Laos - Along the Mythical Mekong

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Day 1: Arrive in Bangkok, Thailand

Upon arrival at Bangkok Airport, you are met by our representative and transferred to our airport hotel. Dinner and the group orientation this evening.

Overnight in Bangkok.

 

Day 2: Fly to Chiang Rai, Golden Triangle

After breakfast, we return to the airport for our morning flight to Chiang Rai, in northern Thailand. After lunch, we travel into the Golden Triangle to a famous viewpoint that looks out over the mighty Mekong River and into Laos and Burma.

We also visit the Hall of Opium, a museum dealing with the crop, drug and vast fortunes which have made the Golden Triangle famous.

Overnight in the Golden Triangle (Thailand).

 

Day 3: Enter Laos, Mae Kong boat journey to Pac Beng

After breakfast, we cross over the Laos border and begin a cruise down the Mekong River to the traditional Laos village of Pac Beng. Stops are made enroute to observe rural life along the Mekong, including hilltribe villages.

Overnight in Pac Beng.

 

Day 4: Remote Mae Kong to Luang Prabang

We continue our journey along the Mekong River, catching a glimpse of rural life in the fishing villages along the way. We also visit the Tham Ting Holy Caves and the rice whiskey-producing village of Ban Sang Hai.

Upon arrival in Luang Prabang, we transfer to our hotel.

 

Day 5: Luang Prabang

Today, we have a half-day walking tour of the old capital, Luang Prabang. This town is in a beautiful mountain setting at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers. One of the most romantic cities in Southeast Asia, Luang Prabang is a delightful place to explore on foot.

As well as the National Museum (formerly a Royal Palace), we visit a number of historic temples including Wat Sen, Wat Xieng Thong and Visoun (That Makmo). The beautiful old French mansions that grace the city add a historical reminder of its colonial past. In fact, the city itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Tonight we take in a performance of the Royal Ballet, a provincial government group of some 60 artists that re-establishes the ancient Lao Ramayana or Pharak Pharam ballet of Luang Prabang.

Overnight in Luang Prabang.

 

Day 6: Luang Prabang, Kuang Sy Waterfall, K’hmu Villages

Early this morning we have an optional trip to see the monks receiving alms, followed by the colorful morning market. We return to the hotel for breakfast.

After breakfast we visit a small ethnology museum before heading to Kuang Si Waterfall. Enroute we visit a K'hmu ethnic village to learn about their culture. On our return to Luang Prabang, we will visit the village of Xang Khong to see traditional Sa paper being made and a small weaving workshop.
Overnight in Luang Prabang.

 

Day 7: Luang Prabang, Elephant Village Sanctuary

Today is a full day of Elephant riding and trekking. Just 15 km outside of Luang Prabang, this is an easy day tour combining a few highlights that includes village visits and a hike to a baby elephant nursery.

Overnight in Luang Prabang.

 

Day 8: Bhudda Cave, to Nong Khiew

We say goodbye to the charming city of Luang Prabang and being the remote Northern Heritage route. Our first stop is Bhudda Cave (Pak Ou Cave), a religious retreat set in the stunning limestone cliffs. Thousands of Buddha images have been left here by pilgrims to pay homage to Buddha and his teachings.

We continue to Wiskey village (sampling is optional). We continue to Nong Kiew by boat passing vibrant rural life on the river.
Overnight in Nong Khiew.

 

Day 9: The weaving village of Ban Xang Khong

We journey by boat to the weaving village of Ban Xang Khong. This delightful and and welcoming village is surrounded by stunning mountains. You can see locals weaving at theirs looms and if interested, you can practise your bargaining skills as there is a wide variety of colourfuls weavings. If weavings are not your thing, you can simply explore the village, meeting friendly hilltribe villagers, visit the school and encounter playful children.

We return by to Nong Khiew by boat but stop for lunch at Muang Ngoi village at our riverside restaurant.

Overnight in Nong Khiew.

 

Day 10: Northern Heritage Route to Sam Neua

Today we start our long day of driving through magnificent scenery, driving past remote hilltribe villages. We will make many stops today as there is no shortage of options which may include scenic waterfalls, remote villages, beautiful vistas and even some that are unexpected and spontaneous.

Overnight in Sam Neua.

