Also known as the National Museum, the Royal Palace Museum was the home of Lao royalty from the early 20th century until 1975. An attractive combination of classic Lao and beaux arts architecture, it houses collections including state gifts and royal cars. The sacred Pha Bang golden Buddha is preserved in Wat Ho Pha Bang.
There is a reasonable charge to enter the Royal Palace Museum, payable in cash only. The palace stands in the heart of Luang Prabang, has decent signage, and is easy to visit on foot, so there’s no need to join a tour. However, the Royal Palace Museum is an essential stop on Luang Prabang city tours, history tours, and cultural tours, so whether you’re joining a day tour or a half-day tour, you are likely to end up here.
Things to Know Before You Go
- A must-visit for history buffs, architecture fans will also appreciate the charms of the Luang Prabang Royal Palace.
- Dress modestly to visit, with knees and shoulders covered.
- You will need to remove your shoes to enter the wat, so wear footwear that slips on and off easily.
- Most of the buildings in the Royal Palace Museum are approached by steps.
How to Get There
The Royal Palace Museum stands right in the heart of town, between Mt. Phousi and the Mekong River. As such, it’s easy to access by walking (or cycling) from most central Luang Prabang accommodations. Visitors on a tight schedule may prefer the faster pace and air-conditioned comfort of a door-to-door car or minibus tour.
When to Get There
The Royal Palace Museum is open seven days a week in the morning and the afternoon, with a break for lunch in the middle of the day. Luang Prabang’s weather is at its best during the peak of the dry season, roughly November to January, which is when the grounds are most pleasant to visit.
The Last Kings of Laos
Today a Communist state known as the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Laos was ruled by kings from the 14th century to 1975, with Luang Prabang as their capital. It was Sisavang Vong who built the Royal Palace Museum; his son, Savang Vatthana, was removed from power in 1975 and died in a ‘reeducation’ camp.