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Laotian Landscapes

FURTHER JOURNEYS IN LAOS  brown-arrow-right.png

Day 1 - Bangkok - Pakse - Champasak

Arrive in Bangkok and connect on to your Lao Airlines flight to Pakse.  You will be met on arrival and driven approximately one hour to Champasak.  The rest of the day is at leisure.

Located beside the Mekong River around 30 kilometres from Pakse, the River Resort offers stylish and comfortable accommodation with fabulous views. Each of the 14 spacious Riverside rooms (33sqm) has extraordinary panoramic Mekong River views as well as beautiful, high mountain views and sunsets from its rear terrace.    The hotel has a contemporary style and boasts a swimming pool and massage pavilion.

Overnight:  The River Resort

Day 2 - Islands & Waterfalls

A full day exploring the area known locally as Sipandon ('4000 Islands').  In this beautiful area the Mekong River reaches 14 kilometres in width and thousands of small islands dot the waterway.   Travel by local boat to the peaceful island of Done Khone, where plantations and simple villages are almost all you will find and you may be lucky enough to spot the rare Irrawaddy Dolphin. We recommend bicycles as the best way to explore, or a tuk-tuk if you prefer.  Visit the impressive Lippi falls, on the west of Don Khone and very close to the Cambodian border. The islands played an important role during the French Colonial rule as they linked Laos to Cambodia and Southern Vietnam.  Explore the railway line and bridge that crosses the falls and enjoy the slow pace of life, observing locals. 

After lunch at a local restaurant, head for Khone Papheng waterfalls.  This is a wonderful spot to rest and enjoy the view and is the only section of the Mekong which is impossible to navigate by boat - you will see why!  Return to Champasak this afternoon, arriving back at your hotel in time for sunset.

Overnight: The River Resort

Day 3 - Wat Phou

After breakfast your guide will collect you and take you by car approximately 15 minutes to Wat Phou. Recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, Wat Phou is a spectacular pre-Angkorian temple that sits among the rice fields and waterways of Southern Laos. The temple was built by the rulers of the Khmer empire before the construction of Angkor Wat and this site served as the most important economic and political centre of the region and still is one of the Lao people's most revered temples.  Return to your hotel for an afternoon at leisure and you might like to take one of the hotel's bikes out to explore by yourself.

Overnight:  The River Resort

Day 4 - Champasak - Vientiane

After a leisurely breakfast, your driver and guide will transfer you to the airport in Pakse which is an hour away for your flight to Vientiane.  

Arrive in Vientiane where your guide and private car will meet you and transfer you to your hotel.  The rest of the day is at your leisure to explore Vientiane. You might choose to end your day strolling along the banks of the Mekong River and stopping to enjoy local food from the many stalls along the way.  This area is very popular with locals who go to exercise in the park in the evenings and you can also browse the evening market for souvenirs.

Ansara is located in a quiet street in the heart of Vientiane and we have chosen it for its location and  price.  Simple in style, each of the 24 rooms has a private bathroom and balcony and complimentary Wi-Fi.  If you don't want to eat out, the hotel's restaurant,  Le Signature, has fast become the best fine dining French restaurant in the capital.

Overnight:  Ansara

Day 5 - Vientiane

Today enjoy a guided tour to discover the hidden charms of Vientiane, one of the quietest capital cities in the world, far away from the hustle and bustle of other Asian capitals.  Begin at the serene Wat Sisaket, the only temple left intact after the Siamese (Thai) invasion in 1828. It is one of the most beautiful temples in the capital, and its breezy teak covered hallways are filled with thousands of miniature Buddha statues.  Continue on to the nearby Wat Phra Keo with its displays of both Lao and Khmer works of art.   Continue to the Putaxay monument (Laos' version of the Arc de Triomphe)and climb to the top to enjoy the sweeping panoramic views of the city.   

Enjoy a delicious Lao-style lunch at Makphet Restaurant.  Established by Friends International, Makphet is a charity-run restaurant aiming to train the area's street children in the hospitality industry. Professional chefs from around the world have volunteered their time in developing the menus and training the staff.  

Return to your hotel for an afternoon at leisure or to explore the local surroundings by yourself.

