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Laos Highlights – Off the Beaten Tracks – 15 days

Our 15 day tour of Laos allows clients to venture of the beaten tracks of mass tourism to forensically examine the people and many sites that are not visited by conventional tourist agencies. Discover and explore the sites as you go, meeting the extremely frie... View more
Destinations: Vientiane - Vang Vieng - Phnonesavanh - Luag Prabang - Nong Khiew - Muang La - Muong Kua - Muang Mai - Dien Bien Phu
Duration: 15 days 14 nights
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Day1: Arrival in Vientiane.

Day2:  Vientiane – City tour 

Day3: Vientiane – Nam Ngam Lake – Vang Vieng

Day4: Vang Vieng - sightseeing caves

Day5: Vang Vieng – Phoukhun – Phonesavanh

Day 6: Visit plain of Jars –Moung Kua

Day7: Phonesavan – Luang Prabang.

Day8: Authentic Luang Prabang

Day9: Luang Prabang – 500 monks and Kuang Si Falls – Butterfly Park  

Day10: Luang Prabang – Mighty Mekong cruise – Buddha cave 

Day11: Luang Prabang – Pakmong – Nongkhiaw

Day12: Luang Prabang – Moung La

Day13: Muang La– Minorities Village 

Day14: Muang La – Paknamnoy – Muang Kua

Day15 : Muang Kua – Muang Mai – Dien Bien Phu border 

Day 1 : Arrival in Vientiane

Picture of Arrival in Vientiane

On arrival at Vientiane International Airport and once immigration formalities have been completed, you will be met by our local guide and transferred from the airport to your hotel for check-in (note: hotel check-in time is normally 2pm, so rooms may not be immediately available for clients arriving on early flights) and to freshen up.

Notes: For security reasons at Vientiane Airport, only passengers are allowed into the actual terminal so your guide and driver will be waiting for you just outside the exit door - please look for a sign with your name on it.

Day 2 : Vientiane – City tour Day

Picture of Vientiane – City tour Day

Breakfast at the hotel, then this morning our tour starts at Wat Sisaket Vientiane's oldest-surviving monastery, and its thousands of Buddha statues. Then hear the history behind by Hor Pha Keo and how is was razed to the ground not once, but twice, by an ancient invading Thai army. You’ll see Pha That Luang, a national symbol of Laos, that is represented on the national seal and currency. Admire the large stupa covered in tons of gold leaf and surrounded by 30 smaller stupas, and make sure you see the impressive hand painted frescos that adorn the internal walls.

Climb to the viewing platform of Patouxai, Vientiane’s ‘Arc de Triomphe’, and a window into its French-colonial history. The monument also has the nickname of the ‘vertical runway’ due to the Laos government using cement that was intended to build a new airport.

The rest of the time today is at your leisure.  

Overight at Hotel

Meals included: (Breakfast)

Day 3 : Vientiane – Nam Ngam Lake – Vang Vieng

Picture of Vientiane – Nam Ngam Lake – Vang Vieng

After breakfast at the hotel meet your guide and driver, and then transfer to the outskirts of Vientiane to visit Ban Kern, where you will stop and visit a local village producing salt, and ask your local guide to translate if you wish to communicate with the local community in the village.

Continue to Nam Ngam Lake, stop and visit a fishing village and local market where you can photograph the local people.

Transfer to Vang Vieng, a riverside town in the central part of Laos, a city surrounded by green forests and has spectacular views of limestone mountains, where you will explore a number of caves on day 4.

Overnight at hotel

Meals included: (Breakfast)

Day 4 : Vang Vieng - sightseeing caves

Picture of Vang Vieng - sightseeing caves

Enjoy your walking tour, crossing the river to climb up 172 steps to Chang Cave; from this high view point you will see spectacular views of the city and surrounding limestone mountains and green rice paddies. At the foot of the cave crystal clear water runs out of the mountain into the river, and if you have your snorkel gear you can enjoy the clearest views ever.                           

This afternoon continue to visit PHOUKHAM cave. Explore the cave; with a clear blue lagoon inside the cave.  And return to Vang Vieng before sunset, there is an option to hire a small long-tail-boat for a journey upstream to explore the Nam Song River or relax at the hotel on the bank of the river


Overnight in a hotel

Meals included: (Breakfast)

Day 5 : Vang Vieng – Phoukhun – Phonesavanh

Picture of Vang Vieng – Phoukhun – Phonesavanh

This morning drive up a road on the north-east side of Laos; the road offers extremely scenic panorama views and the steep slopes are planted with corn, vegetables and season fruits that you may try, visit number of different minorities and local schools to get an understanding of their daily life and culture.

