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Laos from South to North - 8 Days / 7 Nights
Laos from South to North - 8 Days / 7 Nights

Laos from South to North - 8 Days / 7 Nights

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Pakse - Champasak - Wat Phou - 4000 Islands - Vientiane - Luang Prabang - Pak Ou Caves - Kuang Si Waterfalls

Both are visually spectacular parts of the world and the mighty Mekong River dominates both geographically. This journey encompasses highlights such as Si Phan Don (4000 islands) and the royal capital of Luang Prabang.

Day 1 - Arrive Pakse - Champasak - Wat Phou


Arrive in Pakse. Welcome to Laos!

Your guide and private car will meet you and transfer you to your hotel in Champasak for check-in.

This afternoon, you will visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Wat Phou. This is a spectacular pre-Angkorian temple that sits among the rice fields and waterways of southern Laos.  The temple was constructed in three levels: the bottom level is focused on the baray (water reservoir) and promenade, the second level features quadrangular pavilions and galleries of carvings, and the top level is the sanctuary itself.  The temple was built by the rulers of the Khmer empire before the construction of Angkor Wat.  The temple served as the most important economic and political centre of the region and still is one of the Lao people’s most revered temples.

Note: if arriving late this temple visit can be done on Day 3.

Overnight in Champasak


Distance and journey time:

Pakse – Champasak (30 km): 1 hour

Champasak – Wat Phou (8 km): 15 min

Day 2 - Champasak - 4000 Islands - Champasak (B,L)


Depart at 08:00 for a full day exploring the area known locally as Sipandon (‘4000 Islands’). In this beautiful area the Mekong River reaches 14 kilometers wide and thousands of small islands dot the waterway.         

Travel first by car for around 2 hours to the village of Ban Nakasan. From here you will take a local boat to the peaceful island of Done Khone, where plantations and simple villages are almost all you will find. We recommend bicycles as the best way to explore, or a tuk-tuk if you prefer.               

Visit the impressive Lippi falls, which are on the west of Don Khone, very close to the Cambodian border. Their original name, Tad Somphamit, means “trap spirit” and the locals revere these falls as they believe they act as a trap for bad spirits.         

The islands played an important role during the French Colonial rule as they linked Laos to Cambodia and Southern Vietnam. To overpass the waterfalls, a railway and bridge were built, the perfect place to take your time and soak in the view.

Start with a short boat trip will give you the chance to spot the rare Irrawaddy Dolphin. Please note that sightings are never guaranteed.

Continue your exploration and ease in to the slow pace of life, observing locals and taking your time. Lunch will be included at a local restaurant.           

Return to the mainland by boat and then return to your hotel by car, arriving back at your hotel in time for sunset.         

Overnight in Champasak


Distance and journey time:

Champasak – Ban Nakasan: 2 hours

Day 3 - Champasak - Pakse - Vientiane - City Tour (B)

After breakfast, enjoy free time at leisure then you will be transferred to the airport in Pakse in time for your flight to Vientiane.

On the confluence of the Mekong and Sedone rivers, Pakse is the most important town in southern Laos. Pakse is home to a large Vietnamese community and if you visit this town during the Têt or Vietnamese New Year, do not be surprised if many shops are closed in honor of the celebration.

Suggested flight:

Depart Pakse at 1240 on QV304 (Lao Airlines), landing in Vientiane at 1355.

In Vientiane, your guide and driver will meet you and transfer you to your hotel for check-in.

This afternoon, enjoy a half-day guided tour to discover the hidden charms of Vientiane, whose name means ‘the city of sandal wood’. Vientiane is one of the quietest capital cities in the world, far away from the bustle and hustle of other Asian capitals.

Your tour begins at the serene Wat Sisaket, the only temple left intact after the Siamese (Thai) invasion in 1828. It is one of the most beautiful temples in the capital, and its breezy teak covered hallways are filled with thousands of miniature Buddha statues.

Continue on to the nearby Wat Phra Keo.  Used as a religious museum, Wat Phra Keo displays a collection of both Lao and Khmer works of art. Also nearby, is the Presidential Palace. Although you are not allowed to visit inside, it is a good glimpse in to the town’s colonial past as this building formerly served as the French governor’s palace.

Visit COPE, an association working to help landmine victims. A visit to the center provides in-depth information about the history of the American/Vietnam war and the lasting impact of unexploded ordinances (UXO) in the area and the efforts underway to clear them.

Continue to the Patuxay monument, Laos’ version of the Arc de Triomphe, where you can climb the stairs to the roof for sweeping panoramic views of the city.

Next, your tour takes you to That Luang, the holiest site in Laos. Constructed by King Setthathirat in the 16th century, the temple is resplendent as the sun is shines upon its towering golden spire.

The rest of the day is at your leisure to explore Vientiane, whose name means ‘the city of sandal wood’. You might choose to end your day along the banks of the Mekong River. Stroll along the river, stop to enjoy a cold drink, or sample a snack from one of the many local food stalls. This area is very popular with locals who go to exercise in the park in the evenings and you can also browse the evening market for souvenirs.

