The palace, built for King Sisavang Vong from 1904 to 1909, was the royal residence until the Pathet Lao seized control of the country in 1975. The last Lao king, Sisavang Vattana, and his family were exiled to a remote region in the northern part of the country and never heard from again. Rumor has it that they perished in a prison camp, though the government has never said so. The palace remains as a repository of treasures, rather scanty but still interesting. You can begin your tour by walking the length of the long porch; the gated open room to your right has one of the museum's top attractions, a replica of a golden standing Buddha that was a gift to King Fa Ngum from a Khmer king. Known as "The Prabang" (thus the town's name), which translates to "holy image," the original was cast in Sri Lanka in the 1st century A.D.
Don't miss the busts of the last dynasty of kings. The central throne room is done in colorful glass mosaics dating from a renovation in the 1930s. Past the throne rooms is a compound of large, spartan bedrooms with what little finery was left after the departure of the last king. The temple at the compound entrance is a gilded wedding cake, and the large Soviet-made statue of Sisavang Vong, the first king under the Lao constitution, has a stiff raised fist like a caricature of Lenin.
The palace hosts a growing troupe of dancers who perform at the Royal Theater. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, tourists can take part in a Baci ceremony and view the historical reenactment of the Ramayana. Tickets are US$5/£2.75.
- © Frommer's 2013
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- Highly Recommended 2010
- tel: 071/212470
- Phothisarat Rd
- Luang Prabang
- Mon-Sat 8-11am and 1:30-4pm. Warning: At 11am the museum will kick you out, and you'll have to pay again to come back after lunch
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