Overnight:  Ansara

Day 6 - Vientiane - Muang La

Early start today as you fly 50 minutes to Oudomxay.  Once a sleepy town, Oudomxay is now an important trading hub and as you leave it behind you, you will notice the contrast as you head into the unspoiled countryside. This northern region of Laos is very mountainous and green, with rice paddies and plantations dividing areas of thick jungle. You will encounter various tribes on this part of your holiday and even on the drive to the hotel you will pass some villages perched precariously on steep mountainsides and then others in the valleys carved out by ancient rivers.  Arrive at the hotel in time for lunch. Check in, relax and enjoy the views.

Muang La Resort is a retreat in the true sense of the meaning.  Built next to a natural hot spring, from which a small pool is filled every evening, the hotel only has 10 rooms and five villas and is blissfully peaceful with breath-taking views.  The buzz of modern day life is quickly forgotten as you ease into the gentle pace of Northern Laos life.  Evenings are a real treat here, with five course set menus combining Asian and European influences, to be enjoyed by candle-light with only the sounds of nature in the background.

Overnight:  Muang La Resort

Day 7 - Muang La

This full day tour includes approximately five hours of walking and a transfer of approximately 50 minutes.   After breakfast, you will be driven for around 25 minutes by 4x4, following the Nam Pak River before taking a small mountain road, overlooking the Nam Ko River, to the start point. Begin trekking along a narrow mountain trail, through the lush forest.  Walk through villages  and see how  life flows at a relaxed pace.  Pass mountain streams and rice fields and stop for a well-deserved picnic in the lush countryside. 

Continue on the mountain trail overlooking magnificent scenery and pass through farms in the heart of the local countryside, with some breath-taking panoramic views. Your guide will take the time to explain how the local people use the plants and herbs of the forest to feed themselves and sometimes heal themselves, using the medicinal properties of the local flora.

Descend to the Yang village of Long Ya and witness the different communal activities: drying herbs and vegetables, setting animal traps and preparing meals using local produce. The village is well known for the production of rice alcohol ("Lao Lao") and also houses a small Buddhist temple.

The end of the trek brings you to the hidden temple of Wat Hoytinphabath, which houses a 35m long reclining statue of Buddha.  A dirt road along the River Huay Ya will bring you back to the resort in the late afternoon.

Overnight:  Muang La Resort

Day 8 - Villages

This full day tour includes no 'real trekking', only walking through and between villages. Travelling by 4x4 is the only way to cover enough ground and climb the steep mountains in order to reach the most untouched and fascinating villages in the region. Meet ethnic groups originating from Tibet and Yunnan that have seen very few foreigners. Enjoy a picnic lunch 1,000m above sea level with magnificent views.

Return to the resort at the end of the day.

Overnight:  Muang La Resort

Day 9 - Muang La - Nong Khiaw

After breakfast, you will be driven approximately two hours to Muang Khua, a small town on the banks of the Nam Ou River. Here you will board a private long tail boat for a cruise down one of the most scenically beautiful stretches of river in Laos. Compared to the Mekong, the Nam Ou is considered more dramatic and wild and also has far less traffic.  Enjoy a picnic lunch along the way and spot various local villages as you cruise downstream.

In the late afternoon you will reach your destination of Nong Khiaw, famed for the dramatic limestone mountains which surround it. Disembark and check in to your accommodation on the banks of the Nam Ou River.

The only hotel in Nong Khiaw with a swimming pool, Mandala Ou Resort is situated 150km north-east from Luang Prabang, high on the banks of the scenic and peaceful Nam Ou river, offering spectacular sunset views over the virgin rainforest and karst limestone mountains of Nong Khiaw. After an adventurous day of trekking or a long day on a boat, Mandala Ou Resort is the perfect place to relax in comfortable detached bungalows, mixing traditional Lao style with all the modern conveniences.  Facilities include a swimming pool, restaurant and bar with river view and a herbal sauna, yoga and meditation.

