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The Feeding of the Monks in Luang Prabang, Laos

Buddhist monks line up and walk along the road to receive alms from the people of Luang Prabang

I traveled extensively though Southeast Asia before I had this blog. I’m extremely fond of that part of the world, and I fell madly in love with Luang Prabang, Laos.

I spent a couple of days there a few years ago, before the big hotels came to town. I woke up early every morning to watch the parade of young monks gathering alms from faithful Buddhists.

People wake up early to cook the rice and prepare their offerings for monks

Watching the streets fill with saffron robes, and the bare feet shuffling slowly and patiently was one of the most serene and peaceful things I have ever seen.

The pictures of the monks I shot those two days are without a doubt the photos that get the most purchase inquiries about- from friends and strangers alike. Ironic that monks- who take a vow of poverty, are my biggest money makers.

Local authorities in Luang Prabang are concerned that tourists are interrupting the Alms Giving Ceremony. Here are some tips and advice for observing the Alms Giving Ceremony in Luang Prabang :

1) Dress respectfully. Do not wear shorts and sleeveless shirts while giving alms during the ceremony. Shoulders, chests, and legs should not be exposed.

2) Keep a distance. Try to not get too close to the procession or obstruct the path of the monks.

3) Observe the ceremony in silence, it’s local tradition.

4) Be mindful about taking photos. Use zoom for close-ups rather than getting to close to the procession, and do not use flash.

5) Contribute, but carefully. You can make an offering as long as you can approach the monks respectfully and meaningfully.

Alms giving begins on the main street of Luang Prabang before spreading out to all the side streets. You’ll have to get up early for the alms giving ceremony- it’s best advised to arrive by 5:30- 5:45 am to buy some rice and observe this sacred ritual.

When I visited Luang Prabang, I stayed at the charming original Apsara guest house, where rates start at $110 US dollars. They now have a newer,sister property with a pool called the Apsara Rive Droite, with slightly higher rates (start at $140 USD).

Since my visit, a Hotel de la Paix Luang Prabang has opened. I stayed at their sister property, Hotel de la Paix Siem Reap and liked it. I’ve heard good things about their cooking school. I checked the room rate online for a random date and they started at $225.

If I get back to Laos, I am tempted to check out the Amantaka, where you can choose between a photo tour a nearby Hmong village, or take a cooking class and learn how to make delicious Lao food. The resort also offers elephant rides, and doesn’t come cheap with suites starting US $750 per night.

Charming architecture in the streets of Luang Prabang