Buddhism is an intrinsic and powerful part of life in Luang Prabang. Groups of saffron-robed monks and novices from age eight to 80 are a common sight at any time of day throughout town and the various temple complexes. Colourful local markets display an eclectic collection of vibrant handcrafted textiles, homeware and jewellery alongside all kinds of fresh fruits, local foods and crafts, from sturdy iron work to delicate paper lanterns. Riverside cafes under vast trees line the riverbanks, offering a peaceful vantage point from which to watch the Mekong, and the world, pass by.
Amantaka offers various privately guided walking tours that allow the guest to visit the many of the temples resting in Luang Prabang. In the Luang Prabang City Tour, guests will walk through the winding streets of the town. Stops on this tour include That Makmo (the watermelon stupa), Vat Xieng Thong (Temple of the Golden City), as well as the National Museum. This museum holds the Pra Bang, the namesake of Luang Prabang. The Pak Ou Caves Tour sails the guests along the Mekong River to the caves at Pak Ou. Pilgrims have flocked to these caves for hundreds of years, offering Buddha statues. Amantaka may also arrange a visit to the Buddhist Archives. The archives contain more than 20,000 rare historic photographs taken or collected by the monks of Luang Prabang since the 1880s. This visit provides a unique viewpoint from the Luang Prabang monks throughout history. After a long ban of meditation, meditation teaching retreats are now organized in quiet forests outside town for young monks and novices. Guests are invited to the Royal Palace Museum to view the Floating Buddha Exhibition, Hans Georg Berger’s moving documentation of these retreats.
One of the daily highlights of Luang Prabang is the Tak Bat (Alms Offering). Monks and novices walk through the town every morning at sunrise to accept alms from the townsfolk. While there is a procession on Luang Prabang’s main street, Amantaka hosts a quieter and less crowded tak bat in front of the hotel. The Floral Temple Offering gives guests hands on experience in a traditional religious ritual. Artists demonstrate the many shapes and designs employed in religious floral decoration and will help the guest create an offering (Vanh-Cornet) for the monks in a nearby temple.
The bun festival for the locals of Luang Prabang and the phiti for the monks offer a view at the area’s rich local heritage. Access to these festivals can be arranged through Amantaka’s staff.
Download the Amantaka excursion map here