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 hotel near the airport. Dinner and group orientation follow.


Day 2: Fly to Chiang Rai, Thailand

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, the 9 million dollar (USD) museum which opened in 2003. We spend some time further exploring this area before returning to Chiang Rai for dinner and overnight. Overnight in Chiang Rai (Thailand).


Day 3: To Pac Beng, Laos

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 en route to observe rural life along the Mekong, including minority villages. Overnight in Pac Beng.


Day 4: Mekong River Cruise, Tham Ting Holy Caves, 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 - National Museum

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 Wat Bak Mo. 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.

The afternoon is free to explore or relax on your own. 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: 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 then return to the hotel for breakfast. After breakfast we visit a small ethnology museum then head 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 Luang Prabang.


Day 7: Luang Prabang to The Plain Of Jars

We depart this morning by road to the province of Xieng Khouang, the site of the mysterious Plain of Jars. We travel through beautiful, scenic landscape, with high mountains, green valleys and rugged karst formations. We arrive at the Plain of Jars late afternoon. Overnight at the Plain of Jars.


Day 8: Plain of Jars

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 around 2,000 years old. We then visit the local market and a UXO (Unexploded Ordnance) Removing Unit to learn about the important work that is being done in this area. Overnight at the Plain of Jars.


Day 9: To Vang Vieng

Today, we drive to Vang Vieng, 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. We spend the night in Vang Vieng.


Day 10: Vang Vieng, to Vientiane

In the morning we explore Vang Vieng; famous for its limestone cliffs that give the landscape a similar look to China's 'Guilin' region. Located on the Nam Song River, Vang Vieng is a quaint small town that has only been discovered by tourists in the past decade or so.

The local river is used for washing and serves as a gathering place in the morning and evening. With the rugged limestone cliffs towering in the background, and the jungle at the base of the cliffs, Van Vieng is a photographers dream! We enjoy a scenic boat ride on the Nam Song river and see the exquisite rock formations which this area is famous. There is also an optional walk to see a local cave. After lunch we drive to Vientiane. Overnight Vientiane.


Day 11: Vientiane

We have a morning tour in the Laotian capital, Vientiane, located on the banks of the Mekong River. Founded in 1563, Vientiane is known as the City of the Moon and today this quiet capital has a population of 400,000. 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 visit a textile museum and have a traditional Lao lunch before going to the morning market (which is open all day!). The afternoon is at leisure to explore Vietiane on your own. Overnight in Vientiane.


Day 12: Fly to Pakse, Pha Pheng Water Falls, Khong Island for start of Mekong River Cruise

This morning we have an early morning flight to Pakse. After breakfast, journey to the historically significant Pha Pheng waterfalls, the "Niagara of the East". We continue on to the fishing village of Xieng Di for a taste of the local cuisine. After lunch, small boats will take us to Khong Island to see the old French railway and walk the bridge that links Khong and Det Islands. We end at Khong Island village of Ban Veuthong, where you board the Wat Phou teak barge (a traditional and elegant Mekong boat) for a sunset cruise and dinner on the Mekong river, docking riverside for the night. Overnight on Board Wat Phou Boat.


Day 13: Oum Muong Temple, uei Thamo

Enjoy breakfast on deck as you watch the Mekong River wake up as we set sail for the village of Ban Deua Tia. We explore this small Village, seeing centuries old traditions still being used and meet the villagers. We continue to cruise north on the Mekong, past the island of Don Xai, and many other small islets in the river archipelego. After lunch, we visit the village of Huei Thamo and the mysterious Oum Muong forest temple. Enjoy dinner onboard before a relaxing evening while listening to the tranquil sounds of the river. Overnight on Board Wat Phou Boat.


Day 14: Wat Phou Ruins, Champassak, Pakse

While enjoying breakfast on board, we continue to cruise to Champassak. The highlight this morning is the Wat Phou ruins - the majestic pre-Angkorian 10th century temple complex. We will visit the museum at the ruins site and walk up to the highest temple. We end our cruise with a small boat transfer to Pakse harbour for a free evening. Overnight in Pakse.


Day 15: Pakse, Fly to Bangkok

This morning, we visit the local market in Pakse that is frequented by many local tribal groups, before continuing across the border into Thailand. From Ubon, we fly back to Bangkok for our farewell dinner. Overnight in Bangkok.


Day 16: Depart Bangkok

After breakfast, we transfer to Bangkok airport for our international flights homeward, or join our extension to Angkor Wat.

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