The Mekong River lies at the heart of Laos, stretching from the north to the far south. Follow it from the former royal capital of Luang Prabang, past the present-day capital Vientiane, to the far south of Laos on the border with Cambodia. Also visit the mysterious Plain of Jars where thousands of huge stone jars, around 2,000 years-old, are scattered across the landscape - though their purpose remains unknown.
Depart London or your regional airport on flights to Luang Prabang, via Bangkok.
Arrive in Luang Prabang. You are transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is free.
After breakfast, short city tour starting with a visit to Wat Xiengthong, one of the most famous of Luang Prabang's monasteries. Then board a boat to travel upstream on the Mekong River to the Pak Ou Caves, filled with thousands of gold and lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes. En route, stop at the village of Ban Xanghai, which produces local rice wine, before returning to Luang Prabang in the late afternoon. (B, L)
After breakfast, visit the Royal Palace Museum. Then stop at Ock Pop Tock, a silk weaving centre. Travel onward by road to Ban Thinkeo, a Hmong village, and start trekking with local villagers. Your guide will explain to you the common uses of plants among the Hmong people. Continue to Kuang Si Waterfall, where you will enjoy a picnic lunch overlooking the falls. Return to Luang Prabang to visit Wat Visoun, know as the 'water melon stupa' because of its shape. End the day by climbing Mt Phousi for views over the town and Mekong River at sunset. (B, L)
Early start for the long driver to Xiengkhuang province, famous for the 'Plain of Jars'. the road follows a twisty mountain route, and we make our first stop at Houi Hei, which offers great view of the surrounding mountains. We then continue to Ban Kiu Kam Pone, a Khmu village to explore, before arriving in Phou Khoun for lunch. We continue on the road into Xiengkhuang province making a stop at Ban Son Boom, a Hmong village. Our final stops of the day are a reminder that this region played a major role in the Vietnam War - we visit a hidden Buddha cave that served as an army hospital during the war, and can see an old Russian tank. If time permits arriving at your hotel we can visit the Mines Action Group (MAG) office to learn about the work they do clearing land mines and unexploded bombs in the area. (B)
Travel to Jar Site 1, the largest site, and Jar Site 2, located on top of a hill and offering great views of the surrounding countryside. Then drive to explore the ancient town of Muang Khoun, the former provincial capital, and Wat Phiawat, a ruined temple with a huge sitting Buddha. We return back to Phonsavan town and airport for flight to Vientiane. Transfer to hotel. (B)
Half day city tour of Vientiane, beginning with Wat Sisaket with its thousands of miniature Buddha statues, and the former royal temple of Wat Prakeo, which formerly housed the famous Emerald Buddha image. Then visit the That Luang Stupa, and the Patuxay Monument - Vientiane's own Arc de Triumphe. Afternoon free. (B)
Transfer to airport for early morning flight to Pakse. Transfer to pier to join private traditional boat for a two-hour cruise to Champassak. Disembark at this ancient town and continue by car to Wat Phou, the impressive remains of an early Khmer temple complex dating from the 7th to 11th centuries. In the afternoon travel by road to Si Phan Dong, an area of 4,000 islands which is the widest point of the Mekong River during the rainy season, although during the dry months the river recedes, leaving behind thousands of islands and islets. This area of the river is also famous for being home to the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin. En route we visit the atmospheric ruins of the Khmer temple of Oup Mong at Ban Houei Tomo, located in the forest. Arrive at Khong Island via ferry early in the evening. (B)
After breakfast, take a long tail boat tour to Don Khone. Disembark and have the option of exploring the island by bicycle, which takes you to remains of the French colonial period and Liphi Waterfall, or 'the Corridor of the Devil'. Return to the mainland at the fishing village of Ban Nakasang and drive further south to visit Khone Phapheng - the largest waterfall by volume in South-East Asia, on the Lao-Cambodian border. Return to Khong Island for overnight stay. (B)
This morning we leave early and drive north to the Bolaven Plateau, known for its cooler temperatures due to its location high above the Mekong valley. First stop is to visit Lan Sipkao, a Laven village specialising in knife-making. Then stop at a tea plantation and then the Tad Fan waterfall, a picturesque twin chute waterfall. In the afternoon, visit a coffee plantation en route to Tha Teng Market, a colourful ethnic minority food market. Next explore another interesting minority village, Ban Bong Neua, an Alak village, which boasts a sacrificial altar. Arrive at the beautiful Tadlo Waterfall by late afternoon and head onwards to Pakse, stopping at Ban Houi Hun, an Alak weaving village, where they keep ancestors' coffins under their houses. Last stop at another picturesque waterfall, Paxuam, before arriving in Pakse town for overnight stay. (B)
Transfer by road across the border to the Thai city of Ubon Ratchathani. Flight to Bangkok and onward connection for overnight flight to UK, arriving early the following morning. (B)
PLEASE NOTE: B = Buffet Breakfast at Hotel – L/D = Lunch or Dinner at Local Restaurants
Laos isn’t the only location that we travel to! Our team provide standout tours to Nepal and Mongolia as well. View them below: