Louang Prabang former capital of the Kingdom of Lanexang, rich in temples and vestiges of French colonialism, is loved both for its ambience and atmosphere in a paradise setting. A blend that is made up of the spirituality of its monks, by the two rivers that surround it and, above all, by the simplicity of its people with their spontaneous smile, which is so naturally relaxing and welcoming.
Day 1: Louang Prabang
Arrival late morning, reception and hotel transfer. In the afternoon a tour of the peninsula formed by the Mekong and Khan rivers, where the more remarkable temples are concentrated. We visit the Wat Visounnarat, a replica of the original temple built in 1519, the oldest in the city; Wat Aham, residence of the first Buddhist patriarch in Laos; Wat May, former headquarters of the Chief of the Buddhist Church in Laos; Wat Sène, built in 1718, the first Temple of Luang Prabang in Thai style, with a yellow and red roof; Wat Sop, one of the rare temples done in the Xieng Khouang style. Finally, Wat Xieng Thong, one of the jewels in the crown, significant at the entrance to the city and among one of the sites classified as World Heritage by UNESCO, and considered private property to the royal family since 1975. Along the way we will be able to admire the many colonial buildings, remnants of the French era. Then a climb to the Summit of Phou Si hill in order to admire the sunset over the Mekong valley and its main street, where the night market is also held.
2nd Day: Louang Prabang
National Museum visit in the former Royal Palace. The building itself is not fetching, however the collection of artefacts to the Crown is of interest. Then a boat trip down the Mekong River to the sacred caves of Pak Ou, at the confluence of the Nam and Mekong rivers. Here a stop over in a village at the edge of the river to see the traditional activities of the locals, especially in the production process of rice alcohol. For over 3 centuries, pilgrims have come to Pak Ou to give Buddha statues as an offering or to give thanks: There are today more than 4,000,in all shapes, materials and sizes, stored well inside the cave. The caves are shallow, but are at the heart of a spectacular site right in the middle of a cliff. You get there by taking stairs that are carved in the stone. If the first is of mainly religious interest, the second, higher up, presents some beautiful limestone formations. Returning to Luang Prabang in the afternoon, to visit a village of weavers and the workshop of the grandson of the royal goldsmith, who still continues today the family tradition and makes silver coins of very high standard.
3rd Day: Louang Prabang
Day off, with a guide at your disposal to complete the visits according to a program that you can put together on the spot, in function of what you have already seen and including your preferences. Among the proposed options are a visit to the morning market, temples possibly not seen on day 1, the small museum of Traditional Arts and ethnology (WAD), where objects of daily use are shown, clothing and craft products from the tribes in northern Laos, a ride on the back of an elephant departing from a camp located about 20 km from Louang Prabang. Or even seeing a weaving centre just outside the city, an organization created to preserve the traditional know-how whilst at the same time offering an opportunity for work to young women from the villages in the region. Or simply, strolling in the streets to find secondary temples, old colonial houses, souvenir shops, or even trying out one of the many spas to discover the art of the Laos massage. Possible crossing of the Mekong River to see a pottery village, followed by a small easy walk of about 1hr up to Wat Chompet, a temple located on the summit of a hill which offers a beautiful view over Luang Prabang. This walk continues under the shade of trees to Wat Longkun, a peaceful place renovated by France and which has been allowed to be fully integrated on the site of a protection zone covered by UNESCO. This renovation has also allowed a community of monks to return and stay. A good opportunity to talk with them, under the shade of mango trees, and to learn more about Buddhism and its meanings. Back in town, with time available for other optional visits or a few last minute purchases.
Transfer to the airport in time for your flight departure.
End of suggestions.