Pimai Lao is one of the most important dates in the Lao calendar. As well as being a time of celebration and endless fun, It has also become synonymous with the holiday, the celebration of Lao identity. The official festival lasts for three days from April 14 to April 16 (although celebrations can last more than a week in towns like Luang Prabang). The first day is the last day of the old year. Houses and villages are properly cleaned on the first day. Perfume, water, and flowers are also prepared for the Lao New Year. The second day of the festival is the “day of no day”, a day that falls in neither the old year or the new year. The last day …… Let’s explore.
DAY 1 – (13 Apr) : LUANG PRABANG – ARRIVAL (D)
Arrival in Luang Prabang. Your guide and private car will meet you and transfer you to the hotel for check-in.
Welcome to the capital of Laos! Lao New Year is celebrated at the same time each year. This is one of the most famous and popular festivals in Laos. Boun Pi Mai is a time for much joyous celebration, with good deeds and prayers in anticipation the New Year. Enjoy free time at leisure or may like to take a walk around the town. As the day comes to the end, you will have the unique opportunity to experience one of Laos’ oldest traditions, The Baci. This is something that is very important before major events such as weddings, births, travel, welcoming friends, and farewells. The Baci ceremony will be set at Wat Phou Kway or Wat That Luang. Enjoy a delicious dinner at L’Elephant, one of the finest restaurants in Luang Prabang. Overnight in Luang Prabang
DAY 2 – (14 Apr) : LUANG PRABANG (B)
After breakfast, enjoy a tour of morning market fair. This small market is very active from the morning and is a typical passing spot for Laotians who come to buy and sell. You could be surprised by what you will find!
Then you will build a sand tomb in Mekong River. This is another Pi Mai tradition: sand is brought to the temple grounds and is made into stupa then decorated with flags, flowers, white lines and splashed with perfumed water before being given to the monks as a way of making merit.
After lunch (not included), take a half-day guided tour of Luang Prabang by walk. Your guide will pick you up from your hotel at 1400.
Start your city tour at the former Royal Palace, now the National Museum, where you will explore the history of Laos. Continue on foot to Wat Mai, a temple renowned for its golden bas-relief, and Wat Sensoukarahm, which features a beautiful dazzling golden façade.
Enjoy your evening at leisure.
Overnight in Luang Prabang
DAY 3 – ( 15 Apr ) : LUANG PRABANG (B,L,D)
This morning, you will escape from the hustle of the city and explore the beauty of Laos’ culture and natural wonders with a half day exploration around Luang Prabang.
You will be met at your hotel.
Board the Nava Mekong, a traditional river boat, for a shared cruise on the mighty Mekong River, the cruise upstream to the Pak Ou Caves takes approximately 2 hours and along the way, you will stop to explore the village of Ban Xang Hai.
As you cruise back downstream a selection of typical Lao dishes will be served onboard.
The cruise back to Luang Prabang takes approximately 1.5 hours.
You will be met at the boat jetty for a private transfer to your hotel to freshen up.
This afternoon, you will attend the annual Miss Pi Mai parade, locally called “Nang Sangkhane”, which is only held in Luang Prabang. Every year, there are seven contestants, each one symbolizing one of King Kabinlaphom’s seven daughters and they ride down the main street from Wat Xiengthong to Wat That Noi.
Dinner at Tamarind restaurant. Enjoy a fresh menu of Lao dishes in a family run restaurant dedicated to promoting a greater understanding of the local cuisine. As you order, the friendly staff will explain the ingredients and customs of the cuisine. (Note: closed on Sundays)
Overnight in Luang Prabang
DAY 4 – ( 16 Apr ) : LUANG PRABANG (B,L)
Today is the national last day of the festival and marks the start of the Lao New Year.
This morning, your guide and private car will pick you and come to the Prabang Buddha Statue Parade from Ho Prabang temple (new temple in the national museum) to Wat Mai. Then, take a short transfer through the Luang Prabang countryside to Kuang Si Waterfalls. Stop en-route to visit a small village which is home to one of the area’s many ethnic minorities. You will have an opportunity to learn about their traditions and culture, much of which has remained unchanged for centuries. Upon reaching Kuang Si Waterfall, relax and enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings. The water tumbles down a large drop and cascades gently into several cool, clear pools where you can enjoy a refreshing swim (please dress modestly). Enjoy a delicious picnic lunch next to the falls. For the adventurous, it is possible to walk to the top of the falls via a steep track where stunning views await you at the top. You might also like to visit the bear sanctuary which is next to the falls, run by Free The Bears Fund Inc. There are currently 23 Asiatic Black Bears living in the sanctuary, which has saved them from poaching. The main threat to these bears is poaching due to the use of their bile in Chinese medicine. You can read about their habits and observe their playful nature, whilst learn about the difficulties they are facing. Transfer back to Luang Prabang this afternoon. Overnight in Luang Prabang
DAY 5 – ( 17 Apr ) : LUANG PRABANG (B,L)
Begin your day with the traditional morning alms giving at Mount Phousi.
Every local family will hold a Baci at their houses and good food to welcome the New Year as well as to wish their elder’s good health and long life.
This afternoon, you will watch the second part of Miss Pi Mai parade. The girl who is crowned Miss Pi Mai will make her first appearance. She is usually perched atop the animal/spirit (sometimes on an elephant) that symbolizes the coming year with the other final contestants at the bottom sprinkling the way with perfumed water and rose flower petals. The revealing of Miss Pi Mai to the public is the climax of the parade.
Enjoy the rest of your day at leisure.
Overnight in Luang Prabang
DAY 6 – ( 18 Apr ): LUANG PRABANG – DEPARTURE (B)
Your morning is at leisure until you are transferred to the airport for your onward flight.
End of tour
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