Laos

7-Day Mountain Spirit Experience

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Tour type

Tour Level: High level

Tour Comfort: Luxury

Tour Period: 7 Days

tour highlights

  • Explore the culture and architectural heritage of Luang Prabang
  • Take part in a traditional ‘Baci’ blessing ceremony
  • Delight in the Buddhist temples and French Colonial influence of Vientiane
  • Visit Wat Phou Salao and World Heritage Site Wat Phu temple
  • Enjoy the spectacular natural wonder of Liphi and Khone Phapheng waterfalls

tour details

Mountain Spirit takes you on a journey across Laos showcasing the natural beauty of the Mekong River and the stunning waterfalls around Ban Khone. It blends nature with sacred temples and a traditional blessing while paying homage to the cultural and architectural heritage of Luang Prabang and Vientiane.

Why choose this tour?

Discover Laos in the way it’s meant to be; by a slow river journey and an in depth exploration of the cultural and archaeological heritage of the charming and contrasting two main cities. 

9:30 hours
Begin your Mountain Spirit adventure by joining a 2-day river cruise from Houay Xai to Luang Prabang. Within the Mekong region, the capital of the Lao province of Bokèo, Houay Xai is an important border crossing point with neighboring Chiang Khong. Thailand and was thus chosen as the ideal departing port for the cruise. Your cruise departs at 9:30 hours.

10:30 hours
After an hour journeying along the river, the boat stops at a traditional village. This is a chance to observe rural life along the Mekong and witness the daily life of ethnic minorities and witness their talented craftsmanship.

12:30 hours
Lunch is served on board in a buffet style including a main course from Laos’ traditional culinary delights. There will also be a choice of fish and meat dishes available.

Late afternoon
After an afternoon of relaxing and watching the changing scenery, at 16:00 hours the river cruise arrives at Luang Say Lodge near Pakbeng. Arriving before sunset, there is plenty of time to refresh, enjoy the scenery of the river and admire the surrounding natural beauty.

Dinner is at the hotel

Meal included:
Lunch on board
Dinner at the hotel
Morning
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel

8:00 hours
The cruise departs at 8:00 hours for another day of nature discovery along the legendary Mekong River with two stops planned en route to Luang Prabang.

A few hours into the day (around 10:30 hours) after enjoying the sights of the granite cliffs and sparkling sandy shores, the river boat makes a stop to visit the hilltribe village of Baw, where you can watch the traditional process of making Lao whiskey.

12:30 hours
Lunch is served at 12:30 hours on board in a buffet style with a main course from Laos’ famous cuisine. A different choice of fish and meat dishes than on the first day is prepared to allow for a greater variety of culinary experiences.

15:30 hours
Opposite the mouth of the Nam Ou River, near Pak Ou village, the cruise stops at 15:30 hours to visit the Tam Ting cave. Translated as ‘Rock Cave’, it is famous for housing over 2,500 Buddha statues of all sizes and for being a place of pilgrimage for local people.

17:00 hours
At 17:00 hours following a day along the wide Mekong river taking in the beautiful landscapes of the mountains, the wild natural beauty and glimpses of local life the cruise arrives at Luang Prabang, the former royal capital of Laos.

You will be picked up at the boat pier and transfer with local guide to your hotel.
Dinner is at the hotel

Meal included:
Lunch on board
Dinner at hotel
Early Morning
For those who do not mind getting up very early in the morning, there is an excellent opportunity to observe the orange-robed monks gathering for their traditional morning alms ceremony. The monks walk barefoot collecting offerings from local residents which they then take back to the monastery to share. You will join along with the local people giving alms to the monks. The custom of alms gathering 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 serenity of the alms giving is complete visit the local fresh morning market (close to the Ramayana Hotel/National Museum), 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. Breakfast is at the hotel.

Morning

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 Deveta Luang (spirit) Pu Gneu Ya Gneu (ancestors). 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 today is at Le Café Ban Vat Sene.

Afternoon
After lunch, 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. Next visit Wat Mai, built in 1796, famous for the five-tiered roof of its wooden sim built in the standard of Luang Prabang style and then climb Wat Phousi Hill for a stunning 360-degree view over the city.

