Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang is the jewel of Laos, the land of the one million elephants. (Except they killed off most of those.) This town is home to buddhist monastery at nearly every major corner, with beautiful wooden pagodas painted with gold. The tree-lined streets are quiet, narrow, and lined with wonderful French colonial architecture, with no more than two floors. Simple restaurant terraces overhang the shore of the Mekong river. During the high season, which will begin around November, tourists flood Luang Prabang, but it somehow maintains its charm and dignity. Luang Prabang is far richer than its neighbors due to the money the tourists bring, but the money hasn’t done damage. Needless to say, there are no Western chain restaurants, or in fact any Western stores, in town. Luang Prabang has the same charm as Hoi An in Vietnam, which embraced tourism too but did not sell out either.