Welcome to Luang Prabang, the enchanting UNESCO World Heritage site in the heart of Laos. This charming city is home to the magnificent Royal Palace Museum, a cultural gem that offers a fascinating glimpse into the country’s rich history and royal heritage. In this travel guide, we will delve into the history of the palace, explore its remarkable architecture and design, and discover the captivating treasures housed within its walls.
The Royal Palace Museum, also known as Haw Kham, was originally built in 1904 during the French colonial era. It was once a residence for King Sisavang Vong and his family. The palace was the royal residence until 1975 when the monarchy was abolished. It was then converted into a museum to preserve and showcase the country’s royal artifacts and regalia. The museum is a testament to the country’s enduring cultural heritage and a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and cultural aficionados.
What to see inside the Palace
Step inside the Royal Palace Museum in Luang Prabang and transport back in time to the era of Lao royalty. The museum boasts a rich collection of artifacts, religious treasures, and ceremonial objects. As you wander through the palace, you’ll encounter various exhibition halls that showcase the grandeur of the royal court.
The Throne Hall, with its resplendent golden throne, offers a glimpse into the opulence and power of the Lao monarchy. Marvel at the intricate detailing of the throne, adorned with precious gems and intricate carvings. The adjacent rooms display impressive religious artifacts, including ancient Buddha images and intricately woven textiles.
Make sure to explore the King’s Reception Hall, where state receptions and ceremonies took place. Adorned with gilded decorations and elegant furnishings, this hall reflects the regal atmosphere of the past. The King’s Quarters provide a glimpse into the personal life of the royal family, with preserved bedrooms and personal belongings on display.
NOTE: No camera is allowed inside the National Museum or the Royal Palace itself. Also, you have to be properly dressed when entering the palace. There’s a room where you can change clothes/sarong, which they provide. And most of all, visitors are prohibited to bring a bag inside, so you have to leave whatever you have (including mobile phones) in a provided locker.
Architectural Design and Legacy
The architectural design of the Royal Palace Museum in Luang Prabang is a blend of traditional Lao and French colonial styles. The graceful sweeping roofs, intricately carved wooden facades, and elegant columns create a harmonious fusion of influences. The exterior walls glow with intricate gold and red motifs, representing prosperity and good fortune.
The museum’s legacy lies not only in its architectural beauty but also in its cultural significance. It serves as a vital institution in preserving the cultural heritage of Laos and educating visitors about the country’s rich history. The museum’s commitment to maintaining the authenticity of its exhibits and promoting cultural awareness has made it an integral part of Luang Prabang’s cultural landscape.
Other Things to See on the Palace Grounds
While exploring the palace grounds, take time to stroll through the beautifully manicured gardens adorned with lush tropical plants and towering palm trees. Visit the Haw Pha Bang, a small temple located within the palace compound, which houses the famous Phra Bang Buddha image, considered a revered symbol of Luang Prabang.
Don’t miss the Phra Bang Chapel, an exquisite golden shrine that houses the sacred Phra Bang image. This chapel is a significant religious site for locals and a place of tranquility and contemplation for visitors.
Related Post: Things to Do in Laos
Where to stay in Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang is still a bit cheap at the moment. But, in 3-5 years, prices for accommodation could change drastically. I stayed at Elephant Boutique Hotel, a short distance to/from everything you want to see within the city. It’s clean, and the room is spacious with a good wifi connection. The staff is nice and helpful, too. If you want to stay in a hostel, I would recommend these two: Khonesavane Hostel and La Casa Hostel. They are both popular and highly reviewed by fellow backpackers.