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Exploring Laos

Highlights of Laos: Rural Focus

This is the perfect ‘escape the crowds’ itinerary that takes in the highlights of Laos with a mix of luxury and rustic comfort that gets you under the skin of rural Laos. Begin your journey by flying to Vientiane and going directly into the countryside of Vang Vieng. From here, head off the beaten track to Nam Kat, Nong Kiau, and a hamlet along the Nam Ou River where you’ll be hosted by a friendly family who welcome you into their home. Spend time in Luang Prabang, a UNESCO-protected town surrounded by rivers, and fly south to explore an ancient temple that pre-dates Angkor, the coffee region, and the 4,000 islands. You’ll travel by boat, train, road, and flight and leave knowing you’ve truly experienced Laos.


Your Itinerary

Day 1 - Welcome to Laos

Upon arrival at Vientiane Airport, meet your guide and driver and, via the first expressway of Laos, transfer approximately 1½ hours to the town of Vang Vieng. Nestled between some stunning karst-mountain ranges, you’ll be getting right into the beautiful scenery that Laos is known for. Check into your riverside hotel and settle in. We highly recommend a swim or a drink at the bar while the sun sets!

Day 2 - Khmu Culture Unraveled

Start the day in a Khmu village where you’ll meet a family, learn about Khmu customs and traditions including animism, and visit the local blacksmith who uses traditional techniques to create knives. Trek through rice paddies to a cave, passing by farmers working the fields. Rest in a local rice hut before trekking back to the family’s home for lunch and to learn about Lao Hai, local rice wine. Return to your hotel mid-afternoon.

Day 3 - Chomg Ong Cave & Nam Kat

Board the morning train for a scenic ride through the mountains to Oudomxay where your guide and driver will take you Chomg Ong Cave with its active river, overlapping passages, and impressive stalagmites and stalactites. Take a scenic route, visit a village where some of the elders still wear traditional garb. Walk up a slope for stunning views before continuing approximately 1½ hours to your hotel in an idyllic nature setting.

Day 4 - Trek Off-the-Beaten Track

Depart this morning to Pak Khai, passing rice terraces and many small villages, before beginning your trek along a small pathway used by local villagers. The trek will be an opportunity to meet with local farmers working in rice fields and observe rural life in Laos. Stop for lunch at the beautiful village of Ban Phavie before continuing to a local waterfall. You can relax in the clear water cascades before returning to the hotel.

Day 5 - Nong Kiau by Boat and Road

Tavel overland this morning to the town of Muang Khua and board a private boat for an unforgettable cruise down the Nam Ou River to Nong Khiaw. Transfer briefly to a minivan to pass the new Nam Ou Hydropower Dam and continue by boat past stunning scenery and remote villages. Reach Nong Khiaw by late afternoon. If you wish, take a short bicycle ride to the picturesque local limestone caves nearby.

Day 6 - Nong Kiau by Bicycle

Spend the morning exploring untouched Laos by bicycle. It’s an easy ride to a few remote villages, passing through stunning landscapes amongst the beautiful mountains. Stop by a historical cave that served as a communist command during the Indochina-war and as a shelter during the Vietnam-America war. Continue cycling several villages of different ethnic groups and return to your hotel by mid-day.

Day 7 - Nam Ou Riverside

After a leisurely morning, travel south approximately 1½ hours to the village of Ban Pak Nga, and meet Ms. Kham, your host for the evening. Travel together by boat downstream to her hometown and meet the family. Settle into the beautiful wooden house that the family will share with you tonight. In the late afternoon, meet some of the villagers and stop by the local market with Ms. Kham. Back at the house, you are welcome to help prepare dinner and learn all about the local cuisine.

Day 8 - Travel to Luang Prabang

Wake early and join the family in traditional alms-giving at the local temple. Spend time learning local fishing techniques and trekking through the fields and organic gardens before lunch with the family. Set out toward Luang Prabang, stopping to board a private boat that will take you to the mysterious Pak Ou Caves crammed with thousands of Buddha statues. Continue along the river as the sun sets, arriving in Luang Prabang with drinks and canapés on board.

Day 9 - Half Day Tour of Luang Prabang

This morning, see the key sites that have made Luang Prabang the cultural capital of Laos including the quaint Royal Palace Museum, the Heuan Chan Heritage House, the magnificent Wat Xiengthong, with its roof sweeping low to the ground, and Wat Khili with its historic photo exhibition of Buddhist heritage. Pay a visit to the excellent Arts and Ethnology Centre before you enjoy the afternoon at leisure to soak up this idyllic town.

