Tours & River Cruises

Tours in Laos

Ultimate Tour of Laos

Ultimate Tour of Laos

19 days / 18 nights

from Luang Prabang / to Pakse

Tour Highlights
• 19-day bumper trip round Laos –  the perfect tour for a Laos enthusiast
See Muang La, Nong Khiaw and Luang Prabang by boat
Visit the mystical “Plain of Jars” and relaxing Vientiane
• From the caves at Hin Boun Caves to Savannakhet and Bolaven Plateau
Experience authentic Si Phan Don (the 4,000 islands of the Mekong)
Daily flights and unlimited number of guests
This extensive 18-day round trip lets you experience the many faces of this exotic, tradition-steeped country in the heart of Southeast Asia: as well as seeing the highlights, you’ll also get to travel to its remotest corners. First on the itinerary is a visit to the former royal capital of Luang Prabang, the spiritual heart of Laos. After that, you’ll travel overland to the sleepy village of Nong Khiaw, passing through the scenic province of Oudomxai or the town of Muang La (according to your category of tour) on your way. After visiting the legendary Plain of Jars, you’ll move on to the capital city of Vientiane – and from there, further into the deep south. Though it has to much to offer visitors – including a UNESCO World Heritage Site, beautiful remnants of the French colonial era and spectacular natural wonders – this mysterious part of the country is just beginning to be frequented by Western tourists.

Itinerary

Day 1. Luang Prabang – Arrival (-)

Upon arrival you will be met by your guide and driver and transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Luang Prabang

Day 2. Luang Prabang – Full day city tour (B)

After breakfast 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 and Wat Visoun, known as ‘The Water Melon Stupa’ due to its shape. In the afternoon we visit the excellent Arts and Ethnology Centre which gives us a great insight into the ethnic mix and culture of Laos. We then visit the weaving and textile villages of Ban Xangkhong and Ban Xienglek. Our final stop of the day is a climb Mt Phousi, which offers a spectacular sunset and a panoramic view over Luang Prabang and the Mekong River.

Overnight in Luang Prabang.

Day 3. Luang Prabang – Half day elephant experience (B,L)

Your Itinerary on the half day Elephant experience:

Your Pick up service will await you in front of your hotel, at about 8:30. (Or pick up point) Together with your local guide you will proceed to drive out of Luang Prabang to the Elephant Park Project area and the “Elephant Village” about 15 km out of town and in the middle of a green, natural surrounding just on the banks of the Nam Khan river. Here you will be introduced to our protected Asian Elephants and go out for a scenic ride in the natural setting along the river and hills. Enjoy the new perspective and the wonderful nature as well as the tranquilityon this 1 hour ride through which you support the rescue of our former logging Elephants. A stunning landscape, tranquility and lush nature gives you a relaxed stay on the back of the Elephant. Lean back in your seat and enjoy the fact that you have just been helping those endangered creatures. On the ride you make your way through forests and along the Nam Khan river. A short boat ride will bring you to the amazing Tad Sae waterfalls(not in dry season). Here you can hang out and relax for a while in the refreshing cascades. Back to the Elephant Village you will enjoy a buffet lunch. After that you will have a transfer back into Luang Prabang. Arrival time in Luang Prabang at about 14:00 depending on free time spent at waterfall or camp. The Elephant Village offers an Elephant information house, a medical station, restaurant, river view terrace, massage opportunities along the riverside.

Overnight in Luang Prabang

Day 4. Luang Prabang – Oudomxay/Muang La (B, Dinner if stay at Muang La Resort only)

This morning we leave Luang Prabang and head north to Muang La. 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. After a lunch stop (not included) at Pakmong, about 3 hours drive north of Luang Prabang, the road twists and the scenery becomes increasingly mountainous. This section of the journey is a good opportunity to stop and explore some Hmong villages including Ban Xong Ja. We arrive at Oudomxay and pass through the market town, then continue onto Muang La, arriving there by late afternoon. The rest of the day is at leisure to relax at your peaceful resort.

Overnight in Oudomxay/Muang La.

