Travellers to Laos are lost in admiration for Asia’s best kept secret. This alluring destination is enchanting. Laos offers stunning natural beauty, mist shrouded mountain peaks, jungle-clad valleys and diverse wildlife. Together with its simple village lifestyle, epitomised by a Buddhist culture, Laos has great appeal for the discerning traveller. Experience the authentic Laos with a homestay and get off the beaten track to explore the wonderful natural environment and visit remoter ethnic villages too. Immerse yourself in a lifestyle little changed in decades
Feel a sense of calm and be captivated by a slower pace of life and radiant smiles of welcoming people. Enjoy regional cuisine that like this tour has something for everyone. You decide the recipe and ingredients. As with all personal tours the itinerary is customised to suit your special requirements.
Day 1 - Arrival – Luang Prabang - Half Day City Tour
On arrival at Luang Prabang International Airport you will be met and transferred to your hotel. After check-in and time to rest and freshen up we then head off on bicycles to see some of the highlights of Luang Prabang, designated a World Heritage Site in 1995. No wonder it was called the City of Gold with its 30 golden temples that captivates visitors, together with faded French Colonial villas and old traditional wood-built homes.
Soon we stop at the Royal Palace Museum, hosting a range of interesting artifacts from the Royal period. Cycling further on we see Luang Prabang’s oldest temples, magnificent Wat Xiengthong with its roof sweeping low to the ground, typifying classical Lao architecture, and the impressive stupa of Wat Visoun and shrine of Wat Aham. In the evening explore Luang Prabang town, relax and gaze at the river scene or visit the night market before returning to your hotel for the night.
Day 2 - Luang Prabang – Big Brother Mouse – Ban Khia Luang – Pak Ou Caves
We start the day with a visit to the Big Brother Mouse shop in town to select some children’s books and other items for our village visit today. Travelling north by car along Route 13 we take an unpaved road to Ban Khia Luang. Here you will have ample time to visit the school, play with the kids and watch them enjoy their new books and materials. You will also see village women at their weaving looms and visit the local temple too.
For lunch we have a choice of a western picnic lunch or a traditional Lao meal of sticky rice, laap and fresh vegetables cooked by the villagers. After saying goodbye to this delightful village we drive to Ban Khoklin, taking us through beautiful mountain scenery and paddy fields. On arrival at Ban Khoklin we board a private boat down the Nam Ou River to Pak Ou Caves. These caves are an ancient pilgrimage site and contain thousands of gold lacquered Buddha images left there over hundreds of years.
Continuing down the Mekong River we arrive back at Luang Prabang by late afternoon. After time to relax and freshen up, enjoy a traditional Baci Cultural Show. The Baci Ceremony is a complex mixture of Animism and Buddhism, calling back our own spirits. It is a popular and important event for major life events in Laos, such as weddings, births, travel and the return of loved ones. The ceremony is followed by traditional dance and then dinner at a restaurant. Out of respect formal dress is required. A traditional Lao shoulder scarf is provided on request. Overnight is in Luang Prabang
Day 3 - Luang Prabang - Kuang Sii Waterfall
This morning you have the option and opportunity to rise early and participate in the daily morning ritual of ‘Alms Giving’. You will experience saffron-clad monks collecting offerings or ‘Alms’ from faithful local residents. This tradition is unique to Laos, being the only Buddhist nation still preserving this daily procession.
After breakfast back at the hotel we begin our journey to Kuang Sii Waterfall, stopping on the way to visit the morning Phousi Market where locals of Luang Prabang come to do their daily shopping. You will see a variety of local foodstuffs and products including dried buffalo skin, local tea and saltpeter among the chickens, fish, vegetables and fruit; everything needed for daily life in Laos.
On arrival at the Kuang Sii Falls you will have the opportunity to cool off with a refreshing swim in the topaz pools below the falls, walk along the forest trails and visit the Bear Sanctuary. On return to Luang Prabang the rest of the afternoon and evening is free. Maybe think about a dinner cruise on the Mekong River, a fitting way to end your stay in Luang Prabang where you will spend the night.
Day 4 - Luang Prabang – Xieng Khouang
Today we depart early for a drive through spectacular scenery to Xiengkhouang Province, the home of the Plain of Jars. Here at an altitude to 1,000m the climate is mild. There are many stunning photo opportunities as the Province is surrounded by mountain ranges. Sitting at the cross-roads of Central Vietnam and North-East Thailand the area formed part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail with troops, artillery and smuggled out of Northern Vietnam.
