Get your hands dirty learning traditional Laotian pottery techniques while experiencing local life in a rural village that has been famed for its ceramics for centuries
Lao Pottery House is located in the village of Chan Nua, which sits a picturesque 10-minute boat ride downstream from Luang Prabang. We were picked up from our hotel in the morning and taken by tuk tuk to the dock, where we boarded a boat to the charming village. Chan Nua has been famed for making pottery for more than 400 years, when it supplied the royal court with the clay pots that are still commonly found throughout Lao.
Residents, Thieng and Keo Lamphet, launched Lao Pottery House with the aim of preserving the ancient art, which was in danger of extinction due to the younger generation migrating from the village to cities for work. Today, only 10 families continue to preserve the ancient pottery techniques. However, the Pottery House also employs villagers living with disabilities and other vulnerable people living in the community as part of its overarching mission to revive the art form.
The 4.5-hour immersion started with a guided tour of the village, which is home to 85 families belonging to the Lao Loum tribe. As we walk past neat rows of tin-roof houses, curious villagers emerge to introduce themselves and exchange a story or two. Co-founder Lamphet talked us through the weeks-long pottery process, from gathering clay from the ground and drying it, to firing it in a hand-made kiln that has been dug in the ground.
Next was the chance to get our hands dirty and make our own souvenirs to take home. Under the guidance of expert potters, we learned traditional techniques and sat at a pottery wheel to transform lumps of red clay into delicate patterned pots using our hands, before enjoying a well-earned feast of Laotian delights. As the firing process takes a further two weeks, we could choose a piece from a completed collection to take home. There is the alternative to have your own creation shipped by DHL at an additional cost.
This tour ticks all the boxes for a fun, hands-on, immersive adventure that also provides guests with an informative insight into the livelihoods of the village’s residents.