Luang Prabang, Laos

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Culture

Alms Ceremony
Monks at dawn (starting around 6 a.m.) start collecting alms of food including rice from kneeling villagers and tourists - the majority are found along Sakkaline Road near Wat Sensoukharam. 
Just look for the long row of rice baskets and stools laid out for tourists, who have paid for the privilege of giving alms. Seeing tourists participating out of fun rather than sincerity definitely reduces the authenticity of the moment. 
 
 
 
 
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The alms ceremony is not without its detractors. Unscrupulous merchants have used the eagerness of tourists to participate as a means of making easy money, and sometimes sell unsuitable or even unsafe food. This has resulted in monks falling ill after eating. If you wish to participate, avoid giving food of unknown quality. To make things worse, some tourists are dressed inappropriately - if you do give alms, cover your legs and arms and definitely your cleavage!

Another problem is the photography. While it looks nice on your collection, think about how it must feel for the monks to have hundreds of tourists photographing them every day. Some even stand right next to them, flashing them in the eyes! Strongly consider only watching this old tradition from a distance instead of using it as a tourist attraction, as this may detract from the beauty of the ritual - both for locals and tourists alike. 

Giving alms to monks by Burmesedays

Haw Kham
Sisavangvong Rd. Open: Daily except Tuesday from 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and from 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission: 30,000 kip.
The former royal palace and now a national museum. No photos, video, bags or shoes - a free locker is available to keep your belongings. The palace was built in 1904 during the French colonial rule and was the official residence of the Lao monarchy until its overthrow by the communist Pathet Lao in 1975. 

The palace ground comprises of several buildings including the Haw Pha Bang, Staff Headquarters, Kitchen/Storage, Conference Hall and Royal Barge Shelter. Sometimes there is a local drama or dance performances in the adjacent theatre. If you wish to see the performances, check the timing and plan the visit accordingly. 

Wat Xieng Toung
Khem Khong. Open: Daily from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Admission: 20,000 kip.
Wat Xieng Toung is the oldest monastery in Luang Prabang and one of the most beautiful. It is also one of the most important monasteries in Laos. There is one entrance on the road along the Mekong River and the other on the by-lane off the main road. The monastery was constructed in the 16th century with several renovation work conducted in the 20th century. The wat includes more than 20 structures including shrines, residences and sims as well as gardens. 

Wat Xieng Toung by Adam Carr

 
Guide to
Luang Prabang

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Champasak
Huay Xai
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Luang Prabang
Muang Sing
Pakse
Phonsavan
Savannakhet
Thakhek
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