Ambassador Experiences: Laos in Depth

Country: Laos

11 Days | $3,550

Inspired by our Journeys Within Ambassadors – seasoned travelers who have visited Southeast Asia with us before – this itinerary will give you deeper insight into what makes Laos such a special country.

Start your exploration in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Luang Prabang, seeing the city by bicycle and touring the villages along the Mekong River by boat. Next you’ll get a deeper understanding of rice cultivation in Laos at the Living Rice Farm, before learning the secrets of Laos cooking at the Tamarind Cooking School and having the opportunity to volunteer at the JWOC-supported village school at Phik Noy.

Next stop is Vientiane, where you’ll tour the famous Buddha Park and other main temples of the capital city while also experiencing a true taste of Laos cuisine at the Thong Kham Kam Market. From Vientiane, travel to Pakse to witness the Vat Phou temple ruin – another UNESCO World Heritage site – as well as the 4,000+ islands of Ban Nakasang, fishing villages, Don Daeng Island and the Khone Phapheng Waterfall (the “Niagara of the East”).


Day 1 Luang Prabang: Arrival and Orientation Tour

Make your own way to the airport in time to catch your flight – Laos Airlines QV634 departing Bangkok at 10:20 & arriving in Luang Prabang at 12:00.

After your arrival in Luang Prabang, you’ll be picked up from the airport and driven to the main part of town for a quick orientation tour. Your guide will give you an introduction to the city, showing you the main roads, some restaurants and the night market area, before dropping you off at your hotel to check in.

Meals Included: None

Overnight at Mekong Riverview Hotel – Superior River View Room

Day 2 Luang Prabang: City Tour by Bicycle

Wake up at sunrise to give monks morning alms. You’ll be accompanied by your guide who can demonstrate the proper method of alms giving and explain this daily Buddhist ceremony. Return to your hotel for breakfast. After breakfast, you will explore the city by bicycle. Following your guide, travel through town along the main roads and go off the beaten path through alleys and side-streets. Ride along both the Mekong and Nam Khan roads to take in the views and stop at temples and national landmarks along the way. Enjoy lunch at the Ock Pop Tok Living Crafts Center, which is located on the Mekong River surrounded by a beautiful garden and a number of different artisans. After lunch, visit the temples on the outskirts of town and then end your afternoon by leaving your bikes behind and climbing Mt. Phou Si to see a sweeping view of the city.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Overnight at Mekong Riverview Hotel – Superior River View Room

Day 3 Luang Prabang: Temples and Villages on the Mekong

Today you will explore the villages and livelihoods of the locals living off of the Mekong River. After breakfast, you will meet your guide and be transferred to the boat pier on the Mekong. You will cross the river for Xieng Mien, in the district of Chomphet. Even though the Mekong River only separates Xieng Mien and Luang Prabang by a short distance, you will quickly be able to see the differences between the two. Stroll through the village lanes and visit three historic temples – Wat Xieng Mene, Wat Chomphet and Wat Long Khoune.

Afterwards you will join your boat and pick up your picnic lunch on the Luang Prabang side of the river before heading down to the pottery village of Ban Jan. Walk around and observe this village which is centuries old and home to some interesting handicrafts. You might even want to further support the village and pick up one of the fun handmade trinkets sold by the locals. From here you will head down river and take in the lush hilltops and serene river while on the less traveled stretch of the Mekong. Once you reach the fishing village of Ban Chompjua, you will transfer to one of the local families’ fishing boats to join as they check traps. The styles and traps will vary depending on the season and level of the Mekong. Learn how time consuming the art of fishing is from the locals as they demonstrate the making of one of their gigantic fishing nets. You will then return to your long tail boat for a picturesque coast while you enjoy your picnic lunch and head for Ban Xing, the Lion Village. Walk through this village, which is believed to date from the 16th century, and see the remnants of a previous time. This farming and fishing village holds some of the oldest traditional homes near Luang Prabang. You will then join your village hosts’ home for a Lao baci ceremony. Your guide will explain this traditional blessing ceremony as you receive well wishes from elders in the village. After the ceremony you will travel up river back to Luang Prabang while taking in the setting sun.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Overnight at Mekong Riverview Hotel – Superior River View Room

