Backstreet Academy
Backstreet Academy
5
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About
Explore Lao culture through our exclusive collection of travel experiences - craft a crossbow, hunt with local villagers or learn wood carving, the backstreets offer the richest interaction with the culture and people of a place. Immerse yourself in the de facto Lao experience where the local backdrop retains its integrity and originality and discover a side of the city you never knew.
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More than 3 hours
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The area
Address
Ban Phan Luang, House #199 Group 14, Luang Prabang 6-01 Laos
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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5.0
181 reviews
Excellent
155
Very good
21
Average
1
Poor
2
Terrible
2

Adam H
15 contributions
Friends
The experience was about 3 hours start to finish for 3 people and was awesome. More than anything it gives you an appreciation for how skilled the blacksmith is, because whilst you can have a go at doing any part (and we got tired from all the hammering!), most likely he will need to then help shape and sharpen it.

Kohne our guide was also great, both at the experience and after, by helping guide us around Luang Prabang for a few extra hours.

Overall I would recommend for the novelty, value and the sheer coolness of having your own hand crafted knife after.
Written July 31, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Andy
Stoke Hammond, UK24 contributions
Couples
We went on the evening food tour in Luang Prabang. Our guide Lue was very good, telling us about Lao cuisine, life in his village and the Lao way of life. The spicy wood casserole was a little too ‘acquired taste’ for us but otherwise a good tour at a very reasonable price.
Written January 22, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

csabisch
Poestenkill, NY45 contributions
Family
Our son participated in the wooden cross bow crafting experience and it was a trip highlight for him. The company was very quick to reply to our inquiry and request to book a session the same day. The experience was very well organized and he was so excited to have created his very own, functioning cross bow to take home as a remembrance of his visit to Laos. The company also quickly replied when we struggled to disassemble the bow to fit it in the suitcase.... even offering to stop by the hotel if needed to assist. We cannot say enough good things about this experience or company. If visiting Luang Prabang with ‘boys’ of all ages, highly recommend this experience!
Written February 21, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Cliffy28
Halton Hills, Canada33 contributions
Solo
Had the best time with the knife making program in Luang Prabang. Guide spoke good English, and we both taught eachother new words to expand our knowledge. Master blacksmith was so nice, helpful, and showed me lots and treated me with respect as well. Went there with the mentality of making my own knife, not just watching someone do it and it paid off. Would recommend to anyone as an amazing take home from Laos.
Written January 15, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

milliesmum2016
Christchurch, New Zealand1,809 contributions
I can't recommend Backstreet Academy enough, really. This company offers fantastic opportunities to experience local life and customs and meet some local people who are simply willing to share their lives with you for a while. I went to meet a local family to learn about Lao cooking at their home and at Phousi Market. I had such a great time with them, cooking and discussing food and cookery. We started out at the market with a shopping list based on our lunch menu and then went home to cook in their wonderful outdoor kitchen. Hard work, it was too -all over open flame with lots of chopping and pounding to be done. Then we ate the fruits of our labour washed down with LaoLao.
Transport was included to and from my accommodation, as was an emailed copy of the recipes we made.
But this is only one of the options Backstreet offer. There is a whole suite of differnt activities to choose from they operate out of other countries as well as Laos.
The one criticism I have is that, as a solo traveller, I did feel penalised because some of the activities depended on their being at least two of you, to operate. Thsi applied particularly to overnight type activies, where accommodation was involved.
The really nice thing about Backstreet, though, is that you can be sure that your money really going to assist local families, as opposed to some off-shore business venture with no vested interest in the local community.
Written February 26, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

arianwen_morris
London, UK42 contributions
Solo
In 3.5 years of travel, I don't think I've come across a concept that's impressed me as much as Backstreet Academy. Their experiences enable you to interact with locals at their homes while learning traditional skills. Many of the crafts workshops give you the chance to try things you've never done before, and you often get to come away with a really impressive souvenir.

I did FIVE experiences organised into just a day and a half. The first day I started with knife making, then Hmong bamboo bow making with an 85-year-old man who said I was the first female he'd ever taught the craft to. I got to practice shooting the bows at a target and I came away with a bow and arrow and a crossbow!

Next up was rice wine making. The family were really welcoming and, since there's a bit of waiting around for things to cook, we naturally passed the time sipping some wine they'd made earlier through bamboo straws.

