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Southeast Asia

9-Day Laos Discovery

Laos Discovery -- Trip Photo of Southeast Asia tour  Southeast Asia map

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Itinerary

Day 1 : Arrive Pakse, transfer to beautiful Bolaven plateau nearby

Visiting: Pakse

Arrive to Pakse ideally around mid-day. Here, after clearing customs and immigrations (if you have not already), meet your guide and driver and head to the heavenly Bolaven plateau, loaded with lush tea and coffee plantations, colorful ethnic communities, and stunning waterfalls. Along the way we'll visit the majestic cascades of the Tad Yuang Waterfall, including time for a dip if you like. Continue on to Tad Fane for a glimpse of the huge twin waterfalls here that plunge 200 meters down a dramatic gorge.

  • Meals:
  • Standard Lodging: Athena hotel, Standard room
  • Luxury Lodging: The River Resort, Deluxe Riverfront Villa room

Day 2 : Voyaging on the famous Mekong river / Vat Phou Cruise

Visiting: Pakse - Vat Phou Cruise

You'll meet your guide at 8:00 am for a transfer to a longtail river boat and a 2.5 hour trip to Champassak. In the afternoon you'll discover the majestic Vat Phou ruins dating from the 10th century. In the evening join the Vat Phou cruise and enjoy a tropical sunset. Dinner is on board.

  • Meals: BLD
  • Standard Lodging: Vat Phou Cruise (cabin)

Day 3 : Mekong River explorations / Vat Phou Cruise

Visiting: Vat Phou Cruise - Khong Island

The boat sails toward the village of Huei Thamo and the hidden forest temple of Oum Muong. Afterwards we rejoin the boat to continue our cruise southwards. Lunch is served on deck, while we leisurely sail to the wild paradise of "4,000 Islands" Late afternoon we disembark from the boat to walk through Ban Deua Tia, a small Laotian village where the traditional way of life remains unchanged from centuries ago. Our day's cruise finishes at the most northern tip of Don Khong, the largest inhabited island in the river archipelago. After dinner, the evening is yours to relax and enjoy.

  • Meals: BLD
  • Standard Lodging: Vat Phou Cruise (cabin)

Day 4 : Mekong River explorations / Vat Phou Cruise / Pakse

Visiting: Pakse

While enjoying breakfast on deck, the Vat Phou boat cruises the Mekong to the small village of Ban Veuthong, where you board a smaller boat to meander among the famed 4,000 Islands to Khone Island. You'll visit the old French railway and walk across the bridge that links Khone and Det Islands. We continue on the boat back to the mainland for lunch at a local restaurant in a small fishing village, Xieng Di, on the banks of the mighty Mekong. A bus transfers you to the historically significant Pha Pheng waterfall, "the Niagara of the East", close to the Cambodian border. We then bring you back to Pakse for the end of the cruise experience, arriving around 5pm, you’ll meet your AWR guide in the lobby of Sinouk coffee, then private transfer with your guide to your hotel.

  • Meals: BL
  • Standard Lodging: Athena hotel, Standard room
  • Luxury Lodging: The River Resort, Deluxe Riverfront Villa room

Day 5 : Free day

Visiting: Pakse - Luang Prabang

Free day in Pakse until your late afternoon flight (flights not included) to Luang Prabang. Meet your guide here on arrival and transfer to your hotel - the balance of the evening is free to relax.

  • Meals: B
  • Standard Lodging: Maison Dalabua, Deluxe room
  • Luxury Lodging: Satri House hotel, Deluxe room

Day 6 : Luang Prabang City Tour

Visiting: Luang Prabang

*** Optional extra tour, great for early risers: Alms giving to local monks (add $30/person)

The bells of the town's monasteries toll at dawn when golden lines of monks emerge to receive their morning rice from the townspeople. If you rise early, you will have the opportunity to respectfully witness this sacred ritual typical of old Laos-long lines of barefoot monks weaving through the streets on their alms rounds.

In keeping with our respectful stance regarding local cultures, please observe this sacred ritual from a respectful distance. We also encourage that if you must take photographs that it does not interfere with this highly revered ritual. Afterwards, visit the Morning Market and see an array of meats, vegetables and spices the locals use in their cooking. Return to your hotel for breakfast.

Following breakfast, enjoy a guided tour of Luang Prabang.

After breakfast, meet your guide at lobby of your hotel and explore this historic and charming World Heritage town. We begin day's journey at the most popular of temples – Wat Xieng Thong. This 500-year old temple is exquisite and is the best example of the classic Luang Prabang style.

