Laos

6-Day Historical Lao Discovery

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Tour type

Tour Level: High level

Tour Comfort: Luxury

Tour Period: 6 Days

tour highlights

  • Delight in the Buddhist temples and musuems of Laos’ capital Vientiane
  • Learn the history of Phonesavanh in Xieng Khouang Province
  • Visit the enigma that is the Plain of Jars UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Explore the culture and architectural heritage of Luang Prabang UNESCO World Heritage City
  • Take part in a traditional ‘Baci’ ceremony

tour details

Historical Laos combines the history of Laos’ capital Vientiane, with the mysterious Plain of Jars before bringing you to UNESCO World Heritage City Luang Prabang and the opportunity to take part in a traditional ‘Baci’ blessing ceremony.

Why choose this tour?

Perfect for lovers of history as you journey across centuries of history and culture beginning with ancient temples, passing through the mystery of the 2000-year old Jars and on to recent history and the aftermath of the Vietnam war and Laos' revolution. 

Morning
Vientiane's major attractions are the serene Buddhist monasteries that dominate the centre of town. The city has kept its timeless charm with tree-lined avenues, brightly painted temples and quaint French architecture.

You will be met upon arrival at Vientiane (Wattay) International Airport (VTE) and transfer for check-in at your hotel. Lunch is at Lao Derm Restaurant.

Afternoon
In the afternoon visit Wat Sisaket, architecturally beautiful and the oldest original temple in Vientiane. Wat Sisaket features remarkable frescoes and an amazing 6,840 Buddha images. These date back to the 16th and 19th centuries. Nearby is Ho Phra Keo, once the royal temple of Lao monarchy. Built in 1565, Ho Phra Keo has been used as a museum since 1970 and contains some of the finest Buddhist sculptures and artefacts in Laos. Special displays include antique brass drums and palm leaf manuscripts. The main structure originally housed the famous Emerald Buddha that now resides in Bangkok's Wat Phra Keo. One of the most photographed images of Vientiane is Patousay, the victory gate also known as Anousavari. Constructed in 1958, its architecture is inspired by the Arc of Triumph in Paris. Another famous Vientiane landmark is the gold covered and architecturally splendid That Luang Stupa. King Setthathirath built this great sacred stupa, considered as the national symbol, in 1566. Its central structure is 45 metres tall and echoes the curving lines of an elongated lotus. The original stupa was said to contain relics of Lord Buddha.

Dinner is at Kualao Restaurant

Meal included:
Lunch at Lao Derm Restaurant
Dinner at Kualao Restaurant
Morning
Enjoy Breakfast at your hotel and then start your historical tour with visit to Laos National Museum (closed on public holidays), which in 2017 moved to a new site. It is one of the only museums in Vientiane documenting both the history of Laos and the history of war. Then, continue to the former President Kaysone Phomvihane Memorial Museum. (Closed on Mondays and public holidays) The museum comprises a central statue hall, surrounded by exhibition rooms with dioramas and displays which trace the great man's life and career in the context of the Lao revolutionary history. After touring the museum visitors can proceed to the former President Kaysone Phomvihane's House, a historical area located approximately one kilometre from the museum, where the former President's living and working quarters from 1975-1978 may be viewed.

The history tour continues with a visit to COPE Visitor Centre. After the war ended in 1975, Laos was left littered with a significant amount of UXOs (unexploded ordnance). COPE stands for Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise and provides prosthetics and mobility devices for those people who require them, free of charge if they cannot afford to pay for them. An interactive exhibit about the UXO problem tells how UXO affects communities across Laos. It is told through the stories of injured people sharing their experiences and rehabilitation process. The visitor's centre is a free museum/exhibition.

Lunch is at the Excellency Restaurant.

Afternoon
After lunch, drive to visit the surrounding areas of Vientiane including the Buddha Park. The Buddha Park is a religious sculpture park located by the Mekong River, 24km south of Vientiane. The Buddha Park captivates visitors with an unusual blend of Buddhist and Hindu imagery. Return to Vientiane and transfer to your hotel.

Dinner at Lao Kitchen Restaurant

Estimated driving time/distance:
1.5 hours/50 kilometres

Meal included:
Lunch at the Excellency Restaurant.
Dinner at Lao Kitchen Restaurant
Morning
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel, and then you are free at leisure until the transfer to Vientiane airport to take your Lao Airline flight to Xieng Khuang province.

You will be met upon arrival at Xieng Khouang Airport and will then transfer to Phonsavan, the new capital city of the Xieng Khouang Province, where you can check in at the hotel. The Northern province of Xieng Khouang was heavily bombed during the Vietnam War and, as soon as the plane begins to descend, one can notice how much of the province is still pockmarked with impressive bomb craters. The original capital, Xieng Khouang, was almost totally destroyed, so the capital was moved to Phonsavan. Near Phonsavan is the mysterious Plain of Jars, now listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. The jars weigh mostly from 600 kg to one ton but the biggest one weighs as much as six tons. The jars have been fashioned from solid stone, most from a tertiary conglomerate known as molasses, akin to sandstone, and a few from granite.

Lunch is taken at a local restaurant.

