Your journey down the mighty Mekong River through Laos starts at Houay Xai in the Golden Triangle where Thailand, Myanmar and Laos meet. Cruising along the Mekong is a truly great and relaxing experience. As you pass villages do wave back to the kids on the riverside. Sit back and enjoy the tranquil rural way of life, little changed in centuries. You’ll see plenty of friendly water buffalos and occasional elephants too
There is the chance also to stop off at villages on both sides of the Mekong to explore the local way of life. Heading south gaze in awe at the largest waterfall in South East Asia, situated between Laos and the Cambodian border, and also the 5th Century UNESCO Pre-Angkorian of Wat Phou temple. Laos is an extraordinary country, steeped in history and culture and affected by tragedy too. A meander along the Mekong is the perfect introduction.
Day 1 - Houay Xai– Pakbeng
You leave Houay Xai pier at 09:00 for a leisurely cruise down the Mekong to Pakbeng. En route you will make a stop to observe rural life in a remote ethnic minority village. A local lunch will be served on board as you continue on downstream. Before sunset you will arrive in Pakbeng where you will spend the night. Overnight is in Pakbeng
Day 2 - Pakbeng – Pak Ou Caves – Luang Prabang
After breakfast you’ll board our slow boat for the voyage to Luang Prabang, stopping en route to visit an ethnic H’mong village. After lunch on board we continue our journey and arrive at the Pak Ou Caves in mid-afternoon. These caves are an ancient pilgrimage site and contain thousands of gold lacquered Buddha images left there over hundreds of years. We continue to Luang Prabang, designed a World Heritage Site in 1985. No wonder it was called the City of Gold with its 30 golden temples that captivate visitors, together with faded French Colonial villas and old traditional wood-built homes. Overnight is in Luang Prabang
Day 3 - Luang Prabang – half day city tour – Kuang Si Waterfall
We head off this morning on bicycles to see some of the highlights of Luang Prabang, including a visit to the Royal Palace Museum hosting a range of interesting artifacts from the Royal period in Luang Prabang. As we cycle further on we see the city’s oldest temples, the magnificent Wat Xiengthong with its roof sweeping low to the ground, representing classical Lao architecture, the impressive stupa of Wat Visoun and the shrine of Wat Aham.
This afternoon we journey to Kuang Sii Waterfall, stopping along the way to visit the Phousi Market where the 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 as well as 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. You return to Luang Prabang late afternoon. The evening is free to explore this delightful town or relax at your hotel. Overnight is in Luang Prabang
Day 4 - Luang Prabang – Vientiane - half day city tour (Flight)
This morning you transfer to the local airport for your flight to Vientiane. Following hotel check in and lunch you’ll head out on a sightseeing tour of the capital. You will see the major temples of Vientiane including the oldest, Wat Sisaket, with it’s thousands of miniature Buddha statues, and former royal temple of Wat Prakeo that used to house the famed Emerald Buddha Image. We also visit the national icon of Laos, That Luang Stupa, stopping along the way to take photos of the imposing Patuxay Monument, Vientiane’s own Arc de Triumph. Overnight is in Vientiane
Day 5 - Vientiane – Pakse – Vat Phou Cruise (Flight)
You have an early start this morning with your flight to Pakse. You will be met on arrival for transfer to the Vat Phou Cruise boat. Once on board we head south, arriving at Champassak in time for a riverside lunch, followed by a guided tour of the mysterious pre-Angkorian temple of Wat Phou, the boat’s namesake.
As dusk falls, we board the Vat Phou for a relaxing cruise down-river, enjoying the tropical sunset whilst relaxing on deck. Dinner is served on board while the boat docks for the night alongside a remote Laotian village. Overnight is on board the Vat Phou
Day 6 - Vat Phou Cruise (Huei Thamo - Oum Moung Temple - Khong Island)
After a leisurely breakfast on board we set sail for the village of Huei Thamo, only a few minutes’ walk away from the spectacular and ancient forest temple of Oum Moung. We rejoin the boat and cruise south to the ‘4000 islands’ region. Enjoy lunch on deck and admire the wonderful scenery.
Mid-afternoon we arrive at Ban Dua Tae, a traditional Lao village. You will have the opportunity to explore and observe traditional daily life of the village. As the sun sets over the Mekong you will return to the boat and enjoy a quiet dinner on board serenaded by the songs of the buffalo toads. Overnight is on board Wat Phou Cruise
Day 7 - Vat Phou Cruise (Veuthong - the “Niagara of the East - Xieng Di) – Pakse
Today we will enjoy breakfast on the upper deck, while cruising to the small village of Ban Veuthong. Here you will board a small long tail boat for the short journey to Khong Island, the largest in the 4,000 islands region. We return to the mainland for lunch and to experience the rich history of another age, the delightful French colonial houses and old customs post that is alongside a stone quay.
Following lunch we jump into minivans for our drive to the captivating, scenic wonder of the Khone Phapeng waterfall, “the Niagara of the East“, close to the Cambodian border. Our return to Pakse is by road and we arrive late afternoon. Overnight is in Pakse
Day 8 - Pakse - Departure
After breakfast you transfer to Pakse Airport for a 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 famed Angkor Wat complex in Siem Reap. Another option is to return to Thailand via the Chongmek International Checkpoint to Ubon Ratchathani. Whatever you decide you are spoilt for choice.