The spiritual heart of Laos, Unesco-protected Luang Prabang is a city of the soul, where each day unfolds to the rhythm of Buddhist ritual. Ensconced in peaceful gardens, French-colonial Amantaka is an invitation to withdraw from earthly cares, find solace in the spa, adventure in the jungle, and inspiration afloat on the waters of the meandering Mekong.
Hanuman and Ravanna stand vigilant at the entrance to Wat Aham, a small early 19th-century Buddhist temple built on the site of what was once the shrine to Luang Prabang’s guardian spirits, Pu No and Na No. The shrines are no more, but the spirits remain – they are believed to inhabit the two large banyans in the temple grounds.
Like Buddhists throughout Asia, the monks of Luang Prabang are known for their blazing orange robes. Many people like to speculate on the symbolism behind the colour, but the truth is that the saffron-coloured pigment was the easiest and cheapest to obtain 2,600 years ago, and today the colour represents nothing more than the monks’ ongoing commitment to simplicity, modesty and frugality.
Luang Prabang is renowned for Buddhist temples of outstanding beauty and Wat Xieng Thong is an outstanding example. A symbol of great historic importance, this magnificent masterpiece is characteristic of the Luang Prabang style and features an elaborate tree of life mosaic, intricately carved walls, rare Buddhist deities and a 12-metre high funeral carriage. Also known as the ‘Golden Tree Monastery’, Wat Xieng Thong acts as a gateway to Luang Prabang as it is strategically situated close to where the Mekong joins the Nam Khan River
Using time-honoured ingredients and techniques, Amantaka’s menu showcases small dishes of Laotian food that are served together to make up a traditional Lao meal. Locally grown produce features prominently, try the delectable varieties of traditional Laos food including vegetables steamed in a banana leaf
Every morning at sunrise for centuries the tradition of Tak Bat has taken place in Luang Prabang. Guests of Amantaka can partake in this contemplative and spiritual experience, offering Alms to the passing monks and novices. Monks and novices make up a large proportion of the town's population, and each morning throughout the city the Alms Offering takes place, it is a way for locals to show kindness and for monks to engage with the community
Constructed in 1993, Vat Ho Pha Bang is part of the National Museum of Luang Prabang. Although it is a relatively new structure, it has been designed in a traditional style and is tied directly to the history and traditions of this World Heritage City. Vat Ho Pha Bang is a shrine for the Pha Bang, Luang Prabang's namesake and most sacred image. The striking site is a short walk from Amantaka