Trip Type: Private Starts: Vientiane Ends: Luang Prabang Departs: Any day of the year Difficulty: Easy – Mid
This tour is for groups who want a nature-oriented trip to northern Laos for the first time. Your journey begins with an experience of modern Laos in the capital Vientiane and a high-speed train ride. But after a visit to the picturesque karst stone Vang Vieng, an adventure awaits you to meet the people who still live the same simple life as in ancient times in the unique natural landscape of Northern Laos. Visit the mysterious megaliths Jar Plain, traces of the Indochina War, a 24-hour night safari in a national reserve, a Nam Ou river cruise, and a hike to villages in Nong Khiaw. Your journey ends in Luang Prabang, the Buddhist center of Laos and a beautifully preserved city since colonial times. Throughout your 14-day trip, your group will share memories of an unforgettable Laos trip.
You will be warmly welcomed at Wattay Airport – Laos’ international airport. You will also be escorted to your hotel in downtown Vientiane.
Vientiane is a charming capital city adorned with temples and faded French colonial architecture. After a short break, you will get to know the capital on a city tour and visit major attractions such as Wat Sisaket, the oldest temple with thousands of miniature Buddha statues, and Wat Phra Keo, the former royal temple where the famous Emerald Buddha statue was located. On the way to the famous sacred structure, the That Luang Stupa, a national treasure of Laos, we will also have the opportunity to photograph the imposing Patuxai Monument, known as the Arc de Triomphe of Vientiane. After lunch, you will be transferred to Vientiane railway station and leave for Vang Vieng. (C84, 14:30 – 15:25) You will be picked up at Vang Vieng railway station, check into your hotel and spend the rest of the time at your leisure in Vang Vieng.
[Optional, $130 per person, Above Laos Ballooning] Early in the morning you will be pick up at 6 am to take a Hot air balloon ride over Vang Vieng around 800 meter high and around 40 minutes in the air! Incredible scenery of Vang Vieng town, river and mountains at sunrise.
Your journey immediately starts with an awe-inspiring visit to Tham Xang, a cave naturally carved in the shape of an elephant where a sleeping Buddha is resting. Then, out in the sun, you’ll enjoy the mesmerizing landscape of rural Laos by walking along karstic cliffs and through villages and rice fields. You’ll stop at a large village of Hmong minority, the opportunity to learn about the local rich ethnicities before heading back to Vang Vieng.
After lunch, visit Tham Jang, one of the most impressive caves of Vang Vieng accessible by a staircase of 138 steps! The sight is worth the climb as the view inside the cave is spectacular.
Then, the journey carries on with a short pirogue ride on the beautiful jade-colored Nam Song River. It’s possible for those who would like to take a swim in one of the crystal clear water lagoons to enjoy the warm weather of Laos.
We will leave for Phonsavan. We will stop and see varied Hmong and other hill tribe minority villages along the road. They are nice, friendly and welcome you to visit. Continue driving uphill, enjoying the mountain scenery, forest, and landscape. Around noon, we stop at Muang Phu Khoun, a village in the heart of the Hmong people. We have a lunch break and enjoy the magnificent mountain scenery. Afterward, we continue our way and then stop at the town of Nong Tang and see a site of more than 200 years old Buddha images in Tham Pha Caves. The caves were also hospitals and shelters during the Indochina wars. Upon arrival at Phonsavan, we check in at the hotel and have free time.
We will spend one day touring the Plain of Jars and Xieng Khouang and take you to the legend of Jars and traces of the history of the Second Indochina War.
After breakfast, we will move on to visit the Plain of Jars. The UNESCO World Heritage Committee has presented Laos with a certificate allowing the registration of the Jarls Plain as a World Heritage Site in 2019. The site encompasses hundreds of large stone jars scattered across the plateau. We will visit Thong Hai Hin, known as Jarl Site 1. It is the most visited archaeological site located 8 km southwest of the city.
Jahr Site 2 (Hai Hin Hoo Sarat) is approximately 20 km southwest of the city. Next, at Ban Na Pia, near site 2, the villagers of Tay Puan reuse UXO scrap from unexploded bombs to make spoons, which they sell as souvenirs.
In the afternoon, we will head to the ancient capital of Muang Khoun, the 14th-century royal palace of the Phuan Kingdom and the capital of the French colonial provincial city until recently. Once a major city along with Luang Prabang, today only a few ruins remain, including Wat Piawat. The invasion of Thai and Vietnamese soldiers, the looting by Chinese bandits in the 19th century, and a bomb storm that lasted nearly a decade during the Second Indochina War left the town devastated, and the kingdom’s elaborate temples nothing remained. The parts of the town had been reduced to ruins by 1975.
Afterward, we return to Phonsavan at around 4 pm and visit MAG UXO Center and Official Tourist Information Center to deepen our understanding of history.
We will drive through the most rural and least developed part of Laos via Vieng Kham to Muang Hiam.
