Just outside of Luang Prabang City and across the Mekong River, explorers can discover village life a world away from the colonial elegance of Luang Prabang. Chompet District is home to a cluster of small villages and traditional temples, waiting to be explored.


You will need to start your exploration with by taking the local ferry across the Mekong River, a fantastic immersion into local life far removed from the confines of luxurious hotels. Cars and motorbikes squeeze together on the barge that wheezes its way across the river, transporting you into the rural world of Laos.  


Once in Chompet you can choose to visit the pottery village of Ban Chan. The people of Ban Chan have been making pottery for centuries, using clay dug out of the earth in their area. You can visit one of the workshops and expert potters will help you make your own creation. Local artisans will guide you through the process of making your own bowl or pot from start to finish. Even those with no experience will be impressed at their final creation. Your masterpiece will need to dry for about a week before it can go into the kiln, but the pottery workshop will be able to deliver it to anywhere in Laos once it is completed. Getting your hands dirty is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon in a traditional setting.


Chompet also offers a great pilgrimage road to explore on bike or in an electric car. From the ferry you follow a small road going north east, parallel to the Mekong River. This road first takes you through a small village still featuring a number traditional bamboo houses. After the village you ride along a small brick lined road, shaded from the sun by large trees.


This path is very special for Lao people as it was used by the former princes in the lead up to their coronation. In the week before becoming kings, the princes would walk this pilgrim’s path to visit each temple, spending time to meditate at each point. This is an important tradition in Lao culture, that before he can become the king he must spend time in the jungle and temple to clear his mind and spirit to take on his new duties.

Follow the route of their ancient pilgrimage today by visiting these temples on this path of discovery.


Your first stop on the pilgrim’s path is Chompet Temple. Climb the stairs from the path to the old temple sitting on the summit. Here you can take in sweeping views of the Mekong and Luang Prabang town from the grounds of this ancient temple. The temple structure here is somewhat rundown, having not been maintained for many years. However this is still the original structure from when it was built in 1888, giving its weathered façade a stronger sense of authenticity.


Continue along the pilgrim’s path to the next temple, Wat Long Khoun. This is one of the oldest temples along the pilgrim’s path and has many ancient legends associated with it. The temple is built near a spring which is said to contain magical water which has arousing properties. The temple was used by the royal princes of Laos who would come to this temple to meditate for a week before their coronation. It was also used as a base by invading Chinese soldiers who were unable to sleep at the temple because the spirits at the temple kept the invaders awake, until they painted large murals of menacing Chinese gods, which scared away the local spirits. Now the temple is used by monks as a place of quiet meditation.


Following the pilgrim’s path you will reach another small temple complex to Wat Tham Sakkarin, which is being restored to its former glory. Nearby to this temple you will find the cave containing the spring of Wat Long Khoun. This cave was also an important place for members of the royal family to come and meditate.


Continue along the pilgrim’s path to Wat Had Siaw, a large hall currently being restored. Nearby you will find two imposing statues guarding a pathway, leading up the hill. Despite their foreboding appearance the statues are there to protect travellers on the path and prevent evil spirits from following you up the hill. Walk up the hill to a small grove on the summit full of stupas and statues of Buddha. This is a very sacred place for Lao people as there are many lotus flower statues filled with the ashes of deceased loved ones. There is also a collection of many different types of stupas from across the Buddhist world. Monks from the nearby temples will often come into this sacred grove to meditate in the tranquil environment, only pausing to eat one meal a day, relying on the local villagers to cook and carry the meal for them.


Exploring the pilgrim’s path is a delightful experience for all explorers and is especially meaningful for Buddhist and spiritual travellers. With ancient temples, traditional artisans, and rural villages just a stone’s throw from Luang Prabang, Chompet District is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. Combine this journey of discovery with an electric scooter or vintage electric car to make it a truly unique experience.