MYSTERIES REVEALED

Code: LA-SA-MR9 Duration: 9 days Theme: Soft adventure & family tour

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Exploring Vientiane, the least developed capital city in Southeast Asia
  • Reveal of mysteries of Vientiane Buddha park
  • Allured by the sceneries of northern Laos by driving through the mountainous area to Vang Vieng, and Xieng Khuang
  • Reveal the biggest Lao mystery, the plain of jars in Xieng Khuang
  • Cruising the mighty Mekong to the mysterious Pak Ou caves
  • Exploring the exciting Kuang Si waterfalls
  • Experience, and learn about Lao elephant at Elephant Village Luang Prabang

TOUR ROUTE

Vientiane – Buddha Park – Vang Vieng – Tham Phoukham – Blue Lagoon – Tham Jang – Boat on Nam Song – Xieng Khuang – Plain of Jars – Muang Khoun – Luang Prabang – Pak Ou caves – Kuang Si waterfalls

+ Guide & Driver
+ Meal: welcome dinner
+ Excursion: Airport pick up
+ Accommodation: Hotel in Vientiane

+ Arrival Flight: TBA

On arrival at the Wattay International Airport, you will be met and transferred to check in the hotel.

Welcome to “the city of the moon”, the least developed capital city of Asia. Free for the rest of the day to stroll around the city. The welcome dinner will  be served at the local restaurant with the traditional dance & folk song, the best chance to experience the Lao culture.

Overnight in Vientiane

+ Guide & driver
+ Meal: Breakfast, lunch
+ Excursion: visit Buddha park and the main sites in the city
+ Accommodation: Hotel in Vientiane
+ Pick-up: 08:30AM

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: transfer to Vang Vieng (03 hours), then visit the famous caves of Tham Phoukham. Late afternoon, enjoy the leisure boat along Nam Song river
+ Accommodation: Hotel in Vang Vieng
+ Pick-up: 08:30AM

We leave the capital early for our journey northbound; we will see some breathtaking scenery enroute as we pass through spectacular countryside towards the mountainous region. Along the way, we visit the busy and colorful market of KM52 where various hill tribes come to trade goods and buy provisions. We may also make a short photo stop at Hin Heup bridge, and the fish market in Ban Tha Heua. We reach our destination Vang Vieng, which is nestled on a bend of the Nam Song River. Its stunning scenery with limestone outcrops remains unspoiled, despite recent developments with the advent of tourism.
In the afternoon, 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.
Transfer back to town, we will enjoy the leisurely boat along the Namsong River while admiring the sun setting behind the mountains. Overnight in Vang Vieng

+ Guide & Driver
+ Meal: Breakfast, lunch
+ Excursion: Full day transfer to Xieng Khuang. Visit some sites, & local villages along the way
+ Accommodation: hotel in Xieng Khuang
+ Pick-up: 08:30AM

Today, we start exploring the town by visiting the most famous in Vang Vieng, 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 Phathau, a very pleasant village where we can explore the different local lifestyles.

After that, we start our expedition to Xieng Khuang. The roads are well paved along the way for a smooth journey; we pass some stunning landscape scenery with a mixture of steep terraced fields and hill villages, we take a few photo stops at some small hill tribe village enroute. Each hill tribe village in Laos has a different feel, some are more prosperous than others but all have plenty of life. Along the way, we still have time to stop at the peak of Phou Phiengpha to admire the panoramic view over the mountainous area.
From there, we will drive a bit further to the T-Junction in Phoukhoun, and take the right turn onto Xieng Khuang province. After that, the road is getting a bit harder which includes some zigzagging mountain paths; and we will make some stop along the way to visit the local hill tribe villages, or to stretch your legs. We will make a short stop at Tham Pra, which served as the hospital during the Indochina Wars before arriving in Phonsavanh. Overnight in Phonsavanh

+ Guide & Driver
+ Meal: Breakfast, lunch
+ Excursion: visit the mysterious plain of Jars, & the old capital of Muang Khoun
+ Accommodation: hotel in Xieng Khuang
+ Pick-up: 08:30AM

