After an early breakfast we begin to explore a bit further afield. A short boat ride across the Mekong river takes us to the hill side temple of Wat Long Khun. The temple is is attractively sited on a 1.5 hectare flat area at the top of a long stairway leading from the river’s edge with sweeping views of Luang Prabang.
The delightful location provides an air of tranquility and attachment to nature away from the activity found in the town. An original meditation room that was previously used by the king is still intact inside and for those that are interested, a private meditation session can be arranged here. When the coronation of a Luang Prabang King was pending, it was customary for him to spend 3 days in retreat at Wat Long Khun in meditation, before making the pilgrimage back across the river to Wat Xieng Thong to be crowned.
Here we are welcomed with a spiritual Baci ceremony, the most traditional of Laos ceremonies. An ancient tradition for important events such as births and weddings, and also in this case, as a welcome to Laos and to bless us with good luck on our travels.
Afterwards we spend as long as we want here to soak up the atmosphere and views, perhaps talking to some of the young novices and monks. Should we be feeling energetic, there are some short walks to the Tham Sakhalin cave and another dilapidated temple of Wat Had Siaw.
When ready, we then follow in the footsteps of the pilgrimage of previous Kings and head back across the river to Wat Xieng Thong. The most iconic and important temple in Laos, we take some time here with our local Travel Expert to explore the intricate and varied history, including of course, the Royal coronation.
Continuing to the nearby confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers, we relax and enjoy an organic local lunch with delightful views. Perhaps after a revitalising local coffee - grown and roasted on Laos’ southern Bolaven Plateau, we continue on our Royal pilgrimage.
We visit the home of Prince Nithakhong Somsanith for a very special encounter. As a child of royal lineage in 1960’s Luang Prabang, Somsanith grew up surrounded by courtly arts, such as painting, lacquer, embroidery, dancing, and flower and banana leaf arrangements. He watched his grandmother and mother patiently practice this aristocratic art, making traditional triangular pillows, royal sashes and sabai, jackets, collars and dowry pieces.
Exiled to France in the 1980’s, Somsanith returned to Laos in 2005 where he now devotes his time to art and education programs for the community with the mission to preserve, promote, and transmit the cultural and artistic heritage of Laos. Somsanith is well known as an international embroidery artist with his contemporary creations rooted in the traditions of his youth. In the last ten years he has exhibited his works in France, Germany, England, Italy, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands and the USA. He received his master’s degree in France, from the Institute of Visual Arts, University of Orleans, and his Ph.D. in Psychology from Sorbonne.
Here we learn more about the traditional arts of Laos and explore the private collection of the Prince, as well as gaining some exclusive insight into his life as a former “Royal” - a once in a lifetime experience that concludes our day of deep insight and and spiritual understanding of the ancient history of Luang Prabang and Laos.
Return to hotel thereafter.