Overnight in Vientiane


Distance and journey time:

Champasak – Pakse Airport (35 km): 1 hour

Vientiane Airport – Vientiane (4 km): 15 min

Day 4 - Vientiane - Immersion (B,L)


Today you will get a true taste of the local culture, traditions and lifestyles with this immersive Vientiane experience.

EAT: Your private guide and driver will pick you up at 09:15 at your hotel for the short drive to Full Moon Café to begin the first experience of your day. Then, travel to a nice garden on the Mekong River where you will begin the preparation for lunch. It is a good way to learn more about the Lao culture, traditional cooking, original ingredients and how to make a perfect sticky rice!

You will receive a Lao recipe booklet so that you can take your experience home.


PRAY: After lunch (around 13:30), you will be transferred outside of the city to Wat Sok Pa Luang. This is still described by many as ‘the forest temple’, although as Vientiane expands it feels like an oasis within the suburbs, rather than being out on a limb. On the way to the temple you will stop with your guide at a local market to buy snacks and fruit to give as offerings to the monks (we suggest avoiding plastic wrappers and spending approximately $2-3 per person, so fruits and local snacks wrapped in banana leaves are ideal). Monks of all ages live and study here and as part of your visit we will have made an appointment for you to sit down with one or two of them for an informal discussion on the subject of Buddhism and the life of a monk, including plenty of time for you to ask questions. Then you will experience a private meditation session. You then have time to explore the grounds with your guide.


LOVE: Complete your experience with a relaxing one hour Lao traditional massage in one of the best spa center in town.

Transfer back to your hotel early this evening.

Overnight in Vientiane

Day 5 - Vientiane - Luang Prabang - Exploring the Mekong?s Hidden Side (B,L)

After breakfast, enjoy free time at leisure then you will be transferred to the airport in time for your flight to Luang Prabang.


Suggested flight:

Depart Vientiane at 11:30 on QV101 (Lao Airlines), landing in Luang Prabang at 1215.

Arrival Luang Prabang, your guide and private car will meet you and transfer you to your hotel for check-in.

Welcome to the spiritual capital of Laos!

Enjoy lunch at Khaiphaen restaurant.

Your guide will pick you up at 14:00 by tuktuk and head off to the former Royal boat pier and take a ferry to the other side.

Upon arrival at Ban Xieng Mene, we will ride along the Mekong before walking up the steps to Vat Chom Phet. This first temple used to be the Kings’ favorite temple to retreat when he needed to get away from the court’s hassles.

Further along the way, you can admire the Royal Vat Long Khoun, with its unique inner mural paintings.  Built during the same period by the same King as the revered temple of Vat Xieng Thong in Luang Prabang, the façade also shows signs of the Tai Dam during their occupation in the region.

We will now take a dirt road – the only way leading from the riverside villages – to drive our way through the untouched and rarely visited countryside. On the way to the secret Hoy Khoua waterfall (Note: for agricultural purposes, and related to abundance of rain during rainy season, the waterfall can be dry at periods), we will stop along at a Khmu village to meet the elders and have a close up experience on their daily environment and lifestyle.

As we stop at Ban Pak Leuang, this time a Hmong village, we will board our private boat to cruise upstream to Ban Chan. The village is renowned in the region for its pottery making. Admire a young man work the clay into a small bowl, and visit the underground kilns which are used to cook hundreds of jars at a time. These ancestral methods are transferred, from one generation to another and require patience and dexterity. Feel free to support them by buying a little figurine in order to support their handicraft (at own expenses).

As we cruise back up to Luang Prabang, we can admire the Mekong river lifestyle and picturesque landscapes. We will be arriving back at 18:00, where your tuktuk will be waiting for you to take you back to your hotel.

The rest of the day is free at leisure, you may like to take a walk around the town.

Overnight in Luang Prabang


Distance and journey time:

Luang Prabang Airport – Luang Prabang (4 km): 15 min

Day 6 - Luang Prabang - Cycling City Tour (B,L)


Your guide will pick you up at your hotel in Luang Prabang at 08:30 with your adapted bikes.

After doing a fitting and adjusting your bike, you will start your tour by the former Royal Palace, now the National Museum, where you will explore the history of Laos. Continue to Wat Mai, a temple renowned for its golden bas-relief.

Visit Wat Visoun, the holiest temple in the city, which was entirely rebuilt in 1887 after being destroyed by the invading Black Flags from Southern China. In the courtyard of Wat Visoun stands the Watermelon Stupa shaped like the fruit from which it takes its name. Continue passed Wat Aham, which was first built in the 1500s, and on to Wat That where the ashes of King Sisavang Vong are kept inside the large central stupa.

Ride along the Nam Khan River to visit Wat Xieng Thong, the most revered temple in Luang Prabang. Located at the end of the peninsula, close to the Mekong, this temple was built in 1560 by King Setthathirat and is decorated with ornate carvings and mosaics.

Lunch at Tamarind (Note: closed on Sundays) for some of the best local food in Luang Prabang (Lao set menu included).

