Explore the wonderful diversity of Laos. Follow the Mekong River from Laos’ tranquil South to its mountainous North. Journey from beautiful river islands to lush highland plains, stopping on the way to discover UNESCO Heritage sites, rural villages and natural wonders.
Go back in time to the Khmer empire with a visit to Wat Phou, see vestiges of the French colonial-era and learn about the tragic wars of recent years.
Spend a day immersed in local life with a cooking class, meditation session and traditional massage.
Balance classic site-seeing with excursions to lesser known places such as tranquil riverside villages, hidden caves and exotic rural markets.
Laos from South to North - 8 Days / 7 Nights
Upon arrival to Pakse, our guide and driver will be waiting to provide transport to the hotel in Champasak.
After settling in to the hotel, make an afternoon visit to 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 pavilions and galleries of carvings, and the top level is the sanctuary.
The temple served as the most important economic and political centre of the region and is still 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
After breakfast at the hotel, depart at 08:00 for a full day exploring the area known locally as Siphandon (‘4000 Islands’). In this beautiful area, the Mekong River reaches 14 kilometers wide and is lined with thousands of small islands.
Travel first by car for around 2 hours to the village of Ban Nakasan. From this point, take a local boat to the peaceful island of Don Khong, lined with plantations and simple villages. Enjoy exploring the area either by bicycle or hired tuk tuk.
Visit the impressive Lippi falls, located on the west of Don Khong. Very close to the Cambodian border, 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, which today prove to be the perfect place to soak up the views.
Continue with a boat trip, which provides the unique opportunity to spot the elusive Irrawaddy Dolphin.
After a short boat trip, lunch will be served in a local restaurant.
Return to the mainland by boat and then return to the hotel by car, arriving back in time for sunset.
Overnight in Champasak
After breakfast, enjoy free time at leisure until transport (provided) to the airport for the short flight north to Vientiane.
Upon arrival to Vientiane, our guide and driver will be waiting to provide transport to the hotel for check in.
After relaxing at the hotel, enjoy a half-day guided tour to discover the hidden charms of Vientiane. The tour begins at the serene Wat Sisaket, one of the most beautiful temples in the capital. Continue on to the nearby Wat Phra Keo, which today acts as a religious museum displaying both Lao and Khmer works of art. Also nearby is the Presidential Palace. Though it can only be viewed from the outside, this building offers some excellent insight into the colonial history of Laos.
After the visit, head to 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 it is possible to climb to the top to get some amazing, panoramic views of the city.
Next the tour carries on 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 leisure to explore Vientiane. Relax at the hotel or spend some time wandering the Mekong riverside area. A popular spot for the locals, the promenade is a great place to shop, sample local snacks or simply soak in the local culture.
Overnight in Vientiane
Today, get a true taste of the local culture, traditions and lifestyles with this immersive Vientiane experience.
EAT: Get picked up at 09:00 at your hotel. After a short drive, arrive to a lovely house in a quiet local residence area, where you will experience a hands-on Lao cooking class. This unique cooking class is hosted by Jo, a passionate culinary instructor who has been living in Laos for more than 10 years and Kham, a local intuitive cook. They will help you explore the ins and outs of traditional Lao dishes, knowledge of local cuisine culture, and especially, alternatives for ingredients which you can’t find in your countries.
Receive a Lao recipe booklet to bring the experience back home.
PRAY: After lunch (around 13:30), transfer outside the city to Wat Sok Pa Luang, a temple described by many as a ‘forest temple’. On the way to the temple, stop with the guide at a local market to buy snacks and fruit to give as offerings to the monks. Monks of all ages live and study here, and as part of the visit, enjoy a one-on-one, informal discussion on Buddhism and the life of a monk. Follow up with a private meditation session, followed by some time to explore the temple grounds.
LOVE: Complete the experience with a relaxing one hour Lao traditional massage in one of the best spa centres in town.
Transfer back to the hotel early this evening.
Overnight in Vientiane
After breakfast, enjoy free time at leisure and transfer to the airport for the flight north to Luang Prabang. Upon arrival to Luang Prabang, our guide and driver will be waiting to provide transport to the hotel for check in.
After settling into the hotel, enjoy a local-style lunch at Khaiphaen restaurant. After lunch, the guide will provide transport (14:00) via tuk tuk to the former Royal boat pier for a ferry ride to the other side.
Upon arrival at Ban Xieng Mene, ride along the Mekong before walking up the steps to explore Vat Chom Phet. Further along the way, admire the Royal Vat Long Khoun with its unique inner mural paintings.
The tour moves onto dirt roads, the only route leading from the riverside villages, to visit the untouched, rarely-visited countryside. On the way to the secret Hoy Khoua Waterfall, stop along at a Khmu village to meet the elders and have a close up experience on their daily environment and lifestyle.
Note: for agricultural purposes and depending on the season, the waterfall can be dry at periods
Stopping at the Hmong village of Ban Pak Leuang, board a private boat to cruise upstream to Ban Chan. The village is renowned in the region for its pottery making. Watch along as locals produce brilliant works of clay and visit underground kilns which are used to cook hundreds of jars at a time.
Cruising back up to Luang Prabang, admire the Mekong river lifestyle and picturesque landscapes. Arrive back at 18:00; a tuk tuk will be waiting to provide transport back to the hotel.
The rest of the day is free at leisure.
Overnight in Luang Prabang
After breakfast, the guide will provide a pick up from the hotel around 08:30.
After doing a fitting and adjusting the bikes, start the cycling tour at the former Royal Palace (now the National Museum). After a brief walk through 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, followed by the 16th century Wat Aham and 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.
After the temple visits, enjoy lunch at one of the most celebrated restaurants in Luang Prabang: Tamarind (closed on Sundays).
After lunch, cycle out of town to Phosy Market. Accompanied by our local guide (who will happily explain the exotic items on sale), sample and purchase some fresh produce. All purchases made at the market directly benefit the vendors selling them.
Continue the ride to Ock Pop Tock, a non-profit organization working to preserve traditional weaving techniques, a trade which was once an important source of income for many Lao families. 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 to town for the final stop of the day: the Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre. The centre is dedicated to exploring the rich diversity of Laos’ ethnic minorities, with traditional costumes, tools and artifacts are on display. (Note: closed on Mondays).
Return to the hotel by bike with the remainder of the day free at leisure.
Overnight in Luang Prabang
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.
After breakfast, depart from the hotel with the guide at 09:00 for the transfer to the Kuang Si Waterfalls (32km southwest of the city).
Upon reaching Kuang Si Waterfall, relax and enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings. For the adventurous, it is possible to walk to the top of the falls via a steep track where stunning views await. Alternatively, it is possible to swim in the turquoise pools gathering at the base of the falls (please dress modestly.)
On the way back to town, there is an optional visit to the Free the Bear Sanctuary, housing 23 Asiatic Bears that were rescued from poaching. There is an additional visit that can be made to the Kuang Si Butterfly Park, housing gardens that are home to hundreds of Laos’ butterflies. (Note: closed on Tuesday)
Transfer back to the hotel this afternoon with a number of optional evening activities:
OPTION 1: Royal Ballet Theatre: Founded in 2002, the Ballet aims to preserve an important aspect of Lao cultural heritage with performances of the Lao-Ramayana, Lao folk dances and tribal dances (starting at 18:00- 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 is a traditional ritual of the Lao people and is a highly memorable experience offering deep insight into Lao culture for the participants.
Overnight in Luang Prabang
The morning is free at leisure for some last minute shopping or sightseeing until transport (provided) to the airport for the departing flight.
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