Day 6 - Luang Prabang (B,L)
Today is free at leisure or you can choose one of these full-day excursions:
Option 1: Weaving & Temples
After breakfast your guide and driver will collect you from your hotel for a private transfer to Ock Pop Tock’s Living Crafts Centre. This is located in a beautiful setting, slightly out of town on the banks of the Mekong River. Your guide will then leave you in the capable hands of the staff at the Living Crafts Centre, where the activities are shared with other visitors.
Textiles are very important to the Lao people as they are used in many aspects of daily life, from annual ceremonies to daily household uses. From Buddhist scarves and prayer flags to dowry gifts and long traditional skirts, textiles are deeply embedded in the Lao culture. Several villages throughout the country are known for their unique patterns and the women can be observed working under their stilted house on their looms.
The morning Natural Dyes Class introduces silkworms and the numerous types of silk. You will be taught the secrets of natural dye preparation and try mixing them yourself, with many of the ingredients coming from the surrounding gardens. By the end of the morning you will have 3 dyed silk skeins to take home as souvenirs.Enjoy a range of delicious Lao dishes for lunch in Ock Pop Tock’s Silk Road Café, taking in views of the mighty Mekong River.
The afternoon session focusses on weaving and you will be assigned your very own traditional loom! One of the expert weavers will be your personal tutor to help you master the impressive art of weaving. As a novice you will select just two colours and create a placemat with a Lao motif. You can witness the Lao ladies weaving incredibly intricate patterns and truly appreciate their skill having tried yourself!
After collecting your handmade souvenirs you may wish to also browse the excellent on site shop. Your guide and driver will return you to your hotel in the late afternoon.
- Maximum group size is 7 pax
Option 2: Private Cooking Class at Kuang Si Falls
This morning you will begin at approximately 0800. You start with a visit to the local market, where the chefs can introduce you to the ingredients which you will be using today.
Then transfer through the Luang Prabang countryside to Kuang Si Waterfalls (32km southwest of the city). Along the way, you will drive through beautiful landscapes of rice fields, hills, and small villages. There are also viewpoints overlooking the Mekong River.
All of the necessary equipment will be set up in a peaceful spot beside the crashing waterfalls and turquoise pools of Kuang Si. The expert chefs will first demonstrate how to prepare authentic Lao dishes. Then it’s your turn to try your hand at cooking local Lao cuisine. Slice and pound your way through the ingredients before cooking each dish in the traditional way. You will be given a recipe book and apron which you can take home to practice your newly learnt cooking skills and relive your time in Laos!
After a few hours of concentration and smelling all of the wonderful flavours, you are sure to enjoy tucking in to your creations for a memorable lunch by the waterfall (one glass of wine/beer/soft drink is included).
You might wish to enjoy a refreshing swim (if so then please dress modestly). We also suggest a quick visit to the bear sanctuary which is next to the falls, run by Free The Bears Fund Inc. There are currently 23 Asiatic Black Bears living in the sanctuary, which has saved them from poaching. The main threat to these bears is poaching due to the use of their bile in Chinese medicine. You can read about their habits and observe their playful nature, whilst learning about the difficulties they are facing.
Transfer back to your hotel this afternoon, with the possibility of stopping to visit a local village on the way back to town.
You will be back at your hotel no later than 1500 after a truly memorable day.
- All staff and services on this tour are provided by Sofitel Luang Prabang on a private basis
- You do not need to be staying in Sofitel Luang Prabang to enjoy this tour
- Maximum group size is 8pax
Option 3: Bucket of Books
This morning you will be picked up from your hotel at 0900 and transferred in to the countryside surrounding Luang Prabang for a charitable adventure.
Your guide will present you with a Bucket of Books, which our local office has assembled for you. This will be yours to donate to the villagers who you will meet today. The contents and even the bucket itself have been carefully selected to be of maximum use to the community you will visit.
The idea behind this excursion is to help the local community without being invasive (for example we avoid distracting children from their schoolwork, which some other charitable excursions are guilty of). We have avoided any plastics (apart from toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste, as there is no alternative and dental hygiene is a significant issue). The books are sourced from excellent local charities; Big Brother Mouse and Pha Tak Ke.
Big Brother Mouse is a not-for-profit, Lao-owned project employing local staff who work with the goal of helping young Laotians develop new and beneficial skills, it is not an NGO. Started by a retired American publisher working with several bright and dedicated Laotian college students, Big Brother Mouse started publishing “books that make literacy fun!”. The books are written and illustrated by Lao writers for children to educate themselves through reading. The cost of 5 books is included in every Bucket of Books, with that money going directly to Big Brother Mouse.
Pha Tad Ke Botanical Garden is due to open in 2015 and will be the first of its sort in Laos, located close to Luang Prabang and on an impressive scale. The primary objective of the project is education; teaching people the importance of preserving the natural world and how to go about it. The garden will also host international botanists for various research projects. Whilst the gardens are not ready yet, the team behind them are already actively educating the people of Laos, with a focus on rural communities and children especially. The team have already published five books which are aimed at children, but will be educational for all ages. The cost of 5 books is included in every Bucket of Books, with that money going directly to Pha Tad Ke.
The Bucket of Books contains:
1 x Metal bucket (used for carrying water from the well / stream and for washing)
5 x Books from Pha Tad Ke (5 different titles, suitable for all ages, each one explaining sustainable use of local flora, with proceeds going to the charity)
5 x Books from Big Brother Mouse (5 different titles, suitable for all ages but aimed at children, with proceeds going to the charity)
4 x Toothbrush
4 x Toothpaste
4 x Bar of soap (wrapped in cardboard)
When creating this option a major concern was that numerous clients would end up visiting the same communities and giving the same donations. To avoid or minimise this issue we have compiled a list of the 10 most suitable villages within a few hours of Luang Prabang. The destination which you will village will not be confirmed in advance so that we can manage our bookings effectively. Through these efforts we aim to ensure that the village you visit might have had a similar visit a few months before, but not a few days before.
A picnic lunch, catered by l’Elephant, is included for you to enjoy in the countryside.
You will return to your hotel in Luang Prabang in the mid-afternoon (timings will vary depending on which village you visit and how long you spend there).
Overnight in Luang Prabang