In the morning you will journey through Phonsavan and the Plain of Jars.
The Plain of Jars is a huge archaeological complex littered with mysterious 2000 years old stone jars sized from 70cm up to 3 or 4 meters. Their true origin remains a mystery. It seems that they were carved into boulders. Several researches lead by the French archaeologist Madeleine Colani in the 30’s suggested that they could be old graves, but to this day they remain an enigma.
Your trip will enable you to visit the 3 sites and also discover some local villages where you can observe local village life. Site 1, close to the town is settled at Thong Hai Hin and is the biggest site. Site 2 is at Hai Hin on Phou Salator, “Phou” in Lao means “Mountain”. End your tour at site 3 in Hai Hin Lat Khai. Site 3 is the most impressive with over 150 jars. Close to this site, you will visit Ban Xiengdi where there is a small monastery with Buddha images. On the way back, you will pass areas that were important battlefields during the American secret war. You can still see bomb craters from that time today.
Attention: The Plain of Jars has been heavily bombed during the war and you have to respect all the signs and stay along the defined trails due to bombs, UXO and landmines.
In the afternoon, enjoy a half day trip to Muang Khoun. Muang Khoun one place in the old provincial capital that was not been destroyed by the American bombings during the secret war. Muang Khoun is home to unique sitting giant Buddha as well of some old pagodas that lies in ruins. The foundation and columns of Wat Pia Wat are still standing and close to this site, there is also an old 30m stupa constructed in the Lan Xang/Lanna period.
Then return to Xieng Khouang and overnight.

+ Guide & Driver
+ Meal: Breakfast, lunch
+ Excursion: Full day transfer to Luang Prabang; visit some sites, and local villages along the way
+ Accommodation: hotel in Luang Prabang
+ Pick-up: 08:30AM

Early morning, we visit the Central Market of Phonsavanh to watch the different hill tribe people barter and exchange merchandises.

Breakfast at the hotel, then take the direct transfer to Luang Prabang

After numerous photo stops, we continue driving, enjoying the splendid natural scenery of the mountains, the forest and landscape. The roads are well paved along the way for a smooth journey; we pass some stunning landscape scenery with a mixture of steep terraced fields and hill villages, we take a few photo stops at some small hill tribe village en route. Each hill tribe village in Laos has a different feel, some are more prosperous than others but all have plenty of life. We will make a shot stop at Ban Phoudam village, where we can see the two hill tribe minorities of H’Mong and Khamu living in harmony, before driving to the photo stop at Ban Kiew Nya for the panoramic view prior to reaching Luang Prabang. Overnight in Luang Prabang

+ Guide & Driver
+ Meal: Breakfast, lunch
+ Excursion: cruising the Mekong to Pak Ou caves
+ Accommodation: hotel in Luang Prabang
+ Pick-up: 08:30AM

After breakfast, you will first visit Royal Palace Museum, which was built in 1904 during the French colonial era for King Sisavang Vong and his family. We then embark on a leisure cruise upstream on the Mekong River, which also gives us a breathtaking view of the tranquil countryside, before reaching the mysterious Pak Ou Caves, two linked caves crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes left by pilgrims.  Along the way, we stop at the village of Ban Xanghai, where they make the local rice wine.
On arrival back in the city, we will visit 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.  Afterwards, we will visit the Traditional Art and Ethnology Center (closed on Monday) to learn about Laos’ many ethnic cultures. From there, we will transfer to visit Wat Prabath to admire the sunset; this is the really peaceful place to catch the last beauty of the day. The tour ends after a visit to the famous Night Market, where you can find a lovely collection of handmade textiles made by local and hilltribe people surrounding Luang Prabang. Overnight in Luang Prabang

+ Guide & Driver
+ Meal: Breakfast, lunch
+ Excursion: refreshing at the famous Kuang Si waterfalls
+ Accommodation: hotel in Luang Prabang
+ Pick-up: 05:30-06:30AM depending on the season

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 flavor of local life

After breakfast at the hotel, we ascend the 329 steps to the top of Phousi Hill for a panoramic view of the city and the Mekong River. We then visit 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.
We then 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. Overnight in Luang Prabang

+ Guide & Driver
+ Meal: Breakfast, lunch
+ Excursion: Enjoy the elephant experience before taking the departure flight
+ Accommodation: none
+ Pick-up: 08:00AM

After breakfast at the hotel, your car and guide will take you to Elephant Village. On arrival, you will be welcome and greeting by the Camp Manager and participate in short briefing. After enjoying the impressive experience of approx. 30-minute elephant ride on the neck; you will then take a return boat trip to the Tad Sae Waterfall and spend some time in the clear water. Your lunch will be provided at the Elephant Village Restaurant (Buffet lunch served with Coffee or Tea and drinking water).
We are free to stroll around before transferring back to the center.  Along the way, we take a short visit to the tomb of the 19th century French explorer Henri Mouhot; the first European to rediscover Angkor Wat and the Royal Kingdom of Luang Prabang.

We then transfer out to the airport to take the departure flight