Bounmi Signature Style
A uniquely designed cultural experience. The traditional practice of Alms-Giving coupled with a scenic Mekong cruise to visit one of Laos most cherished holy destinations…Pak Ou Caves!
Alms-Giving & Mystical Pak Ou Caves
A private, cultural and personalized Mekong river experience. Hosted by Bounmi’s founder Adele and a knowledgeable and friendly licensed guide. Together providing higher quality customer care paired with a wide range of insight and perspectives on Laos’ customs and culture.
A Custom Mekong River Experience
A beautiful way to start the day! Your hosts will be on-board to greet you. Your Alms offering, hand crafted in advance, will also be awaiting your arrival. Your Alms offering will include a Khan Dok Mai (flower offering for Buddha), a food offering (for the monks & novice) and an envelope (monetary donation to the Wat).
Your morning will start with a short cruise across the Mekong to pay homage at one of the temples in Chomphet. While on the way to temple your hosts will be available to answer any questions. As well as offer guidance on proper etiquette for presenting your offering to the monk(s).
Once at the temple in Chomphet, one of Bounmi’s staff will go ahead to arrange your offering in a presentable manner for the monk to receive it. When we arrive and the monk is ready, we will respectfully approach and begin the offering. During the Alms-giving we will continue to guide you. Enjoy this cultural experience and a personal blessing from the monk before departing the Wat.
Cruising to Pak Ou
After Alms have been offered and blessings received, embark on a scenic 25km cruise up river to the cutlural Pak Ou caves. Over the next 2 hours soak up the splendor of the Mekong’s stunning scenery while enjoying Bounmi’s all-inclusive hospitality.
Depending on departure time, a delicious traditional Lao lunch will be enjoyed on the way to the caves or on route back. Traditional Lao snacks and chilled beverages, beer Lao and house wine available anytime.
On arrival to Pak Ou caves head up and enjoy your guided excursion while learning about the caves’ rich history and cultural significance. Your licensed local guide will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Concluding your tour of the caves you will be greeted back on-board. As time permits enjoy the remainder of your Mekong river experience to suit your interests – entirely up to you!
The Practice of Giving Alms
The practice of Alms-giving is most prevalent in the Theravada Buddhist cultures of Laos, Thailand and Cambodia. Where monks once wandered freely and relied on the offerings of food from lay people in return for spiritual guidance. Although Buddhist monks now mostly reside in Wats (temples) this spiritual connection between monastic communities and laypeople is still alive today. Buddhist monks must refrain from eating after midday, therefore we must offer alms prior to 10:30am.
Giving Alms Across the Mekong
Chomphet District boasts a number of temples with natural settings and strong connections to the history of Luang Prabang. Being closely connected to the community in Ban Xiengmen allows us insight into projects that have been started at Wats or special festivals on the horizon. And, of course the normal daily needs of the monks and novice living in the temples. Please know, when cruising to pay homage, we do our best to share your offering where we feel it is needed most. A personal experience in the ancient practice of giving Alms.
Mystical Pak Ou Caves
For centuries Buddhists from far and wide have been making the pilgrimage to Pak Ou Caves to leave effigies by way of spiritual offering. Literally thousands of Buddha’s, varying in size and stature, are scattered across every available surface within the two caves creating a phenomenal display of religious artifacts.
Scooped out of the cliff face, the lower cave’s (Tham Ting) formation allows a preview of some of the statues from the water’s edge, however as you ascend the grand staircase leading into the hollow, the striking effect caused by the sheer mass of Buddhas reaches full l impact.
The upper and larger of the two caves (Tham Theung) is reached by a 10 minute, yet worthwhile, climb up a well-maintained stairway. Due to the scale and cavernous quality of the cave the density of statues is less intense, however the addition of beautiful rock formations helps to create a seraphic atmosphere that befits the cave’s spiritual purpose.