Travel Updates – April 2024

This April, we will explore Laos's stunning country and rich architectural heritage. We will also feature a meaningful experience of the month, where you can contribute to retired elephants' well-being by helping them live freely in a natural environment. Finally, we will introduce you to the art of coconut leaf-folding, a fun and creative activity in Southern Vietnam's rural area.
One of the most iconic architectural marvels in Laos is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang, renowned for its well-preserved blend of traditional Lao architecture and colonial influences.
LAOS ARCHITECTURE
A gem to be discovered

Laos, nestled in the heart of Southeast Asia, boasts a rich architectural heritage that reflects its diverse cultural influences and storied history. From ancient temples and royal palaces to French colonial buildings, Laos’ architectural landscape is a testament to its past as a kingdom, a French protectorate, and its enduring cultural traditions.

One of the most iconic architectural marvels in Laos is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang, renowned for its well-preserved blend of traditional Lao architecture and colonial influences. In the capital city of Vientiane, visitors can explore a unique blend of Lao, Thai, and French architectural styles. Beyond the urban centers, rural Laos is dotted with traditional wooden stilt houses, where communities uphold centuries-old building techniques and cultural practices.

As Laos continues to embrace economic development and tourism, efforts to preserve and celebrate its architectural heritage are paramount. Through ongoing conservation initiatives and a renewed appreciation for its cultural treasures, Laos invites visitors to immerse themselves in a journey through time, where the echoes of the past resonate in the beauty of its architectural wonders.

EXPERIENCES OF THE MONTH
Help the Khmer Elephants

The Kulen Elephant Forest is a sanctuary located in Phnom Kulen National Park, Cambodia. It’s a dedicated space for retired elephants to live freely in a natural environment. The sanctuary was established to provide a haven for elephants that have previously worked in the tourism or logging industries, allowing them to enjoy a more peaceful and natural existence.

Spend a day in the sanctuary to meet the team and listen to the stories of how they rescue and take care of the mistreated elephants. You can spend time learning about elephants as you follow them through their natural habitat, observing their relationships and behaviors, helping to prepare their snacks, and swimming with them.

 

Any child in the region is an expert at folding coconut leaves into cute and artistic toys such as animals, flowers, glasses, rings, and such
NEW PRODUCT CORNER
Coconut leaf-folding – ticket to childhood

For children in the countryside of Vietnam, toys made from coconut leaves have been part of their childhood playtime. Any child in the region is an expert at folding coconut leaves into cute and artistic toys such as animals, flowers, glasses, rings, and such. In the villages, people even fold coconut leaves into wedding gates.

Today meet Mr. Minh, a street artisan who has spent half of his life making toys and decorations with coconut leaves, mostly just to preserve this traditional craft. He hopes that every child of these days still can learn and appreciate these simple yet creative handmade toys instead of just video games. He will teach you how to fold simple items such as roses or glasses. And will give you a souvenir of more complicated items such as dragonflies, peacocks, and such.

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Hanoi countryside tales by traditional crafts

Today, drive an hour along the Red River to Ha Noi’s neighboring countryside through immense rice fields and fruit farms. Visit the village that birthed Vietnamese incense upon arrival. This village’s incense, made from over 30 herbs with skills passed down from generation to generation, is known for its pure, light scent. A guided stroll through the hamlet with older residents will take you to various family-run workshops to see the entire incense-making process and hear about the glory days of this traditional craft. Help the host make incense.

Take another short drive to a rural community behind endless rice fields and duck farms. The locals’ 200-year-old fish-pot crafting heritage includes bamboo weaving. Walk around the village to see the typical Northern countryside architecture: dark brown tiled roofs, three-room houses with elders sitting in front weaving fish-pots and chatting. Visit a local artisan who rode his bike across Vietnam to proudly promote his village’s unique traditional craft. Create your own fish pot with his help and give it as a present.

Notes:

  • Availability: Morning
  • Suggested time: 08:00
  • Duration: 6 hours

*Optional to add Nha Xa silk village
*Incense making at Thon Cao, Hung Yen. Fish-pot making village at Thu Sy, Hung Yen.
*Possible to have lunch at Hung Yen