Alluring Laos: Nature and Meditation Holiday

Company : Soulful Concepts
Activities: Activity Holidays / Career Break / Yoga / Tours / Cultural Tours
Country: Laos
Location : Luang Prabang, Laos
Duration: 1 week to 1 week
Approx Costs: 750 to 1250 £ Pound (UK)
Tour Code : LAMED16

Meditate on the naturally laidback charm of this Southeast Asian gem as we explore the beautiful nature of Northern Laos.

Join us for a meditative seven-day experience of this naturally gentle country that sits in the heart of Southeast Asia. Led by meditation master and facilitator Michelle, we will be guided on a journey to mindfulness while we take in the best of Northern Laos. The slow pace and laidback charm of Laos welcomes us in Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage City, nestled between the Nam Khan and Mekong Rivers. Here we are offered a special mix of gleaming gold temples, colonial French architecture, traditional disposition and pockets of pristine nature. 

Take in the best of this quaint city’s history and culture before we move on to explore the surrounding natural beauty at Kamu Lodge, a private eco wilderness retreat accessible only by boat. We will trek to the cool pools of a waterfall, meditate in the sanctity of a local temple, take in the thousand Buddha states of Pak Ou caves and visit social and environmental initiatives.

With an emphasis on low-impact travel, this trip supports the efforts of the Lao Friends Hospital For Children and their Outpatient Pharmacy which provides diagnoses and medication to rural children in the Luang Prabang area.

Itinerary

Day 1 – Luang Prabang: A charming welcome to Laos!

Welcome to the laidback charm of Northern Laos and the picturesque city of Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage site. A private airport pick up takes you to your home for the next few days, the refurbished colonial style of Villa Maly. Take some time to settle in before we meet for evening welcome drinks and a quick briefing of what the next week has in store for us. 

Accommodation: Villa Maly 

Meals: None

 

Day 2 – Luang Prabang to Kuang Si: Waterfall meditations and powerful projects

We start the day with an early breakfast before making our way 30km outside of Luang Prabang to the spectacular beauty of Kuang Si Waterfalls, our first group meditation session. Join Michelle for a specially guided experience or simply relax in the coolness of the beautiful setting, watching the bright turquoise water gently flow into the limestone lagoons. It is a magical spot to center ourselves and start the day. 

Afterwards we move on to visit the Sun and Moon Bears Sanctuary under the protection of Free the Bears Foundation (FTB) to see the positive impact of our group donation. Here we meet with a local expert to discuss the issues faced by native bear species across Southeast Asia and hear about the important efforts of the FTB Foundation to preserve local bear populations and habitat.

We also have the chance to visit a new Butterfly Farm initiative nearby that aims to educate people about the various native butterfly species and encourage conservation of the local plants that make up their habitat. Take a refreshing walk and have a refreshing drink as we learn about this new initiative.

Heading back towards town, we break for a delicious lunch at Ock Pop Tok, where afterwards we have time to discover Laos through textiles. This unique centre aims to elevate the profile of Lao textiles and the talented artists who make them on a platform of fair trade and women’s empowerment. They run a variety of socially conscious programs to benefit rural communities and keep eco-friendly weaving traditions alive. 

Our afternoon continues with more cultural exploration and education as we try our hand at preparing traditional alms for the morning’s alms giving ceremony. Together we will make a modern variation of the traditional steamed sticky rice and coconut pudding, served in a banana leaf. Our local guide will tell us more about the practice of Buddhism in Laos, before we return home. 

The evening is yours for independent explorations of Luang Prabang’s night markets where you can shop and sample many local dishes. Alternatively you can choose from one of the many local restaurants in town.

Accommodation: Villa Maly 

Meals: B, L

 

Day 3 – Luang Prabang: Monks, meditation, museums and merit making

Today begins with magical but early start as we offer alms to a procession of monks making their morning rounds*. As a sign of respect and merit making we will present them with the offerings we prepared together the day before. The offerings garner merit to enhance our lives.

Then we will walk to the quiet ground of Wat Nong for a totally unique Barefoot Experiences treat - a morning meditation session in the temple led by Michelle. Here we take a quiet moment for reflection before we return for breakfast back at Villa Maly. 

After breakfast we visit some of the city sites including Wat Xieng Thong; the cities most important monastery. We take in important historic works of Lao art at The National Museum; the former Palace of the Royal Family, and learning about the wide variety of ethnic traditions at the Traditional Art and Ethnology Centre. We finish the morning at the Friends Children’s Hospital visitor centre to learn more about how the donation component of our trip will be put to good use!

Take time for an independent lunch before we join a group of elders from the local community in making temple offerings. They will teach us how to make their traditional marigold temple garlands which we will present at a local temple before we join the afternoon prayers and a short meditation session. The rest of the afternoon is yours for leisurely explorations or relaxing pool-side at the hotel before an independent dinner.

Accommodation: Villa Maly 

Meals: B 

*Please ensure you appropriately dressed for this occasion by ensuring your shoulders, chest and knees are covered as a sign of respect to Buddhism and the monks.

