The Grand Laos Tour

15 days

This is the grand tour of Laos, demonstrating the huge variety of sights and activities this country has to offer. We will show you just how to spend two unforgettable weeks in this enchanting country. You will experience a luxurious Mekong Cruise, Hmong villages, many mysterious archaeological sites, ornate temples and stunning waterfalls.

Day 1: Arrive Chaing Rai

Upon arrival you will be transferred to your hotel where you have the rest of the day to yourself.

Day 2: Huay Xai - Pakbeng

We transfer early this morning to the border town of Huay Xay. The Luang Say Cruise boat leaves Huay Xay pier at 9am for a cruise down the Mekong to Pakbeng. En route, stop to observe rural life along the Mekong and visit minority ethnic groups, then enjoy a buffet lunch on board. Arrive Pakbeng before sunset and check-in at Luang Say Lodge. You can then enjoy dinner on the terrace overlooking the Mekong River.

Day 3: Pakbeng - Pak Ou caves - Luang Prabang

Breakfast at the lodge, followed by an optional walk to Pakbeng market, where people from the surrounding villages exchange their goods. Board the boat for the second leg of the cruise, which will take you through a Hmong village. Continue to Pak Ou village at the mouth of the Nam Ou river, before visiting the Pak Ou Cave of a thousand Buddhas. On the way to Luang Prabang, a brief stop is made to observe the traditional process of manufacturing local rice alcohol. Arrive at Luang Prabang before sunset.

Day 4: Luang Prabang

This morning, we begin our walking tour taking in some the cities most beautiful temples. Depending on the rest of your program this may include the magnificent Wat Xiengthong, with its roofs sweeping low to the ground, representing the classical Luang Prabang style, as well as Wat Mai and Wat Sene, the oldest temple in Luang Prabang. We also stop by at Kinnaly Gallery, where your guide will discuss the different ethnic communities living in Laos. We end the tour with a climb up Mount Phousi, which offers a spectacular, panoramic view over Luang Prabang and the Mekong River.

Day 5: Luang Prabang

After breakfast, we visit the local Phosi market, this is the place where all the locals shop and your guide will show you the diverse offerings on display. We also stop at Ock Pop Tok, a silk weaving centre. Here you will be given a guided tour and the silk weaving process will be explained. Next, we drive to Ban Thinkeo, a Hmong village and start trekking with the villagers. You will learn about the local plant species and how the Hmong people use them, and have the opportunity visit a traditional food garden and harvest vegetables and herbs with the local people. When you arrive at the village, learn to cook some local dishes in a traditional house. Lunch will be created from your collective efforts! Then, the villagers will show you a demonstration of Hmong Khene and local games. In the afternoon, drive to Kuang Si and relax at this magnificent multi-tiered waterfall. We then return by road to Luang Prabang at the end of the day.

Day 6: Luang Prabang - Xiengkhuang

Today, we drive through wonderful natural scenery to Xiengkhuang. The journey will give you plenty of opportunities for photos and visiting hill tribe villages. Upon arrival, we transfer out to visit Site 1 of the Plain of Jars, an impressive archaeological site where hundreds of large stone jars are scattered all over the plateau.

Day 7: Xieng Khuang - Plain of Jars - Muang Khoun

Before visiting Plain of Jars Site 2, we will have time to visit the interesting Central Market in Phonsavan, and the MAG UXO information centre which demonstrates the fantastic work they do in clearing unexploded ordnance in the area. From Site 2, we can walk to Site 3 via the Pathet Lao camp and Ban Xieng Di village to watch broom making. In the afternoon, we drive out to Muang Khoun, the former capital of the Phuan Kingdom where we can walk around the remains of the stupas and temples. We then return to the hotel by late afternoon.

Day 8: Xiengkhuang - Vang Vieng

After breakfast, we visit Mulberries Silk Farm, a Lao Sericulture company specialising in fair trade silk production. We then get back on the road again for our journey to Vang Vieng. In the afternoon, we arrive in Vang Vieng, a small and tranquil town, which is nestled on a bend of the Nam Song River. This stunning, unspoiled location has so far resisted development and you will enjoy the combination of calm waters and limestone outcrops. On arrival, we check into your hotel.

