Inside Laos tour
A magical tour discovering Laos, its traditions and local populations, its temples and natural heritage. The itinerary includes Luang Prabang, one of the most charming cities in Asia, Xien Khouang, Vang Vieng, Vientiane, the capital city, Pakse, Wat Phu, Boleven and Don Khone.
On arrival at the airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Luang Prabang was the royal capital of the former Lane Xang Kingdom, with its gleaming temple roofs, colonial architecture and stunning mountain backdrop retains a unique charm rarely found in all Asia.
Overnight in Luang Prabang.
Breakfast, we visit the National Museum (closed on Tuesday) at the former Royal Palace displaying a lovely collection of the artifacts reflecting the richness of Lao culture dating from the days of the early kings right through the last sovereign. The National Museum and the Central Market are not to be missed.
We visit the impressive stupa of Wat Visoun and the shrine of Wat Aham, Wat Mai. We continue seeing Luang Prabang with the temple of Wat Xieng Thong, a magnificent piece of architecture, nestled at the meeting point of the Mekong and the Nam Khan River. The temple structures are decorated in various ways with gilded stuccoes as well as doorways and the main sim has a marvelous 'tree life' mosaic pattern on an outer wall.
We embark on a boat for a leisurely trip on the Mekong River, stopping en route at Ban Xang Hai to see the production and to sample the local rice wine. Upon leaving this village we pass through stunning mountain landscape to the mysterious Pak Ou Caves. These two linked caves are crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes, all brought there by devout villagers. After the river trip we drive toward Ban Phanom, a small village known for its hand weaving. Overnight in Luang Prabang.
An optional early start gives you the fantastic opportunity to participate in the daily morning rituals of saffron-clad monks collecting offerings of Alms (ubiquitous sticky rice) from the faithful residents. This tradition is very unique in Laos, being the only Buddhist nation still preserving the procession.
We will visit the morning Phosi Market, where you will see such diverse offerings as dried buffalo skin, local tea and saltpeter among the chickens, vegetables and hill-tribe weavings. Laos is also known for its traditional crafts, and today you will visit local villages of Lao ethnic minority groups at Ban Ouay, Hmong Village, Ban Ou, Laoloum Village and Ban Thapene, Khmu Village, then drive to the beautiful Khouangsi Waterfall where you can cool off with a refreshing swim in the turquoise pools or walk along the forest trails.
After returning to Luang Prabang by late afternoon, we continue to Ban Xangkhong, a village well known for its silk weavings and for its Saa (jute) Papermaking. We return to the city by late evening to observe the sunset at Wat Siphouthabath. Overnight in Luang Prabang.
We start early this morning, around 8am for the drive to Xiengkhuang, famous for the ‘Plain of Jars’. The road follows a twisty mountain route, and we make our first stop at Houi Hei, which offers great views of the surrounding mountains. We then continue Ban Kiu Maknao 2, a Khmu Village to explore, before arriving in Phou Khoun for lunch.
We continue on the road into Xiengkhuang province, reaching our highest altitude of the day 1500m above sea level, just after Phou Khoun. We have time to make a stop at Ban Son Boom, a Hmong village. Our final stops of the day are a reminder that this region played a major part during the Vietnam War – as we visit a hidden Buddha Cave, that served as an army hospital during the war and our final stop of the day. We arrive at your hotel by early evening. (The road journey today takes approximately 7-8hours including stops on the way). Overnight in Xieng Khuang.
The “Plan of Jars” is an impressive archaeological site where hundreds of large stone jars are scattered all over a plateau. These huge jars are supposedly over 2,000 years old, but most of archaeologists still question their purpose. We have time today to explore the site and some nearby villages, populated by the Hmong hill tribe and Tai Dam people; they are very poor but possess a vibrant local culture and an interesting history.
We leave Xieng Khouang for our scenic drive to Vang Vieng, a small and tranquil town, which is nestled on a bend of the Nam Song River. Its stunning scenery with a mixture of quiet water and limestone outcrops remains unspoiled, despite recent developments with the advent of tourism. Depending on road and traffic conditions, we will arrive at Vang Vieng by mid or late afternoon. (The road journey today takes approximately 7-8hours including stops on the way). Overnight in Vang Vieng.
An impressive way to start our day is a walk around the bustling central market. Heading out of town we enjoy a short bamboo raft along the Namsong River, which gives us a taste of adventure. The limestone cliffs and valleys surrounding the resort complex of Vang Vieng are home to numerous caves and caverns. The most famous in Vang Vieng is the cave of Tham Jang, which was used in the early 19th century in defense against the Chinese invaders. We also cross the river to Ban Huai Ngai, a very pleasant village where we can explore the different local lifestyles. We bid farewell to this dream-like town and drive to Vientiane. Located on the banks of the Mekong River. This capital conjures up exotic images, with a curious mix of Lao, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, French influences.
After arrival in Vientiane, we see the major sights of the capital; including the oldest Wat Sisaket, the temple with thousands of miniature Buddha statues and the former royal temple of Wat Prakeo, which previously housed the famous Emerald Buddha Image. On the way to Lao’s national precious heritage, the famous and sacred structure of That Luang Stupa, we stop en route to take some pictures of the imposing Patuxay Monument, which is well known as Vientiane’s own Arc de Triumph. Overnight in Vientiane.
Morning flight to Pakse. On arrival at Pakse, you will be met and transfer to boat pier down to Champassak along the Mekong to visit the fascinating pre-angkorian ruins of Wat Phu, one of Southeast Asia's most dramatically situated temples. We have time to explore these intriguing Khmer ruins, which are perched at the base of Mount Phu Kao. Wat Phu is one of the Lao World Heritage sites recognized by UNESCO in 2001, this wonderful archeological site of Khmer civilization dates back to the 5th century, predating the famous Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
Afternoon, you will be transferred directly to Boleven Plateau, we take a tea break en route to the Boloven Plateau area, to observe the locals and their way of life as they make traditional tea and coffee. The Boloven Plateau is known for its cooler temperature being located high above the Mekong Valley. Rivers run off this high plateau in all directions and then plunge out to lush forests along in a series of spectacular surging waterfalls. The scenery around Tad Fan waterfall is spectacular with twin waterfalls plummeting into a deep gorge surrounded by flourishing vegetation. Overnight in Boleven.
After an early breakfast, we head out towards Khong Island. On the way we make a short detour to visit Pha Suam waterfall and to stroll around the ethnic minority villages of Lao Teung. A trip to the plateau provides a refreshing break from the heat and allows you to observe the cultivation of rich coffee, tea, cardamom, bananas, and other crops that can be seen en route. This trip gives visitors the chance to venture off the beaten track and to discover some of the lesser-known areas of Laos, exploring the wild beauty of this southern region.
We continue our journey by road to Ban Nakasang and taking a long-tailed boat to Donekhone island, the largest island in the South Mekong river region known as the 4000 islands, one of the most scenic areas in Laos.
Overnight in Don Khone.
Following breakfast, we enjoy a visit to the surrounding countryside, and embark on a long trail boat tour of the Don Khone area, which takes you to visit the remains of the French period, Liphi Waterfall or "the Corridor of the Devil". We return to the mainland at the fishing village Ban Nakasang and drive further south to visit Khone Phapheng on the journey.
Khone Phapheng is considered the largest waterfall by volume in the South East Asia; this is really an impressive sight with marvelous nature near the Lao-Cambodian border, which is teeming with wildlife making this area one of the most breathtaking destinations in Laos. Afterward we drive back to Pakse. Overnight in Pakse.
Transfer to the airport and end of tour.
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