4 Days in Luang Prabang, Laos.

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Laos is a untainted country that has a timeless quality to rural life, especially in Luang Prabang where hundreds of saffron-robed monks gliding through the streets every morning in a call to alms. The almsgiving in this city is one of the region's iconic images.

If you ever looking for a tranquil place to unwind your body and mind, Laos is definitely the best place to relax, refresh and recharge yourself!

With Air Asia now offering such a convenient connecting flights throughout Southeast Asia, I took this opportunity to discover more about the continent that I've been living for more than 20 years. Nonetheless, Laos has becomes one of my favorite place recently :) Just a 4 days short vacation in Laos and I am totally into it.

Tips for traveling in Luang Prabang -

Local currency known as KIP, and most of the transaction uses KIP. You may change in the airport after arrival, however the currency they accept is limited, the rate wasn't that bad as we were using MYR. To be safe, you can always carry THB. But not to worry, there are a lot of money changer & ATM available in the city.

Get a Data Simcard right after immigration, we get the deals of 8GB data for 4 days with THB 150.

In order to get to the city from airport, there's a taxi counter just next to the money changer, with KIP 50,000 for one car maximum 3 passengers, travel times 15-25 minutes.

Main costs :

Return flight from Kul - MYR 329
3 nights Hotel - MYR 180
1 day tour - MYR 180
Return airport transfer - MYR 15
4 days data sim card - MYR 19

Food can be vary in prices depend on what you choose to eat, but it shouldn't cost a lot as the prices in a proper restaurant for a main course is about KIP 35,000 - 50,000, and with that is consider expensive in local.

With all in and if you are not a shopaholic, MYR 1000 is more than enough for the whole trip.

Day 1 -

Arrival 2.10pm local time, and checked in our hotel around 4.00pm. Suggest to stay near to Nam Khan River to get a spectacular sunrise by the riverside. Travelling around the attractions can be easily accessible by foot, would be better if you rent a bike or bicycle.

Rest and refresh and get ready to hit the night market of Luang Prabang!

Day 2 - 

Waking up naturally and enjoy your breakfast with a cup of Laos Coffee, you might wanna go slow and enjoy every moment :)

In the afternoon, walk down along the Nam Khan River and look for Utopia Restaurant and Bar. A place that you wouldn't want to miss.

Allow yourself some times to have a cup of coffee or tea or cheers with a chilled beer. Immersed yourself into it and feel the local lifestyle by the riverside, a rural life like no where else but only Laos.

Stroll along Nam Khan River until you reached Wat Xieng Thong, a symbol of great historic importance temple. Also known as the "Golden Tree Monastery", Wat Xieng Thong acts as a gateway to Luang Prabang as it is strategically situated close to where the Mekong joins the Nam Khan River.

Walk alongside Mekong River and you will then reach the night market area where the Royal Palace Museum is located. Beware of the operation time of this museum as it will be closed during lunch time. They say you haven't been to Luang Prabang if you haven't been to Royal Palace Museum.

After a long walk, find a nearby cafe on the riverside and get some rest before going to Mount Phousi to catch the sunset with a little hike.

Entrance fees to Mount Phousi costs KIP 20,000, make sure to go up early before sunset as it will gets crowded once the sun starting to settle down!

Grab your dinner again at the night market and have a good rest for the next day :)

Day 3 - 

Prepare for a full day tour start from 8.30am. We'd book a tour with our hotel with the price of KIP 350,000 per person with lunch and all entrance fees included. 

What's in the tour are Elephant Ride, Whiskey Village, Pak Ou Caves with long boat ride and Kuang Si Waterfall.

Although Pak Ou Caves have got nothing special other than hundreds of Buddha statues, but worth to experience the local long boat ride along Mekong River.

Spotted these in the whiskey village while walking towards the long boat through it.

Out of all of these activities, I did really enjoy the 1 hour elephant ride :) We had a lot of fun with the ride!

If you love to swim, Kuang Si fall has a beautiful turquoise blue pools.

Night activity is really nothing except for shopping at the night market every day LOL. And you may choose to relax in a bar or pubs nearby hotel.

Day 4 - 

Can't really do much on this day as our flight departs at 9.00am, however we managed to witness the alms giving ceremony early in the morning. We booked a van for airport transfer with our hotel for KIP 100,000, and depart at 7.30am. 

We came back from alms giving ceremony at around 6.00am and I managed to catch a glimpse of sunrise over Nam Khan River just in front of our hotel :)

A Brief History of the Alms Giving Festival in Luang Prabang :

For over 600 years, locals of this UNESCO World Heritage City have been waking up before dawn to prepare for “Tak Bat”. As the sun rises, locals will take their spot on the sidewalk and wait for the procession of monks to start.

Hundreds of monks from the 35 temples of Luang Prabang walk in silence, meditating as they collect their daily alms from devotees. This is the Buddhist practice of making merit, a symbiotic relationship between the monks and alms givers.

By feeding the monks the lay people generate good karma and the monks grant merit to the devotees that counts towards their future lives.

During summer the alms giving starts at 5:30am, while in the winter months the sun doesn’t start rising until 6:30am.

If you are planning on participating in the ceremony, here are a few things to keep in mind to respect the ritual and the Laos people:

  • Only take part in the ceremony if it is means something to you.
  • Buy your rice at the morning market rather than at the street food vendors on the main road.
  • Remove your shoes during the ceremony.
  • Dress conservatively. Cover your shoulders, chest, and legs.
  • Do not make eye contact with the monks or touch them.
  • Be silent.
  • Keep your phone on silent
  • Women must keep their heads lower than the monks at all times.
  • Bow your head to show respect to the monks.

Here is what you need to know about observing the procession and taking photos:

  • Turn off your camera’s flash
  • Take photos from across the road. Keep a respectful distance.
  • Dress conservatively. Cover your shoulders, chest and legs.
  • Don’t follow the procession. Plan your shots beforehand and pick a spot.
  • Keep your phone on silent.
  • Don’t try to talk to the alms givers or monks.
  • Don’t touch the monks or get in their way.

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