Tours & River Cruises

Tours in Laos

In-Depth Tour of Laos

In-Depth Tour of Laos

24 Days / 23 Night

from Houay Xay / to Pakse

Tour Highlights
• 24 days and 23 nights of Laos discovery
• Private boat cruise
• Thousands of golden Buddha at Pak Ou Caves
• Discover ancient Laotian structures
• Nature trip at Kuang Si Waterfalls
• Nong Khiaw bomb cave shelter
• Wildlife adventure at Ban Son Koua
• Night safari at Nam Nern
• Visit a hidden city
• Archeological discovery at Phonsavan
• Visit Tham Jang Limestone Cave
• City tour of Vientiane
• Kong Lor Caves tour
• Discover Laos’ colonial past at Savannakhet
• Get a taste of rural life all throughout the journey
• Pedal your way through Wat Phou’s ancient landmarks
• 90-minute elephant ride
• Island hopping at Mekong River
• Explore Don Khone aboard a bicycle
Laos is packed with charm and overflowing with indelible scenes. Experience it all on this evocative three week journey from north to south, taking in all the famous sights and getting off the beaten track on countless occasions. The landscapes compel, the people captivate, and this enchanting itinerary reveals why Laos is one of the world’s most talked about destinations.

Itinerary

Day 1.Huay Xay – Pakbeng by Shompoo Cruise

We transfer early this morning to the border town of Huay Xay. The Shompoo boat leaves Huay Xay pier at 09:00 hrs for a cruise down the Mekong to Pakbeng. En route one stop is made to observe rural life along the Mekong and visit minority ethnic groups; then, a buffet lunch on board. Arrive Pakbeng before sunset and check-in at Mekong Riverside Lodge. Dinner in the Lodge.

Overnight in Mekong Riverside Lodge- Standard Room

Meals: Lunch

Day 2.Pakbeng – Luang Prabang by Shompoo Cruise

Full breakfast at lodge, (Optional: walk to Pakbeng market, where people from the surrounding minority villages exchange their goods). At 08:30 board the boat for the second leg of the cruise. A short stop to discover a Hmong village before having a buffet lunch on board. Continue to Pak-Ou village at the mouth of the Nam Ou River, and then visit Pak Ou Caves “Cave of a thousand Buddha’s”. On the way to Luang Prabang a brief stop is made to observe the traditional process of manufacturing local rice alcohol. Arrive at Luang Prabang before sunset.

Overnight in Luang Prabang at Villa Chitdara- Superior Room

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 3.Luang Prabang – Explore Luang Prabang by Bicycle Full Day

After breakfast we begin our exploration of Luang Prabang by bicycle. First we visit the quaint Royal Palace Museum, which gives a good overview of the local history. We then begin our temple tour taking in some the cities most beautiful structures, including the country’s most historic and enchanting temple Wat Xiengthong, with its roof sweeping low to the ground, representing the classical Luang Prabang style, as well as the unique Wat Mai, with its five tiered roof andWat Visoun, known as ‘The Water Melon Stupa’ due to its shape.

In the afternoon we cycle out to Ban Hat Hien, a traditional black smith village, then out towards Ban Don Kao, a Lao Loum village. The dirt road then follows the Mekong River, and we reach Ban Xangkhong, a weaving village. We then visit Wat Xienglek, an old stupa, and cross the bridge over the Nam Khan River. Our final stop is the climb up Wat Phonphao, sat atop a hill offering beautiful views over Luang Prabang and the surrounding countryside. We then return by bicycle to your hotel.

Overnight in Luang Prabang at Villa Chitdara- Superior Room

Meals: Breakfast

Day 4.Luang Prabang – Tak Bat, Rice Farming and Kuang Si Waterfall

You can discuss with your guide for an optional early morning start (5.30am) to witness and partake in the daily morning ritual of Tak Bat or giving alms to the monks. This is a unique ritual still followed by the locals in Luang Prabang. We can also visit the local fresh market to see how the locals shop, before returning to your hotel for breakfast.

