Calendar Pages -- A Siam Society Study Trip - Celebrate Boun Pi Mai in Luang Prabang

April 14th, 2016 to April 17th, 2016

A Siam Society Study Trip - Celebrate Boun Pi Mai in Luang Prabang

A Siam Society Study Trip - Celebrate Boun Pi Mai in Luang Prabang0

With Khun Jumbhot Chuasai
Honorary Secretary, the Siam Society

Thursday 14 - Sunday, 17 April 2016


The royal city of Luang Prabang, the country’s capital until 1975, lies 367 km northwest of Vientiane on the upper reaches of the Mekong. Where the Nam Kane (Nam Khan) river flows into the Mekong on its left bank, a narrow tongue of land is formed. Here at an altitude of about 800 m and surrounded by wooded hills, the  principality of  Muang  Swa  (Muang Chawa) grew up on the flat land between the rivers, blessed with all the imaginable bounties of nature.

The town of Luang Prabang boasts a history and culture that is intrinsically linked to Theravada  Buddhism.  Approximately  1,200 monks and novices reside in Luang Prabang, making up a significant portion of the town’s overall population. Situated in the heart of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, surrounded by beautiful temples, it is within walking distance of the Mekong River.

The Boun Pi Mai festival celebrates the Laos New Year with a number of meaningful and photogenic ceremonies and processions. This celebration is considered to be one of the most important celebrations in Laos. The highlight of this event in Luang Prabang is the Hae Vor ceremony when people joyfully throw water at the procession of the palaquins, a ritual of blessing and purification.

Members will have a rare opportunity to meet experts on Lao culture, royal embroidery and textiles and be welcomed to a private residence where the Baci ceremony will be performed. Members will enjoy traditional cuisine prepared by a well known Lao Cuisine Advisor. This programme is exclusively prepared for Siam Society’s members. The tentative programme will be as follows:

Thursday, 14 April 2016:
Bangkok to Luang Prabang
8:00 a.m. Meet at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport check-in counter for Bangkok Airlines.
10:05 a.m. Depart from Bangkok to Luang Prabang by Bangkok Airways flight PG 941
(duration 2 hrs.).

12:05 p.m. Arrival at Luang Prabang International Airport.

- With the VIP fast track service, we will be received inside the immigration area by our representative. With assistance through immigration and customs we will be accompanied to meet with the guide who will be waiting for us at the exit gate in the arrival terminal. Assistance will be provided with luggage and transfer to the Maison Souvannaphoum Hotel.


Mu Nao Day of the New Year and Nang Sankhanh Hae Voar
Welcome to the spiritual 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. On the 13th April, Buddha images are taken out of the temples to be cleansed with scented water by devotees, and placed on special temporary altars within the compounds of “wats” (temples). Devotees collect the scented water falling off the images to take home, and use it to pour on friends and relatives as an act of cleansing and purification before entering the New Year. Boun Pi Mai is a time for much joyous celebration, with good deeds and prayers in anticipation the New Year.

Afternoon: This afternoon we enjoy an introductory lecture by Mr. Francis Engelmann presenting the meaning of the ceremonies, including Boun Pi Mai Lao Celebration with the Hae Vor Nang Sangkhane ceremony.

The meaning of the Hae Vor ceremony is the procession of the palanquins. These palanquins are gilded and sculpted chairs in the shape of boxes where the most important Buddhist abbots of Luang Prabang are carried along the main street of Luang Prabang along with many Buddhist monks and novices. Nang Sangkhan the maiden of the year, riding her favourite animal, is also taking part in the procession. She represents one of the seven daughters of Phanya Kabilaphom, a legendary kinggod whose strange legend will be explained to us. The great masks of the mythical ancestors of the Lao people take part in the ceremony too. The people of Luang Prabang on this occasion joyfully throw water at the procession. All this ritual can be understood as a purification and blessing process of the whole town at the moment of the arrival of the new year.

Refreshment and lunch will be served at the Café Vat Saen privately – a great spot to watch the special ceremony of Hae Vor – the palanquin procession starting from Vat That Noi (City Hall) to Vat Xiang Thong through the main street

Evening:          Dinner at Amantaka Resort and Spa.                    

-Overnight at the Maison Souvannaphoum Hotel.

Friday, 15 April 2016: Luang Prabang

- Bathing the Buddha and Lao Textile

Morning:         Breakfast at the Hotel.- This morning we visit the temple together with the Prince Tiao Nithakhong Somsanith to join the important ritual of “Bathing the Buddha”. We will build a sand tomb in the Mekong River which is the part of the Pi Mai tradition and is a kind of merit making.

Board the Mekong River Cruise on Amantaka classic River Boat to see the sand carving created by local artists and people along the Mekong River and to visit Wat Long Khoun. In the past kings would spend three days here before attending the coronation ceremony at Wat Xieng Thong.

After that we will go to Baan Muang Khay to visit Dr. Linda Mcintosh, who leads study trips to local textile producers in Northern Laos and Thailand.     She will give us an introduction to the Tai Lao Luang Prabang Pi Mai festival and ritual textiles followed by a visit to Baan Pak Muk Phonsay weaving textile village prior to arrival in Muang Khay.

