HUAY XAI - PAKBENG - KAMU LODGE - LUANG PRABANG - XIENG KHUANG - VIENTIANE
DAY 1: HUAY XAI - PAKBENG (L/D)
Leaving the slow boat pier at 9.30a.m, Luang Say boat takes you down the Mekong river to the Luang Say Lodge in Pakbeng. One stop to made on the way for you to observe the rural life along the Mekong river at Ban Houy Phalam - a Kamu village. A buffet lunch is served on board. The boat arrives at Luang Say Lodge before sunset where dinner is served on a the terrace overlooking the Mekong river.
Overnight on board.
DAY 2: PAKBENG – KAMU LODGE (B/L/D)
A continental breakfast is served on the terrace starting at 7a.m. The boat leaves Luang Say Lodge at 8a.m and the first stop is at Ban Baw to observe the production of traditional rice wine. A buffet lunch is served on board. Then, the boat arrives at Kamu Lodge around 2p.m. so you will be able to check in and participate in the different activities. Such includes visiting the Kamu village, archery, rice planting and harvesting, traditional fishing and gold panning (January to June). A set menu dinner is served at the open air restaurant.
Overnight in Kamu Lodge
DAY 3: KAMU LODGE – PAK OU CAVE - LUANG PRABANG (B,L)
A continental breakfast is served at the restaurant from 7a.m. Then, the Kamu boat leaves at 8a.m. and stops on the opposite side of the mouth of the Nam Ou River to visit Pak Ou caves where you can visit Tham Ting and Tham Phoum caves with thousands of Buddha images. The boat arrives in Luang Prabang (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) before lunch. A set menu lunch is served at a local restaurant. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure.
Overnight in Luang Prabang.
DAY 4: LUANG PRABANG (B,L)
The early risers may enjoy watching the monks collecting the alms at dawn. As the sun begins to rise, long lines of orange-robed monks leave their pagodas and walk barefoot down the streets collecting offerings from Luang Prabang residents. It is a beautiful, serene ceremony that highlights the spiritualism of the Laos people. Return to your hotel for breakfast.
This morning, take a guided tour around Luang Prabang. Start at the former Royal Palace, now the National Museum, where you will explore the history of Laos (closed on Tuesday). Continue by walking to Wat Mai, a temple famous for its golden bas-relief sculpture, and Wat Sensoukarahm, featuring a beautiful dazzling golden facade. The morning ends with a visit to Wat Xieng Thong, the most revered temple in Luang Prabang. Located at the end of the peninsula, close to the Mekong, this temple was built in 1560 by King Setthathirat and is decorated with ornate carvings and mosaics.
After lunch, visit the refreshing waters of the Kuangsi Waterfalls, located at 32 km from Luang Prabang. These waterfalls cascade down a multilevel limestone formation creating a series of turquoise blue pools that are perfect for swimming in on hot days. The jungle and dense woods surrounding the falls are filled with wildlife and pleasant walks which can be taken along the natural footpaths. (Note: when bathing, please wear a sarong, no bare bodies). Along the way, stops will be made to visit some villages of the local hilltribes to learn more about their life and traditions.
Overnight in Luang Prabang.
DAY 5: LUANG PRABANG – ELEPHANT VILLAGE (B,L)
If you are looking for an up-close and personal experience with Asia’s most majestic and iconic creature, the elephant, our Mahout Experience is the tour for you. The two days at the Elephant Village will teach you a lot about these incredible creatures, their essential uses in Laotian culture and the highly skilled job of the Mahout, or elephant trainer. Ride the elephants through the jungle or even try your hand at bathing them if you wish, and enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Nam Khan River and Tad Sae waterfalls.
This morning, depart from your hotel and head to the Elephant Village. First, you will be welcomed by the camp manager who will tell you more about this magical village before being introduced to your elephant and taking a ride through the beautiful forest. Partake in some elephant training where you will learn more about how to control and direct it.
After lunch you will ride your elephant into the jungle where they spend the night. Then, you can enjoy a boat ride along the Nam Khan River to the refreshing Tad Sae waterfalls where you can enjoy your tine swimming or relaxing.
Overnight at the Lao Spirit Resort.
DAY 6: ELEPHANT VILLAGE - LUANG PRABANG - COOKING CLASS (B,L)
Before breakfast, your guide will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the Elephant Village. You will then make your way to bathe your elephant in the nearby Nam Khan River. Return to your hotel for breakfast and free time at leisure. Your private car and guide will meet you at your hotel and transfer you back to Luang Prabang.
In the afternoon, get to know Laos food. Lao cuisine relies heavily on fresh produce and incorporates a range of intriguing flavors, many unfamiliar to the Western palate. A cooking class at ‘Tamarind’ restaurant starts with an introduction to these main ingredients and how they are used in Lao cuisine. Then you will start preparing and cooking an assortment of dishes under the supervision of a cheerful chef. He will teach you the traditional techniques as well as giving you the information about Lao culture. This cooking class is an ideal way to experience a culture from the inside as Lao people take pride in sharing their love for their cuisine. Tonight, dinner consists of the dishes you have prepared. Recipes are provided for you to take back home.
Overnight in Luang Prabang.
DAY 7: LUANG PRABANG – XIENG KHUANG – PLAINS OF JAR (B,L)
Leave Luang Prabang for Xieng Khuoang, a journey that may take 5 to 6 hours.
Xieng Khuang is a town that has been totally rebuilt after it was destroyed during the secret war in Laos. The town is now located 30 km away from its original location. Today Xieng Khouang, locally called “Phonsavan”, is the gateway to the Plain of Jars.
After checking in at your hotel, enjoy a city tour where you can visit the MAG Center in town. MAG is a humanitarian organization clearing the conflict remnants for the benefit of local communities worldwide. Laos is the most heavily bombed nation in the world (per capita). Free entry and open every day from 8:00 – 20:00.
Overnight in Xieng Khuang.
DAY 8: XIENG KHUANG (B)
In the morning, travel through Phonsavan and the Plain of Jars.
The Plain of Jars is a huge archaeological complex covered with thousands of mysterious 2000 year-old stone jars sized from 70cm up to 3 or 4 meters. Their exact origin still remains a mystery. Research led by the French archaeologist Madeleine Colani in the 30’s suggests that they could be old graves, however, currently we are still unsure.
Your trip will enable you to visit the three sites and also discover some local villages where you can observe the quotidian. The first, largest and also closest is settled at Thong Hai Hin. The next site is at Hai Hin on Phou Salator (“Phou” in Lao means “Mountain”). The last site is in and it is the most impressive with over 150 mysterious jars. Close to this site, you will visit Ban Xiengdi where there is a small monastery with many Buddha images. On the way back, you will pass important battlefield areas during the American Secret war where you can still see many bomb craters.
Note: The Plain of Jars was heavily bombed during the war and you have to respect all the signs and stay along the defined trails due to bomb remnants, UXO and landmines.
In the afternoon, enjoy a half day trip to Muang Khoun. Muang Khoun is one area in the old provincial capital that was not destroyed by the American bombings during the secret war. Muang Khoun is home to a unique sitting giant Buddha as well of some old pagodas that have been left in ruins. The foundation and columns of Wat Pia Wat are still standing and close to this site, there is also an old 30m stupa constructed in the Lan Xang/Lanna period. Then return to Xieng Khuang.
DAY 9: XIENG KHUANG – VIENTIANE BY FLIGHT (B)
After breakfast free time at your leisure before flight to Vientiane.
The rest of the day is at your leisure in the capital with the least amount of traffic.
DAY 10: VIENTINE - DEPARTURE (B)
Depart for flight back home.