Luang Prabang has become famous for its traditional alms ceremony. The city has many monasteries, and before dawn every morning the monks walk around the block, collecting donations of food from kneeling local people dressed in traditional sarongs. Needless to say, it is spectacularly phonographic.

I too woke up before dawn, and made my way to the main monastery in the old town, which was lit up in eerie green lights. Crowds of Chinese and Western tourists were already gathering, and they outnumbered the locals. Ladies had tables set up in the middle of street full of packaged junk food that they were selling to tourists to give to the monks.

Locals await the monks.
Locals await the monks.

The sky got light and a drum sounded from the monastery. A small group of neon orange robed barefoot monks quickly made their way out of their temple, stopping briefly at the small group of Lao women respectfully sitting on low stools.

The mobs of tourists immediately pounced, surrounding the monks and snapping pictures right in their faces. It was a disheartening experience. The monks did their best to get away from the rabid tourists as fast as possible, and practically ran around the block.

It’s a shame that tourists have ruined something so special. Luang Prabong is still the top place to visit if you’re going to Laos. The city has many wonders to behold. Just don’t expect much out of the alms ceremony.

The monastery glowed eerily.
The monastery glowed eerily.
The monks made their appearance.
The monks made their appearance.
There were many monks.
There were many monks.
But not many giving alms.
But not many giving alms.
A vendor passes the palace.
A vendor passes the palace.
Monks crossing the bamboo bridge.
Monks crossing the bamboo bridge.
Strolling past the night market.
Strolling past the night market.
Setting up the night market.
Setting up the night market.
Fruit shake ladies at the ready.
Fruit shake ladies at the ready.
A tuk tuk in the old town.
A tuk tuk in the old town.
One of Luang Prabang's many temples.
One of Luang Prabang’s many temples.
Sunset on the Mekong.
Sunset on the Mekong.
Nutella crepes!
Nutella crepes!
Terry
I'm Terry, former cubicle-dweller, and now traveler, photographer, writer, and entrepreneur. I quit my job in 2014 to travel to US national parks, then to South East Asia. I write about independent, flexible, long-term, budget travel. Sign up to my newsletter to get the latest news on what I'm up to. I hope you join me on my trek around the world.

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