Luang Prabang was the ancient capital of Lan Xang kingdom till 1907.
Muang Sua was the old name of Luang Prabang following its conquest in A.D. 698 by a Tai prince, Khun Lo.
The aristocracy of Tai overlords in Luang Prabang was replaced by Nan-Chao, the date of the occupation are not known, but it probably ended well before the northward expansion of the Khmer empire under Indravarman I (A.D. 877-889).
In the meantime, the Khmers founded in Laos an outpost at Xay Fong near Vientiane, and Champa expanded again in southern Laos, maintaining its presence on the banks of the Mekong until 1070.
Chanthaphanit, the local ruler of Xay Fong, moved north to Muang Sua and was accepted peacefully as ruler after the departure of the Nan-Chao administrators.
Chanthaphanit and his son had long reigns, during which Luang Prabang became known by the Tai name Xieng Dong Xieng Thong.
Under Khun Chuang, a single family ruled over a far-flung territory and re instituted the Siamese administrative system of the 7th century.
Xieng Dong Xieng Thong in 1353 became the capital of Lan Xang. The capital was moved in 1560 by King Setthathirath I to Vientiane, which remains the capital today.
In 1707 Lan Xang fell apart and Luang Prabang became the capital of the independent Luang Prabang kingdom.
When France annexed Laos, the French recognized Luang Prabang as the royal residence of Laos but when Laos achieved independence, the king of Luang Prabang became the head of state. Until the communist takeover in 1975 it was the royal capital and seat of government of the Kingdom of Laos.
Henri Mouhot a famous French naturalist and explorer of the mid-19th century died of a malarial fever on his 4th expedition visiting Luang Prabang in November 1861.
Two of his servants buried him near a French mission in Naphan, by the banks of the Nam Khan river. Mouhot’s favorite servant, Phrai, transported all of Mouhot’s journals and specimens back to Bangkok, from where they were shipped to Europe.
Luang Prabang is absolutely nice, really a cradle of culture. It is unbelievable how many Buddhist temples are all over, how old, how nice and well preserved they are.
The notorious ‘Pak Ou Caves’ filled of ancient Buddha statues can be reached by boat or road few km along the Mekong.
The highway 13 connects Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng and Vientiane in the south.
When I was traveling there some years ago two foreign cyclists died in crossfire, but at the moment it appears to be safe.
Now there are already 103,000 habitants but still this place is a real jewel of Southeast Asia and well deserve to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Probably Chiang Mai was something like that 80 or 90 years ago.
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