12 days Journey Through Laos
Experience the wonders of Laos on this 12 day journey. Begin in Luang Prabang, the cultural capital of Laos and a true gem of Indochina, set on the Mekong river amidst rolling green hills. Spend a quiet day meandering up the mighty Mekong, hike to visit local hill tribe villages, and take part in the famed tradition of early morning alms-giving to the thousands of Buddhist monks. Visit the mysterious Plain of Jars, where prehistoric stone urns are scattered across the area, before traveling by air to the capital of Laos, Vientiane. Journey south by air to Pakse, where time seems to run at a slower pace from the rest of the world. Explore the lush Bolaven Plateau and sample smooth, freshly-roasted coffee, grown locally in the surrounding plantations. Finish on the southern Mekong, with a visit to one of the largest waterfalls in the world, Khone Phapeang Falls.
ITINERARY DETAILSDay 1 Arrive in Luang Prabang, where your expert local guide will greet you at the airport and take you to your hotel. The first afternoon and evening will be at leisure. The Old Town is small and easy to navigate. Take a walk through this UNESCO World Heritage Site and its lamp-lit side streets while you decide where to eat from the many tempting options available, or shop at the colorful Night Market.
Day 2 An early start to see one of the most arresting sights in Asia: the monks of Luang Prabang receiving alms. After breakfast explore the magical Old Town with its many temples, including the wonderful Wat Xieng Thong. This afternoon, visit Khouangsi Waterfalls, perhaps taking the opportunity for a swim in the pools below the falls. (B)
Day 3 Journey up the mighty Mekong river on a long tail boat visiting the Pak Ou Caves and riverside villages, where you will see hand woven textiles, jute paper and the local rice wine, Lao Lao, being produced. Later in the afternoon, climb Mount Phou Si for panoramic views of Luang Prabang. (B)
Day 4 An active day in the countryside! Cross the Mekong this morning and journey into the hills for an exciting day of hiking and cyclingto some of the picturesque indigenous hill tribe villages. Along the way you will have the opportunity to experience local small industries, from pottery workshops to sugarcane production. Feast on a delicious lunch, locally prepared in one of the hill tribe villages, before returning to Luang Prabang for a restful evening and dinner. (B, L)
Day 5 Depart Luang Prabang by road through some spectacular mountain scenery to the mysterious Plain of Jars. Journey through towering karst limestone formations and minority villages, enjoying a wonderful side of Laos that those who fly between Luang Prabang and Vientiane completely miss. The afternoon and evening will be at leisure. (B)
Day 6 Explore the fascinating Plain of Jars to view the hundreds of ancient, prehistoric stone urns scattered throughout the area. Mysteriously, to this day, archeologists are unable to agree on their source or purpose. The area also holds the tragic distinction of being the second-most heavily bombed area in a country which sadly is the most bombed country in the world. If time allows, visit Mine Advisory Group to gain deeper insight into the efforts to eradicate landmines and clear unexploded ordinance. (B)
Day 7 Free and easy at your leisure in the morning and take a fly to Vientiane, the capital of Laos in the afternoon. (B)
Day 8 Spend this morning exploring some of the wats and pagodas of ancient Vientiane, including the beautiful Wat Si Saket and Haw Phra Keo. Also visit the national icon, the Phra That Luangstupa and Patuxai, the Lao “Arc de Triomphe”. In the afternoon you will visit Xieng Khuan, also known as the ‘Buddha Park’, replete with many bizarre Hindu and Buddhist statues—all created by a single priest/shaman. (B)
Day 9 You will have a morning at leisure before your flight south to Pakse. Upon arrival, explore the Angkorian temple of Wat Phou, and learn how impressively large the ancient civilization of Angkor was, stretching into modern-day Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. This picturesque temple is set on a hill overlooking the Mekong river. Your accommodation this evening will be at a lodge on the island of Don Daeng in the middle of the Mekong. (B)
Day 10 Explore coffee country! Journey by car from Pakse up onto the lush, beautiful Bolaven Plateau, dotted by thousands of coffee, tea, and spice plantations and home to some truly breathtaking waterfalls. The plateau is home to a diverse melting pot of hill tribe cultures, each with its own culture and language. (B)
Day 11 Explore the southernmost tip of Laos, where the Mekong splits into thousands of islands and channels, known as 4,000 Islands. Continue by boat to see one of the largest waterfalls in the world, Khone Phapaeng Falls, where the Mekong river drops over a series of rapids. (B)
Day 12 You will have a morning at leisure before your transfer to Pakse International Airport for your onward flight. (B)