Along the Mythical Mekong
• Explore the ancient Plain of Jars (UNESCO)
• See the majestic temples and sites of Luang Prabang (UNESCO)
• Visit the cave city of Viengxay
• Encounters with Hilltribe villages
• Explore 10th century Khmer Ruins of Wat Phou
• Visit the charming sandy natural island of Don Daeng
• 21 land days
• Maximum 16 travelers
• Start & finish in Bangkok
• All meals included
• Includes 4 internal flights
• Activity Level: 2
FROM: $5,995 USD
Comfortable hotels/lodges with private bathrooms.
Some rough/dusty roads and long drives.
The culture and traditions of Laos are the least changed among Southeast Asian countries and make it a mecca for those searching for a truly exotic adventure. Here, you will find ancient temples, exquisite scenery, an eventful history and exotic cuisine, all within the warm embrace of a welcoming people.
We begin in Bangkok, Thailand, then fly north to Chiang Rai and continue to the Golden Triangle before entering Laos. A 2-day Mekong River journey takes us to remote Hilltribe villages and mountainous jungles. We arrive in Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with some of the most beautiful and exotic temples in Asia.
Our northern circuit continues to Pak Ou Cave (Buddha Cave) enroute to Nong Khiew. Enjoy a day trip to a beautiful, 'weaving' Hilltribe village before we traverse the remote mountains to Sam Nua. Explore the fascinating caves of Vienxay, used as the headquarters of the Pathet Lao Revolutionary Movement during a virtual secret war. We visit the Plain of Jars (UNESCO) and ponder the great mystery of the thousands of 2,500-year-old stone jars.
We fly to the nation's capital, Vientiane, to enjoy the eclectic mix of Lao, Thai, Vietnamese, French and American influences before flying south to Pakse where we travel to the cooler Bolevan Plateau and the 4000 Islands. We visit the majestic Khmer temple site of Wat Phou, built 200 years before Angkor Wat and the natural beauty of Khong Island. Our adventure concludes with a flight back to Bangkok.
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Laos detailed itinerary
DAY 1: ARRIVE IN BANGKOK, THAILAND
Upon arrival at Bangkok Airport, you are met by the hotel representative and transferred to our airport hotel by shuttle. 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, MEKONG 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 MEKONG 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.
This afternoon we will attend a private ceremony in a family home within the small village of Ban Khomkhuang. These gentle villagers, led by their Nai Ban (village chief), offer visitors tidings of good luck and fortune for their life and travels.
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, PHA TAD KE BOTANICAL GARDEN AND TEMPLE
We take a short boat transfer to the botanical garden of Pha Tad Ke. In this lush green environment we will learn about the great conservation efforts done by the expert botanists of the region. We attend a short conference in the orchid nursery and then enjoy lunch at the outdoor restaurant in the park.
On our cruise back to town, we stop at Chomphet village. Walk along the river through villages and temples with the chance to interact with the friendly locals, see their lifestyle and view Luang Prabang town from another angle. We will also stop at the hilltop Wat Chomphet which offers stunning views of Luang Prabang town and the Mekong River. Relax and capture nice shots of the sunset over the town and Mekong River.
Overnight in Luang Prabang.
DAY 8: LUANG PRABANG TO NONG KHIAW
We say goodbye to the charming city of Luang Prabang and begin our journey on the remote Northern Heritage route. Our first stop is Ban Nayang – a small village known for the traditional cotton weaving, tobacco and rice farming. Here you will not only have chance to interact with local people but also learn about the traditional indigo dying process and weaving skills.
We then continue onto Nong Khaiw.
Overnight in Nong Khiaw.
DAY 9: BOAT JOURNEY THROUGH MOUNTAINS AND VILLAGES
This morning our boat cruise takes us up the Nam Ou River, passing dramatic limestone cliffs that border the river. We visit rural villages such as a traditional Lao weaving village. We continue to Ban Muang Ngoi for lunch before we begin a short trek through some rice paddy fields. Here we visit a historical cave used as a bomb shelter during the Indochina War. Afterwards, we cruise back down river to Nong Khiaw while enjoying the sunset.
Overnight in Nong Khiaw.
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, and beautiful vistas.
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 Neua.
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 archaeological 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! It is not known what the jars were used for, however 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.
In the late afternoon, we visit the Lone Buffalo Foundation, a special project that offers young people free English courses and develop other skills. Lone Buffalo will be happy to include you in the lesson.
Overnight in Phonsavan.
DAY 14: UXO AND ORGANIC SILK FARM (MAG OPTIONAL)
Today we visit the local (Phonsavan) 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.
In the afternoon, transfer to the airport for your flight to Vientiane.
Overnight in Vientiane.
DAY 15: VIENTIANE
After breakfast we embark on a city tour of 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
This morning we fly to Pakse. Upon arrival, we transfer to the Bolevan Plateau which is known for its cooler temperature and many waterfalls.
We'll stop at Tad Fane – the 120-m-high waterfall which spilts into 2 powerful streams roaring over the edge of the cliff and plummeting into the pool below. We continue to the impressive Tad Yuang waterfall, with its twin torrents falling about 40 meters and flowing into lush jungle
We will also make a short stop by an organic coffee farm to see how the local Lao people involved in the coffee industry live and work, and where we can enjoy a cup of truly fresh coffee in the coolness of the Bolaven Plateau.
Overnight in Pakse.
DAY 17: BOLAVEN - 4000 ISLANDS
Following breakfast at our hotel, we'll head out to the 4000 Islands. Here, the Mekong is dotted with thousands of islands of various sizes and the river can reach up to 14km wide during the rainy season. We will see the breathtaking Khone Phapheng Waterfall. It is Southeast Asia’s biggest waterfall and is known as the Niagara of the East.
