8-Day Hidden Highlights of Eastern Laos

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Tour type

Tour Level: High level

Tour Comfort: Luxury

Tour Period: 8 Days

tour highlights

  • See the mysterious landscape of the Plain of Jars
  • Visit historic caves
  • Wtiness the famous Suan Hin standing stones
  • Relax at the hot springs near Muang Viengthong
  • Learn about Lao textiles at a weaving village

tour details

Visit Eastern Laos where history, culture and nature blend to offer a truly unique experience.

Be picked up at your hotel and transfer to Vientiane Wattay Airport for a Lao Airlines flight to Xieng Khouang. Meet upon arrival at the airport, transfer to Phonesavanh, the new capital city of the Xieng Khouang province, and 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 bomb craters.
The original capital, Xieng Khouang, was almost totally destroyed, so the capital was moved to Phonesavanh. Near Phonesavanh is the mysterious Plain of Jars featuring massive, ancient stone jars weighing up to as much as six tonnes. The jars have been fashioned from solid stone, most from a tertiary conglomerate known as molasses, akin to sandstone, and a few from granite.

Dinner and accommodation at the hotel.
Breakfast at hotel. Drive to visit the Plain of Jars, a large area extending around Phonesavanh where several hundred huge jars of unknown origin are scattered about in more than 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 the other. However, in the 1930s, French archaeologists found ashes, stone axes, bronze ornaments and ceramics, which may have been offerings to the dead. Continue on to Muang Khoune, the former capital of Xieng Khouang Province, which was destroyed by heavy bombings, and visit its ancient temples.
Return to Phonesavanh for lunch. In the afternoon, visit ethnic minority villages (either Hmong, Phuan, Thai Neua, Thai Dam or Thai Lu).

Accommodation at the Vansana Plain of Jars hotel.
Early breakfast at the hotel then leave by car to Sam Neua, 258 kilometres away (a 6- to 7-hour drive). On the way stop and visit Tham Piu Cave and different villages that use weaving as their main source of income. Traders employ villagers for production and in almost each house you will find family members working on looms.

Overnight at local guesthouse in Sam Neua.
After breakfast, drive to Viengxay, the birthplace of the Lao PDR, about 1.5 hours away. After the 1973 ceasefire, a new town, Viengxay, was established as the capital city of the liberated zone. On 2 December 1975 the Lao PDR (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) was declared, with Vientiane as the capital. Visit some of the region’s historic caves, then drive from Viengxay via Sam Neua to Muang Viengthong (approximately 6 hours).
On the way, visit famous the Suan Hin (Sao Hintang) which means ‘standing stone pillars’. The 2-metre stone standing upright remains a mystery to this day.

Accommodation at a local guesthouse.
Before starting today’s drive from Muang Viengthong to Nong Khiaw, visit the hot springs near Muang Viengthong after breakfast. Drive approximately 5 hours to Nong Khiaw, stopping at villages along the way and arriving in Nong Khiaw, a market village on the west bank of the Nam Ou River. Visit Nong Khiaw village and nearby caves.

Accommodation at Nong Khiaw Riverside or Mandala Ou Resort.
After breakfast, drive to Luang Prabang stopping en route to visit Ban Na Ngang, a traditional village well-known for its weaving, to receive an introduction to Lao textiles. Enjoy a scenic trip along the route before returning to Luang Prabang.
Afterward, continue to Pak Ou cave on the Mekong River, housing thousands of statues representing Lord Buddha. Return to Luang Prabang with a short visit at the village of Ban Xhang Hai, which produces local rice wine.

Dinner and accommodation at the hotel.
Breakfast at the hotel. Visit Vat Visoun, the site of an impressive stupa, That Makmo. Then walk to the nearby Vat Aham, which is one of the city’s major tutelary shrines, climb Vat Phousi hill for an outstanding view over the city, and visit Vat Mai, built in 1796, famous for the five-tiered roof of its wooden sim.
Lunch at Le Tangor Restaurant. In the afternoon, visit Vat Xieng Thong, considered the town’s most beautiful temple. The main sanctuary 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 and, near the east gate, stands the Royal funeral chapel. Inside are an impressive 12-metre-high funeral chariot and various funeral urns of each Royal Family member. The gilt panel on the exterior of the chapel depicts a semi-erotic episode from Ramayana.

Enjoy sunset at Vat Prabaht Tai located along the Mekong River then dinner and accommodation at the hotel.
Breakfast at the hotel. Visit the National Museum (a former King’s Palace) displaying a collection of personal artefacts of the Royal Family: photos, musical equipment and gifts received from foreign countries. Afterward, stroll through the lively Phousi Market where ethnic minorities from surrounding villages come daily to trade their goods.
If time permits, visit the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre (closed on Mondays), a small private museum about minority groups featuring information and exhibitions about the region’s ethnic cultures and traditional arts. Lunch at Pak Houay Mixay Restaurant.

Transfer to the airport for departure.

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: ETL 8

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