Highlights of Laos

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$1,499/person

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Experience Laos' cultural capital Luang Prabang, it's modern capital Vientiane then relax in the southern river archipelago of 4000 Islands. Step back in time and discover the delights of this hidden corner of South East Asia.

Details

Duration: 9 Days
Starts in: Laos
Group Size: 2-12

Operated by:

World Expeditions

World Expeditions is an adventure travel and ecotourism company that offers guided small group trekking and adventure holidays.

Itinerary

Arrive Luang Prabang

Upon arrival at the airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Please look for the WORLD EXPEDITIONS welcome sign in the arrivals hall. Luang Prabang is one of the the best-preserved traditional cities in Southeast Asia. The tranquility and charm of the UNESCO listed Old Town, its surrounding natural landscapes and cultural sights make it a true gem of Indochina. Today is free at your leisure to explore the town, the perfect place for a wander. There will be a trip briefing in the hotel foyer, please check with the hotel reception for timing. Overnight: Davita Boutique Hotel - Standard or similar

In Luang Prabang

A highly recommended early start provides the fantastic opportunity to witness the captivating centuries old daily tradition of the alms giving ceremony, Tak Bat. Before first light, hundreds of saffron-clad monks file out from the old town's 35 temples to collect their daily alms from faithful local residents. Following the ceremony we wander back through the morning market where locals go to buy their fresh produce for the day ahead. We'll head back to the hotel for breakfast, some time to relax and refresh before heading out for our day's adventure. The humble tuk-tuk was first introduced to Southeast Asia in 1934 from Japan and has since become an icon of the region. Used daily by locals throughout Laos, Thailand and Cambodia, the tuk-tuk is the perfect for an open-air introduction to Luang Prabang. Some of the highlights of today are: Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham, the fascinating National Museum (Royal Palace) and Wat Xieng Thong. Built by King Setthathirath (1559), Wat Xieng Thong is the royal city's most important temple. Its multiple roofs sweep low to the ground and there's a stunning 'tree of life' mosaic set on its western exterior wall. We end the day’s tour on top of Mount Phousi in the city centre. We enjoy a sunset view of the gilded stupa as well as a panoramic view of the city and surrounding landscape. Overnight: Davita Boutique Hotel - Standard or similar Note: The alms giving ceremony this morning is a daily religious event not a show for tourists. Therefore, please be respectful - dress conservatively, turn camera flashes off and carefully follow the instructions of your guide.

Nam Khan River Valley Cycle (~15km) and kayak (~2hrs)

Cycling and kayaking are the perfect way to enjoy the tranquility of the region. Our tour today combines an easy bike ride with an gentle kayaking trip downriver. We’ll get you sized up on a good quality modern bike, have a quick safety briefing then set off along the quiet back roads to see Wat Pa Phon Phao, a golden temple with a great view of Luang Prabang. Afterwards, we’ll continue along the Nam Khan River to the grave of Henri Mouhot, the French explorer who popularised The Angkor Temple complex in Cambodia. We’ll finish the easy ride in the Nam Khan valley amid a spectacular vista of mountains, rivers and quaint villages. We'll break for lunch at either a great mountain-view terrace or at Tad Sae Waterfall (depending on season and timing). Following lunch, a short boat ride will bring us to Tad Sae Waterfall where you can enjoy a refreshing swim in turquoise pools under the jungle canopy. A further short boat trip brings us to the start point of our gentle kayaking trip. We’ll conduct a brief kayaking instruction and safety briefing before setting off for our gentle paddle down the jungle lined Nam Khan River valley back to town. We’ll wrap up just under the Luang Prabang city bridge, where we meet our vehicle for a short return ride to our hotel. Cycling: ~15km - easy cycling Kayaking: ~2hrs - downriver Overnight: Davita Boutique Hotel - Standard or similar Note: During the low water season (Nov-Jul), the itinerary could be slightly amended depending on water levels to give you the best experience possible.

Hike to Kuang Si Waterfall (2-3hrs)

The best way to see the beautiful Kuang Si Waterfall is by hiking a lush forest trail that winds through rice fields, past local villages and offers views of Lao mountain landscapes. Leaving Luang Prabang behind, we head out by vehicle to Ban Long Lao, a Hmong minority village. Here we can take our time to learn more about daily life in this rural lowland subsistence farming community. We bid our farewells to the villagers and start our hike. The first section winds between paddy fields before entering dense mixed growth jungle with a remarkable diversity of tree species. Our guide knows the trails through the forest well, taking us up and down valleys toward the waterfall. Close by to the falls, we stop by to visit the Free the Bears Sanctuary. The sanctuary was opened in 2003 and houses Asiatic Black bears, also known as Moon Bears which are confiscated by the Forestry Department from the illegal wildlife trade. The sanctuary carries out great work in rehabilitating the bears to prepare them for release back into the wild. The famous Kuang Si Waterfalls, nestled in lush forest are truly a sight to behold. Water thunders down the mountainside plunging 60m into a series of cascading turquoise pools, perfect for a refreshing dip following your hike. Simply relax and soak in the crystal clear pools or we can hike up to the very top of the falls. Hiking: 9km/ 2-3hrs Overnight: Davita Boutique Hotel - Standard or similar

