Unseen Laos (9n/10d)

Wat Winsunalat

Wat Winsunalat

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. Overnight in Vientiane

Day 2. Vientiane – Luang Namtha
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. No activities are planned for the rest of the day so you can stroll around the town or just relax at the riverside retreat until the briefing about our upcoming trekking days. Overnight in Luang Namtha (B)

Day 3. Luang Namtha – Ban Nalan
Heading out of the town, we take a short drive to Ban Chalernsuk, a Khmu minority village 20 kilometres away from Luang Namtha. We get well and truly off the beaten track as we trek into this beautiful mountain region, using the local tracks. Today’s trekking may be tough at times with some steep uphill and down hill climbs, but the experience is unique and rewarding. The friendly Khmu hill tribe people conquer this small village; they have a primitive and basic lifestyle. We arrive at Ban Nalan by late afternoon; here we have a chance to understand a little more about the local culture and their daily lifestyle as we spend time with a Khmu family. We enjoy a local dinner and will reside as guests at the Khmu family house, the best way to experience authentic village life. The accommodation is simple dormitory style, no western facilities. (Home stay) (B, L, D)

Day 4. Ban Nalan – Ban Namlu – Luang Namtha
Todays trekking leads us along the bank of the river to Ban Namkoy, passing picturesque landscape of forests and rice fields. The forests here vary from a few isolated trees to overgrown bamboo. On arrival at Ban Namkoy we embark on a three-hour walk uphill. This trek is a real challenge, however some physical preparation will enable you to maximise your enjoyment from the walk. As we pass through several hamlets, we are sure to attract attention from the locals, as visitors do not frequent this remote part of the country. At the small village of Ban Namlu, we meet up with our truck and drive back towards Luang Namtha Town. Overnight in Luang Namtha (B)

Day 5. Luang Namtha – Xieng Kok – Moung Sing
Early this morning, we travel by road to Moung Sing, also home to various hilltribe communities. There is also a significant Chinese population and a lot of trade goes on between here and China. We stop 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. We depart this village, heading westbound, travelling over bumpy roads to Xieng Kok, which is a border town near the golden triangle. In late afternoon, we drive back to Muong Sing with stopover at the Lantern minority village. Overnight at Moung Sing (B)

Day 6. Muong Sing – Oudomxay
Early morning, we visit the bustling colourful Morning Market and the impressive ethnologic museum, dedicated to the region’s ethnic minorities. We visit these sights before we make our way journey to Oudomxay. Our splendid journey downhill passes numerous small villages en-route—visit Khmu, Lantene. On arrival at Oudomxay you will be transferred to your hotel before we commence our sightseeing tour of the town.  Explore the stupa of Santhiphap that overlooks this bustling centre of local trade and commerce. Overnight in Oudomxay (B)

Day 7. Oudomxay – Nong Khiow – Luang Prabang (Road and boat)
We depart early for our drive to Nong Khiow, where we board a traditional boat down the Nam Ou River to Luang Prabang. This tranquil town with its gleaming temple roofs, fading colonial architecture and stunning mountain backdrop has been claimed by UNESCO to be “the best preserved traditional city in South East Asia”. Enroute we visit the mysterious Pak Ou Caves where thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues are crammed into the two caves carved out of a towering limestone cliff. Continue down river to Ban Sang Hay village to sample the local rice wine known as Lao Lao. Arrive in Luang Prabang in the late afternoon and transfer to hotel. Overnight in Luang Prabang (B)

Day 8. Luang Prabang – City Tour
After breakfast, we start exploring 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. The zigzag path crosses over various temples to the sacred, gilded stupa of Wat Phou, another World Heritage Site, recognised by UNESCO in 2002. Overnight in Luang Prabang (B)

Day 9. Luang Prabang – Vang Vieng – Vientiane (Road)
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. After exploring this peaceful and dream-like city, we continue our journey to Vientiane capital. We arrive in Vientiane by late evening. Overnight in Vientiane (B)

Day 10.    Vientiane – Departure
After breakfast, you are free until your transfer to the airport.(B)

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