Visit Ban Nayang before the crowds
Ban Nayang village is a Tai Leu settlement, established several centuries ago in Luang Prabang province. The Tai Leu are one of the 50 ethnic groups in the Lao PDR. Because of its devout Buddhist culture, and its relative isolation until recently, Ban Nayang displays a living heritage where an age-old way of life still continues. Go there now and you will be among the privileged few to step back into their traditional way of life that you won’t find anywhere else.
You will notice immediately the traditional architecture of wooden houses and the richly patterned clothing that people wear. Their thriving culture has been recognized by their highly-regarded handicraft tradition. You will often see the women, who are skilled weavers and dyers of natural cotton fabrics, beside wooden weaving looms as they proficiently embed their inherited folktales into their artwork. As suppliers to many well-known shops in Luang Prabang these artisans have enthusiastically adopted the “Handmade in Luang Prabang” label which has been initiated by the Luang Prabang Handicraft Association to promote the production of handmade products. This recognition helps them maintain their traditional craftsmanship through ensuring a sustainable income. When in Ban Nayang, do spend time walking through the alleys to see other craftsmen creating the most intricate baskets from bamboo which are designed for many tasks like trapping fish, carrying vegetables, or even cooking rice. Here the sounds of working are merged with the sounds of nature, coupled with Buddhist chanting from the temple nearby.
To promote Community Based Tourism (CBT) in Laos, the Department of Information, Culture, and Tourism (DoICT) and the EU SWITCH Asia Luang Prabang Handle with Care project have organized trainings and seminars to develop the tangible and intangible assets of Ban Nayang to help them meet the ASEAN CBT and the ASEAN Homestay Tourism Standards. Increasingly tourists have now started to visit Ban Nayang and enjoy the tranquility of village life, surrounded by some spectacular scenery. It’s now possible to stay overnight in one of the traditional wooden houses. You can also make a daytrip and observe handicrafts being created, help harvest the ingredients for your farm to table meal and see how everything is produced.
You will see that the real treasure of the Tai Leu is their traditional lifestyle, the intangible things you cannot touch, but feel through all your senses. And the privilege of experiencing these delightful moments will forever stay in your memory.
Ban Nayang is located a 3–4 hour drive from Luang Prabang, or
an hour from Nong Khiaw. The most convenient option would be
to contact a Luang Prabang travel agent who can organize a trip for you.
Text by GERRY PASTER
Images by SIMON COTE