This exciting tour, which commences in Thailand, takes you on a mythical journey on board the Luangsay cruise, a delightful way to explore the highlights of Northern Laos in style. You will see stretches of breathtaking mountainous scenery and pass beautiful lush forests as we enter the Laos border and stop over at hill tribe villages en-route to the charming, sleepy city of Luang Prabang.
Day 1: Arrival – Chiang Rai. One you arrive in Chiang Rai airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is free at your leisure. Overnight in Chiangrai.
Day 2: Chiangrai – HoueiSay – Pakbeng (Cruise down operate Monday, Thursday & Friday). This morning you will have an early morning transfer from the airport to the small town of Chiang Khong, the exit point from Thailand on the banks of the Mekong. After passing through immigration, you will cross the Mekong River to HoueiSay in Laos where your Lao guide will be waiting for you at the immigration point. After completing border formalities, you board a ready traditional boat for the trip down the Mekong River. Serene, timeless Laos is one of Asia's most unvisited, unchanged countries. This once-powerful kingdom known as Lane Xang (Million Elephants) was founded in the 14th century with the help of the Khmers, and it went on to become one of the largest kingdoms in Southeast Asia until its demise in the late 19th century. Bisected and bordered by the Mekong River, omnipresent symbol of Indochina, Laos today is an amalgam of cultural influences; Theravada Buddhism, animism, France, and the socialist ideal. It is a peaceful place, and the legendary hospitality, resilience and friendliness of the Lao people is much in evidence. Laos is Old Asia preserved. As you journey downriver you will stop at some tribal minority villages such as the Hmong, Yao and Khmu. Overnight in LuangSay Lodge. Includes: (B, L, D)
Day 3: Pakbeng – Luang Prabang. After breakfast you will sail downriver passing areas of unspoilt forest with little villages along the riverbanks and perhaps the odd elephant or two with his mahout. You visit a fishing village and a rice winemaking village and perhaps even taste some of the infamous beverage known as Lao wine. You also visit the Pak-Ou caves crammed with thousands of Buddha statues left by devoted pilgrims. You will arrive in Luang Prabang around sunset and be transferred to your hotel. This evening you can take a stroll around this enchanting little town. Overnight in Luang Prabang. Includes: (B, L)
Day 4: Luang Prabang – City Tours. After breakfast, we explore this charming city. The Luang Prabang is a small, dream-like town on the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers, in a beautiful mountain setting. From 1353 until 1545 it was the capital of Lane Xang before power was transferred to Vientiane. Despite the move Luang Prabang remained the seat of monarchical power and when the kingdom broke up in 1694, one of the deceased king's grandsons established a rival kingdom to those in Vientiane and Champassak. Though weakened, the Luang Prabang royalty endured until 1975, when after the reign of 63 kings it was formally dissolved. You spend the day exploring the temples and sites in what is called one of the last Shangri-La’s of Southeast Asia. You will visit Wat Xiang Thong, the most important Buddhist monastery in the country, Wat Visoun, Wat Khili and Wat Mai. Later, visit the former Royal Palace, now a National Museum (close Tuesday) where you will find ornate, gilded and brocaded reception rooms, as well as Buddha and Spectacular artifacts including the Prabang, a large holy image, which was given in the 14th century by the Khmers to King Fa Ngum. At sunset climb the nearby temple-topped hill of Mount Phousi where you'll catch a lovely view out over the town and the river. Overnight in Luang Prabang. Includes: (B)
Day 5: Luang Prabang – Khouangsi Waterfall. An optional early start gives you the fantastic opportunity to participate in the daily morning rituals of saffron-clad monks collecting offerings of Alms (ubiquitous sticky rice) from the faithful residents. This tradition is very unique in Laos, being the only Buddhist nation still preserving the procession. From there you will visit the morning Phosi Market where you will see such diverse offerings as dried buffalo skin, local tea and saltpeter among the chickens, vegetables and hill-tribe weavings. Laos is also known for its traditional handicrafts, and today you will visit local village of Lao ethnic minority groups at Ban Ouay and Ban Thapene and the weaving village of Ban Phanom. Time permitting you may also wish to drive to the beautiful Khouangsi Waterfall where you can splash around in the turquoise pools or walk along the forest paths. Overnight in Luang Prabang. Includes: (B)
Day 6: Luang Prabang – Vientiane. After a leisurely breakfast, we begin our drive south to Vientiane, on the way stopping off to see some of the minority villages along 13th north route, via Vang Vieng where we can enjoy the scenic, panoramic views of unspoiled nature, the mountain and the beautiful landscape. After a short stop, we head out to Vientiane, the capital city of Laos, built by the French on the site of Wieng Chan, the 16th century capital of Lane Xang. Wieng Chan was already bristling by the time Europe was emerging from obscurity, and today is a small bustling city that retains an air of Its French colonial past. Overnight in Vientiane. Includes: (B)
Day 7: Vientiane – City Tours. AM: This morning, you will commence sightseeing with a visit to the market. The market is a wildly colorful and olfactory delight - amid baskets piled with rice, eggs, and tea, ducks, pigs and fish both alive and dead, are food stalls selling noodles, soup, and 'food to go' wrapped in banana leaves, existing cheek by jowl with sellers of jasmine, orchids, and marigolds - the latter being woven into garlands for temple offerings. From there you begin a Walking Tour of the city's old Wats beginning with the venerable Wat Sisaket with its many wall niches holding small Buddha, Wat Prakeo - a former royal temple, the major Wats of Wat Mixai, Wat Ong Tu, Wat Haisok and Wat In Paeng, ending with some French colonial houses.
PM: You will pay a visit to the studio of Carol Cassidy, an American who has done much to advance the Lao weaving tradition. Later this afternoon you visit That Luang Stupa, a national symbol of Lao sovereignty and a Buddhist shrine, overnight in Vientiane. Includes: (B)
Day 8: Vientiane – Departure. Breakfast, you are free for your own discovery until transfer to departure. Includes: (B)
Also see tour packages in:
Asia Laos History Whiz Archeology/History Cultural Journey