Luang Prabang Province is situated in the center of a mountainous region in northern Laos, about 300 km north of Vientiane. The city town is built on a peninsula formed by the Mekong River and its tributaries, the Nam Khan and the Kual Hop, in a clay basin surrounded by limestone mountains.
Many legends are associated with the creation of the city, including one that recounts that Buddha would have smiled when he rested there during his travels, prophesying that it would one day be the site of a rich and powerful city.
Luang Prabang is exceptional for both its rich architectural and artistic heritage that reflects the fusion of Lao traditional urban architecture with that of the colonial era. Its remarkably well-preserved townscape reflects the alliance of these two distinct cultural traditions. The old town center of Luang Prabang is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995 for its outstanding cultural, historic and architectural values and its harmonious relationship between the natural and built environment.
Archaeological evidence suggests that Luang Prabang has been inhabited since at least 8.000 BC. During the ascendance of the Chenla kingdom, centered in southern Laos and northern Cambodia between the 6th and 8th centuries, Luang Prabang was known as Muang Sua.
In the 14th century, King Fa Ngum founded the Lan Xang Kingdom, in Luang Prabang. Luang Prabang remained the capital of the kingdom until 1545, when it lost its capital and administrative status to Wieng Chan (now Vientiane).
After the establishment of the French Protectorate in 1893, following a period of turmoil during which the country was divided into three independent kingdoms, Luang Prabang once again became the royal and religious capital during the reign of King Sisavang Vong. It played this role until Vientiane became the administrative capital in 1946.
The province has a total population of just over 400.000 that includes 12 distinct ethnic groups. The Khmu are the largest ethnic group in the province and make up the majority (about 44%) of the provincial population. They are a Mon-Khmer speaking people known for their knowledge of the forest, and they are believed to be the original inhabitants of Laos. The Hmong are the second most populous ethnic minority.
Luang Prabang has a tropical climate typical of Southeast Asia with several quite distinct seasons. The months January, February, October, November and December have a nice average temperature. On average, the warmest month is April and the coolest month is December. The cold (dry) season is from the end of October until the end of January. From mid-February onwards the weather gets warmer. The weather is pleasant and can be cool in the evening. March can be quite hot, while April brings the hottest weather. However, Luang Prabang will be cooler than the rest of the country. May marks the start of the rainy season, which means the countryside become very green and rather beautiful. July and August are the wettest months. By September, the temperature is much lower and the rains are generally over in October.
Luang Prabang International Airport (LPQ) is located 4 km from the center of Luang Prabang. Luang Prabang International Airport serves domestic and international flights. Several international and domestic airlines operate scheduled flights from Luang Prabang Airport, including Lao Airlines, Bangkok Airways, Thai Airways, China Eastern Airlines and Vietnam Airlines. Luang Prabang Airport Terminal provides various services, shopping, restaurant, information, currency exchange, ATM and transportation options.