Sure it's the exotic smells, the snippet of a town almost buried between two rivers flanked by jungle carpeted hills...
...but it was somebody's promise that this part of SE Asia had actually held time at bay. And in a region where ancient treasures are frequently cheek-to-jowl with crass development, that is no small feat.
A walk through UNESCO designated Luang Prabang seems to constantly veer between its thousand-year roots and its 19th Century French-Colonialist rule:
But no further.
And when you do see an anachronistic tuk-tuk or (gasp) auto they tend to look almost intentionally antiqued.
Like the monk above that strolls non-chalantly by this classic Citroen from the 1950s, a visitor will be challenged to pick apart the constantly shifting provenances of the scenes they encounter, but one thing will be for sure: