French colonial architecture tour, Luang PrabangFrench colonial architecture tour, Luang Prabang

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Make a tour in History and have a look at Luang Prabang old French-Lao colonial buildings...

My experience, Explo description: 

In contrast to the situation in neighbouring Việt Nam and Cambodia, the French colonial government in Laos had little money for infrastructural development and was therefore unable to fund the construction of large French-style buildings on the same scale that it did in Hanoi, Saigon and to a lesser extent Phnom Penh.

However, French colonial architecture still made a modest impact in most major towns and cities, and particularly in Luang Prabang.

Prior to the arrival of the French, most cities comprised ramshackle collections of mainly wooden or bamboo stilted houses with thatched roofs, grouped around the overgrown ruins of former temples and palaces.

At the early 20th century, French started to build government buildings, as the Royal Palace (1904), which was aiming at symbolizing union between the French and the Lao people.

In addition to government buildings, the French also built two-storey brick and stucco villas with pitched tile roofs and wooden shuttered windows to accommodate the colonial administrators and their families.

However, as elsewhere in the Indochinese colonies, provincial French design was modified to suit the hot and humid tropical climate through the addition of balconies, verandahs and internal corridors. Construction was entrusted mainly to migrant Vietnamese labourers, who also built their own two-storey shop-houses in designated areas.

The design of the colonial villa began to influence subtle changes in the design of Lao urban dwellings, and from the 1930s, inventive architectural hybrids appeared, such as European-style villas on stilts, or stilted wooden houses with their lower levels enclosed by masonry walls.

Make a walking tour in Luang Prabang to observe these inventive architecture buildings (see attached map and pictures). Except the Royal Palace and the Centre Culturel Français, there is not much to visit, but it is a good way to discover the city, and why not getting lost ?!

Start the tour at the Lao French Cultural Centre (Centre Culturel Lao Francais). The tour is 1.6km long. Do not hesitate to finish the tour going along the Mekong : many colonial houses were built there, and they are now very sympathetic places to eat or have a drink while looking at the Sunset over the Mekong.

My personal recommendations: 

Have a look at the Centre Culturel Lao Français temporary exhibitions : a fresh and interesting cultural visit in a typical colonial building.

How getting there: 

Centre Culturel Lao Français - Luang prabang

Address : Ban Vat Nong Luang prabang, RDP Lao

Useful information: 
Visit duration: 

Tour : 3h.
Centre Culturel : 1/2h.

Entry fees: 

Free !

Contact: 

Tel : (856-20)5526474

Email : info [at] cccl-laos [dot] org

Tour map :
View Luang Prabang Lao French colonial Architecture in a larger map