Day 1 - Arrival in Vientiane - City Tour (D)
Welcome to the capital of Laos, Vientiane, whose name means ‘the city of sandal wood’. Vientiane is one of the quietest capital cities in the world, far away from the bustle and hustle of other Asian cities.
Once you have arrived in Vientiane and met your guide, you will be transferred to your hotel to refresh before starting the days activities.
Your guide will pick you up at your hotel take you on an enjoyable half-day tour to discover the hidden charms of Vientiane.
Your 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.
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.
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.
Next, your tour takes you to That Luang, the holiest site in Laos. Constructed by King Setthethirat in the 16th century, the temple is resplendent as the sun is shines upon its towering golden spire.
Dinner at Makphet Restaurant. Try modern Lao cuisine in this vocational restaurant working to train street children in the hospitality industry. The fresh, delicious food is served in a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
Overnight in Vientiane
Day 2 - Vientiane - Orchid Trek (B,L)
The Orchid Trek is a genuine and authentic ecotourism trek close to Vientiane. This tour is lead by the villagers of Ban Hatkhai village and aims to improve their well-being, as well as to increase their incomes. At the same time, the Orchid Trek offers a tool for environmental and cultural awareness as well as encouraging orchid preservation and conservation by involving several stakeholders:
- The villagers: acting as the tour guides, and providing services such as activities and food.
- You: You are not only a spectator but also a participant, interacting with the locals and the environment.
For each tour, a part of the money goes directly to the villagers and the village development fund. Additionally, part of the money helps maintain the walking trails and forest cleanliness. You will be guided by local guides with an orchid expert accompanying the group.
Depart from Vientiane early in the morning for a 1.5 hour drive to your starting point. The Orchid Trekwill lead you through Phou Khao Kway National Park, one of the closest National Parks to Vientiane. The terrain is filled with waterfalls, rugged mountains, gorges, and sandstone cliffs. The park is home to more than 50% of the wild orchid species of Laos and a variety of different plants. Likewise, Phou Khao Kway is home to a diverse animal population, including wild elephants.
Start walking from Pha Xay where you will enjoy a beautiful view on the waterfalls. Trek through the varied landscape of bamboo forests, evergreen forests, rainforest, and open air fields immersing yourself in the park’s natural beauty. Along the way you may see some orchids and spot indigenous wildlife. Your guide will know the best spots for wild orchid growth and if you are fortunate enough to spot many plants, you will be amazed at the vibrant colors and shapes of these elusive flowers.
Stop for a picnic lunch alongside a river bank. Soak in the tranquility of the area and keep an eye out for the beautiful butterfly species that flutter about
Resume your walk, continue toward Tad Xay waterfall. The water cascades down seven levels and is a great place for swimming or a rest before ending your trekand transferring back to Vientiane.
En route you can stop at the interesting Dong Mak Kai Market which hosts a range of interesting foods on offer, including ant eggs and insects for the very brave!
Return to Vientiane around 1730.
Overnight in Vientiane
Day 3 - Vientiane - Luang Prabang (B)
After breakfast enjoy leisure time and last minute shopping before transferring to the airport for your flight to Luang Prabang.
On arrival in Luang Prabang you will be transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is free at your leisure.
Overnight in Luang Prabang
Day 4 - Luang Prabang - e-bike tour (B,L)
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 highlights the spiritualism of the Laos.
Your guide will pick you up at your hotel in Luang Prabang at 08:30 for a short transfer by tuk-tuk to our electric powered bike station.
After a short briefing to explain you the use of your new vehicle, it will be time to start your discovery of our “responsible Luang Prabang”… in a quiet way! These electric bikes are an emissions-free mode of transportation and allow the user to either pedal the bike by their own power or to coast along using the bike’s battery-powered, rechargeable motor (which lasts for approximately 3km).
Start at the former Royal Palace, now the National Museum, where you will explore the history of Laos.Continue to Wat Mai, a temple renowned for its golden bas-relief.
Visit Wat Visoun, the holiest temple in the city, which was entirely rebuilt in 1887 after being destroyed by the invading Black Flags from Southern China. In the courtyard of Wat Visoun stands the Watermelon Stupa shaped like the fruit from which it takes its name. Continue passed Wat Aham, which was first built in the 1500s, and on to Wat That where the ashes of King Sisavang Vong are kept inside the large central stupa.
Ride along the Nam Khan River to visit Wat Xieng Thong, the most revered temple in Luang Prabang. Located at the end of the peninsula, close to the Mekong, this temple was built in 1560 by King Setthathirat and is decorated with ornate carvings and mosaics.
Lunch at Tamarind for some of the best local food in Luang Prabang (Lao set menu included).
This afternoon you will leave the town behind and ride to the Phosy Market, where you can join the locals and support vendors by buying fresh products or fruit. Your guide will be here to encourage you to taste some of the exotic flavors of the local fruits, helping to identify new items not found in your grocery store back home!
Continue your ride to Ock Pop Tock. This non-profit organization seeks to preserve traditional weaving techniques, a trade which was once an important source of income for many Lao families but is slowly fading out as modern technology has evolved. A short tour introducesthe process of silk weaving from the initial stages of creating the dyes to the final process of loom weaving.
Ride along the Mekong back in to town for your final stop of the day. The Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre is dedicated to exploring the rich diversity of Laos’ ethnic minorities. Traditional costumes, tools, and artifacts are on display alongside in-depth descriptions and written histories. It is a great opportunity to gain insight in to the Lao people (note: closed on Mondays).
Return to the bike station to drop off your electric bikes and transfer to your hotel by tuk-tuk.
Overnight in Luang Prabang
Day 5 - Luang Prabang - The Living Land and Kuang Si Waterfalls (B,L)
You will be collected from your hotel at around 08:00 this morning for a short transfer in to the countryside. 5km outside Luang Prabang, The Living Land Community Farm is an entirely organic farm in a beautiful rural setting, flanked by rice paddies. The stilted wooden farm buildings house an interactive museum to give an insight in to many aspects of rural life in Laos.
Enjoy a guided walk through the organic vegetable farm and learn all manner of trades, from thatched-roof making and basketry to noodle production and extracting the juice from sugarcane.
You will experience the life of a farmer and try your hand at various activities, including ploughing the rice fields with one of the resident buffalo. Please expect to get muddy and bring a change of clothes! Showers and western toilets are available.
Rice is the most important crop throughout Laos and you will learn about the 13 steps of rice production today. The 14th is eating and that comes at the end with a range of rice-based snacks!
Please note that the activities will be shared with other visitors. The maximum group size is 10 people.
The Living Land is a community enterprise run by local people to support the children of poor farming families with their education and medical needs.
You will then be transferred approximately another 30 minutes away from Luang Prabang to Kuang Si Waterfalls. Along the way, you will drive through beautiful landscapes of rice fields, hills, and small villages. There are also viewpoints overlooking the Mekong River.
Upon reaching Kuang Si Waterfall, enjoy a delicious picnic lunch next to the falls.
Relax and enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings. The water tumbles down a large drop and cascades gently in to several cool, clear pools where you can enjoy a refreshing swim (please dress modestly).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.
You might also 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.
Transfer back to your hotel this afternoon.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.
Overnight in Luang Prabang
Day 6 - Luang Prabang departure (B)
After your breakfast, free leisure time until transferring you to the airport for your onward flight. Depending on your flight schedule, you may visit the Heritage Information Center to learn more about the programs and projects underway to preserve the historic buildings in Luang Prabang.