ITINERARY BY DAY
Day 1: Luang Prabang City Tour
Today, explore many of the former royal capital’s cultural highlights. You’ll visit Wat Xieng Thong, one of the largest and most decorative temples, and Wat Mai, with its beautiful gilded façade. Then continue on to the former Royal Palace, a commanding structure in the centre of town that until 1946 was the heart of the Lang Xang Kingdom. Today it is the National Museum, and its halls contain rare religious and cultural artefacts. Next, climb 328 steps to the top of Mount Phousi and enjoy panoramic views of the city. And lastly, visit the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre, a repository of information on the country’s many ethnic-minority groups.
As the sun sets, take a one-hour walking tour of Luang Prabang’s night market, which is open from dusk until about 10pm. Browse for colourful textiles, quilts, carvings, basketry, ceramics, clothing and handmade paper.
Please note: The Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre is closed Mondays, and the National Museum is closed Tuesdays.
Day 2: Almsgiving - Seuang River Village
Rise to the sound of the temple gongs and make your way down the quiet streets to witness the mystical sight of monks collecting alms. About three hundred young monks clad in saffron robes, walk silently by collecting sticky rice and other foods in their bowls. The ritual is linked to a Buddhist tradition in which monks beg for their daily food as a way to demonstrate humility. You may wish to offer food to the monks, in which case your guide will show you the best way to interact with them.
After breakfast, drive to tonight’s homestay which is part of a sustainable tourism project in Seuang River. Meet your host family who will show you their home. The house is quite simple but has electricity and basic bathroom facilities.
In the afternoon, explore some nearby villages and attend a cooking class in a local home. The stove is an open fire pit and cooking, chopping and mixing are typically done on a mat on the floor. Tonight enjoy dinner and strike up a lively chat with your hosts.
Day 3: Seuang River
After breakfast with your host family, take a trip to the village school. Today’s lesson is about international exchange, the teachers will have activities prepared, but you are welcome to join in! After lunch, construct a traditional raft from bamboo and vines and paddle it downstream to a nearby village. Tonight, join in the fun as your hosts sing traditional songs, dance and play games.
Day 4: Seuang River - Pak Ou Caves - Luang Prabang
Say goodbye to your host family with a Baci ceremony, a traditional rite across Laos that is meant to bring balance to your soul and promote community harmony. Villagers will perform the ceremony using offerings of flowers and rice and at the end you will have a white cotton string tied to your wrist for good luck.
Next, drive to the village of Pak Ou and travel by boat to the sacred caves overlooking the confluence of the Mekong and Ou Rivers. The caves are home to hundreds of Buddha statues left by devotees to make merit and bring good fortune. Explore the caves before returning by boat to Luang Prabang for a long-awaited hot shower!
Day 5: Luang Prabang – Elephant Riding - Tad Sea Waterfall
Today you will get to ride an elephant through the jungle! This morning drive to the nearby Elephant Village, a government-approved project to promote elephant conservation and support local communities. Upon arrival, meet the camp manager and receive a short primer in elephant care and maintenance. Then climb atop an elephant for an hour ride through jungle paths.
Afterwards, take a short boat trip to Tad Sae Waterfall and enjoy a dip in the cool waters. After lunch by the falls, you will be driven back to Luang Prabang, arriving at your hotel by early afternoon.
Please note: The falls are dry from January to July.
Day 6: Luang Prabang
Today is free to do as much or as little as you want before departing on your onward journey.