The first visit today will be the Royal Palace Museum (Haw Kham), which is now the National Museum. It houses many religious and cultural treasures, including the royal throne of the Lane Xang kingdom in its original splendor, and preserves some of daily royal life up to 1975. The museum provides information about its exhibits in English, and your guide will be able to offer additional explanations about the artifacts inside.
We will then board a private traditional longtail boat for the Mekong River cruise to the famous Pak Ou Caves. Locally called Tam Ting, the caves are filled with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues, in a wide range of sizes. During the boat ride, take note of the fishermen and villagers going about their daily life on the river. For many, the Mekong plays an integral role in daily life and represents one of the only means of transportation and commerce.
On the way back, we will stop at Ban Xang Hay, a village specializing in the making rice wine.
We will continue to visit the magnificent Wat Xiengthong, a superb piece of Lao temple architecture, which presents a sweeping two-tiered roof and ornate mosaics including a beautiful ‘tree of life ‘glass montage on the rear temple wall. This 15th-century Wat is the most important in Luang Prabang and one of the most important in the entire country. Until the revolution of 1975, Wat Xieng Thong was a royal temple, supported by the royal family. During the 1960s, Wat Xieng Thong was completely remodeled and redecorated, becoming the splendid temple we see today.
Then we will visit Wat Mai (“New Monastery”), built in 1796. It was given its present name following the restoration was undertaken by King Manthathourat in 1821. The most striking feature of the temple is the gilded relief panels covering the front facade. The panels tell the story of Vessentara, the highest incarnation of the Buddha. The gilded doorframes merge into the relief panel, forming what looks like a monolithic wall of gold. Afterward, we will visit the Traditional Art and Ethnology Center (closed on Monday) to learn about Laos’ many ethnic cultures. From there, you will be transferred to Wat Prabath to admire the sunset. You will be on your own in the evening.
Meals included: Breakfast
Overnight in Luang Prabang