If you can get yourself out of bed before 5am, then the alms giving ceremony (or Tak Bat) is for you.
To be honest after all the effort for the early rise it was a bit disappointing but it’s still something of interest.
What is the alms giving ceremony?
Every morning between 5:30-6:30am monks in Luang Prabang walk in procession along the main road to collect alms of rice and fruits from people. Their orange robes create a colourful row that snakes along the road. People offer them rice, biscuits and fruits. The monks in turn give some of the offerings to local poor kids, who have gathered in the area with boxes and baskets.
Unfortunately this venerable and picturesque tradition has turned into a full-on tourist attraction. Minivans off load dozens of tourists right in the main area where the procession takes place. Not only the tourist numbers are really high but also the majority of them stand right next to the monks trying to take close-up photos. Not to mention the use of flash in the monks’ faces. How about using a long lens and taking photos from the distance?!?!?!
There are actually a series of ‘behaviour guidelines’ for those who wish to attend the alms giving ceremony (i.e. dress appropriately, stand at least 3 meters away from the monks, do not give them food bought in the streets, and so on) but they don’t seem to be followed much.
This is what is sad and annoying about this traditional ceremony.
But overall it is something to see in Luang Prabang. The orange line of monks walking in the street is quite nice to watch.