After check in at your hotel in Phonsavanh you have free time to wander through town, home to various ethnic minority groups including Laotian Chinese. A visit to the MAG Centre is a powerful and constant reminder of the intensity of bombing raids and legacy of war. Overnight is in Xiengkhouang
Day 5 - Xieng Khuang - Plain of Jars & Muang Khoun
This morning we head out to explore the Plain of Jars. We will visit the important Sites 1, 2 & 3 as well as taking a short trek to a Tai Dam and Lao Leum village along the way. After lunch we drive on to explore the old capital of Muang Khoun and the nearby villages, home to the Hmong hill tribe and Tai Dam people. Overnight is in Xiengkhouang.
Day 6 - Xieng Khuang – Vang Vieng
On our way out of town this morning we have time to visit the interesting Phonsavan Central Market and then drive on to Vang Vieng arriving mid-afternoon. Vang Vieng is extremely scenic with its backdrop of cliffs and green paddy fields, resembling an oriental silk painting. Serenity, tranquility and harmony provide a memorable experience for the traveller. After check in at your hotel, explore the town or relax at the hotel and enjoy the stunning views as the sun sets behind the limestone karst mountains across the Nam Song (Song River) that bisects the town. Overnight in Vang Vieng
Day 7 - Vang Vieng - Half Day tour - Vientiane
Beginning our morning tour of Vang Vieng, we explore the famous caves of Tham Jang, once used by local people as a hideout from Chinese invaders. We then cross the river to Ban Huai Ngai where we can wander through the village and observe the locals going about daily life. At the Organic Farm you will have the opportunity to visit the goats, pigs and other wildlife, watch mud brick making and sample roasted goat cheese and mulberry wine. After lunch we head south to Vientiane where we will arrive before sunset. Overnight is in Vientiane
Day 8 - Vientiane – Half Day city tour
This morning’s city tour enables you to admire the major temples of Vientiane including the oldest, Wat Sisaket, with its thousands of miniature Buddha statues, and former royal temple of Wat Prakeo which used to house the famous Emerald Buddha Image. We also visit the national icon of Laos, That Luang Stupa, stopping along the way to take some pictures of the imposing Patuxay Monument, Vientiane’s own Arc de Triumph. The afternoon is free for you to explore the city, go shopping, take a stroll along the waterfront or relax at the hotel. Overnight in Vientiane
Day 9 - Vientiane – Pakse – 4,000 Islands
We depart early this morning to head to the airport for our flight to Pakse. On arrival in Pakse, we drive south to Champassak and to visit the fascinating pre-Angkorian ruins of Wat Phu, one of Southeast Asia's most dramatically situated temples. Tumbledown pavilions, ornate Shiva-lingam sanctuary, enigmatic crocodile stone, and soothing shade of tall trees give Wat Phu a mystical atmosphere. We have time to explore these imposing and intriguing Khmer ruins, perched at the base of Mount Phu Kao.
After lunch we continue our journey by road and long tail boat to Khone Island in the 4,000 Islands area where you have the rest of the day to relax. Overnight is on Khone Island, noted for its natural beauty.
Day 10 – 4,000 Islands and surrounding
After an early morning breakfast we explore Khone Island. We begin by re-tracing the French colonial-past at Ban Khone, where some old colonial houses still stand and you will see the first Lao railway with its own locomotive. We continue our exploration of the area of the 4,000 islands by boat and visit the beautiful Liphi waterfall, also known as the Samphamith, a natural border between Lao and Cambodia.
We return to Ban Nakasang and drive to the famous waterfall of Khone Phapeng - the largest waterfall in South East Asia, known as the 'Niagara of the East'. Overnight is on Khone Island.
Day 11 – 4,000 Islands –Tad Lo – Pakse
This morning we leave Khone Island and head for the refreshing and cooler mountain climate of the Bolaven Plateau. The area is famous for its lush green landscape, dramatic waterfalls and we will visit two of the best, Tad Fan, with its impressive twin falls cascading over 100m to the valley floor below and Tad Ngeuan, with its pristine pools for taking a refreshing dip and coffee shop and plantation where you can sample some Lao produced coffee.
Along the way you will see the rich soils of the region cultivated for coffee, tea, cardamom, bananas, and other crops before our late afternoon arrival in Pakse where you will spend the night.
Day 12 - Pakse – Departure
After breakfast you transfer to Pakse Airport for your short flight to Siem Reap in Cambodia, Hanoi in North Vietnam or Bangkok or Chiang Mail in Thailand. All are superb locations to link in a short tour as a supplement to Laos. For example, you might visit the cultural delights of Hanoi and magical atmosphere of Halong Bay or the famed Angkor Wat complex in Siem Reap or maybe the Golden Triangle in Thailand. Whatever you decide you are spoilt for choice.