Day 9: Vang Vieng - Vientiane

This morning we will have time for a short walk and a visit to the impressive Tham Jang caves, as well as a boat ride on the Nam Song River to admire the impressive limestone karst scenery before driving south to the Lao capital of Vientiane. En route, we stop off at the salt mines of Ban Kheun, for a fascinating tour to see how the salt is produced. We arrive in Vientiane by late afternoon where you have the rest of the day for relaxation or exploring.

Day 10: Vientiane

A half-day city tour enables you to explore Lao capital by visiting the major sights of Vientiane. Your tour will take in the oldest Wat Sisaket with thousands of miniature Buddha statues and the former royal temple of Wat Prakeo, which previously housed the famous Emerald Buddha Image. You will see the famous and sacred structure of That Luang Stupa, and have the chance to take some pictures of the imposing Patuxay Monument, which is well known as Vientianes own Arc de Triomphe. The final visit of the day is an optional trip to the excellent COPE exhibition centre, highlighting a much-overlooked aspect of Laos and a major problem many of the local people face on a day-to-day basis in the form of unexploded ordnance as a result of heavy bombing campaigns during the Vietnam War era. The remainder of the day is at leisure.

Day 11: Vientiane - Pakse - Tadlo

You will be transferred to the airport early this morning for your flight to Pakse. On arrival at Pakse, you will be met and taken by road east into the Bolaven Plateau. The Bolaven Plateau is known for its cooler temperature, as its located high above the Mekong Valley. The area is famous for its many waterfalls, and we will visit the most beautiful of these falls, Tad Fan. The Tad Fan waterfall is spectacular with twin falls plummeting into a deep gorge surrounded by flourishing vegetation. A trip to the plateau provides a refreshing break from the heat and allows you to observe the cultivation of rich coffee, tea, cardamom, bananas, and other crops. This trip gives visitors the chance to venture off the beaten track and to discover some of the lesser-known areas of Laos, exploring the wild beauty of this southern region. In the afternoon, we arrive at Tad Lo, home to another scenic waterfall and numerous ethnic minority groups including the Alak, Nge and Katu. We overnight at Tad Lo Lodge, located right next to the beautiful waterfall itself.

Day 12: Tadlo - Pakse - Wat Phou - Khong Island

After an early breakfast, we head out towards Khong Island. On the way, we make a short detour to visit Pha Suam waterfall and to explore the ethnic minority villages of Lao Teung. We continue to travel by road via Pakse town crossing the Mekong by ferry to visit the fascinating pre-Angkorian ruins of Wat Phu, one of Southeast Asia's most dramatically situated temples. Wat Phu is one of the Lao World Heritage sites recognised by UNESCO in 2001. This wonderful archeological site of Khmer civilisation dates back to the 5th century, pre-dating the famous Angkor Wat in Cambodia. We continue our journey by car and then ferry to Don Khong, the largest island in the South Mekong river region known as the 4000 islands, one of the most scenic areas in Laos. Overnight on Khong Island.

Day 13: Khong Island - Khone Island - Don Daeng

Following breakfast, we enjoy a visit to the surrounding countryside, and embark on a long-tail boat tour of the Don Khone area, which takes you to visit the remains of the French period and Liphi Waterfall or the Corridor of the Devil. We return to the mainland at the fishing village of Ban Nakasang and drive further south to visit Khone Phapheng, which is considered the largest waterfall by volume in South East Asia. This region is one of the most breathtaking in Laos. It is located near the Lao-Cambodian border and set within an area which is teeming with wildlife. Afterwards, we drive back north, and then take a boat to the delightful island of Don Daeng.

Day 14: Don Daeng

A free day to relax by the pool or hire bicycles to explore the island and its enchanting little villages.

Day 15: Don Daeng - Pakse, depart

After breakfast, you will be transferred back to Pakse and onto the airport for your departing flight.

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