Rise early before the sun to see sai bat, the morning alms, where hundreds of monks stream out of the temples to collect alms from the faithful kneeling in the road. Keep a respectful distance before following on to the temples. Wat Xieng Thong is particularly beautiful at this time, when the early sun glimmers on its exquisite glass mosaic tree, etched gold ceiling and reclining Buddha. Built in 1560, this is one of the town’s most spiritual places. Wat Mai is also unmissable with its ornate five-tiered roof and intricate gold-etched walls, columns and ceilings. Adjoining the popular night market and Royal Palace Museum, it dates back to the early 19th century.
If sunrise is not your time, climb the 300 well-worn stone steps up to Luang Prabang’s most revered temple, Wat That Chomsi, which sits atop Mount Phousi. The views over the town and river are best enjoyed with a magnificent mountain sunset. Descend the other side towards the river and stop for a chat with one of the resident novice monks; they love to practise their English.
If it’s your own interpretation of kamma you seek, discover your inner spirituality with Meditation, a permanent photography exhibition at Wat Khili – part of a 23-year project by photographer Hans Georg Berger that showcases how intrinsical meditation is to the monks through a series of black-and-white images of them meditating in the forest around Luang Prabang. Set in this ancient temple at the heart of the peninsula, and recently restored by the Buddhist Heritage Project, Wat Khili includes a 200-year-old manuscript library, a wonderful insight into Lao Buddhist history for those who speak and read the native tongue, and with some translated to English, it is also a fascinating historical archive for visitors to view.