Flight to Vientiane, sightseeing

This morning we bid our farewells to Luang Prabang and hop on a short morning flight to the capital Vientiane. Once arrived, we'll check-in to our comfortable hotel before heading out to enjoy the sights of the city. The tour begins at the serene Wat Sisaket one of the most beautiful and oldest surviving temples in the capital, before continuing on to nearby Hor Phra Keo. The site was the city’s former royal temple and displays a unique collection of both Lao and Khmer works of art. We also visit the nearby Presidential Palace which although can only be viewed from the outside, the stunning building offers some excellent insight into the colonial history of Vientiane. Next, is a tour of COPE, an association working to help landmine victims. A visit to the centre provides in-depth information about the history of the American/Vietnam war and the lasting impact of unexploded ordinances (UXO) and ongoing efforts to clear them. The final two sites on our day's city tour are the Patuxay monument, Laos’ own Arc de Triomphe then the holiest site in Laos, the impressive That Luang. Constructed by King Setthethirath in the 16th century, the temple's towering golden spire is the city’s most iconic sights. Overnight: S Park Design Hotel - Deluxe or similar

Fly to Pakse, Wat Phou & Bolaven Plateau

This morning we board a short flight to Pakse. Upon arrival we continue on by vehicle to the ancient UNESCO listed Khmer temple complex of Wat Phou, one of the oldest archaeological sites in Laos. Wat Phu (meaning ‘mountain temple’), is situated on a hillside and offers stunning views over the surrounding land and Mekong River. One temple in the site was constructed in around the 5th century but most buildings found in the complex are from the 11th to 13th centuries. Like other notable Khmer architecture in Southeast Asia, it was constructed using sandstone, laterite and bricks. Among many of the outstanding carvings there are the Indra, the Hindu god riding a three-headed elephant and Vishnu riding a garuda. After taking our time to explore this magnificent site, we drive east, crossing over the Mekong River and head up into the cooler air of the Bolaven Plateau. Overnight: Sinouk Coffee Resort - Superior or similar

Bolaven Plateau, 4,000 Islands

The fertile Bolaven Plateau is famous for its cool climate, dramatic waterfalls and high-grade coffee. The largest ethnic group on the plateau is the Laven (Bolaven translates as home of the Laven). Many other Mon-Khmer ethnic groups, including the Alak, Katu, Tahoy and Suay also live on the plateau and its escarpment bordering Vietnam. Following breakfast, we visit a coffee plantation to learn of the region's most important cash crop before visiting some of the stunning waterfalls of this beautiful rural region. The twin shoots of Tad Fane Waterfall are the most impressive, set in luscious jungle, plunging 100m down a steep gorge. Later we drive back down into the Mekong River valley to Ban Nakasang where we board a long tail boat to cross the widest stretch of the Mekong River to Done Khone Island. This region, known as 4,000 Islands is a beautiful riverine archipelago where life is lived in a relaxed, unhurried manner. Locals live by fishing and farming on the fertile river islands. Overnight: Sala Don Khone - Ban Din Studio or similar

4000 Islands, waterfalls, dolphins & kayaking (~2hrs)

Today we enjoy a relaxed tour of the islands, seeing thundering waterfalls, quiet rural villages and go in search of the elusive freshwater Irrawaddy dolphin. We start the day with a tuk-tuk ride to Tad Li Phi Waterfall. From nearby here we start our gentle kayaking trip. Your guide will first provide some basic kayaking instructions and safety briefing before we paddle to the western side of Don Det, passing many small islands then on to the north of Don Khone. With relaxed paddling, this takes around 40mins before we arrive at the pier. Hopping out of our kayaks, we made the leisurely walk to Khonpasoi Waterfall (~25min) where we can relax and enjoy a swim before heading back to the kayaks and continuing for a further 30min by kayak to the pier where we can switch to a boat which takes us to the Irrawaddy dolphin grounds close to the Cambodian border. The rare and elusive dolphins often gather in this quiet, calm area of water and we stand a good chance of spotting them. We'll stop nearby for a picnic lunch on a quiet beach before paddling further on (~30mins) to Veun Kham village where a car awaits to take us to the impressive Tad Khone Phapheng. The mighty Khone Falls are the largest in Southeast Asia and are the main reason that the Mekong is not fully navigable into China. Kayaking: ~2hrs downriver Overnight: Sala Don Khone - Ban Din Studio

Don Khone to Pakse, trip concludes

This morning we travel by boat from Don Khone to Ban Nakasang then continue by vehicle to Pakse, where our journey concludes. If you are flying home today you will be transferred to Pakse International Airport in time for your outbound flight.

Additional Information

This exciting journey takes us through the heart and soul of Laos—a diverse and fascinating country steeped in ancient traditions. From charming river cities and colourful markets to isolated villages and ancient archaeological sites; golden temples and saffron-robed monks; tranquil lakes and sleepy riverine islands; wartime history and grand colonial architecture. Laos’s unique mix of stunning natural beauty, rich culture and relaxed pace has people coming back time and time again. We begin in the enchanting World Heritage Listed city of Luang Prabang where we’ll savour its temples, caves and waterfalls, colourful markets, fragrant cuisine and gentle pace on the banks of the Mekong River. We then explore the Nam Khan Valley by bike and make our way along the Nam Khan River by kayak. From here we go back to the Mekong to explore the colonial grandeur and majestic Buddhist temples of the capital, Vientiane. We drive through scenic countryside and remote rural villages to the fertile Bolaven Plateau, enjoying its cooler temperatures, lush plantations and waterfalls, before wrapping up our journey with a visit to Khone Phapheng Waterfalls and the tranquil riverine archipelago of 4,000 Islands in southern Laos. If you’re looking for a compact itinerary that takes in the must-see natural and cultural highlights of Laos, this is it!

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