Laos

8-Day Laos Landscapes

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Tour type

Tour Level: High level

Tour Comfort: Luxury

Tour Period: 8 Days

tour highlights

  • Delight in the Buddhist temples and French Colonial influence of Laos’ capital Vientiane
  • Explore the Elephant Palace at Vang Xang archaeological site
  • Discover the enigmatic Plain of Jars UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Visit rural communities and observe their traditions, culture, language and architecture
  • Relish the culture and architectural heritage of Luang Prabang UNESCO World Heritage city

tour details

Laos Landscapes takes you on a journey from the capital Vientiane in the south, via impressive and mysterious archaeological sites, to rural communities with unique traditions, language and culture and on northward to the architectural splendour of Luang Prabang.

Why choose this tour?

This journey is perfect for those who want to travel overland and experience the varied landscapes that Laos has to offer while creating unique cultural memories along the way.

Arrival Vientiane
You will be met upon arrival at Vientiane (Wattay) International Airport and 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.

Morning
Lunch is at the Lao Kitchen Restaurant where you can choose to sample some traditional Lao dishes.

Afternoon
After lunch, begin your sightseeing with a visit to the charming 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. Next visit 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. Other nearby city Wats such as Wat Mixai, Wat Ong Teu, Wat Hai Sok and Wat In Paeng can also be seen. Later, take a drive round town where you'll see the influence of the French colonial architecture, and then visit one of the most photographed images of Vientiane, Patousay, the victory gate also known as Anousavari. Constructed in 1958, its architecture is inspired by the Arc of Triumph in Paris. Around sunset you will visit Pha That Luang, a national symbol of Lao sovereignty and a Buddhist shrine. Your time later is at leisure, a chance for you to do some shopping for textiles and local handicrafts.

Dinner is at Kualao restaurant

Meal included:
Lunch at Lao Kitchen Restaurant
Dinner at Kualao Restaurant
Morning
Breakfast is at the hotel.

After being collected from your hotel in downtown Vientiane, you'll transfer to the famous Vang Xang archaeological site, dating back to the 11th century. The name of the site roughly translates to ‘Elephant Palace’ in reference to a nearby elephant graveyard. Here you'll have a chance to wander through the historic site and see the fascinating Buddha sculpture reliefs inscribed onto the pink sandstone cliffs. The site is usually assigned to an 11th century Mon provenance. Continue to Vang Vieng. En route, visit Ban Houeimo, the fish market village to get an experience of rural life. Upon arrival in Vang Vieng, check-in at the hotel.

This scenic, small provincial town is nestled along a bend of the Nam Song River. The natural attractions include the karst topography lining the west bank of the river with sugar loaf hills, dramatic cliffs covered by lush vegetation and peppered by caves and caverns and rice fields. Lunch is at a local restaurant.

Afternoon
In the afternoon, take a small boat about 30 minutes (2 persons per boat) on the Nam Song River to visit the biological gardens and the natural cave of Tham Chang. Here, you'll have a chance to cross the bridge over the Nam Song river to explore the cave system, learn about its history, legends, and why it is considered to be Vang Vieng’s most important cave. Outside the cave soak up the stunning views over the valley and take a stroll to the viewpoint.
Return to Vang Vieng township and explore further.

Dinner is at the hotel

Estimated driving time/distance:
4 5 hours/160 kilometres

Meal included:
Lunch at a local restaurant
Dinner at the hotel
Morning
Following breakfast at the hotel, you will be driven by car to Xieng Khouang Province. 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. Lunch at a local restaurant en route. On the way, stop to visit some minority villages.

Late afternoon
Upon arrival in Xieng Khouang in the late afternoon, transfer to the hotel in Phonsavan and check in.

Dinner at the hotel

Estimated driving time/distance:
7 hours/235 kilometres

Meal included:
Lunch at a local restaurant
Dinner at the hotel
Morning
Breakfast is at the hotel.

Visit the local market where the ethnic minorities (Tai Dam, Hmong, and Phuan) from the surrounding villages gather every morning to sell their produce. Then, drive to visit the Plain of Jars (Site 1 which features 250 jars 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. The Plain of Jars is now listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Further archaeological investigation may bring a clue to all the unanswered questions regarding the most enigmatic site in Laos. 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.