From here, explore small side streets, along back alleys and through temples Wisunalat, Wat Aham and the Wat Thammothayalan monastery – a city that could have been designed with slow travel in mind, a morning walking tour allows you to soak up the ambiance and appreciate the hidden charms of Luang Prabang. Through your guide, feel free to ask the locals questions as they go about their daily lives and enjoy with your lunch.

In afternoon, continue wandering up the peninsula, stopping at temples and other sites as you wish. Visit the National Museum, which is the former Royal Palace. Relics from Laos’ royalist past remain here. Overlooking the palace is Phousi Mountain. It is said that those who do not climb the 328 steps up have not really made it to the city. Venture up the hill and be rewarded with remarkable views of the area and enjoy sunset.

  • Meals: BL
  • Standard Lodging: Maison Dalabua, Deluxe room
  • Luxury Lodging: Satri House hotel, Deluxe room

Day 7 : Free morning / Afternoon Baci Ceremony

Visiting: Luang Prabang

Enjoy a free morning to enjoy Luang Prabang as you wish, visiting nearby temples and markets or simply relaxing around the hotel.

Afternoon Baci Ceremony: Late this afternoon, you'll be transferred to your hotel to freshen up before being treated to the refined grace of a private baci ceremony at a small village called Ban Khomkhuang. These gentle villagers led by their Nai Ban (village chief) offer visitors tidings of good luck and fortune for their life and travels by gently tying cotton cords symbolizing luck, friendship and good health around your wrists. The baci ceremony will be held at a private family home.

  • Meals: BL
  • Standard Lodging: Maison Dalabua, Deluxe room
  • Luxury Lodging: Satri House hotel, Deluxe room

Day 8 : Luang Prabang Cooking Class

Visiting: Luang Prabang

Learn about Lao cooking! This cooking class includes a visit to a local market to discover traditional ingredients. Afterward you'll cook a traditional meal and enjoy your dishes over lunch.

*** Optional afternoon Pak Ou Caves tour ($100/person):

Depart through Lao's scenic countryside to the Pak Ou Caves, a mystical pilgrimage site perched high above the Mekong River 27 miles outside of Luang Prabang.

On the way to Pac Ou, stop at two villages, one of which is a wonderful silk weaving village called Ban Sang Khong. The weaving techniques employed in Ban San Khong date back many centuries and are used to create some of Asia's most highly prized textiles. Some villagers are also engaged in sa paper production.

In the second village, Ban Sang Hai, locals produce Lao Lao, a rice whisky. After a brief stop, continue your tour to Ban Pac Ou, where you will board a boat to reach the Pac Ou caves.

Peering into dark corners, your eyes gradually adjust to reveal the serene faces and figures of more than 3,000 Buddha images, some inlaid with semiprecious stones. That these remain undisturbed in this remote site in one of the world's poorest countries is a testament to the devotion of the people. Return by boat to Luang Prabang, cruising along the Mekong and enjoying the lush river life along its banks while sipping a drink and tasting Lao snacks.

*** Optional / Alternative full day bike to Kuang Si waterfall and cruise the Mekong River Back (surcharge US$120/person)

After breakfast, (Approximately 8:30am), you’ll meet your guide at lobby of hotel, and she will help you choose a great bike at the bike shop in Luang Prabang before setting off on a scenic, 30 kilometer paved-road ride along the Mekong River down to the Kuang Si waterfall. The ride lasts 3-4 hours, is medium grade with some hills, and we’ll make a stop to explore villages and a Hmong Culture Museum along the way.

Kuang Si Waterfall spans a large area through some of the lushest jungle around Luang Prabang. Easy walking trails wind past numerous pools and cascading waterfalls where you can relax and swim. Lunch will be provided by Tiger Trails at the waterfall. There are small private changing rooms near the waterfall where you can change into your swimming suit. You can also see up close Asiatic bears at the Bear Rescue Center along the jungle walk to the waterfall.

After plenty of recreation time at the waterfall, hop back onto the bikes for a fun downhill ride to the Mekong River, where you’ll board a long-tail boat for a 1.5-2 hour scenic cruise up the Mekong River back to Luang Prabang. You’ll ride the short distance back to the bike shop to wrap up a great day.

Note: We provide a back up vehicle (1 Tuk tuk) that usually keeps a fair distance at the end of the group and catches up in case something goes wrong like being tired, or bad weather, etc.

  • Meals: BL
  • Standard Lodging: Maison Dalabua, Deluxe room
  • Luxury Lodging: Satri House hotel, Deluxe room

Day 9 : Departure

Visiting: Luang Prabang

Transfer to the airport and depart from the airport to home or your next destination.

  • Meals: B

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