 

Day 11: Viengxay Caves, Sam Neua sites

In an area dominated by limestone cliffs close to the Vietnam border, we explore 3 or 4 of the more than 400 caves used as shelter for 20,000 people during the war. The caves that we visit were used as the headquarters of the Pathet Lao Revolutionary Movement during the Indochina war.

After lunch, we visit a market, war monument and the temples of Wat Ongteu and Wat Phoxaysanlau. We may have an opportunity to speak to some of the monks.

Overnight Sam Nuea.

 

Day 12: To Plain of Jars (Phonsavan)

Today, we drive to Phonsavan (our home base for the Plain of Jars) along one of the most beautiful routes in Laos. Driving through the mountainous region, we make stops to explore villages and take in the scenery from various viewpoints.

Overnight in Phonsavan.

 

Day 13: Plain of Jars (UNESCO)

We spend the day exploring the Plain of Jars, one of the mysteries of the archeological world. The site has been placed on UNESCO's Tentative List, which means it is presently the focus of international Safeguarding Campaigns. Hundreds of massive clay and stone jars litter the landscape of the area, some of which are as large as 6 tonnes! There are over 60 different site locations of the jars, with some sites having over 200 jars. It is not known what the jars were used for; many theories abound, including that they may have been used as wine holders or for funerary urns. It is known that the jars are over 2,000 years old.

Overnight in Phonsaven.

 

Day 14: UXO and Organic Silk Farm (MAG optional)

Today we visit the local (Phonsaven) market and a UXO (Unexploded Ordnance) Removing Unit to learn about the important work that is being done in this area. We are also going to visit a very progressive Organic Silk Farm.

Time permitting, we will visit MAG (Mines Advisory Group), a not-for-profit organisation clearing landmines, unexploded ordnance ( UXO) and other remnants of the war.

Overnight in Phonsaven.

 

Day 15: Fly to Vientiane

We have an early flight to Vientiane, the capital of Laos, located on the banks of the Mekong River. Founded in 1563, Vientiane is known for its great sunsets, riverside restaurants and well-preserved colonial architecture.

We visit Wat Ho Phra Keo, Wat Sisaket, That Luang and the town's own Arc de Triomphe, Patuxai. We also visit a textile museum and Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE), whose goal is to ensure that people with physical disabilities have local, free access to a quality, nationally-managed rehabilitation service.

Overnight in Vientiane.

 

Day 16: Fly to Pakse

Today we fly to Pakse. Upon arrival, we explore the city. We visit Vat Phou Salao located on the slopes of Salao hill with it's giant golden buddha. We can also see a bird eye view of Pakse city from here. We continue to a famous local market, Talat Dao Hueng, offering a combination of souvenirs, silverware and fresh local produce.

Overnight in Pakse

 

Day 17: Mekong River, Pre-Angkorian Ruins of Wat Phou

After breakfast we transfer to the pier and board a long tail boat and embark on a ride down the Mekong River stopping for a visit at the town of Champasak along the way.
After lunch, the highlight of the afternoon is the Wat Phou ruins - the majestic pre-Angkorian 10th century temple complex. You have time to visit the museum at the ruins site before walking up to the highest temple. Afterwards we transfer to Khong Island.

Overnight on Khong Island

 

Day 18: Khong Island, French Railway & Somphamit Waterfall

This morning, we transfer by boat to the Siphandone region (4000 islands in Lao). We dock at Done Det and you can walk the historic bridge that links Det and Khone Islands. Here there are plenty of old French Colonial buildings.
After lunch you can walk to the Somphamit waterfall. You can also view the old railway constructed by the French which still has an abandoned locomotive. This was the only railway constructed in Laos.
After exploring Done Khone we board our boat and return to Khong Island.

Overnight on Khong Island.

 

Day 19: Pakse, Farewell Dinner

Today we say farewell to the mighty Mekong River as we return to Pakse.

Enroute we visit the Khonephapheng Water Falls and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.

In the evening, we can reflect on the incredible memories during our Laos adventure during out Farewell Dinner as we depart for Bangkok the following day.

Overnight in Pakse.

 

Day 20: Pakse, Fly to Bangkok

Today, we say goodbye to the fascinating country of Laos and fly back to Bangkok for dinner and overnight at our airport hotel, Bangkok.

 

Day 21: Departure

Our Laos adventure concludes with your transfer to Bangkok International Airport for your departure flight.

 
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