We continue to Khone Island and its its surroundings. A tub tub ride enables us to visit the two islands of Ban Khone and Don Det, which are linked by a bridge. We will visit the old French heritage sites on Khone with its colonial buildings and the remnants of a locomotive from the first Lao railway. We'll visit Liphi Waterfalls – also called "Devil's Corridor", one of the most beautiful waterfalls marking the Lao border with Cambodia.
Enjoy the tranquil atmosphere in the islands and the many opportunities to take photos of the local life and natural beauty.
Overnight on Don Khone.
DAY 18: DON KHONE, WAT PHOU, AND DON DAENG
After breakfast, we depart the 4000 Islands and head to the town of Champasak where will visit the religious complex of Wat Phou. Located at the foot of a hill, Wat Phou reflects the Hindu culture of the pre-Buddhist Khmer society that constructed it. The summit of Phu Kao immediately commands attention because of its shape, identified in ancient times with the linga, the phallic symbol of Shiva. It has the ancient name Lingaparvata, and a reputation as a sacred hill. The permanent spring at the foot of the cliffs is probably one of the main reasons the ancient rulers of the area established a sanctuary to Shiva at this spot.
Afterwards we'll travel by boat to Don Daeng Island, which was once also part of the Wat Phou sanctuary, and known by the Brick Stupa hidden in the middle of the island. Other temple ruins and rock sculptures were discovered within the river. Enjoy the exceptional natural beauty and unspoilt charm of the Island and our lovely lodge where we will overnight.
Overnight on Don Daeng Island, Champasak.
DAY 19: DON DAENG - PAKSE, FAREWELL DINNER
This morning there is time to explore this small island at your own pace and witness the huge and unspoilt sandy beaches crowded with fishermen and lazy buffaloes, wild forests and enchanting birds, plains of rice fields, small local villages with typical wooden houses and numerous Buddhist temples. The island is a nationally protected and preserved area of the Mekong, and where no cars are allowed. This afternoon we transfer back to Pakse.
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
After a leisurely morning we say goodbye to the fascinating country of Laos and fly back to Bangkok for a late dinner and overnight at our airport hotel.
Overnight in Bangkok.
DAY 21: DEPARTURE
Our adventure concludes with your shuttle transfer to Bangkok International Airport for your departure flight.
HOW BIG ARE THE GROUPS?
Each group is limited to 16 participants. Small groups are an important ingredient in adventure travel. They allow for more interaction and more personalized service throughout the itinerary.
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE TOUR PRICE?
All accommodations throughout; all meals, starting with dinner on day 1 and finishing with breakfast on departure day (i.e. the last day of the ElderTreks tour); bottled drinking water throughout the trip; all internal transportation; airport transfers on day 1 and departure day (i.e. the last day of the ElderTreks tour); all day trips and entrance fees as outlined in the itinerary; tips for hotels (porterage), bus driver, restaurants, national guides, and spot guides; services of a trip leader.
WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED IN THE TOUR PRICE?
International flights, tips to ElderTreks tour leader, alcoholic drinks, visa’s and travel insurance.
ARE THESE “EDUCATIONAL” TOURS?
Yes, in the broadest sense of the word, “educational”. We visit cultural centers and historical sites, We believe that it is equally educational to meet local people on a non-commercial basis, visit their homes and even try to learn a few words in the native language. Sometimes the most “educational” moments are spent walking through a street market.
HOW DO WE TRAVEL DURING THE TOUR?
All land transportation is included in the land price of the trip. We have our own vehicles for road travel, using a van or coach. We also travel by foot, by elephants and by boat and we have 4 domestic flights.
WHAT ARE OUR ACCOMMODATIONS LIKE?
We stay in comfortable hotels with private bathrooms facilities.
WHAT ABOUT THE WEATHER?
We travel during the dry season: November – February or March. The temperatures during this period are comfortably lower than the hot season and nights can even be cool. In November – February, the temperature ranges from 60°F (15°C) – 90°F (32°C). In the dry season there can be occasional rains.
WHEN IS PAYMENT DUE?
A non-refundable deposit of $500 USD (plus insurance if you require it) is due at time of booking and will reserve your place on the tour. Payment of the full land cost is due 120 days before departure. Cancellation charges are applicable and are outlined in the “Terms and Conditions” section of our brochure.
IS MEDICAL INSURANCE REQUIRED?
Insurance coverage is not included in the cost of your trip. Please note that medical insurance is not required for this adventure but is recommended. ElderTreks offers comprehensive travel insurance with Manulife for Canadian guests, and John Hancock for American guests. Please CLICK HERE to view and purchase your insurance policy today. If you are purchasing insurance elsewhere, please ensure you provide the details to ElderTreks as soon as possible.
WHAT SHOULD I TAKE ON THE TOUR?
There is a detailed “What to Take” list in our Trip Kit, which we will send to you after you have booked the trip.
WHAT MEALS ARE INCLUDED?
All meals during the itinerary are included starting with dinner on day 1, and finishing with breakfast on day 13. We eat a variety of local foods delivered in a wide range of settings. In many cases, we simply order a number of dishes and share, allowing you to sample new foods and decide what you enjoy best.
CAN YOU ARRANGE MY FLIGHTS?
We would be happy to take care of your air arrangements. ElderTreks offers personalized flight itineraries — not group flights. Stop over en route, come in a few days early, or extend your stay. Call us for a customized itinerary.
WHAT IF I WOULD LIKE MORE INFORMATION?
If you have any further questions about the adventure, please call our office for more details. A Trip Specialist will be happy to answer your questions. A Trip Kit containing further details on the destination will be sent to you once you have booked the trip.
Dates & Prices
All pricing is currently listed in USD
*Single Supplement is the additional amount applied to the cost of the trip to those who are travelling solo and do not wish to share.