Richness & Splendours of Laos

Richness & Splendours of Laos

10 Days / 9 Nights Luang Prabang to Pakse

Price from$3,349

• Mt Phousi • Wat Thieng Zhong • Kuang Si Waterfall • Buddhist offerings • Cruising the Mekong • Eco-Lodge in lush tropical wilderness • Tad Lo Falls • Wat Phou • Elephant ride

Serene Luang Prabang, elegant Vientiane and the surrounds of Pakse, bursting with culture, tea and coffee plantations, glorious waterfalls and thick jungle are the basis for this fascinating journey through Laos. Climb Mount Phousi for a wonderful view of the mystical ancient capital, enjoy a quiet, special moment at dawn when long lines of orange-robed monks leave their pagodas to receive offerings of food from Luang Prabang residents and in the small village of Ban Kiet Ngong, clamber onto the back of an elephant for a trek through the jungle to Mt Asa.

Richness & Splendours of Laos map

Day 1: Luang Prabang Arrival On arrival into Luang Prabang, you will be met by your English speaking guide and transferred by private car to your hotel. (The regular check-in time for all hotels is 2.00pm. Early check-in is not included).

In the afternoon, enjoy a brief orientation tour of the spiritual capital of Laos before climbing the 328 steps to the top of Mount Phousi to enjoy a panoramic view of the city and the surrounding countryside. In the evening you will get the chance to shop at the hill tribe market.

Accommodation: 3 1/2 star: Villa Chitdara Hotel/Standard room 4 star: Kiridara Hotel/Deluxe room

Day 2: Luang Prabang City Tour (B) Start your day with a visit to the Royal Palace, which is now a National Museum and houses the precious exhibits that used to be possessions of the former Laos Royal family. Continue with the exploration of the main Buddhist temples of Luang Prabang including; Wat Visoun, a 16th century temple which serves as a small museum for religious artifacts; Wat That Luang (monastery of the big stupas). Interestingly, the ashes of King Sisavang Vong and his brother are interred inside the large stupa, which was erected in 1910. A smaller stupa in front dates back to 1820; Wat Xiengthong, a 16th century temple which epitomizes all the elegance and grace of Luang Prabang architecture.

Take the opportunity to talk with the monks at the Wat Mai temple. Continue to the Traditional Arts & Ethnology Center (TAEC). Laos is home to several ethnic groups and a visit to this museum will provide you with greater understanding of these uniquely diverse cultures.

Finally, cross the Mekong for a walk on the opposite riverside and climb to Wat Chompet for a different view of the city for sunset.

Accommodation: 3 1/2 star: Villa Chitdara Hotel/Standard room 4 star: Kiridara Hotel/Deluxe room

Day 3: Luang Prabang > Cooking Class At Tamarind Restaurant > Kuang Si > Luang Prabang (B,L)

Transfer to Tamarind restaurant and meet the chef. Then head to Ban Na Ded (20 minuite drive) where the class is held. Learn more about all the unique ingredients which make up Lao food. Smell some fresh herb you may never have seen before. Then try your hand at making some traditional foods such as: Jeow - spicy Lao dipping sauce, Mok Pa - steamed fish in banana leaf, lemongrass stuffed chicken, Gaeng Pet - spicy curry, minced fish or the popular papaya salad. Enjoy your creations then head back to town.

*Note: The cooking class is not available on Saturdays and Sundays.

Depart for a one hour drive south to one of Luang Prabang's most picturesque sights, the Kuang Si waterfall. Stop en route at Phosy market where you can observe the locals trading in fresh produce. And just across the street, you will have a chance to visit Ock Pop Tock Weaving centre. Once at the waterfalls, take a leisurely hike through the national park towards the Kuang Si waterfall. For the more adventurous, continue to the top of the main waterfall. You may also choose to swim in a large pool. Transfer back to your hotel by private vehicle. It is recommended to wear proper walking attire if trekking to the top of the waterfall.

Optional: Royal Ballet Theatre Performance (See below) This provincial government troupe of some 60 artists was established in 1999 following a joint project between the Luang Prabang Provincial Service of Information and Culture and the Institute of Cultural Research (ICR) in Vientiane to re-establish the ancient "Lao Ramayana". For years now, the Royal Ballet troupe performed Phra-Lak Phra-Lam, the Lao version of the sacred poem, the Ramayana, in the Royal Palace in Luang Prabang. Then in 1975, after 15 centuries of annual performances, the Theatre was banned and the master artists and teachers had to look for other work. In 1993, after an absence of more than 15 years, the Institution of Cultural Research and the Provincial Government Office in Luang Prabang established a committee to revive limited performances of Phra-Lak Phra-Lam for festivals. In 2002, the Theatre was re-established and has been performing at home and abroad since. This show takes place in the Theatre, located in the garden of the National Museum, formerly the Royal Palace. The performance starts at 6:00pm and lasts for approximately 1.5 hours. Every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.