Day 5. Oudomxay/Muang La – Visit the sacred Caves (B, Dinner if stay at Muang La Resort only)

After a quick transfer by vehicle (20 minutes), you start a 3 hours pleasant walk through fields where you will find local farmers occupy to cultivate their land, then you enter into a forest sheltering a sacred cave. Your eyes gradually get used to darkness, revealing your gaze to the old statue of a sacred Buddha…Return to the resort where the afternoon is at leisure.

Overnight in Oudomxay/Muang La.

Day 6. Oudomxay/Muang La – Nong Khiaw via Muang Khua (B, L)

This morning we drive to the riverside town of MuangKhua and board our local private boat for an unforgettable cruise down the Nam Ou River to NongKhiaw. This particular stretch offers stunning scenery and remote villages, including Ban Sob Jaem a Khmu and Hmong village that can only be accessed by boat. We reach NongKhiaw by late afternoon. Upon checking into your hotel, you have the option of taking a short bicycle ride to the picturesque local limestone caves nearby (bicycles available for hire at the resort, and your guide will be happy to assist).

Overnight in Nong Khiaw.

Day 7. Nong Khiaw – Luang Prabang (B)

This morning we cruise by private boat down the Nam Ou River, enjoying the lush green forests and landscape. We reach Ban Hat Khib, close to the new Nam Ou Dam area before continuing by car to Luang Prabang. On the way we stop to visit the mysterious caves of Pak Ou, two caves set in a limestone cliff facing the Mekong River crammed with thousands Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes. We arrive back in Luang Prabang by early afternoon where the rest of the day is at leisure.

Overnight in Luang Prabang.

Day 8. Luang Prabang – Phonsavanh (B)

We start early this morning, around 8am for the drive to Xiengkhuang, famous for the ‘Plain of Jars’. The road follows a twisty mountain route, and we make our first stop at Ban Houi Hia, which offers great views of the surrounding mountains. We then continue Ban Kiu Kharm Pom, a Khmu village to explore, before arriving in Phou Khoun for lunch. We continue on the road into Xiengkhuang province, reaching our highest altitude of the day 1500m above sea level, just after Phou Khoun. We have time to make a stop at Ban Sonboun, a Hmong village. Our final stops of the day are a reminder that this region played a major part during the Vietnam War – as we visit a hidden Buddha Cave, that served as an army hospital during thewarand our final stop of the day, is an optional stop to visit an old Russian tank. We arrive at your hotel by early evening.

Overnight in Phonsavanh.

Day 9. Phonsavanh – Plain of Jars (B)

This morning we visit 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.

Day 10. Phonsavanh – Vientiane (B)

We start this morning, visiting the interesting Central Market, We then transfer you to the airport of Xieng Khouang for  your flight to Vientiane (flight number and time) Upon arrival in Vientiane, you will be met by your driver and guide and transferred to your hotel, where you have the rest of the day at leisure.

Overnight in Vientiane.

Day 11: Vientiane (B)

An optional early start enables you to visit the fascinating local market of Thongkhankhamwhich is where the locals shop and a wide variety of weird and wonderful foods are on offer. We continue to explore the city by visiting 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 Patuxai Monument, 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 morning 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. In the afternoon we visit the quirky yet impressive Buddha Park, an enchanting collection of Buddhist and Hindu sculptures on the banks of the Mekong River. By no means historic – Buddha Park was built in the 1950’s by a self styled ‘holy man’ – the park features some very photogenic and unusual sculptures, including a huge reclining Buddha, and a giant pumpkin. Upon returning to Vientiane we have the option of stopping at the Lao Disabled Womens Centre, which provides valuable training and schooling for disabled women in Laos. The women here are friendly, and its interesting to have a chat with them to find out about their lives. A spectacular view of the Mekong River at sunset is a perfect way to finish the day.

Overnight in Vientiane.

Day 12. Vientiane – Hin Boune (B)

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 PrabahtPonsan, 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 HinBoun area by late afternoon, where you have the rest of the day at leisure.

Overnight in Hin Boune.

Day 13. Hin Boun – Kong Lor – Thakek (B, Picnic Lunch)

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.

Day 14. Thakek – Pakse via Savannakhet (B)

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.

Day 15. Pakse – Bolavan (B)

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 Bolavan.

