LAOS IMPRESSION

Code: LA-SA-IOL11 Duration: 11 days Theme: Soft Adventure Tour

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Cultural immersion in the ancient Luang Prabang, where the culture never fades
  • Experience the life of Lao farmers, and the traditional farming practices
  • Exploring the exciting Kuang Si waterfalls
  • Experience the life of a mahout, learn how to train the Lao elephant
  • Cruising the mighty Mekong to visit the mysterious Pak Ou caves
  • Enjoy the scenic view in the mountainous area along the drive from Luang Prabang to Vientiane, with one-night stop in Vang Vieng, the eco-tourism heaven
  • Exploring Vientiane, the least developed capital city in Southeast Asia
  • Discovering the colorful Bolaven plateau with plenty of tea and coffee plantation, and many hill tribe villages
  • Uncovering the beauties of the ruin of Angkor-style temple – Wat Phou, the UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Allured by the beauties of 4000-island area, locally called Si Phan Done

TOUR ROUTE

Luang Prabang – Pak Ou caves – Living Land Farm – Kuang Si waterfalls – Mahout Experience – Chanthavinh Resort – Vang Vieng – Vientiane – Buddha park – Pakse – Bolaven Plateau – Wat Phou – 4000 Islands – Khone Phapheng – Pakse

+ Guide & Driver
+ Meal: dinner with the host family
+ Excursion: Temple & museum visit + Baci ceremony
+ Accommodation: Hotel in Luang Prabang

+ Arrival Flight: TBA

On arrival at the airport, you will be met and transferred to check in the hotel.
After a soft rest, your city tour begins with a visit to the magnificent Wat Xiengthong, a superb piece of Lao temple architecture, which presents a sweeping two-tiered roof and ornate mosaics including a beautiful ‘tree of life ‘glass montage on the rear temple wall.
If time permits, we will take a short walk around the small streets of city center, watching the life of local people, and visiting the traditional house of Heuan Chan, the Chantal wooden house dating back to 100 years old.
After that, you will visit Royal Palace Museum, which was built in 1904 during the French colonial era for King Sisavang Vong and his family.
Late afternoon, we climb up to the top of Mount Phousi for an enjoyable exploration of the sacred, gilded stupa as well as a panoramic sunset view of the city and the Mekong River.
After that, join a private Baci ceremony at a local family. 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.
Dinner will be served after that for you to share with the host family. This is the best chance for you to have first experience of local life and culture.
Overnight in Luang Prabang

+ Guide & Driver
+ Meal: Breakfast, lunch
+ Excursion: experience the life of a Laotian farmer in the morning before refreshing at Kuang Si waterfalls in the afternoon
+ Accommodation: hotel in Luang Prabang
+ Pick-up: 08:00

Wake up as the sun rises, we will prepare to join the most sacred tradition of Laos, the daily morning alms giving, which dates to the 14th century. More than 200 Buddhist monks depart from various temple to gather their daily meal from the faithful residents sitting quietly on the streets.

From there, we will visit the temporary morning market near the former Royal Palace. Just set on the ground, the local people come here to barter their day’s catch from rice, to vegetable, to fish, or chicken. This is the best chance to experience the taste of local life

After breakfast, we will first visit Wat Mai, which is one of the most beautiful temple of Luang Prabang. We continue to Wat Visoun, dating back to 1513 during the reign of King Wisunarat (Visoun), this is Luang Prabang’s oldest temple and was once home to the Prabang Buddhas.

Our next stop today is the Traditional Art and Ethnology Center (closed on Monday) to learn about Laos’ many ethnic cultures.

After that, we transfer directly to the beautiful Kuang Si waterfalls which is the biggest in the Luang Prabang area with three tiers leading to a 50-metre drop into spectacular azure pools before flowing downstream. The pools also make great swimming holes and are very popular with both tourists and locals
We will also take a short visit to the Bear Rescue Center, which houses a couple of dozen animals rescued from the hands of poachers and traffickers.
Before returning to Luang Prabang, we stop to visit the Kuang Si Falls Butterfly Park (closed from 15 APR – 30 JUN; 01-14 SEP, & 01 JAN every year), whose mission is to create a research centre studying and publishing about Laos butterflies, host plants and preservation.

