Price is based on double or twin hotel room occupancy and includes accommodation, transfers, car/driver, English-speaking guide, activities and entrance fees, breakfasts and some casual lunches while touring. Flights and optional special activities will be quoted separately. Most personal expenses, including dinners, alcoholic beverages, spa treatments and gratuities can be paid on the spot while traveling. Prices may vary depending on season, choice of accommodation and other factors.
This 7-day journey takes you from the UNESCO World Heritage city of Luang Prabang to the Don Khone archipelago in the south. Along this route, you’ll encounter hill tribes, go elephant trekking, hike through pristine rainforest, explore ancient temple sites and visit the relaxed islands of Don Khone, enjoying a touch of luxury everywhere you go.
You’ll begin your 8-day journey in Luang Prabang, unique in that the entire city is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Just outside the city is a well-respected elephant camp where you’ll get the chance to be trained as a mahout (elephant handler) and enjoy a jungle trek on atop one of the beautiful giants. You’ll also receive a monk’s blessing during a private temple visit, and hike up Mount Phou Si, where you’ll enjoy a picnic and see some of the best views of city and the Mekong River. In the evening, you’ll settle into your hotel - Luang Prabang has a great range of accommodation, and we recommend the prestigious Amantaka, with its historic French colonial architecture.
Rise early this morning, in time to watch monks as they walk through the city receiving alms. Each morning, a procession of monks passes through the streets collecting food offerings from locals, which is then brought back to the monastery and shared. Next, you’ll enjoy a cruise along the Mekong River to Pak Ou Caves where more than 10,000 small Buddha statues have been stored. It’s considered bad luck to keep a damaged Buddha statue, so rather than dispose of them, they are kept here. In the evening, enjoy a cooking class where you’ll use fresh local produce to create an authentic Lao dish. Enjoy another evening in your Luang Prabang hotel.
The mountains surrounding Luang Prabang are home to several beautiful waterfalls, and today you’ll walk to Kuang Si Falls, a striking three-tiered waterfall located in lush forest. The falls are accessible via wooden walkways and bridges, making this a leisurely journey; there’s even the option of swimming in one of the crystal clear pools. After working up an appetite, you’ll enjoy lunch in a Khmu village. The Khmu are one of the largest ethnic groups in northern Laos, numbering approximately 450,000, with a strong sense of tradition and intriguing folklore. In the afternoon, you’ll pay a visit to Luang Prabang’s main temple, Wat Xieng Thong. You’ll have the chance to hold a private session with a monk here to learn more about Buddhist beliefs and life in the monastery. Return to your hotel in Luang Prabang tonight.
Today, you’re flying off to the nation’s capital - Vientiane. Here, you’ll first visit the golden Pha That Luang stupa, a national monument which dates back to the third century. Next, you’ll take a trip to the Talat Sao Market, an indoor complex of stalls offering everything from electronics to amulets and traditional Lao silk sarongs. After that, visit the Laos Textile Museum, where you can view the creative silk designs of local legend Carol Cassidy, an international ambassador for Lao silk weaving. Tonight, check in to one of the best hotels in Vientiane - we recommend the Settha Palace for luxurious rooms and excellent service.
Fly on to Champasak Province today, a lush green region of rivers and rice fields bordered by Thailand and Cambodia. Your first stop is Wat Phu, where a historian will guide you through this ancient complex, providing historical context and answering any questions. Next, enjoy a meal in Ban Wat That Village, a laidback township with friendly people and beautiful scenery, where you can enjoy a leisurely afternoon. Tonight you’ll check into the charming La Folie Lodge on Dong Daeng Island, complete with river views and manicured gardens.
Explore more of Champasak today with a hike to the ruins of Um Tomo Temple, a Khmer-style temple located on the bank of the Mekong amid trees and rice fields. Next, it’s on to view traditional wood carvings in a local village, after which you will end the day’s expeditions with an insightful trip to Champasak Provincial Museum in Pakse. Here, you can learn more about the region by viewing historic documents and artifacts. Return to La Folie Lodge this evening.
Today you’ll embark upon a river cruise to Don Khone, navigating through an archipelago of more than 4,000 small islands. It’s here in the brackish waters of the Mekong that the famous Irrawaddy dolphins can be spotted, with some luck, frolicking amid the mangroves. The islands here are home to countless small villages, and you’ll have the chance to visit them and bicycle through the area, stopping for a relaxed lunch by the water. Spend the night at the Auberge Sala Don Khone, a resort comprising floating cabins offering wide Mekong views.