Day 1: (Arrive) Vientiane (Night Food Market)
Upon arrival at Vientiane International Airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. In the early evening, head out to get your first taste of Laos (quite literally) as you take a tuk tuk to the Food Night Market near That Luang. At night the market comes alive and is a firm favourite amongst locals with very few tourists to be seen – offering an authentic insight into the local cuisine. Based on your tastes, your guide will pick out a few dishes for you to try for dinner before jumping back in the tuk tuk and heading to a local style beer garden where you can round off your evening with a few glasses of the local brew.
Day 2: Vientiane (City Tour & Tha Ngon River Cruise)
This morning, set off to explore a few of the major sites in Vientiane starting with a visit to the oldest Wat in Vientiane, Wat Sisaket, which is populated with thousands of miniature Buddha statues. Then move on to the former royal temple of Wat Prakeo, which now serves as a museum of arts and antiques before driving out to Tha Ngon, a popular riverside lunchtime spot with the locals. Here you’ll board a private boat and lunch will be served on board as you float leisurely down the river.
Returning to the city by late afternoon, you’ll visit Laos’ National icon, and most important religious building; the Golden Stupa of That Luang as well as the imposing Patuxai Monument, which resembles its Parisian inspiration, the Arc de Triumph. The climb to the top offers great views over Vientiane before returning to your hotel in the early evening.
Day 3: Vientiane (Market Tour & Cookery Class)
After breakfast, you will be picked up and taken to meet your chef for today. Travelling by tuk tuk around the city, your first stop will be at the local market for a unique tour and tasting experience, and the chance to select the best ingredients for the cookery class to follow. Before returning for the class, enjoy a coffee and a local snack at an authentic family run café, well away from the tourist trail. Suitably refreshed, head to a private house overlooking the Mekong River where your cookery class will commence. A welcome drink will be served upon arrival before you are shown, and try your hand at making a variety of delicious, traditional Lao dishes. Lunch will be your own efforts and will be enjoyed under the shade of the mango trees in the house garden. A Lao recipe booklet will be provided at the end of the course, so that you will be able to share your new-found skills with your family and friends upon your return home.
Day 4: Vientiane (Flight) – Luang Prabang (Petanque)
This morning you will be picked up from your hotel for a short transfer to the airport for your flight to the ancient capital Luang Prabang. On arrival in Luang Prabang, you will find your private guide and driver and will be transferred to your hotel with the rest of the afternoon free for you to relax or explore as you wish.
In the evening, reunite with your guide for an opportunity to get to know the locals. Experience some Luang Prabang nightlife and challenge your guide to a game of ‘Petanque’ or boules; a very popular sport in Laos before enjoying a local style BBQ dinner.
Day 5: Luang Prabang (Full Day Explore Cycling Tour)
If you’re up for an early morning start (5.30am), your guide will take you out to witness and partake in the daily morning ritual of ‘Tak Bat’ or giving alms to the monks – a unique ritual still followed by the locals in Luang Prabang. Perhaps you’d also like to take advantage of the early hour to visit the local fresh market in order to see how the locals shop, before returning to your hotel for breakfast.
After breakfast, your guide will meet you to take you on a cycling tour of Luang Prabang. First stop will be the quaint Royal Palace Museum, which offers a fascinating insight into the history of the region, before continuing to visit some of the city’s most beautiful temples, including the historic and enchanting temple of 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, cycle out to Ban Hat Hien, a traditional black smith village, then out towards Ban Don Kao, a Lao Loum village. Follow the dirt road as it meanders alongside the Mekong River, to the weaving village Ban Xangkhong, and then onwards to visit Wat Xienglek, an old stupa. After crossing the Nam Khan river, climb up to visit the hill top temple of Wat Phonphao, which offers beautiful views over Luang Prabang and the surrounding countryside before cycling back to your hotel at the end of the afternoon.
Note: other similar tours available if cycling doesn’t appeal.
Day 6: Luang Prabang (Kuang Si Waterfall & Elephant)
After breakfast, your guide will pick you up for a 45 minute drive out of town to visit the Kuang Si Waterfalls. Along the way, you can choose visit a nearby elephant camp or the Butterfly Park if you prefer.
At the Elephant camp, you will be offered a welcome drink and some information about the camp itself. You will then be introduced to the elephants and have the opportunity to feed them before taking a short scenic ride through the beautiful natural settings ending with another brief stop to bathe the elephants and watch them play in the water.