Laos is also known for its traditional crafts, we will take a short visit to the Ock Pop Tock Living Craft Center, set serenely close to the Mekong, this beautiful, traditionally styled workshop, where weavers, spinners and batik makers produce top-quality fabrics, offers free tours every half-hour. This is also the perfect spot for you to enjoy the drink and admire the sunset.
We then transfer back to your hotel. Overnight in Luang Prabang

+ Guide & Driver
+ Meal: Breakfast, lunch
+ Excursion: Experience the daily life of a mahout
+ Accommodation: hotel in Luang Prabang
+ Pick-up: 08:00

After breakfast, we will transfer directly to the Elephant Village (start at 8:00 AM in the morning). On arrival at the Elephant Village Camp, welcome and greeting by our camp manager and participate in short briefing about elephants. After that we will enjoy the impressive experience of a 30-minute elephant ride on your elephant’s neck. We then receive basic mahout training on how to control an elephant.
Lunch at the Elephant Restaurant
Bathe Your Elephant: Take your own elephant down to the Nam Khan River for an exhilarating bathing experience!
Boat trip to the Tad Sae Waterfall: Take a traditional Lao long boat to the Tad Sae Waterfall and relax in the clear water.
We are free to stroll around the Elephant Village before transferring back to city center. Overnight in Luang Prabang

+ Guide & Driver
+ Meal: Breakfast, lunch
+ Excursion: visit the interesting Pak Ou caves
+ Accommodation: peaceful Chanthavinh Resort
+ Pick-up: 08:30AM

After breakfast, we will first visit the city’s oldest temple of Wat Sene. Then, we embark on the leisurely cruise upstream on the Mekong River, which also gives us a breathtaking view of the tranquil countryside, before reaching the mysterious Pak Ou Caves, a 16th century cave monastery filled with thousands of Buddha images, which locates 25 Kilometers North of Luang Prabang in the limestone cliffs overlooking the Mekong river.  En route, you will stop at Ban Muang Keo, a well-known village for its traditional Lao rice whisky distilling.

After that, we will take the cruise downstream the Mekong river to Chanthavinh resort, our peaceful stop for the night.

The rest of the day is your free time to explore the village of Ban Chan, which is very famous for its pottery making.

Overnight at Chanthavinh Resort

+ Guide & Driver
+ Meal: Breakfast, lunch
+ Excursion: transfer to Vang Vieng, then visit Tham Jang caves
+ Accommodation: hotel in Vang Vieng
+ Pick-up: 08:00

In the morning, we will take boat back to Luang Prabang, and travel by road south to Vang Vieng. Our intrepid journey will be strenuous as we drive along one of the most scenic region of Laos. The road is now good enough for our drive. Along the way, we will make some stop to visit a local school at Ban Nasala, and local villages of H’Mong ethnic groups. After about one hour drive, we will have chance to enjoy the panoramic view at the highest peak of the area, which is more than 2000 meter high. We will have lunch in Kasi (your own account) before continuing to Vang Vieng.
After lunch, we will drive to visit Pha Hom market, where we can find various offer of wild animals. We will also stop at Ban Phouhin Lekphay to see the life of Khmu hill-tribe. We will make the last photo stop at Phatang Mountain view point to admire the beautiful scenery before reaching Vang Vieng.
Upon arrival, we transfer to visit the cave of Tham Jang, which was used in the early 19th century in defense against the Chinese invaders.
Late afternoon, we will embark on a boat for a well-paced trip along the Nam Song River, while admiring the sun setting behind the mountains. Overnight in Vang Vieng

+ Guide & Driver
+ Meal: Breakfast, lunch
+ Excursion: visit Tham Phoukham caves, then transfer to Vientiane
+ Accommodation: hotel in Vientiane
+ Pick-up: 08:00

In the morning, we will first stroll around the town to visit the local market to catch a glimpse of everyday life in a typical Lao rural area.
After breakfast, we start our board through paddy field areas heading to Tham Phoukham caves, where your breath will be taken away seeing the most beautiful and famous limestone cavern, surrounded by natural forests. Along the way, you have chance to explore the local cultures by greeting the local villagers and learning about their daily lifestyle. There is a small natural pool in front of the caves where you can take a swim to refresh yourself from the hot climate or you could explore the nearby area.
We bid farewell to Vang Vieng 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. Overnight in Vientiane

+ Guide & Driver
+ Meal: Breakfast, lunch
+ Excursion: visit the exciting Buddha park, and some main sites in the city
+ Accommodation: hotel in Vientiane
+ Pick-up: 08:30

