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This morning visit Banteay Srei Temple; the red sandstone temple dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva, whose delicate carvings of the 10th century have been remarkably well preserved. Return to the hotel and after a short break, drive through the countryside to Kompheim village. It is a typical Khmer village surrounded by rice fields with a pagoda and village school. Learn about the HUSK NGO Programme, which works with communities to help improve the lives of the local families. Spend the evening relaxing or take part in an Optional experience.
Visit Wat Damnak, one of the most beautiful pagodas in town and take part in a private blessing ceremony performed by the local monks who reside in the temple. Sit on a mat while the monks chant blessings and then a sacred thread will be tied around your wrist to protect against evil spirits. Later visit Artisans d'Angkor, for a Cultural Insight into the training school, which creates job opportunities for young people living in rural areas, while at the same time reviving traditional Khmer craftsmanship. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure before your flight to Luang Prabang. On arrival meet your Travel Director and transfer to your hotel. Dinner this evening is a typical Lao meal at the hotel.
This morning enjoy a walking tour around the ancient town of Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage site and an outstanding example of the fusion of Lao and colonial architecture. Visit the Royal Palace Museum which was the residence of the king up until when the monarchy was overthrown in 1975. Next visit the so-called 'Temple of the Golden City'; Wat Xiengthong, before heading to the riverside for a relaxing cruise in a long-tail boat up the Mekong River to the mysterious Pak Ou Caves. Pass by typical Laotian villages just visible through the thick foliage and wooden canoes bobbing by the shore attached to bamboo poles. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before exploring the caves which house thousands of Buddha images ranging from mere centimetres to two meters in height. Cruise back to town making a stop en route at Ban Muang Keo village for a Cultural Insight. The village is famous for producing 'lao-lao', (Laotian whisky) as well as having a thriving weaving industry.
For the early risers wake up before dawn to witness and participate in offering alms to hundreds of saffron-robed monks, a living Buddhist tradition for the people of Luang Prabang which dates back generations. Then watch the town come to life during a visit to the bustling morning market. Followed by a climb up the steps of Mount Phousi to admire the wonderful views of the Mekong and Khan rivers, as well as the surrounding mountain ranges before returning to the hotel for breakfast. Alternatively enjoy a leisurely start to the day before joining your fellow travellers for a visit to the Friends Visitor Centre, to learn about the work done at the Friends Lao Hospital for Children which is a local non-profit community project. Return to the hotel for a leisurely afternoon or choose to take part in an Optional Experience. This evening travel to a nearby village for a Be My Guest dining experience with a local family in their home and learn all about their lifestyle while enjoying a meal of local specialities.
This morning drive south to one of Luang Prabang's most picturesque sights, the Kuang Si Waterfall. Stop en route at Phou Si market to observe locals trading in fresh produce and at the Ock Pop Tok Weaving Centre for a demonstration of their work. On arrival see the bears at the Asian Bear Rescue Centre before taking a leisurely walk through the national park towards the main fall which has a 60 metre (200 ft) cascade. The water collects in numerous turquoise blue pools as it flows downstream and is a spectacular sight. Later return to the hotel for an afternoon at leisure or join in an Optional Experience. This evening join your Travel Director and fellow guests for a Lao-inspired Farewell Dinner.
After breakfast transfer to the airport for your onward flight.
10 nights, 10 buffet breakfasts, 2 lunches (including Be My Guest), 5 dinners, On-trip transport
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