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Things to do in Laos

Secret wars and Buddhist traditions: a Vientiane tour

This half-day tour offers an insight into the culture and complicated history of Laos, from its Secret War to its sacred Buddhist traditions…

Santixay Vongsanghane
Inbound Tour Manager for Asian Trails, Alfred&’s partner in Laos

This half-day tour offers an insight into the culture and complicated history of Laos, from its Secret War to its sacred Buddhist traditions. After a hotel pick-up, the tour starts with a visit to the moving COPE Visitor Centre, a non-profit organisation that helps people with disabilities in Laos by providing prosthetics and support services.

Many visitors don’t know this, but during the Vietnam war, the USA waged a nine-year bombing campaign on Laos, dropping over two million tons of ordnance. Much of it did not explode on impact and is still killing and injuring Laos people today. The COPE Centre is the perfect place to learn about Laos’ Secret War and how the centre helps survivors lead a more normal life. Your visit directly helps COPE to make a positive impact on the local community.

Next, we’ll head to one of Vientiane’s most famous Buddhist temples, Wat Si Muang, which dates back to 1563. The original building was destroyed by Siamese forces in 1828, but there was one very significant survivor – a small seated stone Buddha that locals believe has the power to grant wishes or answer troubling questions. You’ll see people completing the ritual by lifting a pillow three times while asking for help from the Buddha. If granted, they’ll return later with an offering of bananas, green coconuts, flowers, incense and candles.

At the temple, you’ll meet one of the local monks and learn the traditional craft of Makbeng and Pasaat Pheung making. Makbeng is a pyramid shaped decoration made from folded banana leaves and marigold flowers that’s an essential feature of every Buddhist ceremony in Laos. Phasaat Pheung is a small palace made from banana trunks, bamboo, and decorative wax flowers. It is given as an offering to ensure that the deceased will live well in their next life. Guests really enjoy this craft activity and getting to meet one of Laos’ famous orange-robed monks.

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Alfred & Santixay Vongsanghane

Santixay has enjoyed a 20-year career in travel, fuelled by his fascination to discover different cultures. Since joining Asian Trails in 2005 he has travelled throughout Asia, although his native Laos is where his heart remains. He loves to develop unique experiences that showcase the country, as well as benefitting the local economy and community.

Alfred & our Laos holiday experts

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