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For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni 

Things to do in Laos

Discover Laos culture through textiles at Ock Pop Tok

When people visit Ock Pop Tok, they’ll ‘Discover Laos through Textiles’ but also through the food, classes and experiences we provide….

By Sengchan Chanthavong
Activity Manager at Ock Pop Tok

Ock Pop Tok, Luang Prabang

When people come to visit Ock Pop Tok, we want them to ‘Discover Laos through Textiles’ but also through the food, classes, tours and experiences we provide. People don’t realise the incredible diversity in Laos, there are 49 officially-recognised ethnic groups and each has their own textile traditions. Our mission at Ock Pop Tok is to preserve these traditional crafts and to empower the women who make them.

Ock Pop Tok began in 2000 and is a fair trade social enterprise, the first of its kind in Luang Prabang. We started small with just five part-time weavers and now employ over 28 weavers in Luang Prabang and work with over 500 artisans across the country. For example, one of our artisans here in town is a 68-year-old H’mong woman who creates incredible batik using traditional materials and techniques. We provide fair trade prices for our artisans’ labour and buy all the raw materials so they don’t have to invest in anything. Once a product sells, a percentage of the money goes straight to the creator.

In 2005, we opened the Living Craft Centre on the banks of the Mekong, just outside the core heritage area in Luang Prabang. When you visit, we’ll give you a welcome drink and then a tour through the weaving studio. All of our front of house staff are from Laos and act as cultural ambassadors, taking you through the story of silk, how it’s made, dyed and woven. At each point in the process, you’ll see how this is done by women working on traditional looms and with ancient techniques.

We also have a restaurant and gardens dotted with riverside salas (open-air pavilions) where we teach classes like weaving, batik and natural dyeing. On this tour, you’ll get to take a natural dyeing class, guided by a master artisan and translator. Guests really enjoy this activity because it’s tangible and hands-on. Dyeing isn’t very complicated or intimidating like weaving can be. It’s a lot of fun and very creative.

We’ll help you pick out plants from our garden, then take you through the whole process of dyeing your own product. Visitors like the idea of seeing a leaf or bark suddenly turn into beautiful yellow napkins, a tie-dye t-shirt or gorgeous silk scarf. It’s about learning the craft but also the culture of Laos through conversation with the artisans. Guests love this interaction and have a real sense of accomplishment when they take home their art work.

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Alfred & Sengchan Chanthavong

Sengchan has been working for Ock Pop Tok since 2004 and as the Activity Manager, you’ll most likely meet her at our Living Crafts Centre. Sengchan has a passion for Laos textiles and has been an essential pillar in establishing new programs. She initiated the Fibre2Fabric Heritage Textile Collection and has since curated and collected over 1,000 unique pieces. When Sengchan isn’t curating or leading classes (her favourite is the dyeing class) you can find her spending time with her two boys or in her flower garden.
Sengchan Chanthavong, Activity Manager at Ock Pop Tok

Alfred&

Your journey will start with one of our UK team – someone like Adele, who's travelled extensively in Laos. They’ll shape your ideas into the trip of a lifetime. But they won't do it alone. They'll draw on the expertise of our contacts on the ground, connecting you to the people who'll make your holiday one you'll always remember - the guide who can hone your pétanque skills while playing with the locals, the conservationist who can take you trekking with Asian elephants and the monks who can school you in the craft of Makbeng and Pasaat Pheung making.

Freephone an expert 01306 744 656