Accommodation: 3 1/2 star: Villa Chitdara Hotel/Standard room 4 star: Kiridara Hotel/Deluxe room

Day 4: Luang Prabang > Alms Giving > Pak Ou > Kamu Lodge (B,L,D) You have the option to wake up before dawn to witness and participate in offering alms to hundreds of saffron-robed monks - an awe-inspiring sight. Please tell your guide a day in advance if you wish to make an offering so he/she can prepare some food for you to hand over to the monks. This early morning ritual dates back generations in Laos. Watch the town come to life in the morning then return to the hotel for breakfast. (If you do not wish to make an offering, please keep an appropriate distance and observe the ritual in silence. Dress appropriately - shoulders, chest and legs should be covered).

Transfer to Kamu Lodge pier. Board on a traditional Long River boat and take a leisurely cruise upstream while enjoying the refreshments served on the boat.

Marvel at the thousands of gold Buddha statues placed in sacred Pak Ou caves by devotees. Most people failed to marvel at Pak Ou towering limestone cliff. Continue upriver and you'll reach Kamu Lodge around noon. A refreshing welcome drink is served. You can check into your super size tents with attached modern bathroom amenities and facilities. You will enjoy lunch in an airy SALA settled in the middle of r ice paddy fields.

After lunch, you can choose to either relax or to enjoy the traditional Kamu lifestyles and activities such as rice planting and harvesting in surrounding rice fields, gold panning in the Mekong (anything you find is yours), traditional fishing techniques (you can sample your catch for dinner), visit of the Kamu village, archery contest.

Dinner is a feast by Kamu tribe standards. We want you to see the world from the Kamu's eyes. After dinner, retire to your tent.

Accommodation: Kamu Lodge Hotel/Tent

Day 5: Kamu Lodge > Luang Prabang > Vientiane (B) After breakfast, you will board around 9am for the cruise back to Luang Prabang. You will reach Luang Prabang's pier at lunchtime.

Transfer to Ock Pop Tock, a well known textile gallery and weaving centre based in Luang Prabang. The bamboo weaving workshop teach students all about bamboo and how to weave it into many items which are used every day in Laos - from baskets to placemats to floor-mats and more. The master weaver will help to instruct you how to weave a placemat of traditional fan which can be taken home as a souvenir.

Transfer to the airport for your flight to Vientiane. On arrival, you will be welcomed at the airport and transferred to your hotel.

Accommodation: 3 1/2 star: Vayakorn Inn Hotel/Standard 4 sar: Ansara Hotel/Savvy Room

Day 6: Vientiane City Tour (B) Enjoy a visit to all essential landmarks the small and charismatic city of Vientiane has to offer. A world apart from other frantic Asian capitals, Vientiane remains a quiet and pleasant town. Start at Wat Sisaket, which is the only temple left intact after the Siamese invasion of 1828. See thousands of Buddha statues lined up before visiting Wat Phra Keo, which is a religious museum that displays a collection of art representing Lao and Khmer artifacts. Continue with a visit to the most popular Wat in town, Wat Si Muang before visiting Patouxay monument, Laos' version of the Arc de Triomphe. End the day at That Luang, regarded to as the holiest site in Laos. This gold-like building was constructed in the 16th century.

Accommodation: 3 1/2 star: Vayakorn Inn Hotel/Standard 4 sar: Ansara Hotel/Savvy Room

Day 7: Vientiane > Pakse > Boloven Plateau (B,L) Transfer to the airport for morning flight to Pakse. On arrival, you will be welcomed at the airport and transferred to your hotel. (The regular check-in time for all hotels is 2.00pm. Early check-in is not included).