This afternoon you will leave the town behind and ride to the Phosy Market, where you can join the locals and support vendors by buying fresh products or fruit. Your guide will be here to encourage you to taste some of the exotic flavors of the local fruits, helping to identify new items not found in your grocery store back home!

Continue your ride to Ock Pop Tock. This non-profit organization seeks to preserve traditional weaving techniques, a trade which was once an important source of income for many Lao families but is slowly fading out as modern technology has evolved. A short tour introduces the process of silk weaving from the initial stages of creating the dyes to the final process of loom weaving.

Ride along the Mekong back in to town for your final stop of the day. The Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre is dedicated to exploring the rich diversity of Laos’ ethnic minorities. Traditional costumes, tools, and artifacts are on display alongside in-depth descriptions and written histories. It is a great opportunity to gain insight in to the Lao people (Note: closed on Mondays).

Return to your hotel by bike.  

The rest of the day is free at leisure.

Overnight in Luang Prabang

Day 7 - Luang Prabang - Alms Giving & Kuang Si (B,L)


For early risers, there is a very special dawn visit to watch the monks collecting the alms.  As the sun begins to rise, long lines of orange-robed monks leave their pagodas and walk barefoot down the streets collecting offerings from Luang Prabang residents.  It is a beautiful, serene ceremony that highlights the spiritualism of the Laos people. Return to the hotel for breakfast.

This morning your guide will collect you from your hotel at 0900. Take a short transfer through the Luang Prabang countryside to Kuang Si Waterfalls (32km southwest of the city). Along the way, you will drive through beautiful landscapes of rice fields, hills, and small villages. There are also viewpoints overlooking the Mekong River.

Stop en-route to visit a small village which is home to one of the area’s many ethnic minorities. You will have an opportunity to learn about their traditions and culture, much of which has remained unchanged for centuries.

Upon reaching Kuang Si Waterfall, relax and enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings. The water tumbles down a large drop and cascades gently in to several cool, clear pools where you can enjoy a refreshing swim (please dress modestly).

Enjoy a delicious picnic lunch next to the falls.

For the adventurous, it is possible to walk to the top of the falls via a steep track where stunning views await you at the top.

You might also like to visit the bear sanctuary which is next to the falls, run by Free The Bears Fund Inc. There are currently 23 Asiatic Black Bears living in the sanctuary, which has saved them from poaching. The main threat to these bears is poaching due to the use of their bile in Chinese medicine. You can read about their habits and observe their playful nature, whilst learning about the difficulties they are facing.

On the way back to Luang Prabang, you will stop at the Kuang Si Butterfly Park to visit the beautiful garden filled of hundreds of Laos’s butterflies! (Note: closed on Tuesday)

Transfer back to your hotel this afternoon.


OPTION 1: Evening performance at the Royal Ballet Theatre: Founded in 2002 in cooperation with the Institute of Cultural Research, the Ballet aims to preserve this important aspect of Lao cultural heritage. Watching the spectacular performances of the Royal Ballet, including scenes from the Lao-Ramayana, Lao folk dances and tribal dances will provide a unique experience that you will never forget. Show starts at 6:00pm (Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday). Please note that the Royal Ballet Theater is normally closed from June to September.


OPTION 2: Massage: enjoy a one-hour traditional Lao massage in one of the best Spa in town, L’Hibiscus.


OPTION 3: Baci ceremony: Enjoy a Baci ceremony after sunset in a local house in the heart of Luang Prabang. The Baci ceremony as a traditional ritual of the Lao people expresses the spirituality of the country and is a highly memorable experience and a deep insight into Lao culture for the participants.


Overnight in Luang Prabang


Distance and journey time:

Luang Prabang – Kuang Si (32 km): 45 min

Day 8 - Luang Prabang - Departure (B)

This morning is free for last minute shopping or sightseeing before your guide and private car meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the airport for your departure flight.


Distance and journey time:

Luang Prabang – Luang Prabang Airport (4 km): 15 min

Note: This tour may be subject to change depending on weather conditions.

Tour Duration: 8 Days / 7 Nights
Tour Operates: Year Round/ On Demand
Tour Price: Available upon request

Rates vary frequently. Please contact us to get the best possible price based upon your travel period and specific touring needs.

Our Services Include:

  • Hotel accommodation in half-twin/double room with daily breakfast.
  • Meals as mentioned in the itinerary (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner).
  • Tours and transfers by private air-conditioned vehicles.
  • English speaking local guide (for other languages supplements apply)
  • All entrance fees as indicated in itinerary.

Our Services do not Include:

  • International and domestic flights (quoted separately).
  • Meals other than mentioned above.
  • Camera/video entrance fees.
  • Personal expenses
  • Travel insurance, tips, visa
  • Other services not clearly indicated in the package inclusions above.


Creating Unique Touring Experiences

All the touring itineraries on this website have been carefully crafted by our in-country management teams and represent a series of experiences we can certainly recommend. However, we understand that every travel experience should be as unique and individual as each traveler. Our consultants are waiting to hear from you so that we can tailor or custom design a Laos tour to your individual specifications.

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Philippe Groult

Exo Foundation