Luang Prabang, or Louangphrabang (literally: "Royal Buddha Image (in the Dispelling Fear mudra)"), is a city located in north central Laos, where the Nam Khan river meets the Mekong River about 425 kilometers (264 mi) north of Vientiane. It is the capital of Luang Prabang Province. The current population of the city is about 103,000.
The city was formerly the capital of a kingdom of the same name. Until the communist takeover in 1975, it was the royal capital and seat of government of the Kingdom of Laos. The city is also notable as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In the meantime, the Khmers founded an outpost at Xay Fong near Vientiane, and Champa expanded again in southern Laos, maintaining its presence on the banks of the Mekong until 1070. Chanthaphanit, the local ruler of Xay Fong, moved north to Muang Sua and was accepted peacefully as ruler after the departure of the Nan-chao administrators. Chanthaphanit and his son had long reigns, during which the town became known by the Tai name Xieng Dong Xieng Thong. The dynasty eventually became involved in the squabbles of a number of principalities. Khun Chuang, a warlike ruler who may have been a Kammu (alternate spellings include Khamu and Khmu) tribesman, extended his territory as a result of the warring of these principalities and probably ruled from 1128 to 1169. Under Khun Chuang, a single family ruled over a far-flung territory and reinstituted the Siamese administrative system of the 7th century. At some point, Theravada Buddhism was subsumed by Mahayana Buddhism.
Xieng Dong Xieng Thong experienced a brief period of Khmer suzerainty under Jayavarman VII from 1185 to 1191. By 1180 the Sipsong Panna had regained their independence from the Khmers, however, and in 1238 an internal uprising in the Khmer outpost of Sukhothai expelled the Khmer overlords. Xieng Dong Xieng Thong in 1353 became the capital of Lan Xang. The capital was moved in 1560 by King Setthathirath I to Vien Chang, which remains the capital today.
The Mekong River itself is also an important transportation link. Travelers from Chiang Khong can hire a barge to cross the river. Huay Xai, just across the river from the Thai border is 20 baht on a boat, Luang prabang can be reached by slow boat in two days, typically with a stop at Pakbeng.Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luang_Prabang