The Bolaven Plateau was formed by an ancient volcano and is famous for its coffee and tea plantations. It is home to a number of tribal villages, some of them still practicing Stone Age culture by using extremely primitive agricultural tools and conducting frequent spiritual ceremonies. Pay a visit to Tad Lo, located on the northern edge of the Bolaven Plateau. This waterfall is in fact a series of three falls, namely Tad Suong, Tad Lo and Tad Hang. In the afternoon, visit Paksong and the nearby Tad Fane waterfalls where lunch is served. Beyond the waterfall stretches the extensive jungle of Dong Hua Sao from where the perfectly synchronized twin falls originate and drop down a 200 metre deep gorge. Continue to Tad Yeung waterfall, which drops an impressive 42 meters and is surrounded by lush vegetation. End the day with a visit to a tea and coffee plantation and learn why the Bolaven Plateau an ideal area is for these plantations. Return to Pakse by private vehicle.

Accommodation: 3 1/2 star: Pakse Hotel/Deluxe 4 tar: Residence Sisouk Hotel/Superior Deluxe

Day 8: Pakse > Wat Phou > Elephant Riding > Khong Island (B) Transfer through pleasant rural scenery of hills and local villages towards Champassak, the former Royal Capital. Reach the picturesque pre-Angkorian Wat Phou temple, which was built between the 6th and 13th centuries. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Wat Phou was part of the greater Khmer Empire and is linked through ancient highways to Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The temple is divided in two parts of which the lower part consists of two ruined palace buildings at the edge of a pond and the upper section, which is the temple sanctuary itself. Climb the crumbling stairway adorned with "nagas" or snake heads, and admire the serene surroundings.

Return to Champassak, driving through streets lined with French colonial buildings, and continue on to Ban Kiet Ngong. Stop en route at Ban Nong Bune, a wood carving village, to enjoy lunch with the villagers.

The small Lao village of Ban Kiet Ngong is the starting point for your 90 minute elephant ride through the forest and up to Mount Asa. This tour is part of a community-based tourism project developed to help the local villagers and provide conservation awareness.

Along the way, you will have stunning views of the Xe Pian National Park which is settled between Champassak and Attapeu provinces. Stretching along the Mekong with many wetlands and unspoiled forest areas, this park offers a huge biodiversity with 29 recorded ecosystems, with bird species such as egrets, sarus crane, and hornbill, as well a mammals like wild elephants and gibbons.

After the elephant ride continue on to Khong Island, the biggest island in south Laos and the start of the 4000 Islands Region. Called "Siphandon" in Lao language, this area is where the Mekong stretches over 14km wide and has thousands of islands between those the river flows and runs between cascades and rapids.

3 1/2 & 4 star: Pon Arena Hotel/Mekong River View

Day 9: Khong Island > Pakse (B,L) Depart from the hotel this morning and cruise by longtail boat south of Don Khong to reach Don Khone. Both islands are located among the 4,000 islands on the Mekong River, which was a small, former French settlement. Don Khone features the remnants of the French colonial area, including an old pier, a railway station, a former French hospital building and the maritime office. Enjoy lunch on the island (included) and continue in the afternoon with a visit to the Liphi waterfalls, nicknamed the "Corridor of the Devil". Later, visit the Khone Phapheng waterfall. The falls are the main reason why the Mekong river is not navigable into China. The majestic sight of the falls is a highlight of southern Laos, covering an impressive 10km stretch of the Mekong. Later, head back to Pakse.

Accommodation: 3 1/2 star: Pakse Hotel/Deluxe 4 star: Residence Sisouk Hotel/Superior Deluxe

Day 10: Depart Pakse (B) Free time at leisure until your transfer to the airport for your departure flight. (The regular check-out time for all hotels is 12.00pm. Late check-out is not included).

• Tailor-made journey with local English speaking guides • Flights Luang Prabang > Vientiane > Pakse • 9 nights' in your selected category of accommodation • Transfers and transport • Sightseeing and entrance fees • 9 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 1 Dinner

Pricing (per person) $AUD

Type TWIN SINGLE

2016

3 1/2 star

1 Nov - 31 Dec

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-

$3,349

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-

$5,470

2017

3 1/2 star

1 Jan - 30 Sep

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-

$3,696

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-

$5,868

Departs

2016
Daily 2017
Daily

Booking conditions

• Surcharge applies during Pi Mao Lao, the Laos New Year 14 - 17 Apr 2017 • Compulsory Gala Dinner on 24, 31 Dec 2016

Mai Lao, the Laos New Year. In Laos, many shops & businesses are closed during this period or may operate on a limited schedule although most restaurants remain open. As it is a tradition to splash water on each other to bring good luck during this period, travellers should take care of their phones, cameras & laptops. Additionally, travel times might need to be adjusted during this period as some festivals are held in the streets and cause small delays.

Please refer to World Journeys terms & conditions.

Not included

• Royal Ballet Theatre Performance (optional)