The town of Luang Prabang boasts a history and culture that is intrinsically linked to Theravada Buddhism. Approximately 1,200 monks and novices reside in Luang Prabang, making up a significant portion of the town’s overall population. Situated in the heart of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, surrounded by beautiful temples and within walking distance of the Mekong River, Amantaka offers insight into Buddhist culture and an array of activities allowing guests to participate in the daily life and important festivals of Luang Prabang.
Amantaka’s Cultural Sojourn offers guests a firsthand experience of Boun Ok Phan-Sa – a festival that celebrates the end of Buddhist Lent with a number of meaningful and photogenic ceremonies and processions.
Boun Ok Phan-Sa
19 October 2013 – The End of Buddhist Lent
20 October 2013 – The Fireboat Procession (Lay Heua Fay)
Buddhist Lent takes place over the rainy season, during which the monks fast and retreat for three months. Boun Ok Phan-Sa celebrates the end of this period and welcomes the autumn sunshine. On the first day of this atmospheric festival, 19 October, donations and offerings are made at temples all over town. In the evening, temples host peaceful candlelit processions. The following day, 20 October, culminates in a magnificent fireboat procession, after which hundreds of colourful offerings decorated with flowers, incense and candles are set adrift on the Mekong to thank the river spirits.
Those participating in Amantaka’s Cultural Sojourn arrive on 18 October, and are welcomed with a traditional Baci ceremony, followed by dinner at the resort. Afterwards, the town’s night market can be explored. The next morning, 19 October, an early start sees guests gathering to offer alms to monks, and then enjoying a day discovering Luang Prabang, lounging by Amantaka’s pool or relaxing within Aman Spa. At 5pm, Amantaka’s cultural advisor takes guests to Vat That Noi to join the monks in their chanting and to witness beautiful bamboo lanterns and the village’s fireboat creation a short walk away. The day is capped with a special dinner overlooking Amantaka’s pool adorned with floating candles. A local dance troupe will perform three traditional dances accompanied by musicians of the former royal court.
On 20 October, guests can enjoy a guided tour of the Royal Palace Museum after breakfast. Lunch is taken at Amantaka, and later Amantaka’s cultural advisor will lead an informal discussion on the festival over afternoon tea in the Library. An early dinner follows the creation of river offerings, after which a short walk through charming lanes leads guests to Nam Khan River where offerings are set afloat. After watching the Fireboat Procession down Main Street, guests board a traditional boat for a scenic cruise along the Mekong. This allows guests to witness the procession of fireboats entering the river at Vat Xieng Thong, and locals setting their offerings adrift.
Breakfast at the resort on 21 October concludes the sojourn.