From a collision of mystic aura and a history of isolation emerges an unbroken culture and one of the most raw and pristine environments on earth. Discover a land full of surprises, mouth watering cuisine and fascinating traditions. This journey will push on every one of your senses as you experience historic and royal cities and refreshingly simple country life. Saffron robed monks, a mosaic of ethnic groups, a scattering of temples encircled by lush mountains and time old traditions greet you as you experience an air of romance through Laos unlike any other South East Asian country.
Day 1 - Arrival Luang Prabang
Welcome to Laos! On arrival at the airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. This evening is free for you to explore Luang Prabang.
3 nights at Villa Santi Hotel or similar.
Day 2 - Luang Prabang – Pak Ou Caves
This morning after breakfast explore the city’s oldest temples. Visit the magnificent Wat Xiengthong, its roof sweeping low to the ground representing classical Lao architecture, the impressive stupa of Wat Visoun and the shrine of Wat Aham. From here visit the Royal Palace Museum, which hosts a range of interesting artifacts from the Royal period in Luang Prabang.
Returning to Luang Prabang, board a private boat for a scenic cruise on the mighty Mekong River to the mysterious Pak Ou Caves. These caves are an ancient pilgrimage site and contain thousands of gold lacquered Buddha images left there over hundreds of years.
Return to Luang Prabang and disembark the boat.This afternoon you have the option of taking a short drive to Ban Phanom, a village known for its hand weaving, or returning to the hotel for free time to relax.
Your evening is free to treat yourself to a spa treatment or massage, do some shopping or relax at your hotel. (B)
Day 3 - Living Land Farm - Khouangsi Waterfall
This morning you will have an opportunity to participate in seasonal farm activities with a visit to a working community farm project approx. 5km from town. Learn about the traditional rice growing process and help with identifying viable rice seeds, ploughing with buffalo, hand planting, weeding and harvesting and threshing rice seed.
From the farm drive to Khouangsi Waterfall, stopping along the way to absorb all the colours and aromas of the morning Phousi Market, where locals come to do their daily shopping. Local food on offer includes dried buffalo skin, local tea, chickens, fish, vegetables and fruit, everything needed for daily life in Laos.
Continue on to Khouangsi Waterfall and cool off with a refreshing swim in the topaz pools below the falls, walk along the forest trails and visit the Bear Sanctuary.
Arriving back in Luang Prabang mid-afternoon you are free to relax at the hotel or head to the Night Market to do some shopping. (B)
Day 4 - Xieng Khouang
This morning after an early breakfast depart for a drive through spectacular scenery to Xieng Khuang Province, home to the Plain of Jars. Estimated to be over 2000 years old, their purpose is still not fully understood, and who indeed crafted these giant stone urns is still unclear. Some believe, due to their size and the discovery of nearby bones, that they were prehistoric burial sites created by tribes travelling a long forgotten trade route between the Mekong the Gulf of Tonkin.
Others believe the urns were used as distilling vessels during the early stages of funeral rites. This is supported by the traditional Southeast Asian mortuary practices used for members of royalty, where a body would be placed inside and left to decompose before being moved to a crematorium. It is believed that the soul exits the earth and enters the spiritual world through a gradual transformation. This theory is credited by the jars having rims thought to have supported lids that would be placed on top until the body decomposed.
Local legends however, suggest the stone vessels were used to brew rice wine to celebrate the defeat of mythical giants, while others propose they held whisky for a giant who lived in the mountains high above the town.
There are many stunning photo opportunities along the way and you will also have the opportunity to explore some of the hill tribe villages. After check in at your hotel in Phonsavan there will be time to go for a wonder through town, visit the MAG Centre or chill out over a drink at the hotel. 2 nights at Vansana Plain of Jars Hotel or similar. (B)
Day 5 - Muang Khong & Plain of Jars
After breakfast today you will visit the impressive archaeological sites 1, 2 and 3 of the Plain of Jars, where hundreds of these mysterious stone jars litter the plateau. If time permits, you may also explore the old capital of Muang Khoum and its’ surrounding villages, which are home to the Hmong hill tribes people, where you can learn about their unique culture and colourful history.
Return to the hotel in the late evening, where you are free to explore the town or relax at your hotel. (B)
Day 6 - Hin Boun
This morning, transfer to Sala Hinboun, continuing on into Khammoune Province and passing through Ban Naphouak. This afternoon, check into your accommodation. Sala Hinbouon is a traditional Lao style residence, built entirely from local timber. Set on the winding banks of the Hinboun River and surrounded by stunning limestone cliffs. 2 nights at Sala Hin Boun or similar. (B)
Day 7 - Kong Lor Cave
This morning after breakfast you will venture up river by boat to the village of Kong Lor within Phu Hin Bun National Park. Explore the village before boarding a smaller boat that will take you inside the Kong Lor Cave. This 7km long cave is home to fascinating rock formations that have created a stalagmite forest and is highlighted by its spectacular 100m high cavern. Emerging on the remote side of the cave, enjoy a picnic lunch and short trekking option to explore the National Park. Return to Hin Boun by boat to arrive before sunset. (B,L)
Day 8 - Thakek
Following an early breakfast, set off to Ban Naphouak where you will board a boat for the journey south, passing through some of the most spectacular gorges found in Southeast Asia. Your lunch stop today will be at a picturesque Lao Loum village, where you will leave the boat and transfer by road to Thakek, arriving late afternoon. 2 nights at Inthira Thakhek Hotel or similar. (B,L)
Day 9 - Buddha Cave
Departing Thakek by tuk-tuk through impressive scenery following the old French railway track that was destined for Vietnam but was never finished. Arrive in Ban Nakhang Xang, where you will meet your local village guides who will introduce you to the fruits of the forest that form an important part of the local people’s food resources. Continue exploring, venturing through a cave, before entering a striking valley with towering cliffs and forests. The trail follows the shoreline of Nong Thao Lake where you can see local fishermen at work.
