Laos Unveiled (5n/6d)

Khouangsi Waterfall

Khouangsi Waterfall

Day 1. Arrival – Luang Prabang
On arrival at the airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Luang Prabang is perhaps the best-preserved traditional city in South East Asia. The tranquility and charm of this town with its splendid natural scenery and cultural sights make it one of the most delightful places to visit in Laos. After a short rest, we visit the impressive stupa of Wat Visoun and the shrine of Wat Aham, Wat Mai; we then climb up to the top of Mount Phousi to explore the sacred, gilded stupa as well as capture a beautiful view of the city and the watch the setting sun as it is reflected on the Mekong River. From there, we visit the Night Market, where you can browse through a lovely selection of handmade textiles by the local and hilltribe people surrounding Luang Prabang. Overnight in Luang Prabang.

Day 2. Luang Prabang – Pak Ou cave – Khouangsi Waterfall
An optional early start gives you the fantastic opportunity to participate in the daily morning rituals of saffron-clad monks collecting offerings of Alms (ubiquitous sticky rice) from the faithful residents. This tradition is very unique in Laos, being the only Buddhist nation still preserving the procession. You will visit the morning Phosi Market where you will see such diverse offerings as dried buffalo skin, local tea and saltpeter among the chickens, vegetables and hill-tribe weavings. AM: After breakfast, we enjoy a short-guided tour seeing the city’s oldest temple of Wat Sene and the magnificent Wat Xiengthong with its roofs sweeping low to the ground, which represents classical Laotian architecture. We then board a cruise upstream on the Mekong River, which also gives us a panoramic view of the tranquil countryside, as well as an interesting visit to the mysterious Pak Ou Caves, two linked caves crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes left by pilgrims. Along the way, we stop at the small village of Ban Xanghai, where the local rice wine is distilled. We return to Luang Prabang in the afternoon.  On the way we take a short drive to Ban Phanom, a small village well known for its hand weaving. PM: We continue our excursion toward Khouangsi Waterfall.  Enroute, we visit local villages of Lao ethnic minority groups at Ban Ouay, Hmong Village, Ban Ou, Laoloum Village and Ban Thapene, Khmu Village, then drive to the beautiful Khouangsi Waterfall where you can splash around in the turquoise pools or walk along the forest trails. We return to Luang Prabang by late afternoon and continue to Ban Xangkhong, a village well known for silk handweaving and for traditional Saa paper-making. We return to the city by late evening to observe the sunset at Wat Siphouthabath. Overnight in Luang Prabang (B)

Day 3. Luang Prabang – Xiengkhouang (flight)
After breakfast we visit the the National Museum (closed Tuesdays) at the former Royal Palace, which displays a lovely collection of artefacts, reflecting the richness of Lao culture dating from the days of the early kings right through the last sovereign. The National Museum and the Central Market are not to be missed. We then take a short drive to Ban Phanom, a small village well known for its hand weaving. We visit these sights in the morning before catching a flight to Xiengkhouang. XiengKhouang is a province located in the north-east of the country which was heavily bombed during the Vietnam War era. On arrival we check in to the hotel, the rest of the day is free at your leisure. Overnight in Xiengkhoung (B)

Day 4. Xiengkhouang – Vientiane (flight)
Following breakfast at hotel, we transfer out to visit the Plain of Jars, an impressive archaeological site encompassing hundreds of large stone jars scattered throughout the plateau. In the afternoon there will be time to see the old capital of Muang Khoun Province and its nearby villages which are home to the H’mong hill tribe and Tai Dam people who possess an interesting local culture and a vibrant history. We then board our short flight to the charming and fascinating Lao capital Vientiane. On arrival we check in to the hotel. After short rest, we will visit the Morning Market and the weaving village of Ban Nong Bouathong. Overnight in Vientiane (B)

Day 5. Vientiane – City Tour
After breakfast, we see the major sights of the capital; including the oldest Wat Sisaket, the temple with thousands of miniature Buddha statues and the former royal temple of Wat Prakeo, which previously housed the famous Emerald Buddha Image. On the way to Lao’s national precious heritage, the famous and sacred structure of That Luang Stupa, we stop enroute to take some pictures of the imposing Patuxay Monument, which is well known as Vientiane’s own Arc de Triumph. In the afternoon we transfer out to see the Buddha Park, a scattered enchanting collection of Buddhist and Hindu sculptures on the Mekong riverside meadow, close to the Friendship Bridge. There are approximately 200 religious images dating back over 500 years, which were created by a mysterious monk spreading his philosophy on life and revealing his ideas about the universe. A spectacular view over the Mekong River at sunset is a perfect way to finish the day. Overnight in Vientiane (B)

Day 6. Vientiane – Departure
After breakfast, we transfer to the airport for our departure flight (B).

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