Focus on Textiles in Laos
- Discover a ‘weavers paradise’ and elaborate design motifs
- See old Laos textile and weaving techniques in local Hmong villages
- Visit temples, museums and galleries and attend a Baci ceremony
This specialist journey begins in Bangkok in Thailand amongst the 400 glittering Buddhist temples, traditional ways of life and timeless canals in the city.
Begin with an introduction to Thai textiles at Jim Thompson's House and Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles, housed within the Grand Palace.
Fly to charming and unhurried Luang Prabang, located on the Mekong River and be guided on an exploration of the history and culture of Laos, focusing on its textiles and village ways of life and current projects that encourage strengthening cultural resources for future generations.
See beautiful scenery, learn to cook Laos food and also travel to Phonsavanh and Vientiane before returning home.
Day 1 London/ Bangkok – Overnight flight.
Day 2 Bangkok - Arrive in Bangkok and settle into the small boutique hotel with Thai contemporary decor. Day at leisure.
Day 3 Bangkok - Full day of city sightseeing today with a visit to Jim Thompson’s House housing Chinese and Thai antiques and silk, and following a traditional Thai lunch a visit to The Tileke & Gibbins’ Textile Collection representing the diverse cultures of mainland SE Asia. Welcome dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 4 Bangkok - Visit Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles, housed within the Grand Palace. Their mission is to collect, display, preserve, and serve as a centre for all who wish to learn about textiles, past and present, from Southeast Asia, South Asia, and East Asia, with a special emphasis on the textiles of, and related to, the royal court and Her Majesty Queen Sirikit.
After lunch, you will be taken to see the Grand Palace itself. This comprises the Funeral Palace, the Reception Palace, the Throne Hall, the Coronation Hall, the Royal Guest House, and the beautiful Emerald Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Kaew).
Day 5 Fly Bangkok/ Luang Prabang – Arrive in UNESCO protected Luang Prabang, ancient capital of the ‘Land of a Million Elephants’ and renowned for its beautifully preserved architecture.
Day 6 Luang Prabang – Learn to cook Lao food, visit the market for fresh ingredients, culminating in preparing your own lunch with the Lao chefs. This afternoon visit a weaving village to see hand looms for traditional garment making.
Day 7 Luang Prabang – Select some books from the Big Brother Mouse Shop and visit Ban Khia Luang Village to visit the school, play with the children and watch them enjoy their new books. Explore the village and observe weaving and visit the local temple. After local Lao lunch, drive to Ban Khoklin through beautiful scenery.
At Ban Khoklin, board a private boat down the Nam Ou River for 30 minutes to the Pak Ou Caves, two linked caves filled with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues. Return down the Mekong River back to Luang Prabang.
Day 8 Luang Prabang – Visit the central market before travelling out of town to see the limestone waterfall at KhuangSi & also stop in a local village.
This afternoon you will learn about Lao textile techniques at the Ock Pok Gallery, located at their weaving centre on the shores of the Mekong.
On arrival lunch overlooking the Mekong River in their Silk Road Café. The 1.5 hour presentation will look at the journey of a Lao textile from the creation of silk to the weaving process and the meaning of motifs. Also learn about the wax resist techniques used by the Hmong minority.
Day 9 Luang Prabang – Attend a Baci ceremony in a local house this morning. The ceremony can be held for both sad and happy times.
In the afternoon, visit Kopnoi (meaning little frog), a local export promotion centre producing handmade products from natural materials.
They constantly develop innovative products and create new collections for the modern life using traditional Lao skills, to also encourage the celebration of Lao culture and keep it alive for future generations.
Day 10 Luang Prabang/ Phonsavanh – Drive to Phonsavanh with stops en route. This journey will take most of the day and will allow you to see the ever changing landscape.
Day 11 Phonsavanh – See a nearby silk farm at the Lao Sericulture Company & Visitor Centre. They encourage the traditional community arts of silkworm rearing, reeling, weaving, and natural dyeing. Lao Sericulture also stresses the importance of the beautiful traditional natural dyes, which are more environmentally friendly than the widely used chemical alternatives. Lunch will be served at the centre before visiting a traditional umbrella making village and another village that makes paper by hand, again using traditional methods.
Day 12 Phonsavanh/ Vientiane – This morning see the strange carved Plain of Jars, not made from local rock. Archaeologists believe they might have been made by the lost early Indochinese civilisation. Continue to a small Hmong village where they raise silk worms and see their weaving process. Fly to Vientiane after lunch and settle back to watch the sunset by the riverside of your traditional Lao style hotel before dinner.
Day 13 Vientiane – Visit a private Textile Museum owned by Bouavanh Phouminh set in a superb garden. You will see her collection of textiles and artefacts and dye your own silk scarves.
After a Lao style lunch visit the Phaeng Gallery opened by a Thai Deng weaver who took refuge in Vientiane in 1964. She taught the girls to weave and gradually developed her local weaving style. The company, having achieved international awards, has now grown and produces very sophisticated products, using natural dyes.
Day 14 Vientiane – Explore Wat Sisaket one of the oldest temples in Vientiane. Also visit two textile galleries. Carol Cassidy's Lao Textiles workshop, studio and gallery creates woven art. The team of predominantly female weavers use hybrid looms, which Carol designed herself, to produce intricate brocade, ikat and tapestry textiles. The Nikone Gallery opened by Rassanikone Nanong, has established a natural dying and handloom weaving centre, to encourage this age old art form by supporting women who still practice weaving as part of their daily lives. Today, through her social enterprise, she is transferring the skills, techniques, designs and motifs to the next generation.
After a farewell dinner fly via Bangkok to London Heathrow, flying overnight.
Day 15 Fly Bangkok/ London – Arrive back in London.
Dorothy Reglar is a garment designer/maker with a passion for textiles from foreign cultures and enjoys working with natural fibres and is particularly concerned with garment construction, fine stitching, texture and colour.
After attending Art Colleges in Bristol and Birmingham she became an assistant designer at Bellville Sassoon, in London. During this time she was also teaching at Hornsey and Birmingham Colleges of Art. After 10 years she moved to the Cotswolds with a studio at new Brewery Arts in Cirencester, where she is currently based.
Dorothy has travelled widely and continues to do so for research and inspiration. She has undertaken numerous development projects for a number of NGO’s in Thailand, Laos, India and Nepal.
Her textile background has given her the opportunity, and good fortune, of working with many weavers, silk producers and natural dyers in North East Thailand and Laos. Her working connection with South East Asia began in 1994 when she went to work with the Karen on the Thai/Myanmar (Burma) border as part of a development project for Oxfam.
Since Dorothy’s first visit to Laos in 1995, she has gained a tremendous respect for the people of Laos, who she works with, and their culture, plus a great admiration of their tenacity in dealing with all that life throws at them. She continues to promote their work and lectures on her experiences in Thailand and Laos.
If you like this tour but our specific tour dates don't suit you we can arrange the same itinerary or similar on a tailor-made basis, please contact us to discuss.