Laos features a variety of tropical treasures just waiting to be explored. Guided through the eyes of local experts, this handcrafted itinerary showcases the highlights and hidden gems of Laos. You will learn about the rich history, delve deep into the fascinating culture and experience off the beaten path adventures. From the stunning scenery and untouched villages of the country's rural northern region to the historically rich and charming ambiance of Luang Prabang, 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!
Once you have crossed the border from Thailand (Chiang Khong) into Laos (Houay Xay) you will be met by your local Lao guide. You guide will assist in transferring via tuk tuk to the pier.
From here you will board the Shampoo Cruise following the Mekong River to Pakbeng. Along the way you will make one stop to visit the Kamu Village at Ban Houei Phalam. Enjoy lunch on board and observe the fascinating rural life along the river. You will arrive in Pakbeng before sunset, disembark and check-in to your hotel. Tonight's dinner will be served on the terrace overlooking the Mekong!
Pakbeng is a small riverside village set along the banks of the Mekong River, located halfway between the Thai/Lao border town of Huay Xai and Luang Prabang. Pakbeng is a a wonderful place to observe the laid-back sleepy village life of northern Laos. Take it easy, enjoy the atmosphere and stunning natural scenery of the region.
This morning at 9:30 AM, you will be met by your guide and transferred to Muang Lodge via Oudomxai (transfer time: approximately 4 hours).
Get settled into your room and enjoy the resort's facilities, take a nice steam in the sauna or enjoy the river views as you soak in the hot spring. If you feel like stretching your legs, you can take a walk to the nearby Chao Pha Kham Sing temple which houses a sacred Buddha. According to the custodians of the temple, the statue simply "appeared" on the site, hundreds of years ago and is now a sacred place of pilgrimage.
A delicious dinner will be served at the lodge this evening.
This morning you'll set off by 4x4 vehicle in the direction of Pak Khai; this pleasant journey provides wonderful views of the Nam Pak River, terraced rice fields, and small riverside villages.
Upon arrival at the starting point, you will begin your trek along a trail which follows a mountain stream meandering through the lush vegetation. Along the way, you will have the opportunity to meet with local farmers tending to their rice fields. Learn how they cultivate the land and hunt for small game and fish. Continue through the tropical rainforest for about 1.5 hours, arriving at the beautiful hilltop Kamu village of Ban Phavie.
After enjoying a picnic lunch in the village, you will walk on to some nearby waterfalls. Relax in the cool, clear waters and enjoy the tranquility of the falls (weather permitting). At around 2:30 PM you will head back to the resort, arriving later that afternoon.
Trek Duration: approximately 5 hours
Level of difficulty: 3/5
Please Note: There is a risk of leeches being present in the foliage. During the rainy season, the route may be changed subject to weather conditions.
Today, you will set off to visit an Ikhos village and a Hmong village, two of the many ethnic groups in Laos. Your route climbs to 1,000m above sea level and offers magnificent views of the stunning mountain scenery. Your first visit will be at a completely isolated Ikhos village. This ethnic group originates from Tibet and the Yunnan Province in China. You will learn about the daily life of the village and how the villagers still follow customs passed down through the centuries. You can enjoy a tasty picnic lunch here, as you soak up your amazing surroundings.
After lunch, you can embark on an optional 20 minute walk. The trail will take you to an abandoned Hmong village with a stunning 360° panorama view. Your tour will then continue on to visit a Hmong village. This ethnic group originates from the high steppes of Tibet and you will have the opportunity to learn about their way of life. This includes the importance of their livestock (pigs, buffaloes, etc) and the care that they give to their animals. You will return to the resort at the end of the day.
This morning you will begin the journey to Luang Prabang. The drive is approximately 2 hours to Muang Khua. Traverse through rolling hills towards Phongsaly on a road that eventually leads to Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam. The road follows along the Nam Pak River, where some of the local people pan for gold. Nowadays, it is mostly women who pan and their colorful fabrics light up the riverbanks.
You will arrive at Muang Khua for the start of your river cruise. The river journey from Muang Khua to Nong Khiaw is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful in the region! You take a privately chartered boat and descend the Nam Ou River, discovering many villages and beautiful landscapes with limestone formations rising majestically from the water (approximately 5 hours). A picnic lunch will be served on board.
On arrival in Nong Khiaw, you'll meet your driver who will transfer you to your accommodations in Luang Prabang for your overnight stay. The transfer will take approximately 3.5 hours. Settle in and enjoy your first evening in the charming city of Luang Prabang!
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 by bicycle. 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. In a city that could have been designed with slow travel in mind, 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. (This service is on a private basis.)