The Butterfly Park offers a unique experience amongst thousands of butterflies living within an enchanting 900m2 netted paradise. Here you can learn more about the wide variety of butterflies found in Laos and their preferred host plants, as you wander through the colourful flower-filled garden which features hundreds of different types of plants and even waterfalls.
Driving on to the beautiful Kuang Si Waterfall, you’ll have the chance to cool off with a refreshing swim in the turquoise pool or take a stroll along the forest trails.
End your day with a visit to the Bear Rescue Centre, which does a great job in protecting and rehabilitating the rare Asiatic Black Bear before returning to Luang Prabang by early evening.
Day 7: Luang Prabang (Kamu Lodge)
This morning, head to the boat pier and board a traditional Long River boat at the Kamu Lodge pier, for a leisurely cruise upstream. Pause to visit the sacred Pak Ou caves, where you’ll find thousands of gold Buddha statues placed by devotees before continuing on to reach Kamu Lodge around noon.
After checking into your supersize tents (with attached modern bathroom amenities and facilities), join your hosts for a home cooked Laotian’s meal communal-style in an comfortable Sala, set amongst the paddy fields.
After lunch, you can choose to relax at the veranda, or to participate in a variety of traditional Kamu activities including:
Rice planting and harvesting in the surrounding rice fields
Gold panning in the Mekong. Anything you may find is yours!
Trying your hand at traditional fishing techniques. You can sample your catch for dinner…
Visiting the nearby village of Ban Nioy Hai Village where you can meet the local Kamu villagers and learn a little more about their culture
Enjoy dinner with your local hosts before settling down in your comfortable tent for the night.
Day 8: Kamu Lodge – Luang Prabang
Perhaps you’d simply like to take a stroll around this harmonious local community or join in with another activity on offer before lunch and then spending the afternoon cruising back to Luang Prabang to arrive in the late afternoon.
Day 9: Luang Prabang (Ban Phadaeng Experience)
This morning, you’ll have the opportunity to meet Mr Ken, a young local entrepreneur who has climbed the social ladder from rural village boy, to a successful entrepreneur running his own social enterprise in Luang Prabang.
First visit will be to Big Brother Mouse, a locally run project committed to improving the lives of local children by publishing books that help to make it fun and easy to learn to read. The project relies on visitors to help them distribute the books which are not easily obtainable in Laos and those that do exist, very rarely reach the rural villages such as the one you will visit today.
Mr. Ken will then take you to visit his home village of Ban Padaeng, about 90 minutes’ drive from Luang Prabang and well off the tourist trail. In Ban Padaeng, you’ll have the chance to visit a school, constructed from bamboo, where you’ll have the unique opportunity to meet the young students and even participate in an English class or play some language games, before handing out the books you brought this morning.
After class , there will be some time to stroll around the village, and the nearby river before gathering to share a locally prepared lunch with the small team of teachers at the school. With the help of Ken, the teachers will tell you a little more about the school and answer any questions you may have.
Following lunch, participate in a Traditional Baci Ceremony, led by a village-elder, which involves gently tying cotton cords around your wrists, symbolizing friendship, good health and good luck on your journey ahead. With the ceremony complete, drive back to the city, stopping to visit the family home of Mr Ken before returning to Luang Prabang around 4.00 pm.
Day 10: Luang Prabang (Free Day)
Today will be free for you to relax or explore as you wish.
Day 11: Luang Prabang (Flight) – Pakse – Don Daeng
Today you’ll take a short flight to Pakse in southern Laos, and upon arrival, transfer to the idyllic island of Don Daeng, located in the heart of the Mekong where you will check into the delightful La Folie Lodge.
Day 12: Don Daeng (4000 Islands)
After an early breakfast, cross over to the mainland and drive south to Ban Hatsaikhone, where you’ll board a local private boat for a tour of the enchanting 4000 Islands region.
Reaching the picturesque island of Don Khone by lunchtime, you may like to spend afternoon exploring 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.
Returning to the mainland, visit the spectacular Khone Phapheng Falls, one of the largest and most powerful waterfalls in Southeast Asia before driving back to Don Daeng, arriving there by early evening.
Day 13: Don Daeng (Wat Phou)
Today you can take a boat across the Mekong to explore Wat Phou, an ancient Khmer religious complex dating back to the 5th Century. With its dramatic location, this temple is one of the highlights of any trip to Laos and definitely worth spending a few hours before returning to your hotel for an afternoon relaxing as you wish.
Day 14: Don Daeng (Onward) (Depart)
At a convenient time, cross the Mekong to the mainland for a transfer to the airport for your flight onward.
Trip ends… have a safe journey home.