Laos

Highlights of Laos tour

Country: Laos

9 Days | $2,935

Valid: June – September 2015

If you are looking to truly get away, let Journeys Within take you to another world with our Highlights of Laos tour. This nine-day tour combines the luxury of upgraded hotel options (pricing valid through Sept. 2015) with adventure.

You will begin in beautiful Luang Prabang, nestled between mountains and rivers. Take in the stunning landscape, stroll through the local villages, travel by boat on the mighty Mekong River, and explore the jungle from the back of an elephant. Set your creative side free learning to cook Lao-style and try your hand at the traditional art of weaving. After you have soaked up the incredible atmosphere and history of this World Heritage Site, head to the capital of Vientiane where you will enjoy a tour of the city and experience the traditional Laos style of dance. You will end your time in Pakse for a truly unique experience where you will visit with hill tribes, explore ancient ruins and relax beside waterfalls.


Day 1   Luang Prabang: Arrival, Orientation Tour and Baci Ceremony

Catch your flight – Bangkok Airways PG941 departing Bangkok at 10:05 & arriving Luang Prabang at 12:05.  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.

Your guide will meet you at your hotel after you have had the opportunity to relax and freshen up. Before dinner time, you will take part in a traditional Baci ceremony. The baci ceremony, referred to as, su kwan, which means “calling of the soul” will be performed by a local village elder, maw pawn. This blessing is meant to welcome you by giving you a blessing to bring harmony and balance to your body and soul. The Lao believe that this blessing will bring the believed 32 kwan, souls, that watch over you, back to your body so that you may be blessed and healthy. Your guide and the locals will help to lead you through the steps of the ceremony.

During the ceremony there will be blessings, chanting and Pook kwan. Pook Kwan is the tying of the white baci threads on each of your wrists from the elders. The white cotton is a symbol of peace, good fortune, honesty and comfort. They are traditionally worn for at least 3 days and should be untied rather than cut off. After the closing of the ceremony, you will have the opportunity to ask your guide and hosts any questions you may have about the ceremony.

Meals Included: None

Overnight at Kiridara Hotel – Deluxe Mountain View Room

Day 2   Luang Prabang: Sunrise to Sunset

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 you eat, your guide will take you on a tour of the city, which will include visits to The National Museum, Wat Xieng Thong, Wat Visun, Wat Aham and Wat Sen.

Enjoy lunch at the Ock Pop Tok Living Crafts Center located on the Mekong River surrounded by a garden and artisans on the outskirts of town. Enjoy the early afternoon relaxing or walking around before you continue your tour, visiting the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Museum and finishing with a hike up Mt. Phou Si in the late afternoon to see a sweeping view of Luang Prabang and watch the sunset.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Overnight at Kiridara Hotel – Deluxe Mountain View Room

Day 3   Luang Prabang: Life Along the Mekong

Today you’ll escape the tourist hubs in town and see Luang Prabang through local eyes. First, you will drive up the Mekong to the village of Pak Ou. From here board a small boat and take a tour of the local fishing area, checking traps with fishermen along the way and collecting any fish you might find. You will then cross the Mekong to visit the small village of Ban Mueng Keo, known for its production of local whiskey. Here you will be able to watch a demonstration of the whiskey-making process by a local Lao Lao Whiskey producer and, if you’re up for it, sample the finished product for an early morning boost. Afterwards, you will go a bit up river to the quaint 120 year old village of Ban Kok that only received electricity 5 years ago and is only accessible by the river. Take a stroll with the chief of the village before joining him for a home-cooked Lao lunch in his humble house.

Please note: A portion of your tour fees will go into a Ban Kok fund set up to help the village and its primary school and the students with needed materials and supplies.

From here you will travel downstream to visit the Pak Ou Caves, famous for the thousands of Buddha statues left inside by pilgrims. Board your long tail boat for a scenic ride on the Mekong until you reach the small weaving village of Ban Phone Xay, where you’ll enjoy a weaving demonstration and have a chance to purchase handmade items directly from the source. Learn the story behind who really makes the beautiful textiles sold at the night market – at the end of the day you’ll be the only tourist in town who knows the real story behind the bottles of Lao Lao, the grilled Mekong fish, and the night market.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Overnight at Kiridara Hotel – Deluxe Mountain View Room

Day 4   Luang Prabang: Shangri Lao Full Day Expedition

Relive the footsteps of the historic 19th century French explorer, Dr. P. Neis, with this original and authentic colonial style expedition. You will be picked up early morning from your hotel and transferred to the Shangri Lao Camp, located 15km outside of Luang Prabang. On arrival, you will get an introductory tour of the camp, the elephants and their hospital. After you meet your elephant you will begin your 5km ride in a traditional Howdah seat with roof through the river, jungle and mountain tops. You will want to have your camera handy to take pictures of the majestic landscape that surrounds you.