I rounded up day one with the Fear Factor Food tour, where I had my first taste of grilled dog, undercooked goat with its skin still attached, testicle soup, colon, chicken feet, chicken hearts, duck egg foetus and some intestines stuffed with excrement! If the thought of any of those things turns your stomach, it's ok, because you'll get a side sauce of bile to flavour it... My saviour was the Beer Lao, which I used to chase those chewy morsels that just wouldn't go down!

My final experience was a 5-hour wood carving session. I made a small elephant, with a lot of help and guidance from my host. It turned out great and will make a fantastic gift when I get home. You have the option of making a base for the elephant, and you can add text if you like, so if you do this course, think about what you might want (names, dates, or short messages).

While everything about these experiences was amazing, I have to give a shout out to Huelee and Oun, who were stuck with me for almost 12 hours on my first day. They were the most entertaining and informative guides I think I've ever had. By the end of the day, I felt like I was out at dinner with two new friends rather than on an organised tour by myself with guides. They were very modest about their skills too. Oun is still studying at college, working for Backstreet Academy part time and doing shifts in a restaurant in the evenings. I don't know how he finds time to sleep, but he was really energetic, talkative and enthusiastic. His English (and his accent) are brilliant too. I hope he fulfils his ambition to be a full-time tour guide because he'd be the best!

Thanks so much Backstreet Academy. I'll definitely be checking out more workshops as I travel through Asia. My only concern is how to carry all the amazing things I've made!
Written November 3, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Melissa S
Beaumont, Canada57 contributions
In one day I did two things, weaving and rice wine making!
Weaving- in the morning I got picked up and the guide was beyond friendly! We got to the village and it was great to really be involved in each process (our guide kept making sure myself and the other girl both had turns for everything) then we weaved for long time! I got the scarf delivered the next day in the morning as a scarf takes 1.5 days to finish.
Rice wine making- the guide again was so friendly! I was alone for this one and therefore had to pay and extra 5$.. It was so cool to hang out with the family and not only make the wine but drink as well!
PROS- the guides English are very good and they make sure you understand what is going on and they take pictures for you! (As a solo traveller it's very helpful!)
CONS- if I had to choose one thing it would be the price (but that's being said from a backpacker who's on a budget -- but I really wanted to do these things!)
Written April 30, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

317caroline
Cheltenham, UK80 contributions
Family
really interesting, we used backstreet academy in Cambodia too and i would thoroughly recommend all their trips (we did 4 different activities over laos and Cambodia)
Written July 28, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Emily G
Honolulu, HI9 contributions
Couples
After an activity filled week in Vietnam, I had promised my boyfriend a relaxing couple of days in Luang Probang. But when he saw a sticker on a lamp post advertising knife making classes, he knew we needed to give it a try. He had recently started watching a US tv program called Forged in Fire, a reality competition show that involves individuals competing to weld a sword. This was the real thing and he was in! I signed up with a little less enthusiasm but was looking forward to sharing in his new found passion. It turned out to be one of the best experiences we had in our entire Asia trip. This is the real deal. You are driven to a village that specializes in knife making and you sit down with the resident expert (and a translator) and jump right into their daily routine. All around you young men are producing knives made to order by people from other villages (not sold at the market) and you are simply integrated into the process. The activity can be very hands on (my boyfriend did everything from start to finish) or in my case I enlisted the help of the welder's son to help with some (ok most) of the hammering while I played with the kids running around the village. In the end we were both thrilled with our final product and have great souvenirs and stories to tell when we get home. Also boyfriend made a machete (I made a knife) and his took a lot more work but was also totally worth it. The wooden handle is also a worthwhile investment.
Written August 11, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Gaylene M
Hong Kong, China7 contributions
Family
We booked the almsgiving experience with Backstreet Academy and combined it with a tour of the early morning market including breakfast, and then learning about meditation with the Abbot of one of the temples. It was wonderful to take part in the almsgiving and learn about how and why it happens, without intruding and gawking like the rest of the tourists on the street who didn't show respect. We have ice provided for us and my daughter gave out chocolate bars. It was also wonderful to know that we were helping our guide with his english.

The second trip we did was to the Living Fields Rice Community where we learned to grow rice, ploughing, threshing, harvesting, grinding etc. Absolutely fabulous and the memory will live with us all for many years. It was entertaining, engaging, informative, fun and it gave us all a deep respect for sticky rice and how much work is involved in growing it without any mechanisation.
Written May 11, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Backstreet Academy (Luang Prabang) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go