Laos features a variety of tropical treasures just waiting to be explored. Guided through the eyes of local experts, this handcrafted itinerary showcases the best of Vientiane, Vang Vieng, and Luang Prabang. On an exploration of the highlights and hidden gems, you will learn about the rich history, delve deep into the fascinating culture and experience off the beaten path adventures. From strolling through cities to exploring ruins, this journey will keep you captivated from the moment you arrive. Featuring private tours and exclusive resorts, you will be rewarded with experiences you could have never imagined and memories you won't ever forget!
Welcome to Laos! Upon arrival in Vientiane, you will obtain your Laos visa if you have not done so already, and continue through Immigration and Customs to the arrivals area. Here, you will meet your private guide who will transfer you directly to your hotel for a smooth comfortable start to your vacation. (This service is on a private basis.)
Vientiane delivers a relaxing riverside break where one of the best things you can do is grab a drink and enjoy the sun’s spectacular show as it sets over the Mekong. Despite being the largest city in Laos and the hub of commerce and administration, Vientiane is still refreshingly laid back. The city offers a great choice of accommodation, restaurants, and pavement cafes some adding a French air with their style of architecture which contrasts pleasingly with the old Buddhist temples dotted around. There are plenty of things to do after dark, and bars cater to all tastes from backpacker beer haunts to elegant cocktail lounges. Navigating Vientiane is relatively simple due to its size, and sightseeing can be done either on foot, by bike, or by hiring a song-teow. The countryside is never far away, with rice paddies providing a backdrop to most streets. Culture buffs should make the Laos National Museum their first stop. A word of warning to the anally punctual, the country is decidedly laid back and some visitors may mistake this for a lack of ambition or impolitesse but regardless, it's best not to expect things to run like clockwork.
Today, explore Vientiane's past and present. Visit Wat Sisaket, the only structure to survive the Siamese invasion of 1828 intact. Across the street, sits Ho Pha Keo, reconstructed in the 1930s on the site of the original building. It housed the Emerald Buddha, which now lives in Bangkok and is the home to a fine collection of Lao artistry. A short journey up Lane Xang street allows you a glimpse into the changing face of the city. Among the more modern structures is Patouxai, the Lao Victory Monument. Also, visit Wat That Luang with its central lotus-bud spire and 30 surrounding stupas - the most sacred structure in all of Laos. Wat Si Muang is a much more vibrant example of living Buddhism. This sacred temple is used by the Lao people for everything, from women trying to become pregnant, to new car owners having monks bless their recent purchases. This is a surreal place full of interesting photographic opportunities! (This service is on a private basis.)
This morning, your journey will continue on to the wonderous Vang Vieng. At the appropriate time, your guide will collect you from your hotel for the four-hour scenic drive. (This service is on a private basis.)
Upon arrival in Vang Vieng, you have the opportunity to explore the Tham Chang Cave, one of the most impressive natural caves. In the 19th century, Tham Chang was used as a bunker during the Chinese-Ho invasion. After touring the caves you will take an hour long boat ride down the Nam Song River before heading to your hotel for the evening. (This service is on a private basis.)
The small town of Vang Vieng is located 150 kilometers north of the Vientiane Capital. Located in a dreamlike landscape of bizarre limestone mountain peaks and scenic cliffs with the Nam Song River bisecting the town; you'll find a variety of activities ranging from water sports such as kayaking and tubing to rappelling from waterfalls and rock climbing. Vang Vieng also offers more peaceful places like several 16th and 17th-century monasteries and the small surrounding Hmong villages. Close by, are two of Vientiane Province’s most well known attractions, a small man-made reservoir known as Nong Nok near Ban Sivilay which is a great bird watching site, and the ancient Vang Xang Buddha images and sculptures that are carved into the side of a sandstone escarpment.
After breakfast, you will be picked up from your hotel in a private truck to embark and an exciting discovery tour of Vang Vieng. About 9-miles north of Vang Vieng is Tham Xang also known as the Elephant Cave because of its stalagmite ‘elephant head’. The limestone formation can be found along a small passage behind the large golden Buddha. The cave is also an influential Buddhist temple. Next, you will visit the Vang Vieng Trek Village near Tham Hoi cave. The trek winds its way deep into the mountain through numerous long corridors with wonderful limestone formations. A cool pool of spring water lies at the mouth of Tham Nam cave and is a good place for a swim.
After a lovely picnic, you will continue the trek through a Hmong village, rice paddy fields, and vegetable gardens down to the Phathao passes. As your trekking comes to an end, you will head back to Vang Vieng by kayak on the Nam Song River. Descending the Nam Song by kayak leads you through picturesque scenes of rural life and the unique sight of limestone mountains in the background. Once you disembark from the kayaks, you will be transported to your hotel for a good nights rest. (This service is on a private basis.)
Today, you will be picked up at your hotel Vang Vieng and transferred to your accommodations in Luang Prabang. En route you will make a stop at the local markets and visit the local minority villages. The transfer time for today is going to be around 8 hours. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the unspoiled terrain. (This service is on a private basis.)