Overnight at hotel

Meals included: (Breakfast)

Day 6 : Visit plain of Jars –Moung Khoun

Picture of Visit plain of Jars –Moung Khoun

This morning, head to the Plain of Jars a world-famous archaeological site, which has stumped curious scientists and historians for decades. Scattered across the plains lie giant stone vessels - some as high as three meters, that are thought to be thousands of years old. Some international scientists think the vessels are linked to burial practices of ancient communities that once lived in this area. However, no one knows for sure who created the vessels, how old they are or what their exact purpose was. You’re in the middle of a mystery!

After exploring the site in detail, head to Muang Khua, a former royal kingdom, renowned for the beauty of its many temples and stupas. Very little of the kingdom remains, due to pillaging and the intense bombing by B52 bombers during the Vietnam War years, however, traces of its colonial grandeur are still visible.

Overnight at local guesthouse

Meals included: (Breakfast)

Day 7 : Phonesavan – Luang Prabang

Check out and drive to Luang Prabang (about 6 hours). Stop along the way for your own lunch and to stretch your legs; and to check out the panoramic views from a high viewing point. Stop at a small local market to visit some minority people. Our guides are flexible, and stop along the way for photograph.

This afternoon enjoy the ‘Ancient Kingdom’, walking inside the peninsular along confluence of Khan and Mekong River and surrounded by beautiful Lao and French architecture of this small and charming World Heritage town of Luang Prabang. It is nestled in a stunning setting amid lush mountains, and this sacred city of golden temples and saffron robed monks provides endless opportunities for sightseeing and photographs, but tonight enjoy a 500 candle ‘welcome dinner’ with Lao typical food with Lao traditional rice wine

Meals included: (Breakfast)

Day 8 : Authentic Luang Prabang

Picture of Authentic Luang Prabang

Today you will discover a little about the secrets of bamboo work in Laos, as well as enjoying some of the beautiful nature and surrounding rice fields as your guide escorts you to see and touch base with local people 

Begin your half day at The Bamboo Experience, where you will meet with the rest of your group for an explanation of bamboo works in Laos and its meaning to Lao people. Your guide will show you the technique and/or the usage of each product such as fishing tools, music instruments etc. Start your simple bamboo weaving class with an expert (but patient!) teacher, try your hand at knife sharpening, bamboo cutting (into pieces) and then try the traditional bamboo weaving for about one hour to complete your own mat to take home, as a souvenir. Then, proceed to the bamboo cooking demonstration (you are free to assist) as such bamboo shoot soup, bamboo shoot steamed in banana leaf, fermented bamboo shoot dipping, sticky rice and more. Savour your creations at the end of the session in a traditional Lao house (Pavilion style) overlooking wonderful scenery and rice fields. The emphasis is to have fun and learn a little about bamboo work and bamboo dishes. (Lunch included)

This afternoon enjoy a half day UNESCO sightseeing visit to the most photographed temple, WAT XIENGTHONG, before continuing on  to the former Royal Palace, now the National Museum. Visit Wat Mai, a temple renowned for its golden bas-relief. During Pimai, (the Lao New Year), the Prabang, normally housed in the Royal Palace Museum, is brought and put on public display in Wat Mai. Before returning to your hotel, enjoy sunset drinks on the terrace by the Mekong River.

Overnight at hotel

Meals included: (Breafast, Lunch)

Day 9 : Luang Prabang – 500 monks and Kuang Si Falls – Butterfly Park

Picture of Luang Prabang – 500 monks and Kuang Si Falls – Butterfly Park

An optional early start gives you the fantastic opportunity to participate in the daily morning ritual of giving alms to the saffron clad monks. This tradition is unique to Laos, being the only Buddhist nation still preserving this procession. Enjoy a morning walk to help you understand this charming UNESCO rated town, stop along the way and visit fresh local markets and thenreturn to your hotel for breakfast.

This morning travel to the outskirts of Luang Prabang, driving through green rice paddies and past farms. Stop and visit several villages of H’mong and Lao Loum people, your guide can introduce you to local people and it’s a great opportunity for you to understand and see their daily activities such as cotton spinning, weaving, rice harvesting and their green vegetable farms. On your arrival to the falls, enjoy your short walk on trails to visit the bear rescue centre.

