Laos Explorer – 11 Days

Asia > Laos

Laos is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia. It is surrounded by Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma and China.

 

It is approximately 236,800 square kilometers (91,400 square miles). That makes it a bit smaller than Colorado.

The population in 2019 is estimated to be over 7 million people. The capital and most populated city of Laos is Vientiane. Currently, with a median age of 21.6 years old, Laos has the youngest population of any Asian country. Previous to being the Kingdom of Laos, in 1949, Laos had been a French colony. In 1975 there was a civil war that resulted in a One-party state under the leadership of the communist party.

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Day 1: ARRIVE LUANG PRABANG

Upon arrival at Luang Prabang Airport, you can obtained a visa on arrival at the airport easily ($35 per person). Then you will be welcomed by our guide and transferred to your hotel.

Overnight Sanctuary Hotel Luang Prabang

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Day 2: OLD TOWN WALKING TOUR & KHUANG SI WATERFALLS

This morning, take a walking tour with your guide to visit some iconic historic sites of the UNESCO World Heritage town. Places include the quaint Royal Palace Museum (closed on Tue & Sun afternoon), which gives a good overview of the local history. Wat Visoun, known as ‘The Water Melon Stupa’ due to its shape. The magnificent Wat Xiengthong, with its roof sweeping low to the ground, representing the classical Luang Prabang style. And the excellent Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre (closed on Mon), which gives a great insight into the ethnic mix and culture of Laos. Afternoon, drive about 40min out to the beautiful pools of Kuang Si Waterfall. While strolling around the park surrounding the waterfall, you can also visit the Kuang Si Bear Rescue Sanctuary. You can find great information about Asian sun and moon bears and the Free the Bears protection program. This evening, you can stroll easily from your hotel to the busy night market to sample local street food or shop for local souvenirs. There are also many choices of local and western style restaurants dotted all over the old town.

Overnight Sanctuary Hotel Luang Prabang

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Day 3: TRADITIONAL POTTERY VILLAGE & EVENING BACI CEREMONY

This morning, you will visit Chan Nua Village, a traditional pottery village that has been producing clay pots for over 400 years. Ancient Lao kings selected Chan Nua Village for its pottery-making skills, early uses of the pots included fermenting fish and storing water. Today, families produce everything from decorated planters to terra-cotta roof tiles by using hand-made techniques passed down through generations. Your visit kicks off with a tour of their pottery center and their village surroundings to learn about their traditional life. Then you will see Lao pottery traditional techniques followed by a hands on opportunity to make your own pot. After your pottery workshop, enjoy a home cooked meal using fresh local ingredients from the villager’s organic farm. You will enjoy popular traditional dishes like khaipan (fried river weed), grilled fish, eggplant dipping sauce and spicy papaya salad. This interactive excursion provides a meaningful insight to traditional local life and a great way to give back to the local community. Later in the evening, you will partake in a special “Baci Ceremony”. This is a special ceremony in Laos which has been practiced for hundreds of years. The term commonly used is “sou khuan” which means “spirit enhancing or spirit calling”. The ceremony involves the tying of white cotton strings around person’s wrists and the prayer saying or well-wishing for the person that the ceremony is intended for.

Overnight Sanctuary Hotel Luang Prabang

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Day 4: LONG LAO MAI VILLAGE HOMESTAY

Travel today for about 45min on an unpaved road to Long Lao Mai, a typical rural village with a subsistence farming community. Over 600 people live in this village, most without an additional source of income. You will spend the night in a Eco Bungalow built by a non-profit organization to provide a supplementary income to the community. Fees from a visitor’s stay go into a village fund overseen by a village committee while service charges earned for cleaning, cooking and maintenance are distributed to the villagers providing those services. For the rest of the day, you will meet friendly local villagers, learn the Hmong language, learn how to stitch a Hmong textile or other local handicraft unique to this tribe. For dinner, you will participate in cooking at a local home using freshly grown vegetables.

Overnight Hmong Eco Bungalow (Lunch & Dinner)

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Day 5: DRIVE ABOUT 4 HOURS TO NONG KHIAW

Take your time to explore the village this morning, then depart on a 4-hour drive to the quaint riverside town of Nong Khiaw. The drive take you out into rolling countryside where you can admire the beauty of the Nam Ou River and the surrounding rice paddy fields. Poised between the Ou River and the mountainous interior, Nong Khiaw is famous for authentic ethnic villages and beautiful scenery. Your hotel is located by the riverside with breathtaking views of the mountains and river. If time permits, you can rent bicycles and explore the quaint little town by yourself.

Overnight Nong Khiaw Riverside Lodge

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Day 6: WATERFALLS ADVENTURE HIKE

Start this day of adventure with a peaceful boat ride on the Nam Ou River where you will be able to explore a small Lao village along the riverside. Learn about the villagers and their way of life along this northern Lao river before beginning your hike! Walking through small streams and rice paddies, you will arrive at the bottom of a stunning multi-tiered waterfalls which were only recently discovered! For the next few hours you will see only water and jungle and hear the constant sound of clear waterfall cascades. You can enjoy a refreshing dip in the pools along the hike.

