Luang Prabang Possesses a Charm that Outshines Excessive Tourism

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It’s boom time in Luang Prabang. Tourism figures have been rising after it was included on the Unesco World Heritage Listing, and after the New York Times ranked Laos number one on its “Places to Go” list for 2008.

I checked into the Villa Maly, a lovely boutique hotel a short walking distance away from the centre of town. This establishment shows perfectly why Unesco decided that Luang Prabang’s art deco architecture is a heritage worth preserving; the building is a gorgeous and successful fusion of traditional Lao architecture and colonial French influences.

In spite of extensive renovations, Villa Maly, once home to the local royalty, still manages to feel like an authentic part of Luang Prabang. The place offers, among other things, a spa, free (if spotty) WiFi service and a swimming pool that is almost too pretty to jump in. Upon request the staff can provide you with a map of the town, with the route to the centre of town helpfully highlighted.


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