After breakfast meet your guide and driver and begin your day with a visit to the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Center, a museum dedicated to the ethnic minorities of Laos (Note: Museum closed on Mondays). You will then be driven into the peaceful countryside, stopping to explore several villages along the way. You will see a Hmong, a Khmu, and a Lowland Lao village and can compare their various lifestyles, traditions, and religions.
The Lowland Lao of Ban Sa-aat live on the banks of the Mekong and its tributaries and in the cities. They speak Lao, which is closely related to the Thai spoken in Thailand. Ban Pano is home to Khmu people, who were the original inhabitants of Northern Laos. They are animists and speak a language belonging to the Austro-Asiatic group of languages. In Ban Long Lao, you will see Hmong and Khmu people live peacefully side by side. The Hmong settlers were the most recent to come to Laos. They built their villages on the mountain tops and practice shifting cultivation of corn and other crops. In Ban Pano and Ban Long Lao, local guides from these villages will show you around. You will have the chance to see houses from inside, learn about traditional dress, different craft productions, and other common work routines. The villagers are grateful for this additional income and they are proud to welcome visitors from far away!
You will return to the vehicle to continue your journey on to Kuang Si Waterfall. At the falls, crystal water cascades into idyllic turquoise pools. Bring a bathing suit and towel if you would like to swim! Also, take time to visit the nearby Sunbear Refuge to learn more about the poaching of these endangered creatures.
On the way back to town, you will stop to visit the Buffalo Dairy, known for their sustainable local farming. An excellent way to finish your day! Definitely not only fun for kids but a real educational experience. This visit includes: a guided tour of the farm and information on how they work with the local community, buffalo feeding & bathing, milking demonstration, feeding chickens, pigs, and rabbits, and bottle feeding calves. Relax in the cafe and enjoy the "cake of the day" served with ice cream and tea or coffee before heading back to your hotel. (This service is on a private basis.)
Today, you will be picked up by your guide and travel by car to a local market, where you will meet your chef and teacher for today, Mrs. Noy. After learning about local produce you will soon be boarding a boat to cross the Mekong River where you will be greeted by friendly villagers and the family of Mrs. Noy. Don’t expect a star awarded kitchen but a simple private cooking lesson in the family’s home with local specialties.
After you have enjoyed your lunch in the village, you will continue by boat downstream to visit some more villages where famous river weed snacks, rice crackers, and other delicacies are produced. This afternoon while floating gently down the water, enjoy a Lao rice whiskey tasting as you slowly approaching Luang Prabang.
In the early evening, you will be treated to the refined grace of a private Baci ceremony 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 life and travels by gently tying cotton cords symbolizing luck, friendship, and good health around your wrists. The baci ceremony will be held at a private family home. (This service is on a private basis.)
This morning, you will be picked up at your hotel in Luang Prabang and transferred to the airport for your departure flight. We hope you enjoyed your time experiencing the charms of Laos! (This service is on a private basis.)
Set alongside the mighty Mekong River and nestled in the undulating lush jungle of northern Laos, the Le Grand Pakbeng is a thriving oasis offering unforgettable experiences with indulgent all-inclusive benefits, featuring gourmet dining and enriching daily activities. This charming resort provides 45 nicely appointed villas and suites with private terraces and Jacuzzi, which are furnished using local artworks in a mix of the splendid scenery of the Mekong River and the surrounding mountainside. As one of the finest luxury resorts in Northern Laos, Le Grand offers the top range of luxurious comforts. Far more than just rooms with a brilliant view - accommodations offer tranquil, elegant spaces complemented by teak woods, Lao carvings and extra amenities setup to provide you with a comfortable stay.
Hidden in the small village of Muang-La by the river, this lodge features 5 wooden villas and 9 traditionally designed guestrooms. Exuding peace tranquility, and mountain views, the river houses a natural hot spring. Besides the sauna, and spa, guests can explore northern Laos and its local ethnic groups either on foot, on mountain bikes, or in 4WD cars.
Once the French Governor's Fort, the "all-suite" Sofitel Luang Prabang now oozes colonial style and splendor fused with contemporary elegance in one of the finest resorts in the region. Situated on a heritage site in the former royal capital of Laos, the hotel is close to the major tourist attractions. Large courtyards, landscaped gardens, a reflecting pool and fireplaces provide a welcome retreat in all seasons. Individually designed suites create sanctuaries of private space and sumptuous comfort, revitalizing the soul. Natural LeSpa therapies and gourmet dining at the Governor's Grill capture the essence of Laos, drawing on its culinary and wellness traditions.
*Pricing is based on two persons traveling together, based on availability, subject to change.
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