In the morning, your guide will take you to the rendezvous point, in a village of Khmu people. We begin a night safari tour, a 24-hour boat-based tour into the core of the Nam Et-Phou Louey national protected area.
Village guides and boatmen will be awaiting you to greet you and take you on a short tour of the village where you will learn about daily life and the animist tradition of appeasing the village spirits.
At around 10-11am guests embark on a 1.5-2 hour journey to the park substation and visitor camp on the Nam Nern River by long-tail boat, along the way learning about upland rice cultivation and having opportunities to spot monitor lizards (depending on the time of year) and bird life.
After arriving at the park substation, visitors will be shown to their accommodation, bamboo huts close to the river, and will then be offered a lunch prepared by the village cooking group. After lunch, you will receive a briefing by park staff about the on-the-ground efforts in protecting wildlife and it’s habitat.
Free time to relax at the camp. Depending on the ranger availability, the park substation can be visited to learn about the law enforcement work. At mid-afternoon, the group takes the boat again to continue the journey upriver. Enjoy bird watching and the wildlife spotters and boatmen might point out evidence of wildlife, such as tracks or scat at if spotted at the riverbank salt licks.
The boats continue upriver to the dinner site, a sandy, flat bank, where the group takes a picnic around a campfire. After dinner, the guides might share with you the Khmu folktales and stories about dragons, wildlife, and ghosts. The guides educate tourists about the species of animals they might see during the spotlighting and explain the rules and expectations for spotlighting.
The group departs for the night spotlighting once it is total dark, drifting silently down the river with the engines switched off. The wildlife guides and boatmen use their headlamp to spot wildlife. If they see something, they will give a clear sign. Then you can switch on your own flashlight to have a better look at the animal. Hence, tourists will have their flashlights switched off most of the time to avoid scaring animals. The wildlife spotter and boat drivers communicate via hand signals to avoid talking that might disturb the animals. Animals that might be seen include Sambar deer, otters, barking deer, various species of civets, loris, porcupine and owls (Seeing wild cats and beers is very rare but not impossible.)
Overnight in Lao style bungalows.
Before breakfast, local guides take you on a walk around the jungle, teaching about the use of some medicinal plants and explaining the history of the site, which was once a major settlement during the Secret War. After breakfast, the boats will return back to the village.
(Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Start the day early with a refreshing morning walk through the jungle, learning of the use of some medicinal plants found in the area. The guides will also give some insight into the history of this region which once served as a settlement during the Secret War. Back in the village, enjoy a well-deserved breakfast before returning by boat to the starting point of this jungle adventure. At a certain stretch, journey at a relaxing pace with engines off, trying to get a glimpse of some of the forest’s wild residents along the way.
Travel about six hours by road from Muang Hiam to Nong Khiaw passing through beautiful scenery of lush rainforest covered sloped mountains along the way, even in the dry season. Arrive at Nong Khiaw in the afternoon, then check-in at the hotel. We will hike to Pha Daeng Peak Viewpoint after (about 1.5 hours light climbing). (If climbing is difficult, we will guide you to another easily accessible viewpoint.)
Departing at 9:00 a.m., we will take a boat to the village of Sopjaem along the Nam Ou River, set against a backdrop of spectacular limestone mountains. A beautiful view from a boat on the Nam Ou river will be one of the highlights of your trip to Laos. The village is famous for its weaving, many families have looms in front of their houses. We will see the lifestyle of ethnic minorities with a guide and enjoy a local lunch in a village. In the afternoon, we will take a 30min boat ride down the river to Muan Ngoiy. Walk about 40 minutes from Muang Ngoy to visit Ban Na village. On this day, stay in a homestay in this village or stay at a hotel in Muang Ngoy.
(Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner is included if you choose homestay)
After breakfast, we will hike up to visit the viewpoint in Muang Ngoy, We will take a boat and go down the river to visit Ban Sop Kong village. From there we walk about 1 hour to the Tad Mok waterfall. We will have time to relax and enjoy lunch at the most beautiful waterfall in Nong Khiaw where you can swim. Afterwards, board the boat again and return to Nong Khiaw before dark.
At 8:30, our minivan will pick you up and visit Phathok Caves. Pha Thok Cave is a series of caves in a limestone cliff where villagers and Pathet Lao eluded bombing during the Second Indochina War. Then you will depart from Nong Khiaw to Manifa Elephant Camp by a 2 hour drive. You will be offered a delicious buffet lunch at the restaurant overlooking the Mekong river and elephants roaming free. In the afternoon you will have an opportunity to interact with elephants 1 hour. Followed by visit to Pak Ou Caves by boat. We will see 4000 Buddha icons in the caves overlooking the Mekong River. Afterwards, enjoy a two-hour sunset cruise on the Mekong River to Luang Prabang.
The tour begins early in the morning (5:15 am in March to October and 05:45 in November to February. There is also an option without Alms giving). We pick you up from your hotel and you have a fantastic opportunity together with the locals to witness the captivating centuries old daily tradition of the alms giving ceremony. Following that, we visit local morning market.