Visit the 400m long Tham Nong Paseum cave that contains a dramatic collection of stalactites and stalagmites, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can jump in for a refreshing dip! Back in daylight, your journey continues onto Khammouane’s famous Buddha cave for a traditional Lao lunch of Mekong fish, sticky rice and spicy papaya salad.
After lunch visit Tham Pa Fa or Buddha cave, which was rediscovered in April 2004. The cave contains 229 bronze Buddha images that are said to be over 300 years old! Time permitting you will also be able to travel by local canoe into the water cave below.
Your guide will escort you back to the village following a different route through the forest, and you will return to Thakek in the late afternoon. (B,L)
Day 10 - Savannakhet - Pakse
This morning we are back on the road heading south to Pakse. En route stop to visit the town of Savannakhet, the capital of the Savannakhet Province and the second-largest city in Laos. It has a fascinating mixture of traditional Lao style, the French Colonial buildings of the old town intertwined with modern commerce. It is home to the sacred stupa of That Inhang, a large 15th-century Buddhist temple, Wat Sainyaphum, a Chinese temple, a Catholic church and a mosque. You will have ample time to explore the town before reaching Pakse in the early evening. Overnight at Champasak Grand Hotel or similar. (B)
Day 11 - Tad Lo Bolevan Plateau
This morning we head for the refreshing mountain climate on the Bolevan Plateau. This area is known for its many waterfalls, the most spectacular being Tad Fan, with it’s impressive twin falls cascading over 100 metres to the valley floor below and Tad Ngeuan, it’s prisitine pools inviting you to take a refreshing dip!
Continuing on, you will pass through the richly fertile region being cultivated for tea, cardamom, bananas and other crops, stopping at a local coffee plantation where you can sample some real Lao coffee. Arrive at Tad Lo and visit the villages of Alak, Nge, and Katu where you can mingle with the numerous ethnic minority groups, it is also home to another scenic waterfall. Overnight at Sinouk Coffee Resort or similar. (B)
Day 12 - Wat Phou – Khong Islands
After an early breakfast, we head down the montains towards Champasak and the 4000 islands area. Passing through Pakse town, crossing the mighty Mekong River to visit the fascinating pre-Angkorian ruins of Wat Phu, or ‘Vat Phou’ (meaning ‘mountain temple’). The UNESCO listed ruins of this Khmer Hindu temple complex were constructed around the 5th century, although the majority of the buildings are from the 11th to 13th centuries. The site is now a centre of Theravada Buddhist worship.
Continue your journey by road and ferry boat to Don Khong, the largest island in the South Mekong river region known as the 4000 islands, one of the most scenic areas in Laos. 2 nights at Pon Arena Hotel or similar. (B)
Day 13 - Khong Islands
Following breakfast enjoy a visit to the surrounding countryside, embarking on a long tail boat tour of the Don Khong area, visiting the remnants of the French colonial era and Liphi Waterfall or ‘the Corridor of the Devi’.
Return to the mainland at the small riverside fishing village of Ban Nakasang and drive further south to visit Khone Phapheng, considered the largest waterfall in South East Asia. It is here that the Mekong River cascades like fast flowing rapids across a wide fault line before flowing peacefully south into Cambodia and Vietnam. Its great power and steep descent renders this area of the Mekong unnavigable into China. (B)
Day 14 - Departure
The day is yours at leisure before it is time to be transferred to Pakse airport for your flight to your onward destination. (B)
- Return airport transfers
- 13 nights accommodation
- 13 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches
- Private air conditioned vehicle
- English speaking tour leader
- All entrance fees as per the itinerary
- International & domestic flights
- Travel and medical insurance
- All services, meals other than those indicated above
- Any changes to the proposed and confirmed program.
- All items of a personal nature e.g. drinks, laundry, telephone calls, tips etc
**Please note that this tour can be organised on request for private departures.
* Pricing is subject to change at anytime until full payment has been received.
* A minimum of 2 adults is required to guarantee this departure.
A non-refundable deposit of $1000AUD per person is required to secure your place. Final payment is due no later than 60 days prior to departure. Travel insurance is mandatory for travelling with Crooked Compass. For full terms and conditions, please click here.