Transfer this morning by car to the Living Lands Organic Farm where you meet the local farming guide. You are invited to interact and experience each step of the rice harvest and will see how different tools are created. The tour ends with a tasting of the traditional foods made from rice. You will have a new appreciation for rice and admiration for the people of Lao who to this day continue to harvest rice without modern machinery.

In the afternoon continue to Kuang Si Waterfall, where you can enjoy a picnic lunch overlooking the falls. Next to the falls is a Bear Rescue Centre, that does a great job in protecting and rehabilitating the rare Asiatic Black Bear. We then return to Luang Prabang by late afternoon.

Overnight in Luang Prabang at Villa Chitdara- Superior Room

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5.Luang Prabang – Nong Khiaw

This morning we leave Luang Prabang and head north by private vehicle to Nong Khiaw. The morning drive brings us out into rolling countryside where you can admire the beauty of the Nam Ou River and the surrounding rice paddy fields. We arrive in Nong Khiaw by lunchtime. Upon checking into your hotel, you have the option of taking a short bicycle ride (hired from the resort) or an easy trek to the picturesque local limestone caves nearby – your guide will be happy to assist.

Overnight in Nong Khiaw at Mandala Ou- Riverside Room

Meals: Breakfast

Day 6.Nong Khiaw – Muang Ngoi – Trekking to visit Caves [&] Villages – Nong Khiaw

After breakfast at your hotel, we board a local boat for a short cruise up the Nam Ou River for about 1 hour to Muang Ngoi. Here you local village guide will meet you and we begin an easy day trek, taking in a cave, a Khmu minority village, some beautiful paddy field scenery and a Thai Daeng ethnic village. We return back to Muang Ngoi, where you can bathe in the river to cool down at the end of the day, as the locals do. We then return to Nong Khiaw by boat arriving there by early evening.

Overnight in Nong Khiaw at Mandala Ou- Riverside Room

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 7.Nong Khiaw – Vieng Thong

After breakfast, we travel by road to Vieng Thong, taking in the spectacular mountain scenery en route. We arrive in Vieng Thong by mid afternoon, where you have the rest of the day at leisure.

Overnight in Vieng Thong at Souksakhone GH

Meals: Breakfast

Day 8.Vieng Thong – Night Safari in Nam Et National Park (day1)

This morning we travel by vehicle to the village of Ban Son Koua. Here we board a long tail boat and cruise for 1 ½ hours on the Nam Nern River to the park headquarters where you will enjoy a lunch prepared by the villagers, and learn about conservation and management from the park staff.

At mid afternoon we depart for the night safari, stopping along the way at a salt lick, where your local guide, a skilled hunter and tracker, identifies animal tracks. After sunset, relax around a campfire, enjoy a BBQ dinner. A couple of hours after dark we float down the river quietly while your local guide looks for wildlife by torchlight. Approximately 2 hours later we arrive back at the park headquarters. Your accommodation for the night is in traditional Lao style huts in the forest.

Overnight in Nam Et National Park

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9.Vieng Thong – Night Safari in Nam Et National Park – Sam Neua

Before breakfast we rise early to explore the jungle where local guides will teach you about medicinal plants and explain the history of the area. After breakfast we take the boat back to Ban Son Koua, making a stop at a prime sport for bird watching. After lunch we continue by vehicle to Sam Neua, passing through breathtaking scenery along the way. We arrive in Sam Neua by early evening.

Overnight in Sam Neua at Chitthavong Hotel

Meals: Breakfast

Day 10.Sam Neua – Vieng Xai

We begin the day with an optional short walk around Sam Neua town, including a visit to a weaving house showroom, this area is highly regarded for its weaving products, particularly the traditional Lao skirt or ‘Sin’. We also take a walk along the river to visit the local wet market. We then set off on the short 45 minutes drive to Vieng Xai Caves, stopping at the village of Ban Na Taen en route. Vieng Xai Caves is where the Pathet Lao leaders lived during the “Secret War’. We start our fascinating audio tour, that includes a visit to the Kaysone Phomvihane (the leader of the Lao communist movement) Cave, and the Prince Soupanouvong (the ‘Red Prince’) Cave. We finish with the Artillery Cave that offers stunning views, over the surrounding countryside. In the afternoon, we take an easy walk to some of the little visited caves and an opportunity to take in the beautiful limestone karst scenery. We return to Sam Neua by late afternoon.

