The famous UNESCO World Heritage listed-town of Luang Prabang is Laos’ prime tourist destination, the town is a beautiful mix of gilded wats (temples), saffron-clad monks, faded Indochinese villas and beautiful river scenery. Buffalo Joe, one of our colleagues, has recently discovered this amazing town as a visitor. He is introducing his itinerary for Luang Prabang in two days, hope it helps build up the list of what you can do while touring in Laos.
The Amantaka is the best hotel to stay in Luang Prabang, a beautiful French colonial hotel opened and operated by Aman Resorts in 2009. While you are here, visit a local family for a private Baci ceremony. Baci ceremonies are integral part of Lao culture, which is held to celebrate a special event, marriage, a homecoming, or a departure, it is based on an ancient belief that the human being is a union of 32 organs and the “kwan” (soul) watches over each of them. The Baci ceremony re-aligns the kwan and the body. A village elder will wrap a white cotton thread around your wrist while chanting an invocation to strengthen the power of the blessing. In Laos, while is the color of peace, good fortune and warmth. This ancient practice is an authentic experience in a local family, it makes you feel refreshed and enlightened.
Visit Phou Si Hill, where you climb 328 steps to the top for wonderful views over the town and nearby mountain ranges, enjoy the drive passing outstanding examples of the fusion of Lao traditional architecture and colonial-era villas. It is a great idea to have a tea or Lao coffee at the colonial-style French bakery Le Banneton, or at the Viewpoint Café at the peninsula where the Nam Khan and Mekong River meet. Visit some of the main Buddhist temples such as Wat Xieng Thong, a 16th century temple which epitomizes the elegance and grace of Luang Prabang architecture, and also visit Wat Khili – a home to the archives of Laos Buddhism. Have lunch at 3 Nagas, then continue onto the Royal Palace which is now a National Museum housing precious artefacts that belonged to the Royal Family.
In the late afternoon, stroll around the shops and cafes of the old town with your guide who can help you with bargaining. Board the Nomad riverboat for a sunset cruise along the Mekong River. A private exploration boat that offers cruises along the Mekong River and its tributaries. Ideal for afternoon rendezvous or quick show around tours, this 16-metre vessel takes two passengers on meandering Mekong adventures.
On the second day, get picked up at 5h30 am for the “Tak Bat” (morning alms round). Tak Bat is a living Buddhist tradition for the people in Luang Prabang, which dates back generations. Witness and participate in the offering alms to a procession of hundreds of saffron-robed monks in the early morning light, truly a spiritual occasion! If you wish to make an offering, your guide should be informed a day in advance so that a gift of alms can be prepared. But if you do not wish to make an offering, please keep an appropriate distance and observe the ritual in silence, dress appropriately is a must (shoulders, chest and legs should be covered). After the almsgiving, watch the town come to life during a visit to the bustling morning market before returning to your hotel in time for breakfast.
Spend a half day exploring the area around Kuang Si Waterfall, highlighted by a private tour of the Asian Bear Rescue Centre. Depart on an hour drive south of Luang Prabang, with a stop at the vibrant Phou Si Maket.
Continue onto the waterfalls, and take a leisurely hike through the natural park to the Kuang Si Bear Rescue Fund Inc. to look after bears destined for use in the traditional medicine trade, including the Asiatic Black Bear (Moon Bears). Observe one of Laos’ most endangered species and learn about the threats to bears and what can be done to protect Laos’ precious wildlife. Arrive before 11h00 to help out with the bears’ midday scatter feed by hiding food around the enclosure to stimulate the animals and get them to work for their food.
Afterwards, walk to the beautiful cascading Kuang Si Waterfall, bring proper walking shoes if you planned to climb to the top of the waterfall. Swimming in the refreshing turquoise waters is possible, although the water temperature is very cool between December and January.
Luang Prabang combines nicely with Vientiane - the capital of Laos, Hanoi and Halong Bay in Vietnam as well as Cambodia. Incense Travel is the best in customizing luxury tours in the region, contact our travel experts and build your own itinerary.