My memory of my time in Laos is quite muddled. I was dealing with severe back pain and food poisoning during my time there, so I mostly just remember the constant vomiting on a 10-hour van ride through the mountains. However, with the help of Google, I have been able to recollect my favourite three destinations during our time in Luang Prabang.
Haw Kham Royal Palace
A trip to the Royal Palace made me realise how volatile the history of Laos has been. Built in 1904, the palace was built during the French colonial era for King Sisavang Vong and his family. King Sisavang Vong was had up to 50 children by as many as 15 wives, including two whom were his half-sisters and one whom was his niece.
In 1975, his son, Crown Prince Savang Vatthana succeeded him. His son became the last King to rule Laos. In 1975, the Pathet Lao, a communist political organisation, forced Savang Vatthana to abdicate the throne, hence the 600-year-old monarchy was abolished. Savang Vatthana surrendered the Royal Palace to the Lao Government in 1976, who then turned it into the museum. In 1977, Savang Vatthana, his wife and brothers were sent to ‘reeducation camps’, where high-ranking officials from the former government were held. Reports about what happened to members of the royal family are varied.
The museum includes various rooms which house royal religious objects, weapons, statues, paintings and crown jewels.
Pak Ou Caves
You can reach these limestone caves by a pleasant boat ride. Once you get there, you will be able to view over 4,000 small Buddhist figures in many positions.
Nearby the caves is Ban Xang Hai village, which is famous famous for its wine production and for the making of Lao wine earthen jars.
Tat Kuang Si Waterfalls
These astonishing waterfalls are located around 30km south of Luang Prabang. The turquoise blue pools are breathtaking, though slippery. You can access them via walkways and bridges.
You can change into your swimwear in small wooden huts. The nearby shaded park contains picnic benches, so you can either bring food or purchase some on site.
Nearby you can walk to Free the Bears sanctuary. Free the Bears times to rescue and rehabilitate sun bears, lead campaigns in Cambodia and Laos against the illegal wildlife trade, protect wild bears and stop the suffering of these bears. The sanctuary cares for almost 40 bears who were destined for bile farms, where they would have been kept in tiny cages and ‘milked’ for bile in order to make traditional medicines.