Laos - Along the Mythical Mekong

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Day 1: Arrive in Vientiane, Laos

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


Day 2: Vientiane Sites

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 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 have a traditional Lao lunch today and visit a textile museum.
Overnight in Vientiane.


Day 3: Van Vieng

We drive to Van Vieng, famous for its limestone cliffs that give the landscape a similar look to China's 'Guilin' region. Located on the Nam Song River.

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.
Overnight in Van Vieng.


Day 4: Stunning scenery to Phonsaven

Today, we drive to Phonsavan, 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. Time permitting, we will visit an organic fair trade silk farm. We spend the night in Phonsavan.


Day 5: 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 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 Phonsaven.


Day 6: To Sam Nuea

We have an early start for our drive to Viengxay through scenic countryside. Our destination is close to the Vieng Xai Caves used as the headquarters of the Pathet Lao Revolutionary Movement during the Indochina war.
Overnight in Sam Nuea.


Day 7: The fascinating Caves of Viengxay

In an area dominated by limestone cliffs close to the Vietnam border, we will explore the caves used as a shelter for 20,000 people during the war. Visit schools, hospitals and even markets inside the caves.
After lunch we visit a market and Wat Ongteu and Wat Phoxaysanlau. We may have an opportunity to speak to some of the monks. Return to Sam Nuea.
Overnight Sam Nuea.


Day 8: Northern Heritage Route to Nong Khiew

We have an early start to drive the "Northern Heritage" route to Nong Khiew. Our journey takes us through stunning mountains in an area less visited by tourists. Our journey takes us through local villages including Ban Saleuy which is renown for it's weaving.
Overnight in Nong Khiew.


Day 9: Nong Khiew Village Life

Today we can enjoy Nong Khiew village life as we can do an easier hike visiting villages, a local school and finish with a long tail boat ride back to town. Alternatively, enjoy an optional "100 Waterfalls" hike for those who crave a very challenging (optional) hike.
Overnight in Nong Khiew.


Day 10: To Luang Prabang (UNESCO)

We start in Nong Khiew and travel by road to Pak Ou Village. Board a boat and cross the Mekong to visit the holy Pak Ou Caves. Continue downstream by boat.
Our final destination is Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous for it's many beautiful temples.
Overnight in Luang Prabang.


Day 11: Temples of 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.

We visit the National Museum (formerly a Royal Palace), as well as 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.

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 12: 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 13: 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 soft hiking into beautiful countryside and the magnificent Tad Sae Waterfall.
Overnight in Luang Prabang.


Day 14: Fly to Pakse

After breakfast transfer to the airport for your flight to Pakse. Upon arrival visit Wat Luang the biggest and most beautiful temple in Pakse, and home to the Buddhist Monk School. Also visit Wat Phabad the oldest temple of Pakse. It is believed to have a Buddha Footprint, from which its name is derived. After lunch visit Ban Keosamphanh, a former French army camp, that has the most beautiful green rice fields and is home to the oldest market in the area.
Overnight in Pakse.


Day 15: Start 3 day Mekong River Cruise, Pre-Angkorian Ruins of Wat Phou

After meeting at the Sinouk Coffee House in central Pakse at 9:30am, we transfer you to a long tail riverboat for your 2.5 hour journey to Champassak. Upon arrival at the Vat Phou boat, we help you to your cabins to unpack then serve lunch on deck. The highlight of the afternoon is the Vat Phou ruins - the majestic pre-Angkorian 10th century temple complex and boat's namesake. You have time to visit the museum at the ruins site, walk up to the highest temple and take as many photos as you would like. As dusk falls, we transfer you back to the Vat Phou boat for a chance to enjoy the tropical sunset on the deck. Dinner is served on board, while the boat docks for the night alongside a remote Laotian village.


Day 16: Huei Thamo, Oum Muong Temple, Khong Island

Breakfast is on board as we set sail for the village of Huei Thamo. This is a small village a few minutes walk away from the mysterious hidden forest temple of Oum Muong. Afterwards we rejoin the boat to continue our cruise southwards. Lunch is on the deck, while leisurely sailing closer to the wild paradise of the "4,000 Islands" Late afternoon we disembark from the boat to walk through Ban Deua Tia, a small Laotian Village where the traditional way of life has not changed in centuries. Our day's cruise finishes at the most northern tip of Don Khong, the largest inhabited island in the river archipelago. After dinner, the evening is yours to relax and enjoy.


Day 17: Don Khone, Pha Pheng Waterfall, Pakse

While you breakfast on the deck, the Vat Phou boat cruises the Mekong to the small village of Ban Veuthong, where you board a small boat to meander among the 4,000 Islands to Khone Island. You will visit the old French railway and walk across the bridge that links Khone and Det Islands. We continue on the boat back to the mainland for lunch at a local restaurant in a small fishing village, Xieng Di, on the banks of the Mekong. A bus transfers you to the historically significant Pha Pheng waterfall, "the Niagara of the East", close to the Cambodian border. We end our cruise with a small boat transfer to Pakse, where we will have our farewell dinner.
Overnight in Pakse.


Day 18: Depart Pakse

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

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