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LUANG PRABANG – CRUISE TO THE PAK OU CAVES & EXPERIENCE THE TRADITIONAL LAO LIFE IN A VILLAGE – 2 DAYS/1 NIGHT

1,5 days
Cross the Mekong River to reach Ban Xieng Mene, a beautiful and quiet local village where you can walk from temple to temple. After a short cruise on the river, you will reach the Pak Ou Caves, an ancient sacred place that houses an impressive collection of Buddha. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant in front of the caves before being transferred to a small traditional Lao village to spend the night with one of the local families. This will be a great opportunity to discover the life of rural people and learn about Lao traditions and culture. Using a dugout canoe on the Mekong River, you will learn their fishing techniques, and observe the gold diggers at work.

From 50 USD based on 2 people or more

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    IN CONSTRUCTION

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    HIGHLIGHTS

    • Walk along the Mekong from pagoda to pagoda through forest and gardens : Wat Xieng Mene to Wat Long Khoun, and Wat Chomphet.
    • Cruise up the Mekong to reach and visit the Pak Ou caves, a sacred place that houses an impressive collection of Buddha.
    • Explore an ethnic village and encounter along the way, farmers, musicians, craftsmen.
    • Using a dugout canoe on the Mekong , you will learn about their fishing technics.
    • Overnight stay at a homestay and dinner prepared by the family made from localy grown vegetables.

    Cruise up the Mekong River to the Pak Ou Caves and experience the traditional Lao life in a village.

    Cruising the beautiful Mekong River, you’ll reach Ban Xieng Mene, a quiet village where you can walk from a temple to another.
    Typical of Luang Prabang architecture, you will get to visit Wat Xieng Mene and Wat Long Khoun pagodas with their gilded columns and intricate carvings. The curve of their white-lined roofs and the golden decorations make them elegant and refined constructions.
    A little secluded and a lot more modest stands Wat Chomphet, a pagoda located on a small hillock and offering a superb view of the city of Luang Prabang.

    After enjoying the nice view from Wat Chomphet pagoda, it’s time to embark on another short cruise along the Mekong River. The next stop is Pak Ou caves, an ancient sacred place that houses an impressive collection of golden and wooden Buddhas deposited over time by the devotees. The little statuettes are like the guardian of the Mekong, facing and watching out for the river.

    Lunch will be served in a local restaurant in front of the caves.

    Then, you will be transferred to a small traditional Lao village to spend the night in one of their local’s house. It’s the perfect opportunity to vividly learn about the lifestyle of rural populations.

    While visiting the village you will observe differents house architectures based on the ethnic origin of their occupants, testifying of the incredibly rich background of the region.

    It’s also the occasion to witness how the locals earn their livelihoods through their ancient arts and craftsman skills like weaving, embroidery, or braiding. They also manage agricultural activities such as rice growing, teak and rubber plantation, orchards, etc.

    Using a dugout canoe, you’ll also learn about their fishing technics, and maybe even observe gold diggers retrieving the precious material.

    Dinner will be prepared by your host family with fresh locally grown vegetables. Overnight stay at your host’s house.

    After having breakfast with the locals, you will be transferred back to your hotel.

    Useful Information
    1,5 days, Everyday,
    English Speaking Guide
    Private Pick up at your Hotel “

    Q&A

    Official Language: Lao
    Capital: Vientiane
    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.

    Laos is a poor country with significant financial difficulties. It therefore benefits from the assistance of many foreign countries. The country is mainly agricultural – rice cultivation in the Mekong valleys and other rivers, cereal cultivation on the hillsides… but the proximity of the Chinese market leads, mainly in the north of the country, to the development of large rubber and banana plantations. The development of the industry mainly concerns the processing of agricultural products (rice, cereals) and wood (sawmills), cement production, and the operation of some mines. The operation of hydraulic dams on several rivers in the country for the production of electricity is an important source of income for the country. Many people also work in the field of crafts (weaving in particular). Tourism is also an important source of income for the state.

    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.

    Laos, noncoastal country of northeast-central mainland Southeast Asia. It consists of an irregularly round portion in the north that narrows into a peninsula-like region extending to the southeast. In general, the country covers about 650 miles (1,050 km) from northwest to southeast. The capital is Vientiane, located on the Mekong River in the northern of the country. The geologically diverse landscape of Laos, with its forested mountains, upland highlands and lowland savannahs, supports an equally diverse population that is united largely through agriculture, particularly the farming of rice.
    Laos has been under the influence of Theravada Buddhism for nearly 8 centuries. Most of the population is Buddhist. This does not, however, prevent them from keeping an animist background, still very present, from believing in spirits, known locally as “pi”. The other inhabitants are animists, including a large part of the ethnic minorities identified in the country … Some Catholics, often of Vietnamese origin, are concentrated mainly in the big cities of the south of the country (Thakkek, Savanakkhet or Pakse)

    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.

    Water is not drinkable in Southeast Asia. Avoid tap water, require bottled water. It is harmless and safe to brush your teeth, but do not drink it.

    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.

    MINI GLOSSARY

    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 ?

    You can use your mobile phone in Laos, it is not necessary to acquire a sim card when you arrive. However, communications are sometimes difficult when using foreign numbers, and problems with local operators are also very frequent. In addition, the Internet has made its entry into daily life. Most tourist sites are equipped, hotels and restaurants have Wi-Fi.

    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,
    Pangolin scales,
    Crocodile skins,
    Rosewood carvings,
    Seahorses and rhino horns

    Tips are not mandatory but are always appreciated. They should be used as a token of appreciation. If you are satisfied with the service, it is customary to tip the guide and driver. Plan about 3 dollars/day per person for a guide, half for a driver. Not tipping is better than giving a paltry amount that can be perceived as humiliating by some.

    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.

    220V with several possible socket types: two flat plugs, two round plugs or three plugs. Plan to bring a universal adapter. Power cuts are frequent throughout the country due to aging distribution network that is not adapted to today’s needs.

    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.