Magic encounters in northern Laos


ITINERARY: Luang Prabang – Pakbeng – Muang La – Nong Khiau – Luang Prabang

DURATION: 11 Days / 10 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 and transfer to your hotel for check in.

The crown jewel of Laos, Luang Prabang perhaps the best preserved traditional city in Southeast Asia. It is a sleepy town that has a long-standing reputation as a stronghold of Lao culture with splendid natural scenery and a sense of timelessness. Magical and charming Luang Prabang is a destination that every traveler has to see once in their lifetime. In 1995, Luang Prabang was voted by UNESCO as a World Heritage city.

Lunch at local restaurant.

We then ascend 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, ends your day by stopping 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)

At 0540AM, head by Tuk-Tuk to the peninsula to witness and attend alms giving. Long lines of monks and novices stroll the street of the town center to collect their daily food subsistence from the worshippers. This ancient ritual is locally known as “Tak Bat.

Continue with a visit to the open-air food market that is held daily in the streets nearby the former Royal Palace. Lao people still like buying fresh food. While fridges are widely spread in households, people prefer going to local markets and returning home with fresh ingredients.

Return to the hotel for breakfast.

Half day city tour with essentials:

The National Museum that used to be the former Royal Palace, where is presented the “Pra bang” sacred golden statue, giving its name to the town.

Then visit Vat Mai, Adjacent to the nation museum.

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 centre, 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 – Kuang Si Waterfall – Luang Prabang (B/L)

Breakfast at the hotel.

Afternoon, excursion by road to Kuang Si waterfall, a picturesque series of cascading waterfalls hidden in the forest (bring your swimsuit if you would like to enjoy a refreshing dip in the cool water of the pools). En route to the falls, your guide will take you to some of the nearby ethnic minority villages for a look into Laotian rural life and a chance to interact with the locals.

You will also have the opportunity to visit the Asian Black Bear 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.

Today, you will enjoy a picnic lunch at the foot of the falls.

Back to town, free time at leisure.

In the late afternoon, enjoy Petanque games with local residence. 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 Beer Lao are often around and chit-chat playing with friends is another opportunity to cheer on any occasion!

Accommodation in Luang Prabang.

Magic encounters in northern Laos

Day 4

Luang Prabang – Pak Ou – Pakbeng (B/L/D)

Breakfast at the hotel.

Transfer to boat pier to enjoy a cruise excursion up to Pakbeng with the scenery along the Mekong River. En-route stops to visit Pak Ou village at the mouth of the Nam Ou River where you can visit to the mysterious of 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.

Lunch will be served on board.

After lunch, we will continue your cruise up to Pakbeng.

You will arrive in Pakbeng’s pier before sunset and check in & dinner at hotel

Dinner and accommodation in Pakbeng.

Day 5

Pakbeng (B/L/D)

Breakfast at the hotel.

Today we will be in touch with the biggest animals in southern Asia: as you have guessed elephants. During the elephant treks, which wind through the surrounding forest over paths connecting various different villages, guests will be offered the chance to guide elephants along the paths, to take them down to the river, to bathe them, to feed them and also to help find them in the morning! The trek also initiates guests into basic mahout techniques.

The day starts off with the elephant bath which lasts about 30 minutes. The camp’s pool is designed to allow all 8 elephants to bathe at the same time, Spectators can view the elephant bath from a platform overlooking the pool. After the elephant bath, visitors are helped on to the backs of the elephants for the trek. The elephant trek starts off with a ride down a river bed surrounded by bamboo foliage. The trek continues into the forest. Then the view opens out to give a beautiful view over the surrounding countryside, along the way visitors can catch a glimpse of the Mekong in the valley below. And the elephants then pass through a Hmong village and the elephants also pass by another group of elephants during the trek and then we return to the Mekong Elephant Camp.

Dinner and accommodation in Pakbeng.

Day 6

Pakbeng – Oudomxay - Muang La (B/L)

Breakfast at the hotel.

Today, we will transfer by road to Oudomxay and Muang La (about 4 hours), with a few stops to meet ethnic villages.

Oudomxay is now an important trading hub and as you leave it behind you, you will notice the contrast as you head into the unspoiled countryside. This northern region of Laos is very mountainous and green, with rice paddies and plantations dividing areas of thick jungle. You will encounter various tribes on this part of your holiday and even on the drive to the hotel you will pass some villages perched precariously on steep mountainsides and then others in the valleys carved out by ancient rivers.

