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Luang Prabang Symposium Extension

Gilded Temples and Traditional Buddhist Culture of Laos

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $1095  
Length: 4 days
Arrive: Luang Prabang, Laos
Depart: Luang Prabang, Laos
Lodging: 3 nights hotels
Meals: All meals included
Activity: Archaeology, Cultural Adventures, Walking
Trip Level: Cultural explorations, walking tours

Our Trips using this Extension

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

Savor the delights of Laos, with its gilded temples, French-Indochinese architecture, and traditional Buddhist culture. Our extension visits the enchanting town of Luang Prabang, the heart and soul of the old Lao kingdom, a place to enjoy tranquil rural rhythms and a dramatic setting on the Mekong.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1, February 6
Luang Prabang

A direct mid-day flight brings us from Hanoi to begin our Luang Prabang extension. Upon arrival in Luang Prabang, Laos’ ancient Royal capital, you will be met and escorted to the Villa Santi, a formal royal residence situated in the heart of the old historic town and our accommodation for the next three nights (our rooms are in the Villa Santi’s large, classic Royal Suites). Located on the Mekong River and encircled by mountains, Luang Prabang is a delightful and regal town of gilded temples, palaces, and French colonialist architecture, now preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area is noted for its outstanding handloom weavings, and there are many fine products available for purchase. In addition, the local market operates as a venue for the Hmong hilltribe communities, with their unique cross-stitch and appliqué work. 
In the afternoon, we enjoy a walking tour through the atmospheric lanes of old Luang Prabang, visiting several temples dating to the 15th century, including the magnificent Wat Xieng Thong (“Golden Temple”), and getting to know some of the local people and their traditional and unique lifestyle. This evening we will have an orientation briefing and enjoy a special welcome dinner of royal Laotian cuisine at the Villa Santi...D

Day 2, February 7
Morning Street Market / Pak Ou Caves

This morning we visit the local Morning Street Market with all manner of food products on display including fish, frogs, insects, birds, beetle nut, and a large selection of tropical fruits and vegetables. We then board a local boat for a scenic trip up the Mekong River to Pak Ou Caves, a Buddhist pilgrimage site located above the river. Over the last five centuries, processions of worshipers from kings to peasants have brought Buddha images to the caves, and it is a fascinating site. Proceeding further upriver to a traditional village, we experience the life of rural Lao people at first hand, including visits to a local family and to the simple village school. Following a picnic lunch, we return to Luang Prabang, where we can visit a local silk-weaving community village and the local hilltribe market located in the old town. This evening we enjoy a special private baci (“welcoming”) ceremony with villagers, followed by dinner at a local French restaurant...BLD

Day 3, February 8
Hmong and Khamu Hilltribe Villages / Royal Palace / Phu Si Hill

Each day after sunrise, a procession of a hundred or more monks and novices passes directly in front of the Villa Santi on their alms round. This offers us the opportunity to “make merit” by donating food to the monks, while we in turn receive their blessing, and it can be a wonderful photographic opportunity. After breakfast, we drive out of town into the surrounding hills to visit a Hmong hilltribe village and a Khamu hilltribe village. About 100 years ago, the Hmong were gradually displaced from their ancestral home in the mountains of southern China and many settled in the hills of Laos. During the Vietnam War, the CIA actively recruited Hmong “warriors” in the CIA’s secret war with the Pathet Lao communists, and many subsequently fled to Thailand (and the US) with the fall of the Royal Lao government in 1975. Hmong villagers still practice ancient animistic rituals including animal sacrifices, and some still dress in traditional colorful handmade costume and silver jewelry. We have an opportunity to meet with several Hmong families inside their simple bamboo and wood homes, and to experience the fascinating lives of these mountain people. The Khamu were originally an aboriginal group living in the lower mountains of northern Laos and have a very different culture, language, dress, and religion from the Hmong, and we’ll also be able to visit a typical Khamu village.

Returning to Luang Prabang, we walk to the former Royal Palace, now a museum housing heirlooms of the former Lao monarchy. The collections include the highly revered Pra Bang Buddha image, claimed to have been cast in Sri Lanka over 2,000 years ago. We can also climb Phu Si Hill, an important site with fine views over the town and the Mekong River at sunset. Dinner tonight is at a charming restaurant in town...BLD

Day 4, February 9

Transfer to the airport and depart on homeward-bound flights...B

Extension Cost

Prices are for 2015
$1095 (8 or more trip members)
$1195 (3-7 members)
$1295 (2 members)
Single supplement: $460
Internal airfare: $200 (subject to change)

*Note: The Feb 6-9 extension will feature accommodations in the Villa Santi’s large, classic Royal Suites.

Prices are not guaranteed until services are confirmed.
more on pricing

Extension Cost Includes:

Services of local guides, accommodations, meals as indicated (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner), ground transportation in air-conditioned vehicles, sightseeing as noted with entrance fees to all sites, bottled drinking water provided on tours, airport transfers for passengers arriving Day 1 and departing on scheduled final day of extension.

Extension Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, internal airfare (see separate cost above),  meals not specified after each itinerary day, airport departure taxes, optional tipping or gratuities to guides or staff, hotels en route to Phnom Penh or additional hotel nights that may be necessitated by airline schedule changes or other factors, individual airport transfers if not on scheduled days, visa fees, cost of medical immunizations (if any), travel insurance, and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

Villa Santi Hotel

Luang Prabang, Laos

A charming boutique hotel, the Villa Santi is a former royal residence situated in the heart of the old historic town, just steps from the temples and palaces. Guest rooms have rosewood furnishings and silk textiles in traditional Lao-colonial style, while two restaurants offer fine dining in a romantic atmosphere. Don’t miss breakfast on the upper balcony overlooking a quiet lane where you can watch monks returning to their monasteries.

Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.