Day 1: Vientiane-Arrival. Meet upon arrival and transfer to the hotel. Overnight: in Vientiane. Transport: Car.
Day 2: Vientiane-Luang Prabang. Morning excursion of That Luang, Wat Ho Pra Keo and Wat Sisaket. Afterwards transfer to the Airport. Fly Vientiane to Luang Prabang - by Green Trail Tours. Meet upon arrival and transfer to hotel. Overnight: in Luang Prabang. Transport: Car and air. Includes: (B).
Day 3: Luang Prabang. After breakfast drive to the Ban Sankhong, a village where weaving and sa paper making takes place. Continue to Ban Don. In this village you will see local blacksmiths at work. Proceed to the village Ban Xang Hai famous for the local production of Lao Lao, the local whiskey. Cross the Mekong to the Pak Ou Caves, there are two caves in the steep rock cliff at the confluence of the Mekong River and Ou River: Tham Ting, the lower cave and Tham Phum, which can be reached by a long stair case. They are full of Buddha images of varying styles, ages and size. Enjoy a picnic lunch, catered by a restaurant from Luang Prabang, nearby the caves. Afterwards board a boat for a leisurely cruise down the Mekong back to Luang Prabang. Upon arrival transfer back to your hotel with the rest of the afternoon free at leisure. Overnight: in Luang Prabang. Transport: Car and boat. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 4: Luang Prabang. Free day in Luang Prabang. The town Luang Prabang is an outstanding example of the fusion of traditional architecture and Lao urban structures with those built by the French colonial authorities in the 19th and 20th centuries. The town has been declared a World Heritage by UNESCO in 1995. Overnight: in Luang Prabang. Includes: (B).
Day 5: Luang Prabang-Plain of Jars. Full day drive by private car from Luang Prabang to Phonsawan. The main attraction of Phonsawan, also known as Xieng Khouang, is the Plain of Jars. In the 18th and at the beginning of the 19th century, Xieng Khouang was the center of a kingdom of the Hmong (Meo). In 1832, it was conquered by the Vietnamese, annexing the entire region. The town of Xieng Khouang was totally destroyed during the Vietnam War. The most important place near the Plain of Jars is Phonsawan with a small airport serving the region. The town itself has an interesting market, and various modest restaurants along the dusty main road. Overnight: Phouphadeng Resort. Transport: Private car. Includes: (B).
Day 6: Plain of Jars. At 08:30, after breakfast, pick up at your hotel and depart on your private tour of several of the sites of the mysterious jars. The large jars are attributed to an ancient civilization that lived between 1500 and 2000 years ago. Some archaeologists think that they are burial jars but no one knows for sure. The Plain of Jars was extensively bombed during the Indochina wars. We start with a visit of "Site One", which is closest to Phonsavan, where about 250 jars are to be seen. Continue to "Site Three", 150 jars on a scenic hilltop location near the Lao village of Ban Xieng Di. This village has a small monastery with some Buddha images that were damaged during the war. Lunch in a local restaurant. Apart from the Jars there are many minority villages in this area. In the afternoon we'll visit Ban Na Sala, a Hmong village, as well as "Site Two", where 90 jars are scattered. We'll also visit Muang Khoun, Xieng Khouang's former capital. Late in the afternoon transfer back to your accommodations in Phonsavan. Overnight: in Plain of Jars. Transport: Car. Includes: (B).
Day 7: Plain of Jars-Sam Neua. You will pass through Muang Kham, the capital of Xieng Khouang Province, located in a fertile valley. Late in the afternoon you'll arrive in Sam Neua. Overnight: in Sam Neua. Transport: Car. Includes: (B).
Day 8: Sam Neua-Mai Chau. Drive to Viengxai. Departure at 07:00. You will arrive in Viengxai and visit the cave of Kaysone Phomvihane, one of the Pathet Lao leaders who later became the first prime minister of Lao PDR. During the war the Pathet Lao leaders had their headquarters in these caves. Continue to the border at Na Meo. Arrive at the border not later than noon. At this off the beaten track border crossing there is no visa upon arrival service so you need to have a valid visa for Vietnam.
Your Vietnamese guide and driver will wait for you. Your transportation will be a Russian jeep. You have entered Vietnam in Thanh Hoa province, one of the least visited and unexplored provinces in the country. Along the way we will stop at several Muong villages. Picnic lunch along the way. We'll drive along the Ma river to Pu Luong Nature Reserve. The Pu Luong limestone landscape is an area of outstanding beauty, cultural interest and high biodiversity stretching from Mai Chau to Cuc Phuong National Park. Overnight: Mai Chau homestay. Transport: Car. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 9: Mai Chau. Today you will explore by private car the beautiful valley of Mai Chau with its verdant rice fields and White Thai villages together with your guide. Overnight: Mai Chau home stay. Transport: Car. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 10: Mai Chau-Son La. Waken up by the chickens and roasters of the village in the early morning. After a by our host prepared breakfast we are going to walk around town to experience the true essence of daily life of the local people. Later this morning we will continue our trip by car and drive towards Son La. We plan to make a stop at the tea plantation of Moc Chau and have a tea break with the H'mong tribe. During our way we also visit some Black Thai villages and make a little promenade over the amazing by hand-made bridges. After arrival in Son La Town we visit the impressive Colonial Prison. We spend the night in a hotel. Overnight: Cong Doan Hotel. Transport: Car. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 11: Son La-Tuan Giao. Today We will continue our journey through spectacular landscape and pass many minority villages of Hmong, Muong, White and Black Thai. Drive to Thuan Chau before starting the ascent of the "Phan Din" pass. We will spend the night in the small town Tuan Giao. Overnight: Tuan Giao Hotel. Transport: Car. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 12: Tuan Giao-Muong Lay-Tam Duong. After breakfast continue to Tam Duong. Another day of spectacular scenery and minority villages. of Flower Hmong, Red Zao, amongst others. We pass Lai Chau where we have lunch. Afterwards we continue to Tam Duong. Overnight: in Tam Duong. Transport: Car. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 13: Tam Duong-Sapa. Continue to Sapa where you will arrive before 1 PM. Rest of the day free at leisure. Overnight: in Sapa. Transport: Car. Includes: (B).
Day 14: Sapa. Free day to explore Sapa and surroundings. Sapa, originally built as a hill station for the French in 1922, is well known for its spectacular scenery and the various hill tribes that live nearby. Most visitors are here to visit the hill tribes (mostly H'mong, Dao and Kinh people) who live in the area. Especially worthwhile is the Saturday market, where various tribes come to sell/buy goods. The ground floor is for food products, but on the first floor the minorities sell their handicrafts, such as blankets, traditional clothes, hats etc. Overnight: in Sapa. Includes: (B).
Day 15: Sapa-Lao Cai-Hanoi. Free day. Check out at noon. Transfer to Lao Cai for the overnight train back to Hanoi. You will sleep in shared air conditioned compartments with four soft sleeping berths. Drinks are being sold on this train but we advise you to buy some bread and fruit in advance for this train ride. Overnight: Sleeper Train Vietnam. Transport: Car and train. Includes: (B).
Day 16: Hanoi. Arrival in Hanoi. You will be met by our driver who will transfer you to your hotel of choice. Transport: Car.
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