Lunch is at a local restaurant

Afternoon
After lunch, drive to Muang Khoun, the former capital of Xieng Khouang and visit Lao Loum and Hmong villages. This is an opportunity to observe and understand more about the daily life and traditions of these fascinating peoples’. After your visit return to Phonsavan.

Dinner at the hotel

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

Meal included:
Lunch at a local restaurant
Dinner at the hotel
Morning
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel and then, after breakfast, we drive to Luang Prabang. On the way, we make some stops to visit minority villages and to take photos of the beautiful and remarkable scenery. Each village has a unique culture, language and traditions to share. The difference in architecture can also be striking. Lunch is at a local restaurant.

Afternoon
Upon arrival at Luang Prabang in the afternoon, transfer to the hotel and check in.

Dinner at the hotel

Estimated driving time/distance:
5 hours/265 kilometres

Meal included:
Lunch at a local restaurant
Dinner at the hotel
Morning
After breakfast at the hotel, begin your exploration of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, fittingly called one of the last Shangri-La destinations of Southeast Asia, with a visit to 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-meter 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. From there you take a walking tour visiting some of the most impressive temples in town including Wat Visoun, Wat Visoun, the oldest temple in Luang Prabang and the site of the impressive Singhalese style That Makmo stupa. Continue 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. Climb Wat Phousi Hill for a stunning 360-degree view over the city.

Lunch is at Le Café Ban Vat Sene.

Afternoon
In the afternoon, walk by the Wats of Chum Khong, Xieng Muan and Pa Phai, then follow the Mekong River to the silversmith whose family worked for the Royal Family. There you will find a small selection of good quality silver dishes, plates and jewellery. The Wat at Xieng Muan is important because here the monks learn the temple arts such as gilding and roof-making. In the intervening years however the older monks have been unable to pass down their skills to the younger novices. Thanks to UNESCO and Norway, funds were created to inaugurate a program to rectify this.

Finally, at the end of the day you can relax and enjoy a Luang Prabang Sunset at Wat Phrabat Tai located along the Mekong River.

Dinner is at 3 Nagas Restaurant

Meal included:
Lunch at Le Café Ban Vat Sene
Dinner at 3 Nagas Restaurant
Early Morning
This morning you rise early and participate in the daily early morning ritual of saffron-clad monks with their black alms bowls being given offerings from the local people, including the ubiquitous sticky rice.
Return to the hotel for breakfast.

Morning
Later this morning, board a boat for a peaceful voyage down the Mekong River where you'll stop at the caves at Pak-Ou, passing many small villages on the way. Hollowed out of massive limestone cliffs, the caves are full of gilded Buddha's of all shapes and sizes. From there you visit the village of Ban Muang Keo. The village itself is very clean and well laid out. Lunch is at Ammala Restaurant overlooking the confluence between the Mekong and Nam Ou Rivers.

Afternoon
Return to Luang Prabang by boat, and continue by car to visit the villages of Ban Xom known for its cotton production and Ban Xang Khong where you'll see the locals make paper from mulberry.

Dinner is at L’Elephant Restaurant

Meal included:
Lunch at Ammala Restaurant
Dinner at L’Elephant Restaurant
Morning
Stroll through the historic streets to visit the vibrant Morning Market, where the locals and ethnic minorities of the surroundings come daily to trade their goods and then return to your hotel for breakfast. After breakfast, visit the Traditional Arts & Ethnology Center, which is a new museum about the ethnic cultures of Laos. The centre exhibits ethnic clothing, household objects, religious artefacts and handicrafts. This is followed by a visit to the National Museum (former King's Palace) displaying a collection of personal artefacts of the Royal Family.

Lunch at Khaiphaen Restaurant, a vocational training restaurant specialising in traditional Lao dishes.

Afternoon
After lunch, transfer to Luang Prabang International Airport for your departure flight.

Meal included:
Lunch at Khaiphaen Restaurant

customise the tour

In Luang Prabang add in 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 Pétanque 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 @ 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: VTEDLOVV8

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