Late Afternoon
Late afternoon, 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 3 Nagas Restaurant

Meal included:
Lunch at Le Café Ban Vat Sene
Dinner at 3 Nagas Restaurant
Morning
Today, after breakfast, is free at leisure until you transfer with your guide to Luang Prabang Airport for your Lao Airlines flight to Vientiane. You need to arrange your own lunch today.

Afternoon
You will be met upon arrival at Vientiane Wattay Airport and then transfer to your hotel and check in.

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.

If time permits, we will drive to visit Wat Sisaket, architecturally beautiful and Vientiane's oldest original temple. Amazingly, Wat Sisaket features approximately 6,840 Buddha images! These date back to the 16th and 19th centuries. Next you'll visit the nearby impressive Ho Phra Keo (‘Altar of the Emerald Buddha’ - once the royal temple of the Lao monarchy. Built in 1565, Ho Phra Keo has been used as a museum since 1970 and contains some of the finest Buddhist artefacts and sculptures in the country. The main structure originally housed the famous Emerald Buddha that now resides in Bangkok's Wat Phra Keo. From here you'll continue to Patousay, one of Vientiane's most photographed and distinctive buildings, before continuing to the gold covered and architecturally splendid That Luang Stupa. Built in 1566, the original stupa was said to contain relics of Lord Buddha himself and remains the most sacred monument in Laos.

Dinner tonight is at Kualao Restaurant

Meal included:
Dinner at Kualao Restaurant
Morning
After breakfast there is an early morning transfer to Vientiane Wattay Airport for the Lao Airlines flight to Pakse.

You will be met upon arrival at Pakse Airport and drive to visit Wat Phou Salao in Pakse district. The temple is located on the slopes of Salao Hill and has a giant statue of a golden Buddha. From the temple drive to Champasak where lunch is at a local restaurant.

Afternoon
In the afternoon visit the pre-Angkorian Wat Phu Temple. Wat Phu, a World Heritage Site, means ‘mountain temple’. The temples in this complex are dated between the 6th and 13th centuries. Wat Phu lies on a hillside and offers spectacular views on the surrounding plains and the Mekong River. Hindu Khmer probably chose the site because of the spring that flows from near the top of the hill. Historians say that Phu Pasak was in fact sacred to the pre-Angkorian Kingdom of Chenla (6th century) and may have been the site of human sacrifices. The temple is divided in two parts. The lower part consists of two ruined palace buildings at the edge of a pond, which was used for ritual ablutions. The upper section, the temple sanctuary itself, once enclosed a large Shiva phallus (linga). It was later converted into a Buddhist temple but much of the original Hindu sculpture remains. The lintels feature various forms of Vishnu and Shiva as well as Kala, the Hindu god of time and death. The naga stairway is lined with plumeria (Dokchampa), the Lao national flower.

Next, drive to Khong Island and check in at hotel.
Dinner is at the hotel

Estimated driving time/distance:
3 hours/150 kilometres

Meal included:
Lunch at a local restaurant
Dinner at the hotel
Morning
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel and then take a local boat to Ban Khone. Here you will visit the rusting railways and steam engines built in the 1800’s by the French. Take local transportation to visit the beautiful Liphi waterfalls.

Return to Ban Khone and take a local boat to Nakasang pier. From the pier drive to visit Khone Phapheng waterfall, the largest waterfall in Southeast Asia. The fall cascades on the Mekong River and are an impressive sight with the largest volume of water in Laos crashing down from them. There are several viewing sights for the falls. After the falls lunch will be taken at a local restaurant.

Afternoon
Return to Pakse

Estimated driving time/distance:
3 hours/150 kilometres

Meal included:
Lunch at a local restaurant
Dinner at the hotel
Morning
Following your breakfast at the hotel, visit Pakse local market and then drive to Chong Mek immigration checkpoint (border crossing to Thailand).

Meet at Chong Mek border and transfer to Ubon Ratchathani International Airport (Airfare is not included in the price).

Estimated driving time/distance:
2 – 2.5 hours/140 kilometres

customise the tour

In Luang Prabang options include:

  • Diethelm Exclusive - enjoy a bespoke cocktails and canapes sunset moment at our private pier
  • Start the day with a private facilitated early morning yoga session or meditation practice
  • Upgrade dinner and treat yourself to dinner at the upscale Paste at The Apsara restaurant

 

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: MS7

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