The UNESCO World Heritage Committee declared the entire city of Luang Prabang a world heritage site. I fell in love with this place from the moment I arrived – 24 hours in Luang Prabang simply does not allow enough time to take in everything this place has to give you – take your time here, let this town frozen in time consume you.
Giving Of Alms To The Monks
Free to observe
Every morning at around 5:30am, the monks circulate around the town, accepting alms and offerings of food from the local people. The typical offering is a handful of sticky rice, which the monks place into a metal container slung around their waist.
It can be an extremely moving experience. Even in the pouring rain, the daily ritual continues.
Luang Prabang National Museum
Pak Ou Caves and the Lao-Lao Whiskey Village
There’s a small hut along Khem Khong road parallel to the Mekong River – shared boats depart from here from 8:30am.
The journey to Pak Ou Caves is approximately two hours upstream and one and a half hours back downstream.
You make a short stop at the Lao-Lao Whiskey Village on the way – you will find an assortment of local moonshine alcohol with snakes or giant centipedes preserved in bottles.
Also, fine hand woven silks and cottonware can be purchased.
I ate barbecued chicken feet – the thing that freaked me out was the fact that the nails were still attached!
At the Pak Ou Caves, there are two distinct sections – the upper cave and the lower cave. You must climb a set of stairs – be careful during wet weather as the stairs can be perilously slippery! The upper cave is immersed in near-complete darkness. A hand torch can be hired at the entrance – or the flashlights on smartphones are acceptable to use, too.
The lower cave is open to the sunlight and many miniature images of the Buddha are here. My guess is that the larger, stone and clay statues are originals in the cave – the others are additions left by pilgrims after the site was declared a holy place.
Climb to the top of Mount Phousi for an amazing view over Luang Prabang city and surrounds, looking down towards the Mekong River and beyond. At the top a wonderful golden stupa and images of the Buddha can be admired.
Wat Xieng Tong
Free to enter
The temple at the tip of the peninsula was suggested to me by a friend. As I did not get the chance to visit, I will quote her advice:
“There is an enormous tree of life mosaic. Beside the mosaic, almost right across from it, is a little buddhist statue about 30cms high. It’s made of brass and sits in it’s own little house. Now, this is where the magic happens…. Go inside, kneel by it, place your hands on it and then close your eyes and ask it a question. If you can lift it, it means “yes”.. if not, then it’s a “no”. If that’s not enough to convince you, ask the opposite question and see what happens… it’s uncanny. (I know, we can get all rational and stuff, but play along! It’s way more fun that way.) There are a few of these sorts of buddhas with such ‘powers’ in Lao.. but this is supposedly the most sacred in all the land.“
Free to browse
At night, the streets come alive with light, colour and food! For such a small town, it is very surprising to see how large the night markets are! Covering nearly 150 metres of the main street, Sisavangvong Road, the each market stall offers souvenirs from locally sourced and produced items.
I bought an aluminium ring supposedly made from the salvaged metal found from the war, such as bombs, aircraft debris and other scrap war ordnance.
Feature image source: snhcollection.com