MyBanLao Hotel in 1960s
Former CIA headquarter during The Secret War
Legacies of war, storied past and historic site
The General’s House
This property was once home to Ouane Rattikone, the General in command of the Royal Lao Armed Forces, the official military of the Royal Lao Government and the Kingdom of Laos during the 1960s. General Rattikone was an ally of the United States during the Vietnam War and provided critical military support against communist forces in the northern regions of Laos. He was born in Luang Prabang in 1912 and passed away in 1978.
As a clandestine participant to the Vietnam War and its shadow secret war in Laos, this building functioned as the offices for USAID, America’s foreign aid mission during the secret war and a cover for CIA headquarters. Imagine, this parking area once had a helicopter landing pad!
The construction of a hotel on Rattikone’s family land was led by Ms. Sirivanh Thammavongsa, one of his ten children. At a time when Laos was starting to see international tourists cross its borders, Villa Ban Lao was one of the first hotels to open in Luang Prabang in 1999. Built in the classic colonial design and encircled by gardens and a lily-filled pond, the hotel offered an on-site restaurant, which made it a popular venue for weddings and parties. It was also the location for the first Miss Lao New Year (Nang Sangkhan) pageant in Luang Prabang.
The late hotel structure of Villa Ban Lao has been transformed into the modern neo-classic elegance of MyBanLao. Renovation to the original buildings was undertaken with strict UNESCO construction codes to protect its heritage and architecture.
A Time of Turbulence
The first coalition government, led by Prince Souvanna Phouma, forms but immediately collapses in 1958.
The second Geneva conference where Laos declares itself neutral, hoping to avoid future international conflicts. But Laos was eventually dragged into the Vietnam War, because of its geopolitical position.
A second attempt to form a coalition government consisting of factions from the left (the Pathet Lao (who were linked to North Vietnam), the right (linked to Thailand and the US), and neturals (led by Prince Souvanna Phouma).
The latest coalition government collapses.
Laos is now engulfed in the Vietnam War and subject to some of the heaviest bombing in the history of warfare for nearly a decade with over 270 million cluster bombs dropped.
Paris Peace Accords lead to the withdrawal of US forces from Vietnam and called for a ceasefire in each of the countries of mainland Southeast Asia. But the North Vietnamese never withdrew from Laos and the Pathet Lao remained a proxy army for Vietnamese interests.
Laotian factions sign the Vientiane Agreement which called again for a ceasefire and another coalition government composed of factions from the left and right, presided over by Souvanna Phouma.
Communist forces take control of South Vietnam. The Pathet Lao with the backing from North Vietnam are able to take total power with little resistance.
December 2, 1975
The king is forced to abdicate his throne, ending a 600-year old monarchy, and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic is established.
22 October 1953
French transfers power to the independent Royal Lao Government while still retaining control of all military matters in the kingdom, according to the Franco-Lao Treaty of Amity and Association.
9 November 1953
Communist Pathet Lao initiates a civil war against the Kingdom of Laos.
Geneva Accords marks the end of French rule in Southeast Asia. The French withdraw from Indochina and the USA starts supplying the Royal Lao Government with arms.
The North Vietnamese invaded Laos to create the Ho Chi Minh Trail.