Discovering the Diversity of Luang Prabang
Khiri Travel is constantly striving to create travel experiences that offer new insight into the daily lives of locals, their cultures and traditions. Share our passion for adventure with one of these four unique tours to discover the people and places of Luang Prabang.
(credit photo to Luang Prabang half marathon website)
This walking tour in Luang Prabang enables you to soak up the ambiance and appreciate the hidden charms of this ancient city, a place where tradition and ceremony still play an important role in people’s everyday lives.
The day begins with the tolling of the bells at the town’s many monasteries, marking the beginning of the early morning arms giving ceremony, and the emergence of the saffron-robed monks, who line up on the streets outside the temples to receive their only rice meal of the day from the local townspeople.
Having met your guide at the hotel, you join the locals for the ceremony and present to the monks the basket of food which the hotel has prepared for you. Afterwards, we visit the early morning market and experience the hustle and bustle of this ancient place of commerce, where you will see a colorful assortment of meats, vegetables, and spices being sold by local farmers to the townspeople for their daily cooking needs.
You then return to your hotel for breakfast, before continuing on to explore the town’s small side streets, back alleys and tucked-away temples – walking through neighborhoods that seem almost to have been created for slow, ponderous travel – full of easy charm, color, and vitality.
We stop for lunch at a local temple and speak to the monks about their way of life and what led some of them to join the monkhood. It’s also a chance to try some meditation and learn about their rituals and practices, as well as the role of temples in the local community.
In the late afternoon, you will be treated to the refined grace of a private Baci ceremony at a small village. These gentle villagers led by their Nai Ban, or village chief, offer visitors tidings of good luck and fortune for their life-long endeavors and journeys by gently tying cotton cords symbolizing luck, friendship and good health around your wrists.
The Baci ceremony is held at a private family home, adding special significance to this occasion.
HERITAGE WALK LUANG PRABANG
Explore the historic charm of Luang Prabang on this slow and ponderous tour that takes you not just to the city’s exquisite architectural sites, but puts you in touch with the color and culture of local street life.
Meet our guide at your hotel and set out to explore the historic and charming UNESCO World Heritage town of Luang Prabang on this Khiri Travel walking tour. Your journey begins at the most popular of temples, a 500-year-old place of worship that is an exquisite architectural example of a traditional Luang Prabang Buddhist temple.
From here, we continue on to explore small side streets, back alleys and other hidden temples – walking through a city that seems almost to have been created for slow, ponderous travel. Our morning tour allows you to soak up the ambiance and appreciate the hidden charms of Luang Prabang, while experiencing the color and culture of local life, as people go about their daily, age-old routines.
We continue our walk, stopping now and again at other monuments and ancient sites of interest which you may choose to explore further. We also peruse the National Museum, the former Royal Palace, where artefacts and treasures from Laos’ royal past can still be seen.
Overlooking the palace in the center of the old town is Mount Phou Si, a 100-meter-high hill, whose 328 steps we climb to see Wat Chom Si temple, home to several impressive Buddhist Shrines. Overlooking the surrounding hills, with the Mekong River on one side and the Nam Khan River on the other, the temple offers a beautiful bird’s eye view of the surrounding mountainous countryside.
We then descend and head for a training restaurant run by Friends International, known locally as ‘Peuan Mit’, meaning ‘good friends’, which operates a holistic program for children, youth and caregivers, living on the streets and in marginalized communities in Vientiane and Luang Prabang.
At their restaurant, underprivileged Lao youth receive hands-on training in the hospitality industry and they will prepare a delicious and creative lunch for you using only local ingredients and flavors – a perfect way to better get to know Lao cuisine!
This two-day tour begins early in the morning, so that we can fit you up with one of our quality mountain bikes – ready for a day of energetic riding! We first bike from the city center across the town’s old communist bridge and into local villages lying along the banks of the Mekong River.
Our first stop is to explore a paper and weaving village and learn about Laos’ silk weaving industry. From here we head off-road into the beautiful Laotian countryside passing by brilliant green rice paddies and simple agrarian villages.
Further on, we cross the river again – along with our bikes – this time by local boat and make our way to the terraces of the Nam Khan River valley. It’s a chance to relax and ponder the impressive view of jungle-covered karst mountains that make up the ancient topography around Luang Prabang.
