How to Respectfully Witness Alms Giving in Luang Prabang

March 7, 2013 by | Filed Under: Authentic Experiences, Laos, News, Responsible Tourism

One of the most moving and photogenic sights on a visit to Luang Prabang is to witness the morning alms giving ritual during the daily procession of monks down the main street of town.

990 Monk in Laos

An Important Spiritual Devotion

It’s a picture postcard sight: a long line of orange-robed monks proceeding barefoot down Main Street collecting alms from the town’s Buddhist faithful. Increasingly, tourists are flocking to witness this alms giving, an important spiritual devotion in Luang Prabang, Laos. And, as is increasingly common in this type of tourism destination, tourists are degrading the very sights they are drawn to see. These crowds of sightseers and amateur photographers are unwittingly showing disrespect for the monks, the Lao people and other tourists.

 

Simple Guidelines to Show Respect 

Khiri Travel Laos recommends your clients follow these simple guidelines to remain as unobtrusive to others as possible. This will help keep the alms giving ritual a beautiful and authentic tradition for all to partake and enjoy:

  1. Participate only if it is truly meaningful to you. Don’t just go through the motions.
  2. If you are not participating in the actual alms giving, keep your distance and stay out of the way of the locals and the monks.
  3. Don’t use a camera flash and don’t get closer than 10m to the line of monks. This is distracting to the monks, who are performing a walking meditation.
  4. During the alms giving procession, don’t position yourself higher than the monks. It’s a sign of diminished respect.
  5. Don’t touch the monks or make eye contact.
  6. Do remain silent.
  7. Street vendors, sadly, contribute to an inappropriate marketplace atmosphere. Don’t buy anything from them. If you want to provide alms, our guide will assist you with preparations beforehand.
  8. Most importantly, this is alms giving is a living tradition that you are lucky to witness. If you treat it only as a photo-op, it will decline into being nothing more than a dog and pony show in the future.

990 Monk

So if your clients don’t mind rising early, please come and witness this moving alms giving scene typical of old Laos. But do so by following the Khiri Laos guidelines above. For more information about how to include this wonderful display of devotion in a tour to Luang Prabang, please leave your contact information in the form below.

For more information and bookings, please contact sales.laos@khiri.com.