Laos

6-Day Journey Beyond the Mekong

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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 French Colonial influence of Laos’ capital Vientiane
  • Explore the culture and architectural heritage of Luang Prabang World Heritage City
  • Take part in a traditional ‘Baci’ ceremonial blessing
  • Enjoy the majesty and natural beauty of the Kuang Si Waterfalls and Butterfly Park
  • Journey on the Mekong for a two day cruise on a traditional boat to the Thai border

tour details

Journey Beyond the Mekong River takes you to explore the temples in both Vientiane and Luang Prabang. In Luang Prabang you will take part in a traditional Baci ceremony. After the culture and architecture of the city head out to explore the natural beauty of Kuang Si waterfalls and then take in the stunning views on a trip on the Mekong River to Houay Xai at the border with Thailand.

Why choose this tour?

 A perfect combination of the culture and heritage of Laos' cities and the natural wonders and scenic landscapes of a cruise on the Mekong River. A trip that will leave you enchanted by the timeless beauty of Laos.

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 airport and then transfer and check-in to your hotel. Lunch will be taken at Lao Kitchen Restaurant.

Begin your exploration of the monasteries with an afternoon visit to 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 tonight is at Kualao Restaurant.
Accommodation at the hotel.
After breakfast at the hotel and if time permits, visit the Morning Market. The Morning Market (Talat Sao) is known for its superior silk weaving, metal work, and woodcarving. Then, transfer to the airport for Lao Airlines flight to Luang Prabang (Airfare Vientiane to Luang Prabang is not included).

The crown jewel of Laos, 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. 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.

You will be met upon arrival at Luang Prabang airport and you will then transfer and check-in at your hotel. After checking-in. Lunch is at Le Tangor Restaurant.

In the afternoon visit Wat Visoun, the oldest temple in Luang Prabang and the site of the impressive Singhalese style That Makmo stupa. We can then walk to the nearby Wat Aham, which is one of the city's major tutelary shrines, dedicated to revered spirits Deveta Luang & ancestors Pu Gneu Ya Gneu. For a different perspective of the city we climb Wat Phousi hill for a stunning 360 degree view. Then it is time to relax and enjoy a Luang Prabang sunset at Wat Prabaht Tai, located along the Mekong River.

Dinner tonight is at 3 Nagas Restaurant.
Accommodation at the hotel.
Rise early morning to watch the alms giving to hundreds of monks along the main road. The custom of alms giving is an ancient monastic tradition where the monks or nuns, walk quietly with their alms bowl visible, allowing interested people to offer food. After the alms giving concludes return to the hotel for breakfast.

After breakfast visit the National Museum (former King's Palace) 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.

Next 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 at Khaipaen Restaurant, a vocational training restaurant serving traditional Laotian cuisine.

After lunch discover the old city and participate in a Baci ceremony. 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 L’Elephant Restaurant.
Accommodation at the hotel.
Following breakfast at the hotel, visit the vibrant local fresh morning market. This energising market is where villagers from the remote areas sell their products. Engage with the sellers and maybe pick up some local produce to try. After visiting the market we drive about 30km to start your discovery of Kuang Si Waterfalls. On the way to the waterfalls, visit the Khmu minority village of Ban Thapaene and discover more about the traditions and daily life of this tribe. Kuang Si waterfalls tumble over multi-tiered limestone formations into cool, clear pools ideal for swimming and relaxing by. Enjoy a pleasant picnic lunch close to the waterfalls.

After lunch continue with a visit to a recently opened Butterfly Park (closed on Tuesdays), where you can see a large variety of colourful butterflies and orchids. Visiting this park, ensures you have made a sustainable impact in the education of local children about biology and will help raise awareness about the vulnerability of Laos' ecosystem and how local people can preserve it.

Return to Luang Prabang and on the way, visit Ban Xom, a lowland Lao village known for its cotton production and Ban Xang Khong village where you will see how traditional Sa paper is made.

Dinner at Manda de Laos.
Accommodation at the hotel.
After breakfast at the hotel there is an early morning, transfer to Calao pier where you will board the traditional local boat and cruise up the Mekong River towards Pakbeng. There will be a brief stop en route to observe the traditional process of distilling local rice whiskey. Continue on to Pak Ou and visit the sacred Pak Ou caves, which house over a thousand Buddha statues. Lunch is on board the boat. After an afternoon watching the changing scenery of the verdant hills and the possibility to catch glimpses of life for people who live on the riverbank, arrive in Pakbeng before sunset and check-in at the hotel.

Dinner and accommodation at the hotel.
Following breakfast at the hotel, board the traditional boat for the second leg of the cruise towards Houay Xai. Observe the rural life along the Mekong River banks with a stop en route at a Yao minority village to see and learn more about their culture, traditions and lifestyle. Back on board lunch will be served. After a further afternoon of watching the swirling eddies and currents of the Mekong, arrive in Houay Xai around 16.00 hours and transfer to the Mekong Friendship Bridge for check out to Chiang Khong (Thailand).

customise the tour

Add in one of the following options in Luang Prabang:

  • A bespoke champagne and canapes sunset moment by the Mekong River
  • A private sunset cruise on a luxury boat
  • An evening of fun playing Petanque with the locals and eating some of the local specialities
  • Upgrade dinner to upscale 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: JBM6

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