Afternoon
In the afternoon, visit the Plain of Jars (sites I and II) which features 250 jars weighing from 600kg to one ton. Plain of Jars is a large area extending around Phonsavan where several hundred huge jars of unknown origin are scattered about in over a dozen groupings. Several theories have been advanced as to the functions of the jars (burial urns, wine fermenters, rice storage), but there is no evidence confirming one theory over another. However, in the 1930s, French archaeologists found ashes, stone axes, bronze ornaments and ceramics, which may have been offerings to the dead. Further archaeological investigation may bring a clue to all the unanswered questions regarding the most enigmatic site in Laos. After your visit return to Phonsavan Township and transfer to your hotel.

Dinner is at the hotel

Estimated driving time/distance:
2 hours/80 kilometres

Meal included:
Lunch at a local restaurant
Dinner at the hotel
Morning
After breakfast at your hotel, visit bustling Phonsavan Market, where the ethnic minorities from the surrounding villages gather every morning with products to sell. You will also visit the Lao Sericulture Company, a fair trade silk farming and handicraft cooperative. You will tour the silk farm and training centre, to understand and learn about the farming, dyeing and weaving of the silk produced. Your visit will feature mulberries, silk and tea! Afterwards depart Xieng Khouang and drive to Luang Prabang enjoying the changing scenery as you travel north. Lunch along the way is at a local restaurant.

Late afternoon
Arrive in Luang Prabang. This former royal capital, with its gleaming temple roofs, fading colonial architecture and stunning mountain backdrop, retains a unique charm rarely found in all of Asia. Luang Prabang, is perhaps the best-preserved traditional city in Southeast Asia. Magical and charming, it has preserved its long-standing reputation as a stronghold of Lao culture with its splendid natural scenery and sense of timelessness. In 1995 UNESCO voted Luang Prabang as a World Heritage City.

Dinner at the hotel

Estimated driving time/distance:
5-6 hours/280 kilometres

Meal included:
Lunch at a local restaurant
Dinner at the hotel
Morning
Breakfast is at the hotel. This morning, visit Wat Visoun, the oldest temple in Luang Prabang and the site of the impressive Singhalese style That Makmo stupa. Then walk to the nearby Wat Aham, which is one of the city's major tutelary shrines, dedicated to revered spirits Deveta Luang and ancestors, Pu Gneu Ya Gneu. Then visit Wat Xieng Thong, considered the most beautiful temple. The sim of the Wat represents the classic Luang Prabang temple architecture with roofs that sweep low to the ground. In the compound stand several small chapels housing bronze Buddha images, which were displayed in Paris in 1911. Near the East gate stands the Royal Funeral Chapel. Inside are an impressive 12-metre high funeral chariot and various funeral urns of the Royal Family. The gilt panel on the exterior of the chapel depicts a semi-erotic episode from Ramayana. Also look out for the “tree of life” montage on the rear temple wall. Lunch is at Khaiphaen Restaurant, a vocational training restaurant specialising in Laotian cuisine.

Afternoon
In the afternoon, visit the former King's Palace, now known as the National Museum displaying a collection of personal artefacts of the Royal Family: photos, musical equipment and gifts received from foreign countries. Continue to visit Wat Mai, built in 1796 and famous for the five-tiered roof of its wooden sim built in the standard of Luang Prabang style and then, for a different perspective, we climb Wat Phousi Hill, for a stunning 360-degree view over the city.

Late afternoon
Later, you will experience the Baci ceremony at Bamboo Experience. Baci meaning, "calling of the soul" is an important ceremony practiced in Lao and Thai culture. It is a ritual used to celebrate important and special events, like births and marriages, novice monks entering monkhood, departing, returning and beginning a New Year.

The ritual of the Baci involves tying strings around a person's wrist to preserve good luck, and has become a national custom.

Dinner at Le Coconut Garden Restaurant

Meal included:
Lunch at Khaiphaen Restaurant
Dinner at Le Coconut Garden Restaurant
After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to Luang Prabang International Airport.

customise the tour

Add in one of the following options in Luang Prabang

  • Diethelm Exclusive: A bespoke champagne and canapes sunset moment by the Mekong River
  • Go Local: An evening of fun playing Petanque with the locals and eating some of the local specialities
  • Experience the best of Laotian cuisine and upgrade dinner to fine dining at ‘Paste at The Apsara’

includes

  • Accommodation in shared double/twin room with air conditioning (AC) and private bathroom
  • Meals as stated in the programme B= Breakfast, L= Lunch & D= Dinner
  • Transfers and tours with English-speaking guides in private air conditioned vehicles
  • All entrance fees as mentioned in the programme
  • Mineral water available in the vehicles

excludes

  • Domestic airfare (quoted separately, if requested)
  • International airfare to / from Laos (quoted separately, if requested)
  • Optional tours
  • Surcharges for other language guides
  • Surcharges for Lao Pimai (New Year)
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Personal expenditures, such as drinks, souvenirs, laundry, camera fees, communications, postage, gratuities, etc.
  • Meals and services other than mentioned in the programme
  • Drinks with meals
  • Compulsory gala dinners during festive seasons and peak season surcharges which will be advised at the time of booking or when available
  • Early check-in and late check-out at hotels, if not mentioned in the programme

notes

Upon request, a licensed French, German, Spanish or other language-speaking guide can accompany participants for the whole duration of the trip at an additional cost.

Tour code: VTEDLHL6

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