Luang Prabang is one of the most picturesque towns in Southeast Asia. The name literally translates to Royal Buddha image. It’s rich history, beautiful architecture combined with a strong Buddhist monastic community makes it a place all too tempting to stay longer than planned. On my most recent trip to the former royal capital I was fortunate enough to be in time for the country’s most important holiday and festival, Pi mai or Laos New Year. Even if your visit is outside of a festival time you will be enchanted by one of the most beautifully preserved towns in Indochina full of French colonial architecture. An ample selection of cafes to spend a carefree afternoon in and a huge selection of restaurants from inexpensive buffets to multi-course dinners. In my opinion it’s one of the best buys for fine dining in all of Southeast Asia. One of the best places to start your exploration of the town is a walk up the 355 stairs of the highest hill in Luang Prabang, Mount Phou Si, to the Buddhist temple Wat Chom Si. Here you can see the whole town and the peninsula it sits on between the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers. There are a few approaches to the top but I chose to start from the staircase across from the Royal Palace Museum exiting on the other side to see Wat Tham Phou si. Sunset is a popular viewing time so if you don't like the crowds, and it's a tight squeeze at the top, try a walk in the morning. Phousi translates to sacred hill and is considered the spiritual center of the town. It's believed that the hill was once the home of a powerful naga serpent deity, lending more spiritual significance to the site. Another legendary story of Phousi was that at one time there was a deep pit on the hill that lead to the center of the earth. Excerpts from "Luang Prabang, Laos-Drowning in Buddhism And Laos New Year".