As a special priveledge for our group Mr. Francis Engelmann has reserved his private residence overlooking the mighty Mekong River as a special venue for a delightful picnic lunch prepared by Mae Vanh, Lao Cuisine Advisor.
As the day comes to the end, we will have the unique opportunity to experience one of Laos’ oldest traditions, the Baci Ceremony, which has been exclusively arranged for the Siam Society Group by the Prince Tiao Nithakhong Somsanith.

Evening: Dinner at L’Elephant Restaurant, a neighborhood brasserie offering French and Lao menus. - Overnight at Maison Souvannaphoum Hotel.

Saturday, 16 April 2016:
Luang Prabang - City Tour & Mekong River Cruise
Morning: Breakfast at the Hotel. - Today is the last day of the festival and marks the start of the Laos New Year
Begin your day with the traditional morning alms giving ceremony with Prince Tiao Nithakhong Somsanith.

We start the morning with our guide to discover the rich culture and historical heritage of this charming town. Enjoy a sightseeing tour of the sacred city of temples, of which nearly fifty still remain in the town and surrounding areas. Visit the National Museum, the former Royal Palace which houses the collection of valuables including the famous Prabang Buddha statue and gifts received from foreign dignitaries. Wat Visoun, the 16th century temple served as a small museum for religious artifacts; Wat Mai, the 18th century temple, Wat Xiengthong, the 16th century temple, which more than any other temple in Luang Prabang epitomizes the elegance and grace of Luang Prabang

We then climb up to the top of Mount Phousi for an enjoyable exploration of the sacred, gilded stupa as well as a panoramic view of the city and the Mekong River.
Noon: Lunch at Coconut Garden Restaurant.

Afternoon: Enjoy your afternoon at leisure.

Evening: Dinner at the Manda de Laos, surrounded by a UNESCO classified lotus pond, immerse in a tropical ambiance featuring Laotian Family Cuisine specialty from all regions of Laos.
- Overnight at Maison Souvannaphoum Hotel.

Sunday 17 April 2016: Luang Prabang - Bangkok
Morning: Breakfast at the Hotel.
8:00 a.m. Drive to the Prabang Buddha Statue Parade from Ho Prabang Temple (new temple in national museum) to Wat Mai.

Half day architectural insight tour with Mr. Francis Engelmann (walking tour).

We meet Francis Engelmann at our hotel and then drive to the confluence Mekong-Nam Khane viewpoint. From this viewpoint, the site, its history, and the reasons of the nomination on the World Heritage List will be explained. We will go walking and discover charming streets and lanes around the monasteries of Vat Khili, Vat Saen and Vat Sop. On the way the two layers of the urban design, the pre-colonial Lao style and the colonial style of the early XXth century will be explained. We will discover the lesser known part of the town, its streets and gardens. We will be introduced to some of the oldest wooden Lao houses and colonial ones in masonry and half-timber, displaying the characteristics of the typical Luang Prabang houses: veranda, separated kitchen and stairs.

Noon: Lunch at the Elephant Blanc Restaurant, Maison Souvannaphoum.

Afternoon: Enjoy the afternoon at leisure with our guide and driver at our disposal for shopping until time to leave to the airport for your flight back home.

- Transfer from the hotel to the Luang Prabang International Airport.

The Siam Society reserves the right to change the programme as necessary.
Bt. 67,500 (Bt. 70,500 for non-members). Single room surcharge Bt. 12,000. There is a 4% surcharge for credit/debit card payment to cover bank charges. A deposit of Bt.27,000 and photocopy of passport must accompany the booking. Your reservation will be not confirmed until deposit has been made. Payment in full is required one month before the start of the trip (i.e. by Monday 14 March 2016). Please pay by cash or cheque payable to ‘The Siam Society’. Alternatively you can  deposit/transfer the money to the Siam Society travel account at the Thai Military Bank, Asoke Branch saving account no. 053-2-18000-7. Please fax or e-mail the deposit or transfer docket to us.
Minimum required for participants is 15 person. In case the tour has to be cancelled due to insufficient participants, a full refund of the deposit will be made.
The contribution includes airfares by Bangkok Airways Bangkok-Luang Prabang-Bangkok in economy class, transportation, all meals including breakfast, lunch, dinner and beverages including beer, house wine, and soft drinks during the lunches and dinners as stated in the program, 3 nights accommodation for two persons per room at Maison Souvannaphoum Hotel, entrance fees, gratuities and other costs incurred to make this trip possible. It excludes visa fee to Laos (if any), personal expenditure such as telephone, meals other than stated in the program, and laundry service, etc.
Cancellation charge:

Cancellation after booking: Deposit forfeited
14 days before the start of the trip: 30% of the tour cost
13-10 days before the start of the trip: 50% of the tour cost
Less than 10 days or cancellation without notice: No refund
Seats are limited. Please book your place as soon as possible.

For further information and bookings please contact Khun Prasert (ext. 504) or Khun Ekkarin (ext. 506) on 0-2661-6470-3, fax 0-2258-
3491 or e-mail: Office hours: 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Tuesday–Saturday (except holidays).

or click on the link for more information

This Study Trip is not sponsored by Thai Textile Society -
TTS invites all its members and subscribers to support the Siam Societies upcoming study tour