Day 4 Luang Prabang: The Living Land – Rice Cultivation and Handicraft, and Tamarind Cooking School Evening Class

Today you will learn about Lao’s most cherished and cultivated crop, rice! The Living Land Company is a community enterprise that specializes in growing organic vegetables and rice for the development of the local community and seven families that live on the farm. You will arrive to the Living Rice Farm and be introduced to your guide and farming expert. You will learn the 12 steps of rice farming from the seeding of the soil to cooking the coveted sticky rice for everyday consumption. You will have the opportunity to truly experience the life of a farmer by trying your hand at some of the activities, like helping to plow the muddy soil by guiding Susan the farm’s water buffalo or husking the rice with a traditional foot rice pounder.

You will also learn about some of the other traditional skills of the farmer like blacksmithing and bamboo weaving. Enjoy the breathtaking view of the expansive rice fields, organic garden of herbs and vegetables, and fish pond from the balcony of the farm’s traditional Lao wooden house. You will not only have the opportunity to learn about rice farming, but you will have the opportunity to talk to Lao farmers and gain an understanding about their way of life and gentle friendliness.

Enjoy learning the secrets of Lao cuisine in an early evening cooking class at the Tamarind Cooking School. You will have a hands-on opportunity to cook your own Lao feast, including how to make the local staple-Lao sticky rice. You will be instructed by the owners of Tamarind Restaurant in the lush and beautiful surroundings of their cooking center just outside of town. After you learn about local ingredients and preparation methods, you’ll cook your own version of these local dishes and afterwards sit to enjoy your well-deserved dinner.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Overnight at Mekong Riverview Hotel – Superior River View Room

Day 5 Luang Prabang: JWOC Village School Sponsorship

Meet with a Laos Journeys Within Our Community (JWOC) representative for lunch and to discuss the JWOC’s ongoing projects in Luang Prabang. Before you leave town, you will be prepped on the day’s activities in which you may participate in at the village school. Then you will leave town and head out to a picturesque village hidden away in the hills surrounding Luang Prabang. When you arrive in Phik Noy (Little Pepper Village) you will visit the primary school which JWOC supports through donations like yours. During your visit your will have the opportunity to interact with the teachers and students through a little English lesson and an art activity.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Overnight at Mekong Riverview Hotel – Superior River View Room

Day 6 Luang Prabang to Vientiane: Half Day City Tour

You will be transferred to the Luang Prabang airport in time for your flight – Laos Airlines QV102 departing Luang Prabang at 13:05 & arriving in Vientiane at 13:50.
Upon arriving to the capital of Laos, Vientiane, you will be met by your guide and transferred to your hotel.
Head into town and take a guided city tour which will include Haw Pha Kaeo, Wat Si Saket, Pha That Luang, Patuxai and Si Muang. Stop by the COPE Center to learn about how they are helping the disadvantaged in Laos. You may choose to be dropped off for lunch in the center of town or return to the hotel. In the evening you will be picked up for a traditional dinner including a Lao music and dance performance.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Overnight at Ansara Hotel – Savvy Room