You return to your hotel for breakfast around 7;00. We will pick you up again at 8:30 and take you to a small park on the peninsula tip. You will have a brief introduction to Luang Prabang, standing where the Nam Khan River meets the Mekong River. From there, walk to the famous Wat Xieng Thong temple. For centuries, the temple was considered the ceremonial gateway to the city and was the arrival and departure point for foreign dignitaries. We will walk up the stairs to the main gate and enter the temple like ancient dignitaries.
Next, we will go temple hopping in the neighborhood. At Wat Sene, where there is a school for novice monks, you may meet again with novice monks you met on the morning alms. We will drive to Heuan Chan Heritage. There we will see a well preserved traditional Lao house and take a short break in their gardens. Finally, we will visit the Royal Palace.
Visit the Ock Pop Tock weaving centre, run by an organization that offers local weavers the chance to earn a decent income with their weaving skills.
Lunch at Ock Pop Tok Silk Road Café
Then visit Wat Wisunarat to see the oldest Buddhist temple in Luang Prabang, and then the UXO Center for those who want to learn more about war history. We head out to the Laos Traditional handicraft village Ban Xang Khong well knowned as paper village. You can discover all creations made of paper.
Finish your day by climbing up Phousi Mountain. Rising 150m in the centre of town, Mount Phousi cuts a distinctive figure on the Luang Prabang skyline. The hill is a popular as a place to watch the sunset. From the summit you enjoy spectacular 360 degree views across the city and its many temples, and over the surrounding landscape to the mountains in the distance.
We will meet you at your hotel and drive you to the stunning Kuang Si Waterfall. Upon arrival, enjoy 2 hours of leisurely time to enjoy the spectacular waterfalls. After lunch at the beautiful Carpe Diem Restaurant facing the waterfall, we will visit the village of the Hmong people and return to Luang Prabang. The afternoon is free in Luang Prabang.
Have breakfast at the hotel then enjoy a free morning before driving to the airport to catch your departure flight home. Meals on your own. End of services.
Reference hotels by grade for each destination
|Day 1||Vientiane||Lao Orchid Hotel||Salana Boutique Hotel||Crowne Plaza|
|Day 2||Vang Vieng||Bearlin Bungalow,Champa Lao The Villa||Inthira Vang Vieng, Riverside Boutique Resort||Tmark Resort|
|Day 3||Vang Vieng||Bearlin Bungalow,Champa Lao The Villa||Inthira Vang Vieng, Riverside Boutique Resort||Tmark Resort|
|Day 4||Phonsavan||Vansana Plain of Jars Kong Keo Guest House|
|Day 5||Phonsavan||Vansana Plain of Jars Kong Keo Guest House|
|Day 6||Muang Hiam||Local guest house|
|Day 7||Night Safari||Night Safari tour|
|Day 8||Nong Khiaw||Nong Kiau Riverside||Mandala Ou Resort, Maison De Nong Khiaw|
|Day 9||Nong Khiaw||Homestay or Ning Ning Resort, Lattanavongsa guesthouse|
|Day 10||Muang Ngoy||Nong Kiau Riverside
||Mandala Ou Resort, Maison De Nong Khiaw|
|Day 11||Manifa Elephant Camp||Saynamkhan river view, Villa Chitdara, Ban Lakkham River View
||Maison Dalabua Hotel, The Belle Rive Boutique Hotel, Maison Souvannaphoum Hotel, Villa Maly Boutique Hotel
||La Résidence Phou Vao, 3 Nagas Luang Prabang, Sofitel Luang Prabang, Avani+|
|Day 12||Luang Prabang||Saynamkhan river view, Villa Chitdara, Ban Lakkham River View
|Maison Dalabua Hotel, The Belle Rive Boutique Hotel, Maison Souvannaphoum Hotel, Villa Maly Boutique Hotel||La Résidence Phou Vao, 3 Nagas Luang Prabang, Sofitel Luang Prabang, Avani+|
|Day 13||Luang Prabang||Saynamkhan river view, Villa Chitdara, Ban Lakkham River View||Maison Dalabua Hotel, The Belle Rive Boutique Hotel, Maison Souvannaphoum Hotel, Villa Maly Boutique Hotel||La Résidence Phou Vao, 3 Nagas Luang Prabang, Sofitel Luang Prabang, Avani+|
This is a reference price for the high season from October to March. Price per person including tour and hotels. (Single rooms are available at an additional cost. In the countryside there is no choice of high class hotels, but the closest possible grade is selected.) Prices are less in low season. ( may go up slightly in peak season depending on some hotels). Also, the actual price differs from this because the price varies greatly even within the same grade of hotel.
|2 pax||4 pax||6 pax||8 pax|
|2-3 star hotel||$1958 per person||$1260 per person||$1010 per person||$912 per person|
|4 star hotel||$2121 per person||$1424 per person||$1174 per person||$1076 per person|
|5 star hotel||$2550 per person||$1853 per person||$1603 per person||$1504 per person|