Visitors to Luang Prabang relish the long rows of saffron monks at dawn that have become a highlight of the tourist experience in this UNESCO World Heritage Town. With an increase in tourism, negative side effects have also flourished, which the District of Luang Prabang is attempting to solve with a recent government notice obtained by The Laotian Times. The contents of the notice (translated from Lao) are as follows:
- Sellers of almsgiving foods at three areas in Luang Prabang must cease selling prepackaged imported snacks to foreign tourists to give alms from 1 February. It is permitted to sell traditional Lao homemade snacks if quality (cleanliness – freshness) can be ensured.
- It is absolutely forbidden to bring rice in bamboo (khao lam) to sell to tourists to give to monks on their morning alms round.
- Sticky rice that is sold to tourists to give as alms must be of good quality and freshly steamed, and absolutely cannot be reheated old rice. Rice must be sold by weight and at the permissible rate (1 kg = 10,000 kip; 1.5 kg = 15,000 kip; 2 kg = 20,000 kip).
- If these instructions are not heeded, the village inspection authorities will report the infractions to the District Office of Information, Culture, and Tourism for disciplinary measures such as: written citations, revocation of licenses, and suspension of almsgiving sales for 6 months or permanently. As for vendors who sell khao lam to tourists in the almsgiving area, for the first infraction, the khao lam will be confiscated until after almsgiving when it will be returned. For the second infraction, the khao lam will be confiscated and will not be returned.
- This is presented to the Head of the Office of Information, Culture, and Tourism of Chomphet District, the Village Chief of Xieng Mene, the Village Chief of Nakham, the Almsgiving Service Management Inspection Committee of the three villages, and entrepreneurs who sell almsgiving supplies to be informed and whose compliance is sought.