Overnight in Sam Neua at Chitthavong Hotel

Meals: Breakfast

Day 11.Sam Neau – Phonsavanh

We begin our long drive today starting early this morning along some fairly rough roads, we stop at Ban Sa Levy, a Tai Phong weaving village. In the afternoon we visit Hintang. Here we can see the mysterious menhirs (standing stones). No one is quite sure who built them or why, perhaps burial sites or markers of some sort. And our final stop at at Hmong and Khmu villages, as well as time to admire the breathtaking scenery with a series of photo stops before we arrive Phonsavanh by early evening.

Overnight in Phonsavanh at Vansana- Standard Room

Meals: Breakfast

Day 12. Phonsavanh – Plain of Jars Tour

This morning we visit the interesting Central Market, as well as the Mines Action Group (or MAG) office to learn about the important work they do in clearing land mines and unexploded ordnance in the area. We then drive out to the picturesque Jar Site 2, and begin a 1 hour trek along the ridge to Jar Site 3, consisting over around 150 jars located on top of a hill, offering great views. In the afternoon we visit Jar Site 1, the largest site, containing over 300 jars, before returning to your hotel by late afternoon.

Overnight in Phonsavanh at Vansana- Standard Room

Meals: Breakfast

Day 13.Phonsavanh – Vang Vieng

Start early this morning, visiting the interesting Central Market, then (time permitting) driving out to the ancient town ofMuang Khoun, the former provincial capital, where you can explore the ruins of a number of ancient pagodas in the Lanna style and Wat Phiawat, a ruined temple containing a huge sitting Buddha. We then travel by road to Vang Vieng, stopping for a late lunch in Phou Khoun. Following lunch we stop at Ban Hin Ngon, a picturesque Hmong village. We also have an optional stop at Koe Kuang, which boasts a local forest market, offering edible snakes, rats and assorted reptiles! Our final stop of the day is a short photo stop of the stunning limestone karst scenery at Phatang Mountainview point. We then arrive in Vang Vieng by early evening where you have the rest of the day at leisure.

Overnight in Vang Vieng at Thavonsouk- Riverfront Room

Meals: Breakfast

Day 14.Vang Vieng – Exploring Vang Vieng by bicycle and boat

After breakfast, enjoy a cycle ride along some quiet tracks, taking in stunning limestone karst scenery. A stop can also be made at a Tai Dam weaving village. After the 1 hour cycle ride, we arrive at a beautiful blue lagoon, where you can take a dip in its refreshing cool waters. There is also the option of climbing up to Tham Phoukham Cave, which boasts a vast cavern and impressive stalagmites.

We then continue by private vehicle back to Vang Vieng and onto an organic farm, where you can enjoy a delicious lunch overlooking the Nam Song River. After a leisurely lunch, we take a small private boat and cruise down the Nam Song River, taking in the beautiful scenery along the way. We arrive back at your hotel by early afternoon where the rest of the day is at leisure.

Note: non cyclists have the option of travelling by private minivan at no extra charge.

Overnight in Vang Vieng at Thavonsouk- Riverfront Room

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 15.Vang Vieng – Vientiane

This morning we visit Tham Jang cave, that offers great views over the Nam Song River and surrounding karst scenery. We then set out on the road towards Vientiane. En route we stop at Tha Heua, a small village that specializes in dried fish, which you will see hanging in front of the houses. We then continue to Nam Ngum, a picturesque popular with local day trippers from Vientiane. Following lunch overlooking the lake, we stop over at Ban Keun, which is famous for its salt mine. Here you can learn about the daily working life of the local people. Just outside of Vientiane we make a final stop at the interesting Don Makai Market, an insect market, where, the more adventurous can try some of the tasty snacks on offer! We arrive in Vientiane by early evening.