Lunch will be served in front of the main waterfalls, with spectacular views of the surroundings. The falls cascade over many calcified tiers, and down several hundred feet into a series of cool, turquoise pools where you can cool off with a swim. We then visit hundreds of butterflies, exploring and photographing them in the Butterfly Park. Late in the afternoon enjoy climbing up PHOUSI Mountain’s 328 steps to see the spectacular views of this charming town from the high view point. 

Overnight at hotel

Meals included: (Breakfast, lunch)

Day 10 : Luang Prabang – Mighty Mekong cruise – Buddha cave

Picture of Luang Prabang – Mighty Mekong cruise – Buddha cave

This morning board a traditional river-boat, for a relaxing cruise upstream on the mighty Mekong River. Enjoy stunning mountain scenery and witness the simple rural lifestyles on the banks of the river.

Stop and visit Ban XANGKHONG, a weaving village, where you can see the wooden looms and try your luck with a local expert’s experience. You will reach Pak Ou caves at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Ou Rivers. Explore these sacred caves (2) which display hundreds of sacred centuries-old Buddha images, left here during pilgrimages, part of the Lao New Year festivities around mid April.

The boat then keeps cruising in the vicinity of the caves and will moor during lunch time at the foot of beautiful limestone cliffs. A selection of typical Lao dishes will be served for lunch.

Cruise back to Luang Prabang and the rest of afternoon is at leisure time, for personal explorations and discoveries.

Overnight at hotel

Meals included: (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 11 : Luang Prabang – Pakmong – Nongkhiaw

Picture of Luang Prabang – Pakmong – Nongkhiaw

This morning transfer to north east of Laos to Nongkhaiw. Today’s driving will pass through a number of small villages where we may stop and visit if you like.  

Arrive at the hotel and this afternoon enjoy walking to visit local schools and chatting with the young students. Continue on to visit Phathor cave, a home to local people during the Indochina war.

Overnight at hotel

Meals included: (Breakfast)

Day 12 : Nong Khiaw – Moung La

Picture of Nong Khiaw – Moung La

Meet your guide and drive to Muang La via Oudomxay. Stop at a high view point of Ban Songja for incredible views and photographs, visit Black H’mong people to explore local culture before we continue to Muang La, a small village located along the Nam Pak

Overnight at hotel

Meals included: (Breakfast)

Day 13 : Muang La– Minorities Village

Picture of Muang La– Minorities Village

After breakfast, board a 4W drive to discover Hmong and Ikhos villages; two typical Laotian ethnic communities. Your route climbs to 1,000m above sea level and offers magnificent views of the surrounding area. Your first visit is to a beautiful, isolated Ikhos village – the Ikhos people originate from Yunnan Province in China and also from Tibet. As you take your lunch, you can enjoy stunning views from the village.

After lunch, you continue to the Hmong village of Ban Tauser (45 mins. walk). This ethnic group, native to the high steppes of Tibet will share their way of life and explain the importance of their livestock (pigs, buffalos etc) and the care that they give to their animals. The isolated road to the village offers many impressive views and a few minutes from the village is a unique 360˚ panorama.

Overnight at hotel

Meals included: (Breakfast, lunch)

Day 14 : Muang La – Paknamnoy – Muang Kua

Picture of Muang La – Paknamnoy – Muang Kua

Breakfast at your hotel, then meet your guide and drive along the Nampak River. Stop at Ban Paknamnoy’s small local market, where different hill tribe people come down from the mountains to sell and barter their agricultural goods, please ask for permission if you wish the take their photos. Cross the Nampak River and take an hour long trek to Ban Akha, located at the top of some hills. Akha people are one of the most diverse ethnic groups, consisting of countless subgroups that vary according to geography, dress, or genealogical names. Because women continue to wear traditional clothing, the differences in a woman’s head-dress, the embroidery on her shirt or the vivid colours used for trimming on her clothes identify her family and ethnicity

After your lunch visit a Lao Loum Village where they make Lao whiskey and you will be arrive Muang Kua in late afternoon.

Overnight at local guesthouse

Meals included: (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 15 : Muang Kua – Muang Mai – Dien Bien Phu border

This morning transfer to border and cross to Vietnam.

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Meals included: (Breakfast)