Laos essentials and Yunnan meetings


ITINERARY: Luang Prabang – Vang Vieng – Vientiane – Kunming – Yuanyang – Jianshui – Dali – Xizhou – Shaxi – Shangri La – Lijiang – Shuhe – Kunming

 DURATION: 19 days and 18 nights on the spot

Day 1

Arrival in Luang Prabang (L)

 Note: Upon your arrival at Luang Prabang International Airport, it is possible to obtain your visa on arrival (VOA). Simply bring 1 passport picture along with between USD 30 and 45 / person in cash, visa fees varying from one nationality to another. Make sure your passport is valid at least 6 months beyond your return departure date. Visa on Arrival forms are available before immigration counters.

Welcome by your Lao English-speaking tour guide in the arrival hall.

Short orientation tour around Luang Prabang town and transfer to hotel.

Lunch at the restaurant of the hotel.

Check-in.

Then, short visit to Phou Si hill. The hill commands great views over the town, the Mekong and the Nam Khan rivers and the mountainous ranges. It takes you 328 steps to reach the top, and at sunset set, the changing colors of the sky are particularly spectacular. The light reflecting on the golden spire of the temple at the top is also beautiful. The stairs are lined up with flamboyant and frangipani trees providing a deserved shade as you walk up and down.

Once back to ground level, stop at the awakening Hmong minority people Night Market. It is held daily in the streets around the National Museum. Villagers come here to sell their handicrafts.

Accommodation in Luang Prabang.

Day 2

Luang Prabang (B/L)

Breakfast at the hotel.

Half day city tour with essentials:

Start with The National Museum that used to be the former Royal Palace. Inside the complex of the National Museum, you will see the “Prabang” sacred golden statue, giving its name to the town.

Then visit Vat Mai, the former royal temple.

Vat Sene, one of the most beautiful temples in town, with its red walls and golden bas-reliefs.

TAEC, the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre. Depicts Laos ‘rich ethnic diversity with themed rotating exhibits. It is hosted in a former French colonial times judge’s mansion.

End with the Heritage House being a perfect example of Luang Prabang traditional building, made of wood on poles, at the back of Vat Xieng Muane.

Drive to Ock Pop Tok weaving center, on the bank of the Mekong. Enjoy lunch at “Silk Road Café

Ock Pop Tok dyeing session. The Natural Dyes Class is an introduction to silkworms and silk types. In this class, students have a hands-on experience with natural dye preparation and complete their own color dyes. At the end of class you will take home 3 dyed silk skeins. Many of the natural dyes used are grown in their garden. Just to name but a few colors are turquoise, ochre, golden, ivory, emerald green, etc.

Accommodation in Luang Prabang.

Day 3

Luang Prabang – Pak Ou Caves – Kuang Si Waterfall (B/L)

Breakfast at the hotel.

Enjoy a morning visit to the beautiful Vat Xieng Thong, one of the most emblematic temples in Laos. It is located at the top of the peninsula, where the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers meet.

Then, continue to the pier to board your long-boat for a highly scenic 2 ½ hour boat ride up the Mekong River to the mysterious Pak Ou Caves. In Pak Ou, thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues are crowded into the two caves carved out of a towering limestone cliff. They range in size from a few centimeters to the size of a human.

Return to Luang Prabang.

Lunch at “Un Petit Nid”. This 1920’s restored mansion is an enjoyable place in a quiet part of town. The terrace with frangipani trees is pleasant.

Afternoon, depart to Kuang Si waterfall, 32 km south-west of Luang Prabang. En-route you will make stops to visit ethnic minority villages. Kuang Si is a good place to get more familiar with endemic and endangered Asian Black Bear at the Rescue Center.

It is also possible to hike to the top of the falls via a steep trail, and if the weather is good, you might enjoy a swim in the crystal clear water ponds at the foot of the falls.

Return to town and enjoy a game of Petanque with local residents. Another French legacy here. This balling game is extremely popular with Lao gentlemen. Civil servants and retired people are numerous to gather in the late afternoon and evening to share some happy moments together. Bottles of Beerlao are often around and chit-chat playing with friends is another opportunity to cheer on any occasion!

Accommodation in Luang Prabang.

Laos essentials and Yunnan meetings

Day 4

Luang Prabang - Vang Vieng (B/L)

Breakfast at the hotel.

Leave Luang Prabang town by road down to Vang Vieng. A drive will take around 6 hours passing by ever green mountainous landscapes.

Stop en route to visit some villages along the way and recommend lunch a rest for lunch at Phou Pieng Fa restaurant. The site with amazing panoramic 360* views over the valley.

Arrive in Vang Vieng, in the second half of the afternoon.

Check-in at the hotel.

Day 5

Vang Vieng – Vientiane (B/L)

Breakfast at hotel.