Luang Prabang is an outstanding example of the fusion of traditional architecture and Lao urban structures with those built by the European colonial authorities in the 19th and 20th centuries. Its unique, remarkably well-preserved cityscape illustrates a key stage in the blending of these two distinct cultural traditions.
If you have no problem waking up at dawn, your guide will accompany you to witness the sacred ritual of monks on their alms rounds, known locally as Sai Bath. Long lines of barefoot monks go through the streets to receive their morning rice from the local villagers (In keeping with our deferential stance regarding local cultures, please observe this sacred ritual from a respectful distance. If you take photographs, do not use a flash and try not to interfere with this highly revered ritual). Afterwards, visit the lively Morning Market and be immersed in Lao lifestyle, observing locals who are doing their daily shopping. Return to your hotel for breakfast.
Reconvene with your guide to explore this historic and charming World Heritage Town. Begin your journey at the most popular of temples – Wat Xieng Thong. This exquisite 500 year old temple is the best example of the classic Luang Prabang style. From here, explore via small side streets, along back alleys, and through temples. A morning walking tour allows you to soak up the ambiance and appreciate the hidden charms of Luang Prabang. Through your guide, feel free to ask the locals questions as they go about their daily lives.
Continue wandering up the peninsula, stopping at temples and other sites as you wish. Visit the National Museum, which is the former Royal Palace. Relics from Laos’ royalist past remain here. Overlooking the palace is Phousi Mountain. It is said that those who do not climb the 328 steps up have not really made it to the city. Venture up the hill and be rewarded with remarkable views of the area.
In the late afternoon, you'll be treated to the refined grace of a private Baci ceremony in a family home at a small village called Ban Mano. These gentle villagers led by their Nai Ban (village chief) offer visitors tidings of good luck and fortune for their lives and travels by gingerly tying cotton cords, symbolizing luck, friendship, and good health around your wrists. (This service is on a private basis.)
After breakfast, drive up to Luang Prabang's famous crystalline Kuang Si Waterfall. At the falls, crystal water cascades into idyllic turquoise pools. Bring a bathing suit if you'd like to swim! Take some time afterwards to visit the nearby Sunbear Sanctuary. Here, they rescue and protect black Asiatic bears, commonly hunted due to myths surrounding the medicinal quality of their bile.
Next, depart through Laos' scenic countryside to the Pak Ou Caves, a mystical pilgrimage site perched high above the Mekong River 27 miles outside of Luang Prabang. On arrival in Ban Pak Ou, a boat will ferry you across the river to reach the Pak Ou caves.
Peering into dark corners, your eyes gradually adjust to reveal the serene faces and figures of more than 3,000 Buddha images, some inlaid with semi-precious stones. That these remain undisturbed in this remote site in one of the world's poorest countries is a testament to the devotion of the people. Return by boat to Luang Prabang, cruising along the Mekong. On the way back, enjoy the lush river life along the Mekong while sipping a drink and tasting some Lao snacks.
Stop at two riverside villages along the way back. In Ban Xang Khong, the weaving of prized Lao textiles still takes place on ancient wooden looms. Some villagers are also engaged in mulberry paper production. The villagers of Ban Xang Hai produce Lao Lao, a rice whisky. Try a swig of this potent drink – if you dare! At the end of today's eventful tour, you will be returned to your hotel. (This service is on a private basis.)
Although your adventure must come to an end today, you will be leaving with new friends, amazing experiences, and memories to cherish for the rest of your life. Once you have checked out of your hotel in Luang Prabang, you will be met by your driver and transferred to the airport in good time to board your international departure flight.
We wish you safe and happy travels home! (This service is on a private basis.)
Ansara Hotel is Vientiane’s boutique destination that will delight the visitor at first sight. A unique visual treat in the heart of the capital, with just 24 rooms and 4 suites, the hotel combines quiet sophistication with genuine functionality. Elegant yet relaxed, it exudes the warm and inviting feel of a private home while professionally addressing our guests’ needs for comfort and practicality. Serene and restful yet located right in the center of the capital, Ansara Hotel is just a short stroll away from the legendary Mekong River and most major tourist attractions and businesses.
Inthira Vang Vieng is located in the heart of Vang Vieng City. Chic and contemporary in design, all 38 well-appointed rooms have a private balcony and unobstructed view of the river and mountain. The hotel offers many facilities, including Wi-Fi throughout the hotel, ample car-park, 24-hour CCTV, safe deposit box in all rooms, air conditioner temperature control in each room, and room service.
Villa Maydou is at the heart of the historic center of Luang Prabang, the former royal capital of Laos, an UNESCO World Heritage site, nearby of the Pagoda “Wat Meuna” and near the Nam Khan river old bridge. Villa Maydou is composed of five beautifully appointed and comfortable Lao traditional houses within a large tropical garden which includes a salt pool. Two of the houses are registered in the UNESCO World Heritage Programme after having been restored under the authority of "La Maison du Patrimoine" the UNESCO programme responsible for the preservation of the traditional architecture of Luang Prabang.
*Pricing is based on two persons traveling together, based on availability, subject to change.
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