Overnight in Vientiane at Beau Rivage- Superior Room

Meals: Breakfast

Day 16.Vientiane – Half day City Tour

This morning, your half day city tour, begins with the oldest wat in Vientiane, Wat Sisaket with thousands of miniature Buddha statues, and the former royal temple of Wat Prakeo, which now serves as a museum of arts and antiques. We then travel up Lanexang Avenue you will have the opportunity to take some pictures of the imposing PatuxaiMonument, which resembles its Parisian inspiration, the Arc de Triomphe. The climb to the top offers great views over Vientiane. We continue onwards down Rue Singha 23 to Laos’ National icon, and most important religious building, the golden stupa of That Luang. The final visit of the day will be the excellent COPE exhibition centre, highlighting a much overlooked aspect of Laos and a major problem many of the local people face on a day to day basis in the form of unexploded ordnance as a result of heavy bombing campaigns during the Vietnam War area. We then return to your hotel.

In this afternoon is free time at your leisure

Overnight in Vientiane at Beau Rivage- Superior Room

Meals: Breakfast

Day 17.Vientiane – Hin Boun

You will be picked up this morning from your hotel and transferred south along route 13 to the central Lao province of Khammoune. En route we stop at Prabaht Ponsan, a stupa dating back to the 15th Century. It is also home to the Budhhas footprint, left when, as legend has it, he was crossing the Mekong. Following lunch we make stop at the interesting Ban Ton Na Mae Hmong Market, then continue onwards into Khammoune province and into the mountainous area, where a stop at a view point near Khoun Kham offers a breathtaking view over the karst scenery, or ‘limestone forest’. Our last stop of the day is Ban Thabuk, the ‘bomb boat village’ where they use old bomb casings from the Vietnam War as boats. We eventually reach Hin Boun area by late afternoon, where you have the rest of the day at leisure.

Overnight in Hin Boun at Sala Hin Boun- Riverside Residence Room

Meals: Breakfast

Day 18.Hin Boun – Kong Lor – Thakek

After breakfast at your lodge, we drive to Kong Lor village and board a small local boat into the famous Kong Lor Cave. We navigate through the cave, which is over 7km long and includes a spectacular cavern over 100m high, as well as a breathtaking stalagmite gallery which you can explore on foot. On the other side of the cave, we take a short walk past some tobacco drying huts to Ban Pon Ngam, a remote village, where you can enjoy your picnic lunch. Following lunch, we return through the cave by boat, and transfer directly by car to Thakek, arriving there by late afternoon, in time for a stroll along the riverfront to enjoy a sunset over the Mekong.

Overnight in Thakek at Inthira- Superior Room

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 19.Thakek – Pakse via Savannakhet

This morning we leave Thakek and stop to visit Tham Pa Fa or Buddha cave, which was rediscovered in April 2004. The cave contains 229 bronze Buddhas that are said to be over 300 years old. The cave is incredibly picturesque, situated high up in a limestone cliff, which offers great views from the top. We continue by road south and arrive in Savannakhet in time for lunch. In the afternoon, we have time to admire the old French Quarter of Savannakhet as well as the sacred That Inhang stupa, before heading out of the town to visit Soundra Salt Factory, for an interesting tour on local salt production methods. We then continue by road to Pakse, stopping to visit Don Khor, a village specializing in Buddha carvings for temples. We arrive in Pakse by early evening.

Overnight in Pakse at Residence Sisouk- Superior Room

Meals: Breakfast

Day 20.Pakse – Boleven – Tad Lo Lodge

Today you will be taken by road east into the Bolaven Plateau. The Bolaven Plateau is known for its cooler temperature being located high above the Mekong Valley. Our first stop is to visit Houey Ten, a village specializing in knifemaking. We then stop tea plantation, followed by a stop at Tad Fan Waterfall, a picturesque twin chute waterfall. We then make a stop at a coffee plantation, en route to Tha Teng Market, a colourful ethnic minority food market. Next we explore a couple of fascinating minority villages, Ban Bong Neua, an Alak village that boasts a sacrificial altar, and Ban Kokphung, a Katu village where they keep coffins under their houses. We arrive at the beautiful Tadlo Waterfall in the afternoon, where you have the rest of the day at leisure.