Leaving out bikes behind, we board another boat for a scenic ride upriver to a waterfall where we stop for lunch and enjoy the beautiful area with time to swim and explore. There’s also an elephant camp at the falls where you can observe these gentle creatures, and you’re welcome to buy some bananas and sugarcane to feed and interact with them.
We then return by boat to our bikes and cycle on through more beautiful scenery as we take the return ride to Luang Prabang town via paved road. All in all, we will have biked around 46 km (29 miles), covering both mixed dirt and paved roads, with a few hills in-between!
We then overnight at a riverside hotel, where you can enjoy some well-deserved leisure time and rest.
The next morning you meet your guide at the hotel for a short transfer with your designated kayak to a boat launch on the edge of Luang Prabang city. After a brief safety review, you’ll begin kayaking down a section of river infrequently visited by tourists. We kayak for about three to four hours through rolling mountains covered with thick jungle – stopping along the way to take lunch on a riverbank.
Millions of people make their living in the Mekong River basin, and you’ll witness for yourself the various agricultural and fishing activities of local people living along the river. The kayaking will conclude at a riverside village that you can also explore with your guide.
On our return drive to Luang Prabang we visit a locally established Hmong hill tribe museum where you can learn more about the rich culture and life of these highland tribes. We reach Luang Prabang by late afternoon where you will be transferred to take part in a local cooking class – learning the secrets of authentic Laotian cuisine, while using some intriguing and unfamiliar ingredients.
But before the class even begins you will first visit one of Luang Prabang’s major food markets, where your guide and cook will explain the variety of fresh ingredients that you need to purchase and how they are used in everyday cooking. And of course, you’ll learn the art of perfecting sticky rice and its eating etiquette!
CLASSIC LUANG PRABANG
On this special Khiri Travel tour into rural Laos, you will meet with your guide after breakfast and pay a visit to the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre, a fascinating museum dedicated to the ethnic minorities of Laos.
We then drive into the peaceful countryside of Luang Prabang, stopping to explore several villages and hill tribes along the way, belonging to the Hmong hill tribes and ethnic Khmu people, as well as a Lao Loum, or Lowland Lao village. It’s an intriguing opportunity to compare the different lifestyles, traditions and religions, especially of the highland hill tribe people and their lowland counterparts. The Lao Loum live on the banks of the Mekong River, its tributaries and in the cities. They speak Lao, which is closely related to Thai language spoken in neighboring Thailand.
We visit the homes of the Khmu ethnic people, who were the original inhabitants of Northern Laos and are once thought to have populated lowland areas. As the Thai/Lao people moved into the lowlands of Southeast Asia many centuries ago, they were forced to higher ground, above the rice-growing lowlands. Their beliefs are based on animism and they speak a language belonging to the Austro-Asiatic group of languages.
In another village, you will see Hmong hill tribes and Khmu tribes living peacefully side by side. The Hmong are the most recent settlers in Laos and live in villages high in the mountains. They practice shifting cultivation, using slash-and-burn methods of farming to plant corn and other crops.
In both villages, local guides will show you around and you will have the opportunity to visit some of the dwellings and see the villagers in their traditional dress. The guides will explain the local crafts and skills, as well as farming methods and work routines. The villagers are proud to welcome visitors to their village and are grateful for the additional income they can earn from your visit.
We then continue on to the Kuang Si Falls, a multi-tiered waterfall with beautiful cascades that leads into spectacular turquoise-colored pools, where we can stop for a refreshing dip. After your swim you can also visit the adjacent Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre and learn about the activities of its rescued sun bears and moon bears, saved from poachers.
We then transfer to the Laos Buffalo Diary for a special one-hour guided tour where you can learn about ethical animal husbandry and new cruelty-free farming practices. Besides the buffalos, the farm has piglets, rabbits, and chickens to feed, making it an ideal place for families with young children.
There’s also an opportunity to bathe the buffalos, help with their milking, and even bottle-feed the buffalo calves. The farm also offers a delicious range of dairy products including a selection of buffalo milk cheeses – blue, mozzarella, ricotta, feta and many more. After the tour, you can relax in the café and enjoy the ‘cake of the day’ served with ice cream and tea or coffee.
We then transfer to the Lao Friends Hospital for Children (LFHC), where you will be able to pay a visit to the Friends Visitor Center to learn more about the activities and amazing work the people of this NGO do on a daily basis to help underprivileged children of the region.
For more information about the half marathon, please click here, and to book one of our programs above, please contact [email protected], or get in touch with us via the contact person in the yellow box below.