Day 1 - Luang Prabang Arrival
Welcome to the spiritual capital of Laos. Upon arrival in to Luang Prabang, your guide will greet you and transfer you to your hotel for check-in. As the day comes to an end learn more about Laos culture and locally made products at the Stay Another Day exhibit. Then, climb the stairs of Mount Phousi and watch the sun set over the city and surrounding hills. Transfer back your hotel, stopping along the way at the hilltribe evening market for some shopping.
Overnight in Luang Prabang.
Day 2 - Pak Ou Caves & Luang Prabang (B,L)
After breakfast, start with a morning visit to the most photographed temple, Wat Xieng Thong. Located at the end of the peninsula, close to the Mekong, this temple was built in 1560 by King Setthathirat. You will then board a traditional wooden boat, Nava Mekong, for a relaxing cruise on the mighty Mekong River. Enjoy stunning mountain scenery and witness the simple rural lifestyles which rely on the river as you make your way upstream for 1.5 – 2 hours. You will reach Pak Ou caves at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Ou Rivers. In these 2 caves are displayed hundreds of sacred centuries-old Buddha images which are the object of pilgrimages during the Lao New Year festivities around mid April. The boat then keeps cruising in the vicinity of the caves and will moor during lunch time at the foot of beautiful limestone cliffs. A selection of typical Lao dishes will be served onboard. Cruise back to Luang Prabang and return in the early afternoon. The city tour begins in the afternoon with your guide who will enable you to learn more about the enchanting World Heritage Town of Luang Prabang. The tour starts at the former Royal Palace, now the National Museum. Your walk continues to Wat Mai, a temple renowned for its golden bas-relief. During Pimai, the Lao New Year, the Prabang normally housed in the Royal Palace Museum is brought and put on public display in this temple. Continue walking to Wat Sensoukarahm, build in 1718 with its beautiful dazzling golden façade. As the day comes to a close, participate in a traditional Baci ceremony. These ceremonies are deeply rooted in the Laos culture and are used to celebrate a special occasion- whether a wedding, an annual festival, or as a welcome.
Overnight in Luang Prabang.
Day 3 - Luang Prabang - Kuang Si (B)
Optional: For early risers, there is a very special dawn visit to watch the monks collecting the 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 ighlights the spiritualism of the Laos people. Return to the hotel for breakfast. After breakfast visit Wat Visoun, the holiest temple of the city, entirely rebuilt after being destroyed in 1887 by the invading Black Flags from Southern China. In the courtyard of Wat Visoun stands the Watermelon Stupa shaped like the fruit it takes its name from. You will continue to Wat Aham and then go to Wat That where the ashes of King Sisavang Vong are kept inside the large central stupa. This afternoon 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. There are also viewpoints overlooking the Mekong River. 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. For the adventurous, it is possible to walk to the top of the falls via a steep track where stunning views await you at the top. These waterfalls cascade down a multilevel limestone formation creating a series of turquoise blue pools perfect for swimming in on a hot day (Note: when bathing please be respectful, wear a sarong and be careful not to show too much skin). 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. The main threat to these bears is poaching due to the use of their bile in Chinese medicine. You can read about their habits and observe their playful nature, whilst learning about the difficulties they are facing.
Overnight in Luang Prabang.
Day 4 - Luang Prabang - Vang Vieng (B)
After breakfast depart for a drive down the spectacular Route 13 towards Vang Vieng, taking roughly 5. Stop in Kasi, a fruit growing area along the way. This journey takes you through spectacular scenery and you might want to stop regularly for photos. Please be aware that there are numerous sharp bends and you will climb/descend a lot of mountains along the way. Arrive in Vang Vieng, a small town on the banks of the Nam Song River surrounded by spectacular limestone karst scenery. The rest of the afternoon is free at leisure with your driver and guide at your disposal. You might like to explore nearby caves, villages and an organic farm where you can stop for Mulberry tea. If you are feeling more active then options include cycling, kayaking, rock climbing, trekking and tubing. These activities are not included and depending on when you arrive you might not have time today. Otherwise you might like to relax and enjoy the views. Do not forget to enjoy sunset on the Nam Song River!
Overnight in Vang Vieng.
Day 5 - Vang Vieng - Vientiane (B)
Enjoy a leisurely morning before starting the drive to Vientiane. After roughly 1.5 hours from Vang Vieng you will reach Nam Ngum Lake, the largest in Laos and a very beautiful spot. This artificial lake was built to produce electricity and was indeed the first hydroelectric dam ever built in Laos. The dam generates 160 Mega Watts of electric power (Electricity being one of the most significant sources of income in Laos). You might like to stop for lunch here (not included) and can hire a simple local boat for a short tour of the lake (also not included). From here the drive to Vientiane is around 2.5 hours and the rest of the day is free at leisure. You might like to stroll along the Mekong and shop in the evening market.
Overnight in Vientiane.
Day 6 - Vientiane (B)
After breakfast your guide will pick you up at your hotel take you on an enjoyable tour to discover the hidden charms of Vientiane. The tour begins 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. Used as a religious museum, Wat Phra Keo displays a collection of both Lao and Khmer works of art. Also nearby, is the Presidential Palace. Although you are not allowed to visit inside, it is a good glimpse in to the town’s colonial past as this building formerly served as the French governor’s palace. Stop at Wat Simuang, the most popular and venerated temple in Vientiane, as it is considered the guardian of the spirit of the city. Upon its grounds, you will find an Angkorian-era pillar and it is a popular belief that if you circle it three times and make a wish, then that wish will come true. Visit COPE, an association working to help landmine victims. A visit to the center provides in-depth information about the history of the American/Vietnam war and the lasting impact of unexploded ordinances (UXO) in the area and the efforts underway to clear them. In the afternoon, continue to the Patuxay monument, Laos’ version of the Arc de Triomphe, where you can climb the stairs to the roof for sweeping panoramic views of the city. Your tour then ends at That Luang, the holiest site in Laos. Constructed by King Setthethirat in the 16th century, the temple is resplendent as the sun shines upon its towering golden spire.
Overnight in Vientiane
Day 7 - Departure from Vientiane (B)
After breakfast, free at leisure until your guide and private car met you at the hotel and transfer you to the airport for your departure flight.