Visit Tham Jang cave, then leave Vang Vieng and continue overland to Vientiane, the capital of Laos. It takes around 3 hours.

Lunch at Makphet restaurant.

This afternoon, sightseeing starts with Vat Sisaket: the only temple left intact after the Siamese invasion in 1828. It shelters hundreds of statues of Buddha in its walls.

And continue with Vat Phra Keo, now used as a religious museum where you can see Lao and Khmer works of art. It used to host the “Emerald Buddha” that is now on display at Bangkok’s Royal Palace.

Continue to That Luang, the holiest place in Laos and object of an amazing pilgrimage in November. It is iconic and represented on all bank notes and official stamps. It is a golden stupa that crowns a small hill.

And conclude with Patuxai Monument, also called Anousavari, and enjoy a panoramic view over the city from the roof. It is Vientiane’s own Arc de Triomphe that is located at the top of Lan Xang Avenue, the Champs Elysees of the Lao capital.

Accommodation in Vientiane.

Day 6

Vientiane – Buddha Park (B/L)

Breakfast at hotel.

Meet your guide at hotel, then visit Buddha Park. It is located around 30 minutes driving from down town, locally also call Vat Xieng Khuan. It contains numerous of religious sculpture mix up Hindu and Buddhist styles which it is over 200 statues along the Mekong River bank. Return to town and stop en-route visit at Lao Disable Women’s Development Center and lunch at the restaurant on site.

Then, return to Vientiane and visit COPE center with a part of Lao history that is not very well known: the Secret War, which corresponds to the Vietnam War (also known as American War from a Vietnamese standpoint). Laos is unfortunately the country which has received the most bombs per capita in the entire history. Still today, a good deal of those unexploded ordnance (UXOs) explode as people work their fields and children play in the countryside. Laos is actively fighting the use of these cluster bombs and COPE Center will depict and inform visitors on these issues. And part of the complex is actually a medical center where disabled people get new hopes as they receive prosthesis and get new mobility after reeducation.

Free at leisure to stroll along the Mekong River and the local night market.

Accommodation in Vientiane.

Laos essentials and Yunnan meetings

Day 7

Vientiane - Kunming (B)

(Altitude: 1800 m)

Today you will have take away breakfast because an early morning transfer will take you to the airport for your flight to Kunming Yunnan. (Lao Airlines QV 815, 07h20-09h50. Reserved by yourself or through OneclicktoAsia.)

At the airport you will be welcomed by you chauffeur (carrying a plate with your name), who will transport you to your hotel, situated in the beautiful surroundings of central Kunming. You will have the rest of the day off to walk around the city yourself. You can for example walk up to the Emerald Lake, were locals like to walk, sing, dance and play music. Extend this walk to the Yuagtong Buddhist temple.

Day 8

Kunming – Yuanyang (B/L/D)

(8 hours – altitude : 1800 m)

At 8.00 you will meet with your English speaking guide and chauffeur and get ready for a long trip to Yuanyang. On the way you will stop at a Mongolian village Xingmeng, inhabited by descendants from the Kubilai Khan army.

Lunch will be served by a family living in the heart of the former residence of the Zhang family in the village of Tuanshan. Discover the beautiful double dragon bridge before you continue to Duoyishu in Yanyang region.

You will stay the night and eat your dinner at a hotel that faces terraced rice fields.

Day 9

Yuanyang (B/L/D)

(2 hours)

After breakfast you will go to another village in the Yuanyang region to attend a morning market. Here, you can meet different minorities including the Yi, Hani and Dai. Continue to a Yi village were the locals have prepared a show full of traditions songs and dances. This show is both charming and touching because all revenues go directly to the families. One of the families that prepared the show will also prepare our lunch.

In the afternoon we will do a 2 to 3 hour hike through the beautiful terraced rice fields and ethnic villages.

Dinner and overnight in your hotel.

Laos essentials and Yunnan meetings

Day 10

Yuanyang - Jianshui (B)

(4 hours)

Breakfast at the hotel. You will have the possibility to visit another market before getting on the road to Jianshui. Lunch will be consumed on the road.

In the afternoon, visit the temple of Confucius, the second biggest temple in China after the Qufu temple. The sight consists out of a large park with a pond, several courtyards, beautiful porticos, temples and pavilions. If time permits we can also visit a tofu factory.

Your hotel is situated in the beautiful residence of the Zhu family. The building is one of the best persevered ones in Yunnan, surrounded by courtyards, pavilions and gardens.

Day 11

Jianshui - Kunming – night train to Dali (B)

(5 hours)

Stroll through the old town of Jianshui to the ark Chaoyang which houses a small bird market. On the way back to Kunming you will discover a tea plantation where you will pick and manufacture your own tea while learning about the different sorts of tea in China.