 

Day 4 – Luang Prabang to Kamu Lodge: Traditional village life and riverside relaxing

Our day starts as we make our way outside of Luang Prabang to the deliberately rustic enchantments of Kamu Lodge, a private eco-retreat on the banks of the Mekong River. Set between a remote valley of rice paddies and the green of mountain forests, Kamu Lodge works closely with small villages nearby to offer us a first hand experience of rural life in Laos. We reach the lodge by boat as we cruise leisurely upstream. Soak in the sights over light refreshments. We will stop by the Pak Ou Cave, a site of annual pilgrimage and devotion for the Royal Family which remains a pilgrimage for Buddha devotees today. 

Upon arrival at the lodge, we will check into our super sized tented accommodation built with a focus on creating a balance between low impact tourism and maintaining the region’s cultural and ethnic heritage. There is breathtaking scenery, comfortable beds and modern attached bathrooms but the resort is run exclusively on solar power* for low electric impact so it is important that guests have fully charged their devices before arrival. We will enjoy lunch together in an airy traditional style ‘sala’ that sits in the middle of green rice fields.

After lunch, there is the chance for a meditation and reflection session as we open up our awareness to our beautiful surroundings. Afterwards there is time to relax and absorb what can only be described as one of the best kept secrets. Alternatively, you can take a mindful walk around the local Kamu village and join in to some of the regular daily activities such as rice planting and harvesting, fishing using traditional techniques, or join in a local Kamu style archery contest. We meet again for dinner in the traditional Kamu style for a tribal feast that helps you to see the world through the eyes of your hosts. 

Our busy day finishes with the option of an evening meditation session, led by Michelle, before we go to sleep to the sounds of nature.

Accommodation: Kamu Lodge 

Meals: B, L, D

* Please note the Lodge has solar hot water system only. Hot water is limited.

 

Day 5 – Kamu Lodge: Waterfall reflections, jungle trekking, and village visits

Today we have breakfast at the lodge before we head out for a gentle 1.5 hour jungle trek, through the surrounding forests to the cool spray of a natural waterfall. Reflect on the natural world around you as we enjoy a peaceful picnic lunch to sounds of nature. We then continue walking to Khok Phou, a village that sits on the banks of the Mekong River to visit their peaceful meditation hall. Here, surrounded by their ceremonial drums, Michelle will lead us to a calm state of reflection. Take this with you as your board the boat for a peaceful journey back to Kamu Lodge.

The afternoon is yours for independent leisure or active explorations. Bathe in the flowing waters of the Mekong, have a traditional Lao massage at the riverside spa or take up a friendly game of petanque. In the evening we meet for dinner and a candlelight meditation session to finish our day. 

Accommodation: Kamu Lodge

Meals: B, L, D

 

Day 6 – Kamu Lodge to Luang Prabang: Leisurely meditations

Today, wake up to the sound of the forest as we partake in a sunrise meditation session with Michelle. We will join together in harmony with nature for a pre dawn meditation to welcome the rising sun. In the warmth of the sun we will take our breakfast and a leisurely morning before check out. Read a good book, reflect back on the local lifestyle, take in the green of nature and join one last meditation session before lunch. Afterwards we will make our way back to Luang Prabang by boat, enjoying the beauty of the mighty Mekong. 

Take some time to rest before we meet again for a farewell dinner of colonial sophistication in the beautiful L’Elephant Restaurtant, one of the Luang Prabang’s top tables.

Accommodation: Villa Maly 

Meals: B, L, D 

 

Day 7 – Luang Prabang: A leisurely farewell!

Today we bid goodbye to the northern charm of Luang Prabang. Spend the morning on some last independent explorations before we send you off with peaceful Lao greetings in a private airport transfer for your onward travel.

Meals: B

 

Give back…

Laos is very much a developing country and local children still commonly die of diseases that have been eradicated in other parts of the world. Many preventable and treatable disease such as pneumonia and diarrhea have deadly results in Laos, meaning that access to quality health care and education about disease prevention practices can have a huge positive impact on local communities. 

With the special mission of helping the rural children of Laos, the giving people at Lao Friends Hospital for Children (LFHC) believe that every child has the right to a healthy and loving life. The LFHC provide consistently high-quality and compassionate medical care. Creating and running community health education programs to train to local healthcare professionals. They apply a triple-pronged strategy of treatment, education and prevention in running their emergency, inpatient and outpatient services for children from the local communities. The donation component of this trip goes specifically towards funding the Outpatient Pharmacy Program of the LFHC. Your donation will support a full day of the program, providing medicine and treatment to between 40 and 50 rural children a day.

As always, by participating in responsible tourism that respects and honors the people and places you visit, you are helping to support the local communities in maintaining their way of life. Your travel time in places that focus on environmental preservation and your interest in their suitability practices helps bring money to the community, supports local guides, fishermen and artisans, and allows them to take pride in their conservation efforts.

Donation component: £100 per person

Travel

  • Airport Pickup
  • Boat / Ferry
  • Bus / Coach
  • Internal Travel

Accomodation

  • Accomodation Included
  • Hotel

Meals

  • Breakfast
  • Meals Included

Tour Price

What's included: Private return airport transfers Accommodation daily breakfast (4 star hotels and eco-luxury tented camps) Meals as indicated in the itinerary All transfers in private air-conditioned vehicles Western Tour Manager based on a minimum of 7 travellers English speaking guide throughout Entrance fees as indicated in the itinerary Boat rides as indicated in the itinerary What's not included: International flights and airline taxes Single Supplement Lao Visa* Optional tours and excursions Tips and gratitude’s Personal travel insurance and vaccinations Items of a personal nature Other services not listed in the inclusions column

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