The Festival of Lights in Luang Prabang.
Boun Awk Phansa – The end of the Buddhist Lent Festival is celebrated on 13 & 14 October, 2019 throughout Laos. Luang Prabang is the best place in Laos to observe and take part in the various religious and local traditions of the festival.
Take part in a Buddhist ceremony as a local, by offering alms to monks in the morning of 13th Oct; take a vintage tuk-tuk tour around the ancient town and join with the locals to prepare for a colourful night.
Cruise to the Kamu lodge, check-in to your deluxe tented camp and soak up the untouched nature and authentic ethnic culture. Extend your stay in Laos or to Vietnam, Cambodia or Thailand.
Day 01 – 12 Oct, 2019: Luang Prabang Arrival (-/-/-)
Upon arrival you will be met by your guide and transferred to your hotel. At first glance, you’ll have the opportunity to observe the locals preparing for the festival: Monks decorate the temple grounds with handmade paper lanterns, lights and candles, and local families do the same outside their houses.
In the early evening we will enjoy a cocktail while taking a glimpse into the Laotian past through the silent movie Chang – A Drama of the Wilderness. Premiered in 1927, this masterpiece was one of the blockbusters of the year before mysteriously disappearing for 60 years. Re-edited in the mid-90s, the film is shown with new composition based on Lao traditional music.
Day 02 – 13 Oct, 2019: A Monks’ Life (B/L/-)
Buddhism is the basis of Laos culture and temples play an important role in Laotian daily life. The daily alms-giving ritual is a must-see activity for any visitor to Luang Prabang, especially during these holy days.
Set off after breakfast for a visit of the Morning Market where, together with the guide and local host lady, we carefully select all ingredients needed for our upcoming cooking class. Today, we will not take part in a regular tourist-oriented cooking class. We will instead drive a little outside Luang Prabang centre to a small village where you will join hands to cook some major dishes. You will experience how typical Laos dishes such as Laap Laos, Orlam soup and papaya salad are cooked. The food is then brought to a local temple to offer for the monks’ lunch, and as part of this ritual, your name will be asked for a blessing chant. Later,
join in an open talk about Buddhism in Laos with monks. We will also have the chance to have further exchanges with the community before returning to Luang Prabang for a light lunch with the leftover food you cooked earlier.
After a short break, hop into a vintage tuk-tuk vehicle for a leisurely ride around the town. The guide will point out various interesting things to see along the way and tell you more about the history and daily life of the people. We stop to visit a temple en route; then onto The National Museum, housed in the former Royal Palace, and showcasing many treasures of Laos’ royal past. Here you will find the Prabang, the sacred Buddha image for which Luang Prabang was named after. We continue to Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang’s largest and most splendid temple, which is best known for its impressive Tree of Life mural depicting the Buddhist story.
This evening, hundreds of temples around the town hold the candle light processions which shouldn’t be missed.
Day 03 – 14 Oct, 2019: Festival Highlights (B/L/-)
This morning, you will join hands with the local people in preparing the “Khatong” or little boats, made from banana leaves, flowers, candles and incense and release them in the evening to float down the Mekong River to thank the mother of rivers for providing water for human lives or to ask for blessings and to float bad luck of the past year away enabling the good luck for the coming year.
You may need around 3 – 4 hours to prepare such a boat! Return to your hotel for short break before a colourful night ahead.
Early this evening, you will bring your Khatong to the main street to join in with the procession. The town comes alive with noise and festivity as the teams make their way to the river either by truck or walking, banging drums and singing as they travel from Wat Mahathat to Wat Xieng Thong and down to the Mekong riverbank.
Day 04 – 15 Oct, 2019: Luang Prabang at leisure (B/-/-)
Enjoy Luang Prabang on your own for a full day. This town is all about its atmosphere; it is not really about visiting it, but more about soaking it up. Wander around the narrow alleys of the peninsula, find yourself sipping a drink at the quaint terrace of a coffee overlooking the Mekong River, venture across the bamboo bridge over the Nam Khan River and simply take the time to feel the town. Two nice places definitely worth a visit though: the Ock Pop Tock center for people into crafts and local products. And the UXO Center to learn more about war History in Laos.
Day 05 – 16 Oct, 2019: Luang Prabang – Kamu Lodge (B/L/D)
On the banks of the Mekong River, in a remote valley of rice fields, small villages and forested mountains, Kamu Lodge is situated. This lodge is a good example of integration within the natural environment while still working closely with two local Khmu villages. Here you will have the opportunity to immerse yourselves with the surrounding nature and the traditional Khmu lifestyle.
Embark on a cruise upstream the Mekong River, which offers breath-taking views of the tranquil countryside en route to explore the Pak Ou Caves. Locally called Tam Ting, the caves are filled with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues. The caves are noted for their miniature Buddha sculptures. Hundreds of wooden Buddhist figures take many different positions, including meditation, teaching, peace, rain, and reclining (nirvana). Upon arrival at Kamu Lodge check in and enjoy lunch.
This afternoon you can enjoy the serene atmosphere of the lodge – take a walk to the nearby Kamu village or join one of the optional activities such as archery or traditional fishing techniques, panning gold or learning to plant rice in the rice fields, etc.
Dinner (Lao set menu) will be served at the restaurant.
Day 06 – 17 Oct, 2019: Kamu Lodge – Luang Prabang – Departure (B/L/-)
After breakfast, enjoy some leisure time or optional activities (such as local farming life with activities designed to show the various steps of rice cultivation and production).
Additional available activities:
- Traditional activities: net fishing, gold panning, and hunting techniques.
- Bamboo workshop to learn (and try your hand at) thatched roof making, many styles of basket weaving
- Leisure activities include; swimming in the Mekong, petanque, traditional Kamu massage on the riverbank (complimentary)
- A selection of board games and books.
Enjoy lunch at the hotel before taking a boat trip back to Luang Prabang. En route to Luang Prabang, we will stop to visit Ban Xang Khong, a village well known for silk hand weaving and traditional Saa paper making. Continue to Luang Prabang Airport for your flight to next destination.