Lunch at the local restaurant.

Arriving at the village of Muang La, nestled in a beautiful natural setting and spends your free time at leisure, relax and enjoy the views.

Accommodation in Muang La.

Magic encounters in northern Laos

Day 7

Muang La – Ethnic villages – Muang La (B/L)

Breakfast at the hotel.

This full day tour is only walking and between the villages. Transferring by 4×4 is the only way to cover enough ground and climb the steep mountains in order to reach the most untouched and fascinating villages in the regions.

You set off to visit an Ikhos village and a Hmong village; two of the many ethnic groups in Laos. Your route climbs to 1,000m above sea level and offers some magnificent views of the stunning mountain scenery. Your first visit is a completely isolated Ikhos village; this ethnic group originates from Tibet and Yunnan Province in China. You learn about the daily life of the village and how the villagers still follow customs passed down through the centuries.

You take your picnic lunch enjoying the amazing surroundings.

After lunch, an optional short walk (20 minutes) takes you to an abandoned Hmong village with a stunning 360° panorama. You continue on to visit a Hmong village – this ethnic group originates from the high steppes of Tibet and you will learn about their way of life, the importance of their livestock (pigs, buffaloes…..) and the care that they give to their animals.

After that we return to the hotel at the end of the day.

Accommodation in Muang La.

Day 8

Muang La – Muang Khua – Nong Kiau (B/L)

Early Breakfast at the hotel, then transfer by road to Muang Khua and then by private local slow boat for a cruise down the Nam Ou River to Nong Kiau.

Stop en route visit some minority villages in Muang Ngoi and lunch is served on board.

Arrival in Nong Khiau in the afternoon, check in and free at leisure.

Accommodation in Nong Kiau.

Day 9

Nong Kiau - 100 Waterfalls Adventure Trail Trek – Nong Kiau (B/L)

Breakfast at the hotel.

“Wow, wow, wow” was the glowing review from the first guests on this one-of-a-kind exploration tour. This trek guarantees you an amazing day in the Lao countryside, exploring the lush green jungle and endless waterfalls. Our exclusive ‘100 Waterfalls’ Tour has been featured in several international travel publications, with BBC even stating that it’s one of the best adventures in Laos! The adventure begins with a one-hour boat trip on the scenic Nam Ou River before you start on the challenging and exciting jungle hike through the newly discovered ‘100 Waterfalls’ trail. You will visit a village and learn about local life in Northern Laos before taking the boat back to Nong Khiau.

Start this day of adventure with a peaceful boat ride on the Nam Ou River where you will be able to explore a small Lao village along the riverside. Learn about the villagers and their way of life along this Northern Laos River before beginning the ‘100 Waterfalls Adventure Trail’!

Walking through small streams and rice paddies, you will arrive at the bottom of the 100 Waterfalls which were only first explored in October 2008! For the next few hours you will see only water and jungle and hear the constant sound of clear waterfall cascades. The pools around you are very inviting for a refreshing splash.

Your guide will lead you through the cascades and prepare a local style lunch that you can enjoy on the falls surrounded by amazingly green nature.

A small village trail on the top of the ‘100 Waterfalls’ will lead us on our hike back down into the valley, offering wide views over the expansive Nam Ou valley.

Once back in the village we will have some more time to experience the daily life of the Nam Ou riverside village before heading back to Nong Kiau by boat.

Accommodation in Nong Kiau.

Magic encounters in northern Laos

Day 10

Nong Kiau – Luang Prabang (B/L)

Breakfast at the hotel.

Today we will transfer by road down to Luang Prabang. It takes about 2-3 hours. Arrive in Luang Prabang in the late morning, then check-in at your hotel and free time at leisure.

Optional: 1 hour Lao traditional massage.

Note: it is also possible to leave after lunch from Nong Kiau, if you prefer enjoying more there instead of returning early to Luang Prabang.

Accommodation in Luang Prabang.

Day 11

Luang Prabang - Departure (B)

Breakfast at hotel.

Free at leisure until your transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

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.

For your enjoyment, we recommend you the following hotels during your tour of Laos: