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LUANG PRABANG – MEKONG EDEN FARM, PAK OU CAVES & VILLAGES
- Visit of the Mekong Eden Farm, an experimental organic garden, created by Mr. Om, a young passionate biologist.
- By boat, reach the Pak Ou caves, that houses an impressive collection of Buddha
- Discover Ban Xang Khong and Ban Xieng Lek, villages of weavers and Mulberry Paper Craftsmen
A day on our guided tour along the Mekong River to a Mekong Eden Farm, the Pak Ou Caves, and traditional villages.
After a transfer on tuk-tuk, you’ll board a small traditional boat that cruises the Mekong River for a whole day of cultural and natural exploration.
The journey starts with a visit to the Mekong Eden Farm, founded by Mr. Om, a young biologist who’s passionate about organic farming. He teaches the local farmers about the proper technics and environmental practices to grow agricultural products while preserving natural resources and keeping high standards for animal welfare.
This visit is part of his eco-tourism promoting.
In the same spirit, you will then explore the Pha Tad Ke botanical garden, the first botanical garden in Laos dedicated to the conservation of plants, eco-tourism and, sustainable agriculture.
After a short cruise on the River, you’ll reach the Pak Ou Caves, an ancient sacred place that houses an impressive collection of Buddha placed over time by the devotees.
On the way back to Luang Prabang, the tour will make his last stop to Ban Xang Khong and Ban Xien Lek, two villages of weavers and Mulberry Paper craftsmen.
Full day, Everyday, from 8am
English Speaking Guide
Private Pick up at your Hotel
Official Language: Lao
Surface: 236 800 km²
Population: 7 226 000 (in 2020)
Currency: Laotian kip (LAK)
Telephone code: +856
The local currency is Kip. 8,500 kip is equivalent to about 1 USD. It is possible to exchange currency in banks, exchange offices, or even by default in jewelry shops in all major cities…. Whether it is your EUR or USD, the banknotes must be “new”, i.e., legible, not too folded or wrinkled, not graffiti, not torn or scratched, because the banks refuse them. The country’s 2nd currency is the Thai Bath, which can be used almost anywhere in the country.
Some purchases or expenses can be made directly in US$ or euros, but this is most often limited to shops in large cities, or in hotels. For your expenses, we advise you to arrive with US$ and/or euros in large and small denominations. Large denominations for the exchange mainly at the beginning of the trip, small denominations for the exchange at the end of the trip, or purchases when possible (mainly in US$). It should be noted that in recent months, it has become very difficult to buy foreign currencies from Laotian banks…. So be careful not to end up with large amounts of money in kip at the end of the trip that you may have difficulty changing…
Cash withdrawals are possible in major cities in Laos, with a credit card (Visa or American Express). Payments are also possible in some hotels, luxury shops, or restaurants. But the cost of the levies (variables) remains quite high (3% commission). We recommend that you carry cash to cover your personal expenses throughout the trip.
It is difficult to talk about gastronomy in Laos…. Laos is a poor country, where even today a large part of the population still lives in the countryside and feeds on what they can fish, hunt, or gather…. The food is therefore very basic, sticky rice being the basis of the diet with a few sauces or dishes to accompany it. In addition, authentic Lao food, due to the unrestrained use of padek (fermented fish sauce) and chili pepper, is most often unsuitable for the palates and digestive systems of Westerners.
However, there are some traditional dishes in Laos, such as “lap”, a very flavoured meat or fish salad, “olam”, a
flavored stew specialty of Luang Prabang, Luang Prabang salad, Nem Khao (rice salad with fermented port)
or mocha (meat or vegetables steamed in banana leaves) that you should discover!!!!!! Noodle soups (Vietnamese or Chinese influenced) are one of the most popular dishes in the city for local people.
No vaccination is required. However, it is recommended to protect yourself against hepatitis A and B (ask your doctor for advice). We advise you to bring your own:
of a broad-spectrum antibiotic;
of your usual medications if you are undergoing treatment;
an anti-diarrheal and an intestinal antiseptic (Intetrix, Immodium…);
a protective cream against mosquitoes;
moisturizing sunscreen, lip stick;
a healing ointment and a local antiseptic.
In the north of the country, from the 7th or 8th century onwards, Tai-kadai populations descended from southern China following the river valleys and settled and organized into small independent principalities, pushing indigenous populations back on the slopes. Southern Laos, on even earlier dates, hosted the kingdoms of Funnan and Chenla, precursor of the Khmer empire of Angkor. The 13th century saw the emergence of the first strong Tai political entities in northern Thailand and Laos, which undermined Khmer domination. Quarrels between the Thai kingdoms that followed in the 14th century allowed a Lao prince, married to a Cambodian princess and with the support of his stepfather, to take control of vast territories and create the first Lao kingdom of the Million Elephants and the White Parasol
His son Samsenthai consolidated the kingdom into a state of great importance. His successor made Theravada Buddhism the state religion. Then torn apart by quarrels over succession, the kingdom broke up again into 3 entities, falling under the control of the Burmese or the Siamese. At the beginning of the 19th century, Chao Anou, a Lao prince was installed by the Siamese at the head of the kingdom of Vientiane, allowing the restoration of the city, as well as more harmonious relations with other parts of Laos… But under pressure from the Vietnamese, he rebelled against the Siamese and suffered a heavy defeat. Vientiane is razed to the ground (except for the Vat Sisaket temple), and the population deported to Siam. The other kingdoms of Laos facing the same fate, Laos is in its largest part annexed by Siam at the end of the 19th century when the French arrive in Laos.
The signing of a protectorate treaty, followed by a series of agreements between France and Siam, will allow Laos to
recover all its territories on the left bank of the Mekong River, those on the right bank being definitively integrated into the Siamese kingdom. Although the French unified the various entities to form the current Laos, they have never made this territory a priority because of its lack of economic interest… The Second World War and the Japanese intervention allowed the nationalist and independence movements to flourish… which in 1953 succeeded in making Laos a fully sovereign state. This was followed by a period of nearly 25 years of unrelenting political upheaval between communists, American-backed nationalists and neutralists… and a succession of coups d’état.
In the mid-1960s, despite the signing of an agreement ensuring the country’s independence and neutrality, the country was dragged into the Vietnam War… The Laotian Communist Party defending the interests of North Vietnam, and therefore taking advantage of its support, the Americans bombing the Ho Chi Minh runway or relieving themselves in the east of the country of the bombs not dropped on Vietnam or financing a secret army in Laos… With the American disengagement, nothing can stop the communists from taking power in December 1975 and overthrowing the monarchy and proclaiming the People’s Democratic Republic.
Lao is a polytonal monosyllabic language of the Tai Kadai group. It is spoken by the majority of the population. However, in the most remote areas of Laos, some people only speak the dialect of their minority. Laotian is the administrative language, although it is not uncommon to see administrative panels in French. English, since the country’s opening to tourism, has replaced French, which is still spoken by a few elderly people. Vietnamese is also quite common given the large Vietnamese community living in Laos, and Chinese is booming.
Hello: Sa bai dee
Good Bye: Lakon
Thank you (so much): Kob Chai lai lai
How much does it cost? : Laakhraa thaow dai ?
I don’t understand: Khroy boh Kroh Thiai
My name is: Khroy sue …
Where are the toilets? : Hong nam you saay ?
Laos offers a lovely choice of handicrafts that can be found on the markets, in shops or directly at the artisan. It is essentially basketry, textiles, silverware, wood carving, and blackberry paper products. In some shops in Luang Prabang, you can find refined decorative objects or antiques. Buying locally is a great way to support the local economy with the advantage of making beautiful souvenirs! Do not hesitate to ask your guide for good local tips.
Remember when you negotiate on markets to keep your smile. Keep in mind as well that the cheapest price is not always the best as it may happen that the seller, if in need of cash, will accept your price even if it is below their “cost price”.
One thing to be aware of: exporting historic or religious artefacts and articles containing materials of threatened flora and/or fauna is forbidden:
– Ancient Buddha statues.
– All souvenirs (food, drinks, crafts) made from endangered species (skin, hair, teeth). Examples:
Ivory jewelry, figurines and carvings,
Wine made from exotic animal remains,
Seahorses and rhino horns
No special rights to pay for photographing or filming in Laos. In some places, photos are prohibited … thank you to carefully follow the instructions on this matter. Try to connect with the people before taking their picture. For some people it could just be a matter of being shy, whilst for some ethnic minorities, a camera “can steal” one’s soul. Keep in mind a blessing or a permission may be, at times, asked through a simple look…
Just as an extra objective view, before taking a picture of someone, imagine if you were on the opposite side of the camera with your picture taken, or one of your children, without having been asked for your consent.
Regarding visiting local minorities, take the chance to make meaningful connections with the people and avoid ogling the locals, snapping pictures and only buy tourist tat. Your guide is here to help you connect, share and truly immerse to have an ethical approach.
If you have any doubt during your stay about how to act or react, ask your guide or even better, wonder if you would act this way or tolerate such behavior in your city/village/church or even your home.
On your way, you will often have the opportunity to meet local people. Wherever you are, be discreet and humble. The multiplicity of cultures and traditions means that certain attitudes are perceived differently in different countries. To avoid being disrespectful, take the time to understand the people you meet, take the time to make connections.
There too, listen to the advice of your guide! He knows better than anyone the behaviors to avoid or adopt. For example, if you want to take a picture of someone, always ask them for permission. The best way for acceptance is to have established a prior contact. Similarly, do not distribute gifts at all … This often encourages children to beg, to avoid this kind of drift, it is better to refer to the local structures competent (donate to school, hospital, village chief etc.). Finally, be careful not to wear too light clothing (short shorts, cleavage …) and avoid exuberant behavior.