Day 1: arrive Luang Prabang – city tour
Welcome to Luang Prabang! Once immigration formalities have been completed, you will be met by a local guide and transferred from the airport to your hotel.
Surrounded by thickly forested mountains and situated at the confluence of the Khan and Mekong Rivers, Luang Prabang has a tranquil, old world charm rarely found in Asia today. This fascinating town was the capital of the Lane Xang (million elephants) kingdom until the mid-sixteenth century. In colonial times it served as a provincial headquarters of the north. The legacy of the European presence here – well preserved French architecture and careful street planning – has blended delightfully with more than 30 gilded Buddhist temples to create a town rich in atmosphere and history. In 1995 UNESCO voted Luang Prabang as a World Heritage City.
This afternoon depart with you local guide for an orientation and to visit some of the highlights of this atmospheric town. Here there is plenty to see, some of which are the impressive stupa of Wat Visoun, the shrine of Wat Aham and Wat Mai with five tiered roofs. We include these sights in a half day guided tour which ends with a climb to Phousi Hill for a beautiful sunset view of the town and the Mekong River.
This evening is at leisure – own arrangements. Luang Prabang has a selection of clean, tasty and inexpensive local or international restaurants and cafes to choose from, or you can relax and dine at your hotel. Your local guide can assist in making a selection and/or reservation for you if required.
Day 2: Luang Prabang – arms giving – Buddha cave
This morning there is the opportunity to start the day early with one of the most memorable sights of Luang Prabang – ‘Tak Bat’. At dawn hundreds of saffron robed monks move silently through the streets to collect alms (offerings of food). Your guide will explain the background behind this ritual which is still very much a part of everyday life in Laos and you will have the chance to make ‘merit’. It’s early but well worth the wake-up call! Return to your hotel for breakfast.
After breakfast visit Wat Xieng Thong – often said to be Luang Prabang’s most beautiful. It is characterized by its several roofs sweeping low to the ground and the impressive ‘tree of life’ mosaic. Continue to the river to begin a relaxing riverboat trip with your guide up the mighty Mekong to visit the sacred Pak Ou Buddha Caves. En route it is possible to stopover at Ban Xang Hai village where local people produce Lao rice wine. Pak Ou caves have been home to many thousands of Buddha images that were placed here by local people since 16th century, when King Setthathirat found the caves and declared them a holy spot. Today many people still pay respect to this tradition. After exploring the caves and taking a break for lunch at a local restaurant nearby (note that lunch is not included) we begin the return journey to Luang Prabang.
Arriving back in Luang Prabang we transfer by road to visit the village of Ban Phanom, a weaving village populated by Lu minority people that originally came from Sipsongpanna in Southern China. Lao textiles are still woven here in the traditional manner on wooden looms. This village was once famed for producing silks for the Royal Palace. This evening is at leisure and dinner is at own arrangements.
Day 3: Luang Prabang sightseeung & Kuangsi Waterfall
After breakfast we take a visit to the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre. This centre has the objectives of helping locals and visitors learn about Laos’ ethnic minority groups, cultures and traditional arts, conducting research in ethnic communities and developing activities that promote cultural diversity and preservation.
Next drive with your guide to the Tad Kuang Sii waterfalls. The journey by road should take approximately 45 mins-1 hour each way passing through scenic Laotian countryside, with rice paddies and many ethnic minority villages along the way. The falls cascade over many calcified tiers and down several hundred feet into a series of cool, turquoise pools. If water levels permit it may be possible to take a swim or to climb the stairs and look down from various high viewpoints on the way to the top!
While at Kuang Sii enjoy a Laotian style picnic lunch nearby the falls before beginning the return drive to Luang Prabang town. Along the way we stop to visit one of the Khmu traditional ethnic minority villages we pass. We spend time exploring the village, and there is the opportunity to interact with the local villagers and learn a little about their differing lifestyle and customs. Arrive back in Luang Prabang late afternoon and the evening is at leisure.
Day 4: Luang Prabang – Vientiane
After breakfast take a visit to Luang Prabang’s National Museum, formerly the Royal Palace. Displayed inside is a collection of personal artifacts of the former Laotian Royal Family. Return to your hotel to check-out and then transfer to Luang Prabang airport for the short domestic flight to Vientiane. On arrival at Vientiane Airport you will be met by one of our Vientiane local guides, and transfer to your hotel to check-in.
This afternoon enjoy a Vientiane city highlights tour. First visit Wat Si Saket, with its beautiful Lao-style Buddha images, then Haw Phra Kaew, the former royal temple and now a museum. Phra That Luang, the ‘Great Sacred Stupa,’, is the most important national monument in Laos, and usually very photographic in the late afternoon light. One of the most photographed images of Vientiane is Putousay, the victory gate also known as Anousavari. Constructed in 1958, its architecture is inspired by the Arc of Triumph in Paris Sunset can be enjoyed while relaxing with a cool drink overlooking the Mekong River.
Day 5: Vientiane – departure
This morning, depending on your departure flight time, you may have some time at leisure to relax, shop or continue exploring Vientiane at your own pace. Transfer to Vientiane Airport for your departure flight to next destination.
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