In the morning, we will first visit Wat Si Muang, which is very famous for its supernatural power. We then transfer out to see Buddha Park, an enchanting collection of Buddhist and Hindu sculptures on the Mekong Riverside meadow, close to the Friendship Bridge. There are approximately 200 religious images dating back over 500 years, which were created by a mysterious monk spreading his philosophy on life and revealing his ideas about the universe.
In the afternoon, 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 icon, the famous and sacred structure of That Luang Stupa, we stop enroute to take some pictures of the imposing Patuxay Monument, which is well known as Vientiane’s own Arc de Triumph. A spectacular view over the Mekong River at sunset is a perfect way to finish the day. Overnight in Vientiane

+ Guide & Driver
+ Meal: Breakfast, lunch
+ Excursion: take the morning flight to Pakse, then visit Bolaven plateau
+ Accommodation: hotel in Bolaven plateau
+ Pick-up: 08:30

We are free to stroll around the town before taking the flight to Pakse, the biggest city of the Southern Laos. QV223 VTE PKZ 10:20 11:35

Upon arrival, depart for the Bolaven plateau, a mountainous region home to dozens of hill tribes, waterfalls and coffee and tea plantations.
The first stop is the visit of Tad Lo waterfalls, a beautiful formation of three separate falls. From the bridge, you will first see Tad Hang and then Tad Lo in the distance. The most impressive of the three, Tad Suong, is located a further 10km upriver.
From there, we will drive to the small village of Ban Houay Houn, famous for its Katu textiles. Here, you will have the chance to observe the women weaving without a traditional loom but using their legs to stretch the fabric.
We continue our journey through the Paksong and Boloven plateau. 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. Overnight at Sinouk Coffee Resort

+ Guide & Driver
+ Meal: Breakfast, lunch
+ Excursion: continue to Champasak to visit Wat Phou ruin
+ Accommodation: hotel in Bolaven plateau
+ Pick-up: 08:30

After breakfast, we departure for Champasak. Along the way, we will have chance to enjoy the scenery around Tad Fan waterfall, which is spectacular with twin waterfalls plummeting into a deep gorge surrounded by flourishing vegetation. We will also see the cultivation of rich coffee, tea, cardamom, bananas, and other crops that are grown in the area.
Arriving in Champasak, visit Wat Phou, an ancient Khmer religious complex dating back to the 5th Century.
Recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, Wat Phou is a spectacular pre-Angkorian temple that sits amidst 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 during the rule 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.
After your visit, we continue in to Champasak to see samples of French colonial architecture before driving to Done Khong where you have the rest of the day to relax or to explore the island. Overnight in Done Khong Island

+ Guide & Driver
+ Meal: Breakfast, lunch
+ Excursion: visit the amazing 4000-island area
+ Accommodation: beautiful The River Resort
+ Pick-up: 08:30

Heading out of town we embark on a long tail boat for venturing into the widest reach of the Mekong River, where during the dry season the waters recede and leave behind thousands of islets, giving this area a lovely name” Si Phan Done”. Upon arrival, explore the local peaceful villages of Ban Khone, where you will see an array of relics from the French colonial era and retrace the old colonial past, including old French colonial buildings and the remnants of the first Lao railway with its locomotive. We continue to discover the 4000 islands area by tuktuk and visit the marvelous Liphi waterfall, also called the “Corridor of the Devil” one of the most beautiful waterfalls marking Lao border with Cambodia. If we are lucky, we may even see the rare freshwater Irrawaddy Mekong dolphin at Ban Hang Khone. We return to the mainland at the fishing village of Ban Nakasang and drive further south to visit Khone Phapheng. Khone Phapheng is considered the largest waterfall by volume in South East Asia; this is an impressive spot near the Lao-Cambodian border, set within an area which is teeming with wildlife, making this area one of the most breathtaking destinations in Laos. Afterwards we drive back to Champasak and spend the night at the lovely The River Resort

+ Guide & Driver
+ Meal: Breakfast
+ Excursion: free before transfer to Ubon Ratchathani (Thailand) via Chongmek border to take the departure flight
+ Accommodation: none

You are free to stroll around the resort for your own exploration or relax by the inviting pool. We then transfer to Ubon Ratchathani (Thailand) via Chongmek border to take the departure flight