Day 16. Bolavan – Wat Phou – Champasak (B)

Today we head out of the plateau, stopping first at the attractive Paxuam Waterfall. We then drive to Champassak arriving there just before lunch time. In the afternoon, we visit 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. Then we transfer you back to your hotel.

Overnight in Champasak.

Day 17. Champasak – Khong Islands (B)

This morning we take the ferry across the Mekong to Ban Muang, then visit the atmospheric ruins of the Khmer temple of Oup Mong at Ban HoueiTomo, located in the forest. We will then drive to Don Khong, the largest of the Mekong Islands, known locally as ‘Siphandon’, literally ‘4000 Islands’. Don Khong itself is a great place to relax and take in the traditional Lao rural life. We arrive on Khong Island via ferry by the afternoon.

Overnight in Khong.

Day 18. Khong Islands – 4000 Islands – Khone Islands (B)

Following breakfast we board a local private boat for a boat tour of the 4000 Islands. We reach the picturesque island of Don Khone and 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. Then we take a boat onto the Mekong to one of the few places in the world where it is possible to see freshwater dolphins. They reside in deep pools near the Cambodia border, and if you are lucky you may catch a glimpse of them. Then we return back to your hotel on Khone Island.

Overnight in Khone.

Day 19. Khone – Khone Phapeng – Pakse – Departure (B)

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 north to Pakse.

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 3.167 6.005 496
Hotel Category Superior 3.656 6.854 856
Hotel Category First Class 4.096 7.728 1.290
Note: During certain dates seasonal surcharges may apply, especially during Christmas and New Year and some nights from January to March 2016. 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 incl. 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
domestic flight in Economy Class for Xieng Khouang – Vientiane
boat tours and air-conditioned car/van transportation as detailed in the itinerary
• sightseeing as detailed in the itinerary incl. 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:
Luang Prabang: Villa Chitdara *** (Standard)
Oudomxay/Muang La: Lakham Guesthouse * (Standard)
Nong Khiaw: Mandala Ou *** (Fountain)
Phonsavanh: Vansana **(*) (Standard)
Vientiane: Phasouk Residencel **(*) (Standard)
Hin Boune: Sala Hin Boun ** (Riverside Residence)
Thakek: Inthira Thakek ** (Deluxe)
Palse: Pakse Hotel *** (Superior)
Bolavan: Tad Lo Lodge *** (Standard)
Champasak: Inthira Champasak *** (Superior)
Khong Island: Pon Arena **(*) (Standard)
Khone Island: Sala Done Khone **(*) (Ban Lao)
Hotel Category Superior:
Luang Prabang: My Dream *** (Classic)
Oudomxay/Muang La: Muang La Resort *** (Deluxe Garden)
NNong Khiaw: Nong Khiaw Riverside *** (Standard)
Phonsavanh: Vansana **(*) (Standard)
Vientiane: Beau Rivage *** (Superior Mekongview)
Hin Boune: Sala Hin Boun ** (Riverside Residence)
Thakek: Le Bouton D’or Boutique *** (Superior)
Palse: Residence Sisouk *** (Superior)
Bolavan: Tad Lo Lodge *** (Standard)
Champasak: The River Resort **** (Pond View)
Khong Island: Pon Arena **(*) (Deluxe)
Khone Island: Sala Done Khone **(*) (Floating Bungalow)
Hotel Category First Class:
Luang Prabang: Burasari heritage **** (Deluxe Balcony)
Oudomxay/Muang La: Muang La Resort *** (Deluxe Riverview)
Nong Khiaw: Mandala Ou *** (Riverfront)
Phonsavanh: Vansana **(*) (Deluxe)
Vientiane: Ansara **** (Savvy)
Hin Boune: Sala Hin Boun ** (Riverside Residence)
Thakek: Le Bouton D’or Boutique *** (Deluxe)
Palse: Residence Sisouk *** (Deluxe)
Bolavan: Tad Lo Lodge *** (Suite)
Champasak: The River Resort **** (Riverfront)
Khong Island: Pon Arena **(*) (Mekong Suite)
Khone Island: Sala Done Khone **(*) (French Residence)

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