Laos

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

  • Explore the mysterious Plain of Jars a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Visit Tham Piu Cave and see the weaving villages on the way to Sam Neau
  • Experience the caves at Viengsay and the role they played in the Communist led revolution
  • Journey on the Mekong to the temples at the sacred Pak Ou caves
  • Discover the culture and architectural heritage of Luang Prabang

 

tour details

Eastern Hidden Laos unearths both historical and natural treasures of Laos that take you off the beaten track. Combining the culture and handicrafts of rural villages, key sites in the history of the Indochina war and the Communist led revolution and finishing with a look at sacred temples and the architectural heritage of Luang Prabang.

Why choose this tour?

A perfect tour for those looking to discover the hidden history of this less visited area of Laos. It will be of particular interest to those who enjoy an archaeological mystery and who want to visit the key sites associated with the revolutionary history of Laos. 

Pick-up at your hotel with guide and transfer to Vientiane Wattay Airport for Lao Airlines flight to Xieng Khouang.

You will be met upon arrival at Xieng Khouang Airport and then transfer to Phonsavan 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 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 600kg 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.

Dinner is at the hotel.

Meal included:
Dinner at the hotel
Morning
After breakfast at the hotel, drive to visit the Plain of Jars (Site 1 which features 250 jars weighing from 600kg to one ton and Sites 2 and 3 with 90 jars), 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 the other. 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. Continue to Muang Khoune, the former capital of Xieng Khouang Province, which was destroyed by heavy bombings, and visit its ancient temples. Return to Phonsavan where lunch is at a local restaurant.

Afternoon
After lunch there is the opportunity to visit some ethnic minority villages (either Hmong, Phuan, Thai Neua, Thai Dam or Thai Lu) and a chance to observe and understand more about the daily life and traditions of these fascinating peoples’.

Estimated driving time/distance:
1.5 – 2 hours/65 kilometres

Meal included:
Lunch at a local restaurant
Dinner at the hotel
Early breakfast at the hotel and then leave by car to drive to Sam Neua. Lunch is at a local restaurant on the way. En route stop and visit Tham Piu Cave. We will also visit villages on the way, whose main income is from weaving. As traders employ villagers for production in almost each house there will be family members working on looms. Learn more about this traditional handcraft.

Dinner is at local restaurant

Estimated driving time/distance:
6- to 7-hours/258 kilometres

Meal included:
Lunch at a local restaurant
Dinner at a local restaurant
Morning
Following breakfast at the hotel we drive to Viengsay (25km, approximately 1.5-hour drive) and visit the area surrounding Viengsay, birthplace of the Lao PDR. After the 1973 ceasefire a new town, Viengsay, was established as the capital city of the liberated zone. On the 2nd of December 1975 the Lao PDR- Lao People's Democratic Republic was declared, with Vientiane as its capital. Visit some of the impressive historically important, and well-preserved, caves. At the beginning of the onslaught just over 50 years ago, Kaysone Phomvihane, head of the Laos communist movement, led his politburo to shelter in what became known as the 'City of Victory', hidden in craggy mountains near the Vietnam border. You can also visit former President Kaysone's House which, at the cessation of the war, was built outside the cave used as the meeting place of the politburo.

Lunch today is at a local restaurant.

Afternoon
After lunch, visit Prince Souphanouvong's cave. Known as the ‘The Red Prince’, he lived with his family in one of the caves and as a nationalist fought against the French.

Dinner is at a local restaurant

Estimated driving time/distance:
5 - 6 hours/220km

Meal included:
Lunch at a local restaurant
Dinner at a local restaurant
Morning
Breakfast is at a local restaurant. After breakfast and before starting today's drive from Muang Viengthong to Nong Khiaw, we visit the hot springs near Muang Viengthong. Today the drive is approximately 5 hours to Nong Khiaw. On the way we stop at villages and take lunch at a local restaurant.

Afternoon
On arrival in Nong Khiaw, a market village on the west bank of the Nam Ou River there is time to explore the village and visit the nearby caves at Tham Phatok, where villagers and the Pathet Lao, sheltered from bombings during the Indochina war.

Dinner at the hotel

Estimated driving time/distance:
5 hours/170 kilometres

Meal included:
Lunch at a local restaurant
Dinner at the hotel
Morning
After breakfast at the hotel, we drive to Luang Prabang. En-route, a stop is made to visit Ban Na Ngang, the traditional village well known for its weaving. During our visit you will receive an introduction to Lao textiles. Enjoy the scenic trip along the route before arriving at Luang Prabang. Lunch today is at a local restaurant.

Afternoon
After lunch, continue to Pak Ou cave by local river boat cross Mekong River. The cave houses thousands of statues representing Lord Buddha. Return to Luang Prabang by car with a short visit at the village of Ban Xhang Hai, which produces local rice wine, before arriving 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.

Dinner at the hotel.

Estimated driving time/distance:
3 - 4 hours/145 kilometres

Meal included:
Lunch at a local restaurant
Dinner at the hotel
Morning
After a relaxing breakfast at your hotel, visit Wat Visoun, the oldest temple in Luang Prabang and the site of the impressive Singhalese style That Makmo stupa. Continue on foot to the nearby Wat Aham, one of the city's major tutelary shrines dedicated to revered spirits Deveta Luang and ancestors, Pu Gneu Ya Gneu. For a change of perspective, we climb Wat Phousi Hill for a stunning 360-degree view over the city. After descending we discover Wat Mai, built in 1796 and famous for the five-tiered roof of its wooden sim built in the standard of Luang Prabang style. Lunch is at Le Café Ban Vat Sene.

Afternoon
After lunch 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. Lastly, relax and enjoy a Luang Prabang Sunset at Wat Prabaht Tai located along the Mekong River.Insert tour details.

Dinner at 3 Nagas Restaurant

Meal included:
Lunch at Le Café Ban Vat Sene
Dinner at 3 Nagas Restaurant
Morning
Breakfast is at the hotel.

Visit the National Museum (former King's Palace, closed on Tuesdays) displaying a collection of personal artefacts of the Royal Family: photos, musical equipment and gifts received from foreign countries. Then stroll through the old quarter to discover the daily lifestyle of villagers. If time permits, visit the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Center (closed on Mondays), a small private museum about minority groups where you can learn about ethnic cultures and traditional arts. The exhibits contain text, photographs and objects from villages throughout the north of Laos.

Lunch at Khaiphaen Restaurant, a vocational training restaurant specialising in Laotian cuisine.

Afternoon
After lunch transfer to Luang Prabang International Airport (LPQ) for departure.

Meal included:
Lunch at Khaiphaen Restaurant

customise the tour

In Luang Prabang options include:

  • Diethelm Exclusive - enjoy a bespoke cocktails and canapes sunset moment at our private pier
  • Celebrate the day's end by adding on a luxurious sunset cruise
  • Go Local: Enjoy a game of Petanque with the locals in the late afternoon or evening
  • 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 and cold towels 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: VTEDLEHL8

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