Overnight in Tad lo at Tad Lo Lodge- Standard Room

Meals: Breakfast

Day 21.Tad Lo Lodge – 4000 Islands – Done Khone

This morning, you will be transferred to Ban Hatsaikhone, where we board a local private boat for a boat tour of the 4000 Islands. We reach the picturesque island of Don Khone by lunchtime, and in the afternoon explore the island by bicycle, tracing the route of an old abandoned railway and admiring some of the old French Colonial buildings, and the beautiful Liphi Waterfall. We thentransfer you to your hotel.

Overnight in Done Khone at Sala Done Khone – French Residence Room

Meals: Breakfast

Day 22.Khone – Khone Phapeng – Champasack

Following breakfast we leave the island by boat and drive the short distance to visit the spectacular Khone Phapheng Falls, one of the largest and most powerful waterfalls in Southeast Asia. We then drive to Champasak, arriving there in the afternoon where you have the rest of the day at leisure.

Overnight in Champasack at River Resort- Riverfront Room

Meals: Breakfast

Day 23.Champasack – Half Day Wat Phou

After breakfast, we drive to Wat Phou, an ancient Khmer religious complex dating back to the 5th Century. This dramatically sited temple is one of the highlights of any trip to Laos. We then transfer you to your hotel

This afternoon is free time at leisure.

Overnight in Champasack at River Resort- Riverfront Room

Meals: Breakfast

Day 24.Champasack – Pakse

This morning you may have free time at until you will be transfer to Pakse for your flight departure.

Meals: Breakfast

Rates & Services

Rates: 01.10.2015 – 30.04.2016

Price per person in USD (private tour) 2 persons in double room 1 person in single room(single traveller) Single room supplement
Hotel Category Standard 4.987 9.156 904
Note: On 24.12 and 31.12, some hotels charge for compulsory gala dinners. Please inquire with us to find out whether this applies for your tour.During certain dates, seasonal surcharges may apply, especially during Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year (15.02. – 21.02.15). Please inquire with us to find out whether this applies for your tour.

Would you like to book this tour or request changes to the itinerary?

Please fill out our form for tailor-made changes to an itinerary here.

For rates for 3 or more travellers in one booking, please inquire with our team.

Services included in our rates:
• accommodation inc. breakfast (B)
• other meals as detailed in the itinerary (L=lunch, D=dinner)
• local specialized tour guide (English-speaking, other languages available on request)
• all transfers
• boat tours and air-conditioned car/van transportation as detailed in the itinerary
• domestic flights as detailed in the itinerary, economy class (20 kg luggage per person)
• sightseeing as detailed in the itinerary inc. entrance fees
• one high-quality guidebook per room
Services NOT included in our rates:
• international flights from and to your country of origin
• travel insurance
• meals other than those explicitly mentioned, drinks, tips and personal expenses
• visa fees
Travel dates [&] minimum no. of travellers:
• any day departure
• no minimum number of travellers
• this tour is a private tour and you will not be travelling with people other than those you booked with
As this is a private tour, you can depart on the day of your choosing and alter the daily sightseeing program to suit your interests. Inquire with our team to extend this tour or to combine it with our other programmes.

Our Selection of Hotels for You

Hotel Category Standard:
Pakbeng: Mekong Riverside *** (standard room)
Luang Prabang: Villa Chitdara ** – *** (superior room)
Nong Khiaw: Mandala Ou *** (riverside room)
Vieng Thong: Souksakhone ** (standard room)
Nam et Nationalpark: Jungel Lodge * (hut) Sam Neua: Chitthavong Hotel ** (standard room)
Phonsavan / Eben der Tonkrüge: Vansana **-*** (standard room)
Vang Vieng: Thavonsouk **-*** (riverfront room)
Vientiane: Beau Rivage *** (superior room)
Hin Boun: Sala Hin Boun ** (riverside residence)
Thakek: Inthira Hotel ** (superior room)
Pakse: Residence Sisouk *** (superior room)
Bolaven Plateau:Tad Lo Lodge *** (standard room)
Done Khone:Sala Done Khone *** (French riverside room)
Champasak: River Resort *** (riverfront room)

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