Day 7 Vientiane: Full Day City Tour with Buddha Park

After breakfast meet your guide at 8:30am and head to Thong Kham Kam Market. Here you will witness how the locals do their early morning food shopping in this large market. Perhaps you will feel courageous enough to try some of the local dishes. Afterwards, take a tour of the main temples and sites of the city including Haw Pha Kaeo, Wat Si Saket, Pha That Luang, Patuxai and Si Muang. If you wish, enjoy lunch at Kong View along the Mekong River or another recommendation from you guide. You will then head out of the center of Vientiane for about an hour drive to Xieng Khuan Buddha Park. The riverside park is full of Buddhist and Hindu sculptures built by Luang Pu, a yogi-shaman that devoted his life to merging Hindu and Buddhist philosophy 1958. Take a stroll around the park grounds and observe the crumbling concrete structures that were meant to help symbolize his aspiration to merge the two philosophies. The park should remain open until sunset. If it closes early then you will be able to stop at either Ta Dua or Ta Na Lang Temple to catch the sunset along the river. Once back to town you will be dropped off at your hotel.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Overnight at Ansara Hotel – Savvy Room

Day 8 Vientiane to Pakse: Vat Phou and Khong Island

You will be transferred to Vientiane Airport in time for your onward flight – Laos Airliens QV511 departing Vientiane at 06:30 & arriving in Pakse at 07:45. Upon arrival at the airport you will be met by your guide.
Upon arrival at the airport you will be met by your guide. Enjoy lunch in the city of Pakse before an hour’s drive through the countryside. Once you arrive at Ban Muang you will take the local ferry across the Mekong River to Champassak to visit Vat Phou, an impressive pre-Angkorian Khmer temple ruin. This site represents the easternmost border of the Khmer empire. This temple was listed as an UNESCO World Heritage site in 2002 and is situated on a hillside offering spectacular views of the surrounding plains. Cross the river once more back to Ban Muang and drive along the Mekong River and through the countryside for approximately 100 kilometers until being transferred to Khong Island, part of the river archipelago known as Si Phan Don (4,000 Islands), landing at a jetty near your hotel. Enjoy local fare at one of the nearby restaurants located along the waterfront on Khong Island.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Overnight at Pon’s Arena Hotel

Day 9: Don Det and the 4,000 Islands

After breakfast head out for Ban Nakasang where you will catch a long tail boat that will take you through a section of the 4,000 islands. You will visit the fishing village of Don Khon, where you can stop for lunch and observe local island life. Laos is known for its laidback lifestyle and the islands in the south are about as relaxed as it gets. You will then take a ride through the island, stopping to see remnants of Lao’s old French railway, before heading to Som Pha Mit (Li Phi) Waterfall, where you might be lucky enough to spot an endangered Irrawaddy Dolphin. Take the long tail boat back to meet your driver and continue on to see the impressive Khone Phapheng Waterfall, the “Niagara of the East”. Return to Khong Island in the late afternoon.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Overnight at La Folie Lodge

Day 10: Don Daeng Island

Take the ferry from Don Khong, returning to mainland and drive north to the Ban Muang boat pier. From here take a ferry to Don Daeng where you’ll check into La Folie Lodge. Spend the day relaxing next to the infinity pool that looks out on the Wat Phou Mountains and the mighty Mekong River or take one of the hotel’s bicycles and tour this friendly, undeveloped island.

Meals included: Breakfast

Overnight at La Folie Lodge

Day 11 Pakse: Departure

After breakfast check out of your hotel and transfer to the Pakse Airport for your onward flight – Laos Airlines QV223 departing Pakse at 12:05 & arriving Bangkok at 14:45.

Meals included: Breakfast

Tour Rate: Starting at $ 3,550 per person based on 2 people traveling, with a single supplement of $ 2,130.

Please note: This is a sample itinerary and does not reflect current hotel room availability. The pricing is not final until the itinerary has been confirmed and booked.

Price includes:

  • Air tickets: Bangkok – Luang Prabang – Vientiane – Pakse – Bangkok
  • Boat tickets as specified above
  • Accommodation as specified above
  • Air-conditioned car/van with driver
  • Licensed English speaking guides
  • Tours and admission fees as mentioned above
  • Meals as specified in itinerary, including water

Price excludes:

  • Personal expenses
  • Visa fees
  • Airport tax
  • Drinks (except water) and meals not mentioned in itinerary
  • Tips
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