#1 – Discover the city and its market
Luang Prabang is a small city, without big buildings, without big avenues bites, without frenzy (it’s too hot to go fast!). It is a very touristy city but people are generally pleasant. It is very easy to do great activities and find food (including small western dishes !!) for cheap! The night market is unavoidable, we went there several times to stroll. Souvenirs, clothes, accessories and other handmade products are at very low prices. The majority of stands are held by women who have young children with them.
A human size city with many verdant space
The Mekong is also an attraction by its width, the strength that emerges from it, and the small boats or the sorts of crafted ferries which launch in its crossing. Many lanes provide access to the banks of the river which are wooded. After visiting many big cities, we were delighted to see so much greenery.
#2 – Visit beautiful Buddhist temple
If you love Buddhas, in Luang Prabang you will be happy! The concentration of Buddhist temples is impressive. This gives a spiritual side to this former royal capital (to see also the palace of the king). These golden temples lead some to name Luang Prabang “Gold city”. We meet monks and novices everywhere. Indeed, many young people come to the monasteries to study, we saw children of 8 or 9 years. It is unclear at what age a boy can join a temple, but the tradition is that every boy follows a Buddhist teaching for at least a few days in his life. In Thailand we were told 7 days minimum, here in Laos, we do not know.
We meet novices of all ages, wearing the traditional saffron tunic.
While walking in the city, we were able to visit some of the most beautiful temples of Laos. They are of a particular style and they shelter many Buddhas (our challenge with Sacha was to find all possible positions of the Buddha and to seek the meaning). Here people practice Theravada Buddhism (mixed with some animistic beliefs). The paintings and sculptures can tell stories that unfortunately we did not know the meaning of, so we invented! We can only let ourselves be carried away by the magic of the richness and finesse of the decorations.
#3 – See the light festival
In October, it is the end of Buddhist Lent and the day of the rite of “Lai Heua Fai” or literally “Festival of Boats on Fire”. The idea is to pray the Mekong by letting light boats on the water. All Laotian families will make themselves (or buy from street vendors) at least one floating element (often a kind of junk or floating saucers) made of bamboo, trunk and palm leaf, and flowers. all the Colours. Sacha had the chance to make his saucer during a workshop organized by the municipal library.
Junks on wheels for a magnificent light show
During the preceding week, each village (district / temple) produces colorful and illuminated junks. Each rivals ingenuity to hold light garlands and / or candles / lanterns on dragons or firebirds. This festival is the most beautiful of the year. The monks decorate the temples that illuminate every night with hundreds of lanterns and candles. On D-Day, at nightfall the “junks” line up on the main street. The parade lasts more than an hour and ends at Vat Xieng Thong, the temple at the end of the peninsula.
You make a wish when you put your floating construction to the river
Then these large boats are launched to the Mekong river, to their destiny (sink, or sail a few kilometers before falling over or running aground). We saw some also on the roof of the boats that took them where ??? Our evening ended in the light of the smartphone lamp to go to deposit Sacha’s floating construction in the water while he made a wish and he failed to fall from the pontoon …. He can boast to have bathed his right leg in the Mekong!
#4 – Bathe in the waterfalls
The waterfalls are outstanding! You can read our article about it by clicking here : ICI