The Northern Heritage Route
Houaphanh, Luang Prabang, Sayabouly, Xieng Khouang
People & Places
Laos’s lower northern part is famous for its historical town centers and important historical sites. Luang Prabang Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a center of Lao traditional arts and national history, with its exquisite Buddhist pagodas, grand colonial architecture, and the royal palace of the Lane Xang Kingdom. Other important historical sites are the Viengxay Caves in Houaphanh (the first political administrative center of the Neo Lao Haksad). In Xieng Khouang Province, there is the Plain of Jars, with mysterious 2,000 years old giant stone jars and the historic town of Muang Khoun. This area is also well-known as an important strategic military location during the second Indochina War.
The region is also famous for its silk weaving. The most notable is the intricate designs produced in Houaphanh Province. The region’s colorful festivals include the Hmong New Year festival held in December/January and the Buddhist lent opening (June/July) and closing ceremonies (October) in Luang Prabang.
Geography & Nature
The lower part of northern Laos shares borders with Thailand in the west and Vietnam in the east. It is a mountainous region shaped by karst mountains, plateaus, meandering rivers and biologically rich forests. The Xieng Khouang Plateau is known for its mountains, peaks and pine tree forests. Houaphanh has beautiful karst mountains with an extended network of caves. In Sayabouly, there are expansive teak tree forests, which can be explored by riding elephants or walking.