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 Vientiane
  • Explore the Elephant Palace at Vang Xang archaeological site
  • Discover the enigmatic Plain of Jars
  • Visit rural communities and observe their traditions, culture and architecture
  • Relish the cultural and architectural heritage of Luang Prabang

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.

Meet upon arrival at Vientiane Wattay Airport and transfer to the hotel to 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.
Lunch is at the Lao Kitchen restaurant where you can choose to sample some traditional Lao dishes. After lunch you 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, visit Pha That Luang, a national symbol of Lao sovereignty and a Buddhist shrine. Enjoy the evening at leisure – try shopping for textiles and local handicrafts.

Dinner tonight at KuaLao and accommodation 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.
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.
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 cave. 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 and accommodation at the hotel.
Following breakfast at the hotel, you will be driven by car to Xieng Khouang Province (234 km - 7 hours' drive). 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 Phonesavanh. Lunch at a local restaurant en-route. On the way, stop to visit some minority villages. Upon arrival in Xieng Khouang in the late afternoon, transfer to the hotel in Phonesavanh and check in.

Dinner and accommodation at the hotel.
Visit the local market where the ethnic minorities (Thai 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 weighing from 600 kg to one ton and site 2 & 3 with 90 jars), a large area extending around Phonesavanh 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. When the Plain of Jars is listed by UNESCO and cleared from remaining unexploded ordnances, further archaeological investigation may bring a clue to all the unanswered questions regarding the most enigmatic site in Laos. The jars weigh mostly from 600 kg 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. 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 Phonesavanh.

Dinner and accommodation at the hotel.
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel and then, after breakfast, we drive to Luang Prabang (265 km - 5 hours' drive). 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. Upon arrival at Luang Prabang in the afternoon, transfer to the hotel and check in.

Dinner and accommodation at the hotel.
Today you begin your exploration of this UNESCO World Heritage Site fittingly called one of the last Shangri-La's 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 & ancestors Pu Gneu Ya Gneu. Climb Wat Phousi hill for a stunning 360 degree view over the city.

Lunch at Le Cafe Ban Vat Sene Restaurant. 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 at 3 Nagas and accommodation at the hotel.
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.
Later this morning you 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 at Ammala restaurant overlooking the confluence between the Mekong and Nam Ou Rivers. 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 at L'Elephant and accommodation at the hotel.
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 Centre, 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. After lunch, transfer to Luang Prabang airport for your departure flight.

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: OVVL8

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