking the Mekong, and the night market is great fun. There’s an alley at the night market which is jam packed with street vendors, and the food is great. There were a couple of buffets where we could get safe-to-eat veggies (hard to find in this part of the world). Also, make sure to search out a restaurant called “Tamarind” which is on the Nam Khan River, not the Mekong. We had a fabulous lunch there. Jill, you’re going to love LP. Here’s a link to all our posts on LP:
Thanks so much for all the inside know how and the handy tips. I’d heard that LP is a world heritage site from your photos I can see why!
This is very near the top of my travel wish list. Thanks for a colorful preview!
I’ve been to your blog and see that you’re an avid traveler. And as one traveler to another, I can say that you should not miss Luang Prabang. When you visit you will most likely come in through Bangkok, or Singapore, or some other big wacky city. LP will be such a relaxing break that you won’t believe it. We spent a week there and could have stayed 2. We wrote a number of posts that will probably give you a feel for the city. Its a fabulous place and makes such a nice stop on a southeast Asia trip. ~James
Truly can’t wait to get to SE Asia. With all my roaming, I can’t believe this area remains unseen by me! I will for sure check out all your posts beforehand. So glad to have discovered your blog; you guys are living my dream!