Taste of Laos (11n/12d)

The Mekong Waterway is a life source for several countries

The Mekong Waterway is a life source for several countries

Day 1.    Arrival – Vientiane
On arrival in Vientiane Capital, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Located on the banks of the Mekong River, Vientiane is a charming and fascinating capital, with an interesting mix of Lao, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, French, Soviet and American influences. A city tour acquaints us with the capital and after freshening up, we start visiting some the major sights, including the oldest temple Wat Sisaket, an amazing structure featuring remarkable frescoes and Buddha images. We also visit the former royal temple of Wat Prakeo, which previously housed the famous Emerald Buddha Image. Enroute to Lao’s national precious heritage, the famous and sacred structure of That Luang Stupa, you will have the opportunity to take some pictures of the imposing Patuxay Monument, which is well known as Vientiane’s own Arc de Triumph.

Day 2.    Vientiane – Luang Namtha – Moung Sing
The journey northwards begins as we board our flight to Luang Namtha, a province sharing its border with China and Myanmar. Luang Namtha is located on the banks of the Namtha River is a land of rugged mountains and beautiful tropical forests. Today Luang Namtha is populated with over twenty ethnic groups, making this region one of the most ethnically diverse provinces in Laos. On arrival, we travel by road to Moung Sing, stopping along the way at the Akha hill tribe village. This ethnic group originally lived in China but immigrated into Laos over a century ago. They have a vibrant culture and an interesting history. Overnight in Moung Sing (B)

Day 3.    Moung Sing – Trekking  
The remote and extremely beautiful mountainous region of Muong Sing is ideal for an adventurous trekking expedition. After breakfast we stroll round this small town observing the daily activities of the ethnic minorities in the village and see the small vendors sell local textiles and handicrafts on the streets. We leave the village and take a short drive north before we setting off on a half-day trek, using the local tracks. We pass through some breathtaking mountain landscape to the Yao, Akha and Lanten hill tribe villages, where we are sure to attract attention from many ethnic minorities, as visitors are not frequently encountered in this remote part of the country. Overnight at Moung Sing (B)

Day 4.    Moung Sing–Luang Namtha–Oudomxay
We depart early this morning for our journey to Oudomxay. These back roads are a perfect way to venture off the beaten track and explore the real Laos. We see very few other travellers, mostly rural dwellers who are just as interested in finding out about our lives as we are of theirs. The drive can be challenging on some parts of our journey due to poor road conditions, however the verdant and rugged mountain scenery combined with the colourful local population makes for a memorable experience. On arrival we check in at a very simple hotel and take a walk to explore this picturesque hill town. Overnight at Oudomxay (B)

Day 5.    Oudomxay – Muong La – Muong Khoua
The local market also attracts numerous ethnic minorities who converge from the surrounding mountainsides or valley to barter and trade their goods. We visit this congregation before setting off on our journey along the Nambak River to Muong La. Here we have the chance to visit the intriguing Pra Xack Kham Temple with its sacred Buddha image. The 400 years old legendary statue is said to have many supernatural powers, and is widely worshipped among the faithful local Buddhists. As we continue from Muong La towards Muong Khoua, the roads begin to deteriorate but the drive is very interesting as we pass through some stunning landscape. Overnight in Muong Khoua (B)

Day 6.    Muong Khoua – Nong Khiow – Luang Prabang (Boat)
Today, embark a long tail traditional boat for a leisurely trip downstream on the Nam Ou River, enjoying the lush green forests and landscape. Along the way we stop to visit the mysterious caves of Pak Ou, two linked caves crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes left by devoted pilgrims. We continue our trip down the river to the UNESCO World Heritage City of Luang Prabang. This former royal capital with its gleaming temple roofs, fading colonial architecture and stunning mountain backdrop retains a unique charm rarely found in all Asia. There is little traffic on the roads and you will see monks dressed in orange robes scurry in all directions carrying umbrellas shading themselves from the sun. Overnight in Luang Prabang. (B)

Day 7.    Luang Prabang – City Tour
It is worth a visit to 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. Today we explore some of the major sights in this fabulous city, including the impressive stupa of Wat Visoun, the shrine of Wat Aham, the city’s oldest temple of Wat Sene and Wat Mai. We visit these sights as well as the magnificent Wat Xiengthong, its exterior architecture is remarkable with decorated gilded stuccoes and doorways, a “tree of life” mosaic pattern set in coloured glass on the back wall and its three tiered roofs sweeping low to the ground representing classical Laotian architecture. A visit to Luang Prabang would be incomplete without ascending 329 steps to the top of Mount Phousi for an enjoyable exploration of the sacred, gilded stupa and to enjoy a beautiful sunset view of the city and its glowing reflection on the Mekong River. From there, we explore the Night Market, where you can find a lovely selection of handmade textiles made by local and hill tribe people surrounding Luang Prabang. Overnight in Luang Prabang (B)

Day 8.    Luang Prabang – Vang Vieng
After breakfast, we leave this charming city in the early morning for our journey to Vang Vieng. Our journey will be strenuous as we drive along one of the most scenic but also one of the roughest routes in Asia. In the afternoon we arrive in Vang Vieng, a small and tranquil town, which is nestled on a bend of the Nam Song River. Its stunning scenery with a mixture of quiet water and limestone outcrops remains unspoiled, despite recent developments with the advent of tourism. On arrival we check into your hotel and then embark on our boat for a relaxing trip on the Nam Song River, exploring the breathtaking mountain landscape Overnight in Vang Vieng (B)

Day 9.    Vang Vieng – Day trekking
The limestone cliffs and valleys surrounding the resort complex of Vang Vieng are home to numerous caves and caverns. The most famous in Vang Vieng is the cave of Tham Jang, which was used in the early 19th century in defence against the Chinese invaders. We visit this beautiful cave this morning before we take a walk to the Tai Deang and the Souay hill tribe villages. The hill tribe people are unfailingly friendly, welcoming you with waving hands and smiling faces. The rest of the day is free for your leisure for further exploration or for relaxing in this peaceful town. Overnight in Vang Vieng (B)

Day 10.    Vang Vieng – Vientiane
Heading out of town we drive back to Vientiane. Along the way we make a stop to visit the archaeological sight of Vang Xang dating back to the 11th century. After checking into your hotel we transfer out to see the Buddha Park, a scattered enchanting collection of Buddhist and Hindu sculptures on the Mekong Riverside meadow, near 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. Observing the spectacular view of over the Mekong River at sunset from one of the riverside bars is a perfect way to finish the day. Overnight in Vientiane (B)

Day 12.    Vientiane – Departure
After breakfast, we visit the Morning Market and the weaving village of Ban Nong Bouathong if time permits. The tour ends after your transfer to Wattay airport for departure. (B)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s