You will then stop for a secluded lunch of traditional Lao food and wine in the jungle Sala beside the cascading waters of the Huay Sae River. After lunch you will trek through the jungle for 5km passing waterfalls, limestone cliffs, bamboo bridges and turquoise pools while learning about this important ecosystem. Once you leave the valley you will finish with an uphill section of the trek through farmlands, fields and plantations. Once you reach the Nam Khan River you will board a luxury bamboo raft. Enjoy tea or coffee while you float down river for 5km, taking in the traditional village life of farmers and fishermen. When you reach the camp you will then be transferred by minibus back to your hotel in Luang Prabang.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Overnight at Kiridara Hotel – Deluxe Mountain View Room

Day 5   Luang Prabang: Ock Pop Tok Weaving Course and Tamarind Evening Cooking Class

You will be picked up at your hotel and transferred to tranquil Ock Pop Tok’s Living Crafts Center on the bank of the Mekong River for the Half Day Weaving Class, which will give you an introduction to weaving on a loom. Each student is assigned a loom and has a guide and a weaver to help them learn the art of weaving. You will select two colors and will create a placemat sized piece with a Lao motif to take home. You will be transferred back to your hotel or dropped into town before lunch time.

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, and will learn 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 sit to enjoy your well-deserved dinner.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight at Kiridara Hotel – Deluxe Mountain View Room

Day 6   Luang Prabang: Kuang Si Waterfall and Vientiane: Arrival and City Tour

After breakfast your guide will take you on a scenic drive to visit the stunning Kuang Si Waterfall. To head out to the waterfall, you will take a scenic drive through the countryside, and if you desire, stop along the way to visit local villages and see traditional Lao communities. Before reaching the waterfall you can visit the Kuang Si Butterfly Park and the Free the Bears Projects to learn about these local organizations plight to educate on and protect native species. Once you reach the falls you can hike up to the many levels of the waterfall or take a dip in the serene pools before heading back to town.

You will be transferred to the Luang Prabang airport in time for your – Laos Airlines QV102 departing Luang Prabang at 13:05 & arriving Vientiane at 13:50.

After arriving to the nation’s capital, stop for lunch at a local restaurant and then 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.  Check into the hotel and rest before being picked up at 6:45pm for a traditional dinner including a Lao music and dance performance at Kua Lao that begins at 7pm.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight at Ansara Hotel – Savvy Room

Day 7   Pakse: Arrival, Vat Phou and Don Daeng Island

You will be transferred to Vientiane Airport in time for your onward flight – Laos Airlines QV303 departing Vientiane at 10:20 & arriving Pakse at 11:35.  Upon arrival at the airport you will be met by your guide. Enjoy lunch in the city of Pakse before taking 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 a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2002 and is situated on a hillside offering spectacular views of the surrounding plains.  Afterwards you will be transferred to the quaint, peaceful island of Don Daeng.  Check into La Folie Lodge and spend the late afternoon taking a bike ride around the island or a refreshing dip in their pool overlooking the Mekong River.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Overnight at La Folie Lodge – Superior Room

Day 8   Pakse: Bolaven Plateau

After an early breakfast, check out of La Folie Lodge and drive to visit the Bolaven Plateau, noted for its fertile coffee and tea plantations. First visit Talad Pax Xiong, the plateau’s fresh morning market. Then stop and enjoy a taste directly from the source while walking through a local farm at Sinouk Coffee and Tea and learn about how this crop sustains the people on the plateau. Continue on to visit the stunning Tad Fane, the tallest waterfall in Laos, and then the mighty Tad Yuang Waterfall.

Please note: In order to see Tad Yuang, you must walk down the side of a hill with steep steps.  Your guide will discuss these conditions with you.

Visit the Alak Tribe villages of Ban Kok Phoung Tai and Ban Kok Phoung Nua. Even though these villages are modern, your guide will be able to point out remaining traditions and characteristics of the tribes.   Enjoy lunch beside Tad Lor Waterfall in a quaint restaurant overlooking the falls.  After lunch, explore the villages of Ban Tad Lor and Ban Kiang Tad Soung to witness continuing customs of people from the Katu tribe. Continue on to the Pa Suam Waterfall, located beside a preserved village of southern tribes to witness the traditional dress, customs and lives of Katu, Alak and other minority groups.  Return to Pakse in time for a sunset drink at Le Panorama, Pakse Hotel’s rooftop restaurant overlooking the city, river and surrounding landscape.  This is the best spot in Pakse to capture the sunset!

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Overnight at Pakse Hotel – Deluxe Room

Day 9   Pakse: Departure

After breakfast, check out of the Pakse Hotel and you will be transferred to the Pakse Airport for your onward flight – Laos Airlines QV306 departing Pakse at 08:10 & arriving Vientiane at 09:20.   Catch your connecting flight – Bangkok Airways PG944 departing Vientiane at 11:40 & arriving Bangkok at 12:55.

Meals included: Breakfast

Tour Rate Starting at: $2,935.00 per person based on two people traveling (double occupancy) with $1,630.00 single supplement

 

Price includes:

  • Air tickets Bangkok – Laung Prabang – Vientiane – Pakse – Vientiane – 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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