24An eye opening tour to the world heritage city of Luang Prabang as well as Laos' capital Vientiane. Tour covers the famous historical, religious, cultural, rural village life and natural spots of the country. The tour starts from Chiang Rai to Chiang Khong (for crossing into Huay Xai) to go by boat down the Mekong River to Luang Prabang and is suitable for those who are continuing to Laos from northern Thailand by land, river or air. There is a regular flight from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang and vice versa.

Route: Chiang Rai (Thailand), Pak Beng, Luang Prabang, Pak Ou Caves, Kuangsi Falls, Xieng Khouang, Vientiane, Pakse, Khong Island and Tatlo 

 

check16Inclusive:

• Accommodation in hotels as stated
•Transportation in private air-con vehicle with driver
•English, Thai or French speaking guide
•Entrance fees to indicated sights
•Meals as stated in the programme.
•Boat trip

stop16Exclusive:

• Air ticket LPQ-VTE, VTE-XKH-VTE, VTE- PKZ
•International air tickets to and from Laos
•Visa fee (visa-on-arrival US$30 in Laos)
•Departure airport tax
•Travel insurance
•Meals not stated in the programme
•Tips, drinks, personal expenses and others not stated.

noteItinerary:

Day 1: Chiang Rai - Laos (Pak Beng)

Morning pick up at your Chiang Rai hotel and transfer to Chiang Khong, a 2-hour drive through lovely scenery, here to do the immigration formalities for crossing the border into Huay Sai (Laos). Our Lao guide will take you in hand here. Board a slow boat (if the river flow is swift - 6 hours) or a speedboat (if the river is calm - 3 hours) to cruise down the Mekong River and let the scene drift by. Conjure up the exploits of the French explorers who also used this river to penetrate Laos from the mid-nineteenth century for the glory of French civilization. At Pak Beng we disembark. (If by speedboat we stop only for you to have lunch.) If you have the energy to look around, go ahead; you can't stray far as the jungle hems you in. Hill tribe villages dot the surrounding hills.
Overnight in hotel, Pak Beng. (If by speedboat, overnight in Luang Prabang.)

Day 2: Pak Beng - Luang Prabang (Breakfast)

Breakfast at the hotel. Morning departure from Pak Beng in another safe slow boat. You spend a lazy morning trailing your hand in the Mekong River water and hear the sounds of the jungle as your boat slips slowly pass. By about 3pm as your boat takes the last bend of the Mekong River, Luang Prabang sweeps into view – a picturesque jewel-like town that the modern world has forgotten. This former royal city of a long line of Laotian kings is a world heritage site adopted by UNESCO. We rush you to your hotel and leave you there for an hour or so to do whatever you must. Refreshed, you will be taken on an orientation walking tour of the town. Luang Prabang is perhaps the best-preserved traditional city in Southeast Asia. The tranquility and charm of this town with its splendid natural scenery and cultural sights make it one of the most delightful places to visit in the Mekong region. The street of interest is the main street, Thanon Sisavangvong. Visit the impressive stupa of Wat Visoun and the shrine of Wat Aham and Wat Mai. We then climb up to the top of Phousi Hill for an enjoyable exploration of the sacred, gilded stupa as well as see a beautiful sunset view of the city and the Nam Khan River. Down at the foot of Phousi Hill, we stroll in the street bazaar where you can find lovely collections and handmade textiles of the lowland Lao and ethnic peoples from the hills surrounding Luang Prabang. Overnight in hotel, Luang Prabang.

Day 3: Luang Prabang - Pak Ou Caves (Breakfast)

Breakfast at the hotel. Morning sightseeing of Luang Prabang to include the city's oldest temple of Wat Sene and the magnificent Wat Xieng Thong with its roofs sweeping low to the ground in the grand style of Lao classical temple architecture. We then board a boat to cruise up the Mekong River to the Pak Ou caves. The riverine views soothe the eyes and conjure up bygone days of simplicity and serenity as the countryside slips by. Visit the interesting and mysterious Pak Ou caves crammed with thousands of gold-lacquered Buddha statues of various types and sizes. Along the way, we stop at the village of Ban Xiang Hai, where they make the potent local rice wine. Return downriver back to Luang Prabang along the scenic river as it flows down the valley. Overnight in hotel, Luang Prabang.