In the evening you will attend the sing and dance show ‘Dynamic Yunnan’ performed by minorities. After the show you will be transferred to the train station to get on the night train (sleeper) to Dali. The train will depart at 10.47 P.M. and arrive in Dali at 7.22 A.M. local time.

Day 12

Kunming – Dali – Xizhou (B)

(1 hour – altitude : 1900)

Meet with you chauffeur at the train station. He will transfer you to the old town of Dali where you can have breakfast. You can walk through the old streets that are still quiet at this time of day. Continue to the pleasant Bai minority village Zhoucheng. Talk to the inhabitants (they might show you how to paint batik) and visit the small outdated but charming temples.

After the visit you will drive to Xizhou.

Check in at your comfortable boutique hotel, built in a beautiful traditional Bai. Get on a large boat for a trip on Lake Erhai and watch some traditional fishers that use birds to catch the fish. Please not that this activity is only organized for tourists because the local people do not use this technique anymore.

If you wish we can replace the fishing activity with a visit to the Temple of the Three Pagodas after the visit to Dali.

In the late afternoon you can relax at the hotel, explore the surrounding countryside of Lake Erhai by bike (available at the hotel) or stroll through Xizhou which harbors beautiful old houses. The hotel organizes a presentation about the history and architecture of the place every day at 17.00 in English.

Laos essentials and Yunnan meetings

Day 13

Xizhou - Shaxi (B)

(2 hours – altitude : 2050)

Walk from your hotel to the morning market of Xizhou. After this visit you will drive to Shaxi. Lunch will be served to the way there.

In the afternoon you can discover the Shibaoshan Mountain, beautiful Buddhist sculptures carved into rocks and Zen temples. Afterwards you can walk or drive down a small path to the old town of Shaxi. Stroll through the former centre of trade on the tea and horses caravan route.

You hotel is situated in the old town.

Day 14

Shaxi - Shangri La (B)

(5 hours – altitude : 3200 m)

Today you will travel to Shangri La, in the Tibetan region. On the way you will discover different stages of pottery making in a rustic workshop. However, we can only visit if the artisans are at work. Your second stop is at the bend of the Yangtze at the village of Shigu. Continue walking to the Tiger Leaping Gorge between the Haba Mountain (5400 m) and the mountain of the Jade Dragon (5600), which is one of the deepest in the world. A short walk of 40 minutes will take you to the bottom of the gorge.

Continue on the beautiful mountainous road to Shangri La. Check in at your hotel in Shangri La which is only a 5/10 minute walk away from the centre and enjoy the rest of your day off.

Day 15

Shangri La (B)

Today you will tour though Shangri La and its region. Starting at the beautiful Tibetan monastery Songzanlin. Walk through the local market and the old city which was destroyed in 2014 by a big fire on January 11th. Visit the Bai Ji Si Temple and enjoy its beautiful view of the surroundings of Shangri La and the Shika mountains.

Walk or cycle through the Tibetan surroundings. Make some random stops along the road to meet the welcoming Tibetan families. They might let you taste Yak butter tea, ‘tsampa’ cheese and yak butter which are local specialties and the foundation for their daily meals. Is you wish you can attend in the spontaneous dancing with the locals people in the old town.

Laos essentials and Yunnan meetings

Day 16

Shangri La - Lijiang – Shuhe (B)

(4 hours – altitude : 2300 m)

This morning you will drive to Lijiang. Arriving there in time to enjoy lunch in the heart of the old town. Afterwards stroll through its narrow streets, designed for tourists and shopping. End your time at Lijiang village at the Black Dragon Pond.

You car will take you to Shuhe, a Naxi village situated in the heart if the Lijiang valley.

Day 17

Shuhe – night train to Kunming (B)

Cycle through the Lijiang Valley and visit the Naxi minority villages Baisha and Yuhu at the foot of the Jade Dragon Mountain. Stop along the way to discover the rural lifestyle.

Back in Shuhe you can stroll through its pastoral and festive Old town.

After dinner you will be taken to the train station to get on the night train to Kunming.

Note: There is also a possibility to fly from Lijiang to Kunming on the next morning (119 USD pp)

Day 18

Kunming – stone forest (B)

(4 hours)

Meet your guide and chauffeur after your arrival at the train station at 6.52.

After breakfast you will drive to Shilin. The stone forest is located here. We propose a walk of about 2 hours at the sight between the rocky peaks and through narrow paths, away from the many Chinese tourists.

Back in Kunming we will visit the Golden temple and stroll the center of the city if time allows.

Laos essentials and Yunnan meetings

Day 19

Departure (B)

You will have some spare time before the transfer will take you to the airport.

 End of Services

Each program is absolutely customizable in terms of duration, itinerary, stops, types of accommodation, inclusions and activities. Anything actually! In line with your wishes and budget constraints.