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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Day 8: Bhudda Cave, to Nong Khiaw
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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! 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.
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.
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.
Day 16: Fly to Pakse
This morning we fly to Pakse. Upon arrival, we drive to Tad Fane, then continue to Tadlo via Thawing Paksong. We visit the minority villages of Katu, Ta Oyh, Ngaio and some of the Lao lum villages. We will also have the chance to visit Tad Phasuam where many tribes and their cultures are in one place.
Day 17: Start 3 day Mekong River Cruise, Pre-Angkorian Ruins of Wat Phou
Today we start our 3-day journey on the Mekong aboard our traditional teak barge. We are transferred to a longtail riverboat for your 2.5 hour journey to Champassak, where we board Wat Phou teak barge (a traditional and elegant Mekong boat) before being served 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 Wat Phou boat for a chance to enjoy the tropical sunset on the deck. Dinner is served onboard, while the boat docks for the night alongside a remote Laotian village.
Day 18: To Khong Island, Fishing Village, French Railway & Waterfall
After breakfast, we journey to the historically significant Khon 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.
Day 19: Pakse, Farewell Dinner
Today we say farewell to the mighty Mekong River and our teak barge as we return to 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,
Day 21: Departure
Our adventure concludes with your shuttle transfer to Bangkok International Airport for your departure flight.
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