Your guide will lead you through the cascades and prepare a local picnic lunch that you can enjoy on the falls surrounded by amazingly green nature. A small village trail on the top of the waterfalls will lead you down into the valley, offering wide views over the expansive Nam Ou valley. Enjoy some time to experience the daily life of the Nam Ou riverside village before cruising to Nong Khiaw by boat.

Overnight Nong Khiaw Riverside Lodge

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Day 7: DRIVE ABOUT 3 HOURS TO LUANG PRABANG VIA PAK OU CAVE

Have a relaxing morning before journey by road back to Luang Prabang. Along the way, stop to visit the mysterious and famous caves of Pak Ou, two caves set in a limestone cliff facing the Mekong River crammed with thousands Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes. Arrive in Luang Prabang afternoon, you have the rest of the day to explore the old town by yourself.

Overnight Sanctuary Hotel Luang Prabang

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Day 8: FULL DAY DRIVE TO PHONSAVANH (PLAINS OF JARS) ABOUT 8 HOURS

Meet your guide early this morning at about 8am and take Route 13 through the highlands and breathtaking scenery to Phonsavanh. On the way, stop to explore one of the many Hmong villages we pass. The small, quiet town of Muang Sui is notable for several reasons. During the Indochina War, this was the last position of the Nationalist Lao Army and the CIA, supported by Air America, before it was evacuated. This area became known as 'Lima Site L-108' and the runway and some of the abandoned buildings are still visible today. While in Muang Sui, you will take breaks to stretch your legs by visiting some Buddhist sites in the area, including historic temples and caves used as hospitals and shelters during the Indochina wars.

Overnight Vansana Hotel Phonsavan (Breakfast)

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Day 9: PLAIN OF JARS SITE AND MUANG KHOUN

After breakfast, meet your guide and drive over the plains to visit the Plain of Jars site 1 before continuing to drive to the Plain of Jars 2. Here you will have time to find out more about the still unclear history of the stone Jars here which dated back to about 2000 years ago. In the afternoon, drive about 1 hour to visit Muang Khoun, the old capital of Xieng Khouang where you will see some ruins left over from the war.

Overnight Vansana Hotel Phonsavan (Breakfast)

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Day 10: FLY TO VIENTIANE

This morning is free at leisure till around noon time for a transfer (15min) to Xieng Khouang Airport for a short flight to

Vientiane.

Upon arrival at the Capital City, you will be welcomed by your guide and proceed with an afternoon tour around Vientiane. Highlights include Wat Sisaket, the oldest temple surviving from the Siamese war of 1828, and the iconic Pha That Luang, the most sacred monument in Laos. Along the way, stop to take some pictures of the imposing Patuxay Monument, Vientiane's own 'Arc de Triomphe.' If you interested, end your tour at the Vientiane Central Market of Talat Sao and Talat Kouadin, where locals shop for fresh food, household items, textiles, gold and silver.

Overnight Ansara Hotel Vientiane (Breakfast)

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Day 11: DEPART VIENTIANE

Transfer to airport for onward journey.

(Breakfast)

Accommodations

SANCTUARY HOTEL LUANG PRABANG

A beautiful small boutique hotel with only 30 rooms in excellent location, just few minutes’ walk to the heart of the old town. The main building of the hotel is protected by UNESCO as it was the former residence of the King’s brother.

HMONG ECO BUNGALOW

 NONG KHIAW RIVERSIDE LODGE

This small cosy lodge offers 15 bungalows on high on the banks of the scenic and tranquil Nam Ou river, offering spectacular sunset views over the virgin rainforest and karst limestone mountains of Nong Khiaw. Each bungalow features a mix of traditional Lao style with all the modern conveniences at a spacious 40 sqm, a big private balcony and large bathroom. The balconies faces the river with stunning view of the river and mountains. All rooms are air-conditioned and equipped with excellent hot showers, fridge, safety box, electric kettles, free tea and coffee and beds are covered with mosquito nets.

SANCTUARY HOTEL LUANG PRABANG

A beautiful small boutique hotel with only 30 rooms in excellent location, just few minutes’ walk to the heart of the old town. The main building of the hotel is protected by UNESCO as it was the former residence of the King’s brother.

VANSANA HOTEL PHONSAVANTEL

ANSARA HOTEL VIENTIANE

Ideally located in the heart of center, Ansara Hotel is a small charming boutique hotel with only 28 rooms. All rooms are well appointed with modern furnishing and free wifi. The hotel is a short walk to the night market and surrounded by several local restaurants.

  • Meet & assist at airports with private transfers between the airports and hotels
  • Accommodation on a bed-and-breakfast basis including all taxes & service fees
  • Surface transportation per the itinerary by private, air-conditioned vehicle with driver
  • Private tours per the itinerary with the services of local English-speaking guides
  • Entrance fees to listed sights and activities
  • Meals per itinerary
  • Flight in Economy Class with 20kg (44 lbs) check-in baggage per person 1 Xieng Khouang (Plains of Jars) to Vientiane
  • Visa fees to Laos ($35 per person on arrival at airport)
  • International airfare and departure taxes
  • Travel insurance
  • Entrance fees to sights not listed in itinerary
  • Meals not specified in the itinerary
  • Beverage during meals
  • Tipping
  • Personal expenses (like laundry and internet connection at hotels)

Pricing starts at:

$3,500

Pricing
FOR 2 PEOPLE

$3,500

per person