LAOS MONKS AND CHARITIES OF VIENTIANE
This half day guided tour of the capital does not focus on the classic sights, but allows you to delve deeper and gain a better understanding of what life in Laos is actually like for Lao people. A private meeting with monks and visits to excellent charities are all great in terms of Responsible Travel, whilst giving perspective on how Laos has come to be as it is today and what the future might hold.
Note: This half day tour starts in the morning at 0830 or in the afternoon at 1330.
First you will travel outside of Vientiane with your guide to Wat Sok Pa Luang. This is still described by many as ‘the forest temple’, although as Vientiane expands it feels like an oasis within the suburbs, rather than being out on a limb. On the way to the temple you will stop with your guide at a local market to buy snacks and fruit to give as offerings to the monks (we suggest avoiding plastic wrappers and spending approximately $2-3 per person, so fruits and local snacks wrapped in banana leaves are ideal). Monks of all ages live and study here and as part of your visit we will have made an appointment for you to sit down with one or two of them for an informal discussion on the subject of Buddhism and the life of a monk, including plenty of time for you to ask questions. You then have time to explore the grounds with your guide.
Next you will travel out of the city to Mai Savanh and explore the traditional textiles of the Lao people. This shop specializes in high quality silk products and involves several families in the process, from the northern province of Luang Nam Tha and the southern provinces of Attapeu and Sekong. (Note: Mai Savanh is closed on Saturday afternoons and all day Sunday.)
Another stop will be made at the Lao Disabled Women Development Centre. This center aims to bring knowledge and skills to disabled women so that they can become self-sufficient, productive members of the community. Efforts are focused on helping people with disabilities gain independence and self-confidence. A visit to the center provides you with the opportunity to talk to these women and to observe their skill at creating handicrafts such as hand-made paper. (Note: Lao Disabled Women Development Centre is fully operational Monday – Friday. On Saturdays and Sundays we can visit the showroom by appointment)
Return to the city and visit COPE, an association working to help landmine victims. A visit to the center provides in-depth information about the history of the American/Vietnam war and the lasting impact of unexploded ordinances (UXO) in the area and the efforts underway to clear them.
Return to your hotel.