Royal Palace Museum

The old royal palace sits at one end of town, opposite Phou Si hill. The current palace building was built in 1904 on the foundations of a much older palace. This was after the Luang Prabang kingdom became a French protectorate, so the building features a blend of Lao and French styles. The building was taken over by the government after the 1975 revolution and opened to the public as a museum in 1995.

The long front wing houses the king's reception hall to the right of the entry, where busts and paintings of the Lao monarchs are now displayed. This room is decorated with murals depicting scenes of everyday life around the city. They were executed by a French artist in the 1930s.

To the left of the entry is the reception area for the chief secretary, which now displays gifts from various heads of state to the Lao monarchy. Beyond this is the queen's reception room.

Connecting the reception wing with the residential wing is the throne hall. In addition to the throne of the king and queen, on display is the king's elephant chair. Glass cases contain many crystal Buddha images removed from the chedi at Wat That Makmo. The walls of the throne room are decorated with cut mirrored tile mosaics, which you can also see at Wat Xieng Thong.

The royal apartments have been preserved more or less as they were when occupied by the king and queen. They include bedrooms and the dining room, as well as a music room displaying Lao classical instruments and masks.

Beyond the main palace building, one of the out-buildings houses the royal car collection. It's a small and rather sad little group of poorly maintained, mostly American, cars from the 1950s to 1970s. Behind the garages is another building which has a gallery for rotating exhibitions.

New pavilion to house the Prabang Buddha statue.

In the compound of the royal palace is a large ornate pavilion just being finished in 2010, having been started in 2000. The pavilion will house the Prabang standing Buddha image, which will be placed on a high throne within the hall. Currently, the Prabang image, along with many other religious artifacts, is housed in the front wing of the royal palace.

Also in the compound is a theater where performances are held four times a week (Mondays, Wednesdays, Friday and Saturdays) at 18:30. In front of the theater is a statue of King Sisavong Vang.

Admission Fees

Admission to the museum is 10,000 Kips (about US$1.00). No photography is allowed inside the museum. You must leave your bag in lockers provided near the entrance, and must also remove your shoes before entering. You need to be dressed conservatively. The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 8:30 to 11:00 in the morning.