Day 4: Luang Prabang - Kuangsi Falls (Breakfast/Lunch)

This morning you may want to rise early at about 6am to participate in the daily morning Buddhist ritual of giving food to a file of saffron-robed monks carrying their alms bowls and walking slowly along the street in single file while devotees kneel by the roadside and reverently put things into the alms bowls to gain merit for themselves and others. Return to the hotel for our breakfast. We visit the morning Phosi Market where you will see such diverse produce as dried buffalo skin, skinned live frogs, local tea and saltpeter among the chickens, vegetables and hill-tribe weavings. Not to be missed is the National Museum at the former royal palace, which displays a unique collection of artefacts reflecting the richness of Lao culture dating from the days of the last few kings until their dethronement in 1975. Laos is also known for its traditional crafts, and today you will visit the pottery villages of Lao Loum at Ban Xom and Ban Thapene. Lunch in a restaurant. Then we drive to the lovely Kuangsi waterfall where you can splash around in the pools or walk along the shady forest paths. A stop at Ban Phanom, a local village well known for its weaving to see the simple lifestyle and local handicrafts, can be made before we return to Luang Prabang by late afternoon. Overnight in hotel, Luang Prabang.

Day 5: Luang Prabang - Xieng Khouang (Breakfast/Lunch)

Breakfast at the hotel. Morning visit to the central market as we drive to the airport to board our flight to Xieng Khouang to tour the mysterious "Plain of Jars" where hundreds of large stone jars are clustered on a vast plain. In spite of severe devastation by American bombings between 1964 and 1973, many of these artefacts remain intact. Here is a unique and impressive archaeological site that scholars are still debating over. We will have time this afternoon to see the old capital of Muang Khoun province and the nearby villages, home to the Hmong hill tribe and Tai Dam people. They have an interesting local culture and a colourful history. Overnight in hotel, Xieng Khouang.

Day 6: Xieng Khouang - Vientiane (Breakfast)

Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to the airport for the short morning flight to Vientiane. We go on a half-day city tour visiting Wat Sisaket, the oldest temple still standing in Vientiane. This amazing structure features remarkable frescoes and Buddha statues. The following sight is the former royal temple of Ho Pha Keo, which previously housed the famous Emerald Buddha image now in Bangkok. We also visit the imposing Patouxai monument well known as Vientiane's own Arc de Triomphe before continuing to the imposing sacred structure and symbol of Laos, That Luang Stupa. Overnight in hotel, Vientiane.

Day 7: Vientiane (Breakfast)

Breakfast at the hotel. We continue our sightseeing tour of Vientiane visiting the impressive Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge and the Buddha Park, a display of Buddhist and Hindu sculptures created by a mystical monk on parkland located by the Mekong River. A view of the spectacular sunset over the Mekong River is a nice way to finish the day before returning to Vientiane. Overnight in hotel, Vientiane.

Day 8: Vientiane - Pakse - Khong Island (Breakfast)

Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to the airport for the early flight to Pakse. On arrival, we drive on the National Road 13 southwards to Champassak and visit the ruins of Wat Phu, which is well-known as the most important Hindu sanctuary of the Khmer empire between the 9th-13th century. Here is also a chance to visit some nearby Khmer temples and Buddhist shrines. We continue our way to Khong Island (Don Khong) by a local slow boat admiring the views as we sail along. Overnight in hotel, Khong Island.

Day 9: Khong Island - Surrounding (Breakfast)

Breakfast at the hotel. Today we enjoy a cruise venturing into the widest reach of the Mekong River from where thousands of islets jut out in the dry season, giving this area a lovely name "Si Phan Don" (Four Thousand Islands). Along the way, we stop at the Liphi rapids and visit the fishing village of Ban Khone. On the return, we take a short drive to the Lao-Cambodia border at Weukham and the sight of Khone Phapheng, which is reputedly Southeast Asia's largest waterfall. South of here is where the Irrawaddy dolphins swim about. But you will not have full visibility of them, just a swirl of water and a grey back as one surfaces to take a breath before plunging back into the gushing water. Overnight in hotel, Khong Island.

Day 10: Khong Island - Tatlo - Pakse

Breakfast at the hotel. Upon leaving Khong Island, we continue our journey towards Tatlo, through the Bolaven plateau where tea and coffee plantations produce high quality tea-leaves and arabica beans. The vegetation is lush and the red basaltic soil all along the way is incredible to behold. En route, there are some opportunities to explore a part of the Bolaven plateau and visit some hill tribe villages of the Katu, Alack and Nge ethnic minority peoples. Return to Pakse by late evening.
Overnight in hotel, Pakse.

Day 11: Pakse - Departure

Breakfast at the hotel. There is free time for your own exploration of Pakse town before either catching a flight to Siem Reap (Cambodia) to enjoy another tour with us, or be transferred overland to exit Laos at the Chong Mek border checkpoint to Ubon Rachathani (Thailand) airport.

End of Programme