Luangprabang Situated at the confluence of the Khan and the Mekong Rivers in the middle of the northern Laos is Luang Prabang, ancient capital city of the Lane Xang Kingdom during 13 to 15th centuries. Lane Xang - the kingdom that, over six hundred years ago, spread throughout present day Laos, southern China and northeastern Thailand. The name of Luang Prabang is derived from the kingdom's palladium - the gold Phra Bang Buddha.
The Phra Bang, an 83cm, gold image of Buddha dispelling fear, was cast in Sri Lanka between the 1st and 9th centuries. It arrived in Lane Xang from Angkor in 1353 after its king, Fa Ngum, asked his father-in-law, Jayavarman Paramesvara, the Khmer king, to help him spread Theravada Buddhism throughout his new kingdom. It became the kingdom's palladium, and remains a revered devotional object of the Lao people. While housed in Vientiane, Siamese invaders twice looted the Phra Bang, in 1778 and 1827, and it was twice returned, as the Siamese king believed it would bring bad luck to his country. Returned to Luang Bang
in 1867, the palladium managed to survive the collapse of that kingdom and the city's subsequent sacking by Chinese Haw raiders in the 1890s. However, despite its tenacious relationship with Laos, the Phra Bang's whereabouts today are somewhat vague. It is reportedly locked in a deep vault and is brought out only during religious festivals. However, rumour has it that this Phra Bang is a fake and that the Pathet Lao traded the country's palladium for Soviet assistance during the seventies revolution.
Nowadays, Luang Prabang is a small, peaceful town with a remarkably well-preserved combination of Lao and colonial French architecture, which led to UNESCO World Heritage designation in 1995