Overnight:  Mandala Ou

Day 10 - Nong Khiaw - Luang Prabang

Start the day with a visit to the historical cave of Phathok. The Nong Khiaw villagers used this cave as a war shelter during the "Secret War", to shelter people from bombs dropped in the region. It is about 30 minutes walk from Nong Khiaw town and follows beautiful sceneries and great vistas in the surrounding tropical mountains. Learn more about a secret part of the Lao history and explore the historical caves with your guide.  

Afterwards, drive 3 hours to Pak Ou Village in time for lunch at local restaurant.  Later, cross the Mekong by local boat to visit the famous Pak Ou Caves; filled with thousands of gold-lacquered Buddha statues and a destination for local pilgrimages.

After visiting the caves, sail in a covered motorized long boat down the Mekong to Luang Prabang town.  Arrive in the late afternoon and transfer to your hotel.

The 3 Nagas is a lovely boutique hotel in the centre of Luang Prabang, created from three superbly restored UNESCO World Heritage buildings.   Located in the Old Quarter, it is perfectly situated for wandering out into town to explore this sleepy UNESCO World Heritage town where there are no traffic lights, traffic jams or other obstacles to forward progress, apart from the ubiquitous packs of chattering monks and the occasional driver who believes even a walking pace is too hasty.   If you stay in a Junior Suite you can witness the daily procession of monks collecting alms from the privacy of your balcony and it is an incredible sight.

Overnight:  The 3 Nagas

Day 11 - Luang Prabang

Your tour of the Historical Old Town begins at the National Museum.  Once the Royal Palace of Laos, the National Museum is filled with art, artefacts, and jewels and a visit examines the history and rich culture of the country.   Visit some of the city's most important temples such as  Wat Visoun, Wat Aham and Wat Xieng Thong, the most revered temple in Luang Prabang.

Enjoy lunch in town at Tamarind restaurant where you will have a chance to sample unusual local specialties.  

This afternoon, head to Ock Pop Tok to experience textiles in Laos - the history, methods, and cultural significance to the Lao people. Take a break at Le Patio Café, located inside the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Center (TAEC), and sip a local brew of coffee. Then, take a tour of TAEC, a museum dedicated to exploring the rich diversity of Laos' ethnic minorities. Traditional costumes, tools, and artifacts are on display alongside in-depth descriptions and written histories.  As the day comes to an end, climb the stairs of Mount Phousi and watch the sun set over the city and surrounding hills. Walk down the other side and explore the hill tribe evening market.

Overnight:  The 3 Nagas

Day 12 - Waterfalls & Bears

For early risers, there is a very special dawn visit to watch the monks collecting alms. As the sun begins to rise, long lines of orange-robed monks leave their pagodas and walk barefoot down the streets collecting offerings from Luang Prabang residents. It is a beautiful, serene ceremony that highlights the spiritualism of the Laos people.

After breakfast at your hotel you will be driven through the Luang Prabang countryside to Kuang Si Waterfalls (32km southwest of the city). Along the way you will drive through beautiful landscapes of rice fields, hills, and small villages.  Stop en-route to visit a small village which is home to one of the area's many ethnic minorities. You will have an opportunity to learn about their traditions and culture, much of which has remained unchanged for centuries.

Upon reaching Kuang Si Waterfall, relax and enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings. The jungle and dense woods surrounding the falls is perfect for exploring on foot and the turquoise pools are perfect for a swim.  Before you leave you might like to visit the bear sanctuary which is next to the falls, run by Free The Bears Fund Inc. There are currently 23 Asiatic Black Bears living in the sanctuary, which has saved them from poaching.

Overnight:  The 3 Nagas

Day 13 - Luang Prabang

Today is entirely at leisure with no structure or plans so that you can relax and feel re-energised before you go home.

Overnight:  The 3 Nagas

Day 14 -  Luang Prabang - Bangkok - Depart

Early departure this morning for your Lao Airline flight to Bangkok connecting with your onward international flight home.

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PRICING

Price from £2,993 / $4,913 per person based on two people sharing a twin/double excluding international flights.

All of our itineraries are tailor-made according to the interests of our clients and the above itinerary is an example only. Please contact our Southeast Asia specialist, Melissa Matthews, for your own tailor-made holiday to Thailand and Laos on +44 (0)1242 787804.

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