Explore the north & south of Laos on this in-depth tour from Luang Prabang to the Plain of Jars, and from the capital, Vientiane, to Pakse and the four thousand islands in the south. Tour the sleepy town of Luang Prabang as you stroll amongst golden temple spires and colonial villas, admire the scenery along the Mekong as you explore the Pak Ou Cave, and leisurely explore the forested trails near the Kuangsi Waterfalls. Take a scenic drive to the Plain of Jars, one of the last mysteries of Asia where giant stone jars are spread across the plateau of Xieng Khouang, and then marvel at the bustle in the capital, Vientiane, with its lively markets and riverside atmosphere. Travel to Pakse and the south exploring the impressive Wat Phou, one of the region’s best preserved Khmer ruins, stay in the four thousand islands area where the Mekong reaches its broadest boasting stunning waterfalls, dramatic scenery, and opportunities to see the elusive Irrawaddy Dolphin, and curiously wander the many traditional villages home to ethnic minority groups.
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Hotel with daily breakfast, lunches & dinners as indicated, services of expert English speaking local guides, entrance fees to sites listed on the itinerary, private A/C transportation with expert drivers, 2 on-tour flights, and airport transfers. International flights are not included, contact us for preferred rates and schedules.
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Upon arrival in Luang Prabang, you will be met by your local guide in the arrivals area holding a name-board. After a brief introduction, you will be transferred to your hotel for check-in and the remainder of the day is at your leisure. This evening, meet at the hotel and depart for a traditional Baci ceremony dinner.
Together with your local guide you will drive out of Luang Prabang to the Elephant Park Project area about 15 km out of town and in the middle of green, natural surroundings just on the banks of the Nam Khan river. Here you will be introduced to the protected Asian Elephants before heading out on a scenic elephant ride in the natural setting along the river and mountainous landscape. Lunch will be served on a river view terrace overlooking the Nam Khan River. A short boat ride will bring you to the amazing Tad Sae waterfalls (alternative location in dry season from Jan-August). Have some time to hang out and relax in the refreshing cascades and then a short boat trip will bring you back to the Elephant Village where you will transfer back to Luang Prabang for a guided walking tour. Visit the Royal Palace Museum, which hosts a range of interesting artifacts, the magnificent Wat Xiengthong with its roofs sweeping low to the ground, representing classical Laotian architecture, and the impressive stupa of Wat Visoun. Later, climb up to the top of Mount Phousi for an enjoyable exploration of the sacred gilded stupa as well as a panoramic view of the city & the Mekong River at sunset. The tour ends after a visit to the famous Night Market, where you can find a lovely selection of handmade textiles.
In the early morning you may participate in the daily morning rituals of saffron-clad monks collecting offerings of alms from the faithful residents. Return to the hotel for breakfast and then visit the morning Phousi Market, where you will see such diverse offerings as dried buffalo skin, local tea and saltpeter among the chickens, vegetables and hill-tribe weavings. Laos is also known for its traditional crafts, and today you will visit local villages of Lao ethnic minority groups at a Hmong village, a Laoloum village and Khamu village. This then takes us to the beautiful Khuang Si Waterfall where you can cool off with a refreshing swim in the pools or walk along the forest trails. We then return to Luang Prabang. This afternoon, we embark on a cruise upstream on the Mekong River, which gives us a breathtaking view of the tranquil countryside, before reaching the mysterious Pak Ou Caves, two linked caves crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes left by pilgrims. Along the way, we stop at the village of Ban Xanghai, where they make local rice wine called ‘lao lao’. On return, we disembark the boat to visit traditional villages, and continue by taking a short drive to Ban Phanom, a village famous for its hand weaving.
Today, we make the day’s drive through wonderful natural scenery to Phonsavan in Xieng Khouang Province. The journey will give you plenty of opportunities for taking photos and visiting hill tribe villages. Upon arrival, we transfer out to visit Site #1 of the Plain of Jars, an impressive archaeological site where hundreds of large stone jars are scattered all over the plateau. Stay two nights in Phonsavan
This morning we have time to visit the interesting Central Market in Phonsavan, and the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) exhibition where you gain insight on how this organization helps clear landmines from years of war. Later, tour Site #2 of the Plain of Jars before taking a short scenic trek to Site #3 via a Tai Dam and Lao Leum village. Following lunch we have a half day tour to see the old capital of Muang Khoun and the nearby villages, home to the Hmong hill tribe and Tai Dam people.
Following breakfast at the hotel, meet and transfer to the airport for a short flight to Vientiane (flights operate on Mon, Wed, Fri, and Sun). On arrival, meet and transfer to the hotel for check-in. The rest of the day is at your leisure. Stay two nights in Vientiane
Enjoy a half day city tour introducing you to the major temples of Vientiane. Visit the oldest, Wat Sisaket, a temple of thousands of miniature Buddha statues, and the former royal temple of Wat Prakeo, which previously housed the famous Emerald Buddha Image. We also visit Lao’s national icon, That Luang Stupa, and we stop to take some pictures of the imposing Patuxay Monument, which is Vientiane’s own ‘Arc de Triumph’. The afternoon is at your leisure.
You will be transferred to the airport early this morning for your flight to Pakse. On arrival in Pakse, we transfer to the boat pier for a cruise down to Champassak to visit the fascinating pre-Angkorian ruins of Wat Phu, one of Southeast Asia's most dramatically situated temples. We have time to explore these intriguing Khmer ruins, which are perched at the base of Mount Phu Kao. Following lunch, we continue our journey by road to the largest waterfall in Southeast Asia, Khone Phapeng. Afterwards, take a drive and ferry tail boat to the 4000 Islands area where you have the rest of the day to relax.
After an early breakfast, we explore Khone Island. Here we begin by re-tracing the French colonial-past at Ban Khone, where some old colonial houses still stand. We continue our exploration of the area by boat and visit the beautiful Liphi waterfall, also known as the Samphamith, which forms a natural border between Lao and Cambodia. You may also have a chance to see dolphins in Ban Hang Khone! The rest of the day is at your leisure to explore the surroundings at your own pace.
This morning we travel by road into the Bolevean Plateau, known for its cooler temperature being located high above the Mekong Valley. The area is famous for its many waterfalls, and we will visit the most beautiful of these falls, Tad Fan. Tad Fan waterfall is spectacular with twin waterfalls plummeting into a deep gorge surrounded by flourishing vegetation. A trip to the plateau provides a refreshing break from the heat and allows you to observe the cultivation of rich coffee, tea, cardamom, bananas, and other crops that can be seen en route. In the afternoon we arrive at Tad Lo, home to another scenic waterfall and numerous ethnic minority groups. We visit nearby local villages before returning to Pakse.
After breakfast, meet your local guide in the hotel lobby at the appointed time and then transfer to the airport for your departure flight.
Days 4 & 5: Learn about the mystery of the Plain of Jars.
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