Day 10 - Rice Farming Experience

Transfer this morning 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, learning how rice is traditionally grown in a very interactive way.  The tour ends with a tasting of traditional foods made from rice. You will have a new appreciation for rice and admiration for the Lao people who continue to harvest rice without modern machinery.

Day 11 - A Day with the Elephants

Spend today at a fantastic elephant sanctuary that puts the welfare of the animals first. Your guide and the mahouts will help you feed and get acquainted with these majestic creatures before you help to bathe them in the river. Next, follow the elephants on a 1-hour trek through rice paddies and meandering creeks where the elephants choose the path (you do not ride the elephants). A tasty local lunch is served before heading back. Afternoon at leisure.

Day 12 - Begin your Southern Laos Adventure

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight to Pakse, the gateway of southern Laos. Your private driver and guide will take you to the hilltop Buddha at Phou Salao with great views over the surrounding area. Visit the historic Wat Phou which pre-dates Angkor Wat and is a highlight of Laos with its well-preserved monuments, outstanding architecture, and a sacred spring. After, transfer 45 minutes to Champasak.

Day 13 - Explore the Bolaven Plateau

Today you will be taken into the Bolaven Plateau, where Loas’ delightful, rich coffee grows. Visit the picturesque twin chute Tad Fan Waterfall before meeting your local coffee specialist and transferring to a vintage Jeep. Explore the backroads, stop at Tad Moan Waterfall, and spend some time on a coffee farm. Learn about the local coffee growing and roasting process and enjoy a home-cooked lunch. After a bit more exploration, return to your resort in the early evening.

Day 14 - Tour of the 4,000 Islands

After an early breakfast, transfer south and board a private boat to the island of Don Khong where you’ll hop on mountain bikes to continue your rural exploration. Cycle through villages, passing and visiting temples, taking ferries to cross islands until you reach Don Loppadi. Enjoy a home-cooked lunch of local specialties and learn about bamboo basket and fishing net weaving. Board a boat to the mainland and return to your resort in the early evening.

Day 15 - Bon Voyage!

Depending on your flight time, relax this morning or check-out early for transfer to the airport in Pakse where you can fly to Bangkok. We find many people book one night in Bangkok as the international flight to London is a little tight after flying from Pakse. You could also carry on to Siem Reap or Saigon or extend your time in Laos for a bit more relaxing at the end of your holiday.


This itinerary costs from £4,150 per person B&B based on 2 sharing and including all private transfers but not international flights.

You can get flights from as little as £600 per person return and do ask us for advice. Alternatively we can book the flights for you but a booking fee may apply.

What's included?

  • Prices start from £4,150 per person
  • Accommodation on B&B basis
  • Private transfers (air-conditioned vehicle)
  • All entrance fees with service of English speaking guide for excursions
  • Lunch on Days 2-5, 8, 11, 13 & 14
  • Dinner on Day 7
  • 1 train Vang Vieng – Oudomxay
  • 1 internal flight Luang Prabang – Pakse
  • Local taxes
  • All trips are ATOL protected or ABTA bonded to ensure you are fully covered
Make a booking
Luang Prabang
This delightful Unesco-heritage protected town has some of the finest architecture, food and temples of all of Laos (as well as lots of cute boutique shops!) You could spend days in this delightful town, which has two rivers running through it, whilst exploring nearby caves, waterfalls and elephant camps.
Si Phan Don (4,000 Islands)
This cluster of islands caught in the middle of the mighty flowing Mekong is the perfect place to chill for a couple of days. Cycling to waterfalls, spotting rare river dolphins, chilling in hammocks and watching the sunset over the Mekong are all in the order of the day here.
Champasak & The Bolaven Plateau
The Bolaven Plateau is not to be missed by any die-hard coffee fans! This idyllic, hilly region is where the finest coffee in Laos grows and we have some wonderful day tours on offer here - you can even spend the night at a family home on a traditional coffee plantation. Nearby Champasak has some wonderful luxurious riverside accommodation (some of the best in Laos) and a sunrise trip to Wat Phou Temple must not be missed.
The riverside capital of Laos is home to some of the country's finest restaurants, spas and cafes, not to mention a fantastic collection of boutique hotels... it is the perfect place to indulge your tastebuds and senses for a day or two. Nearby there are a number of impressive temples and cultural sights which are ideal to explore by bicycle.
Vang Vieng
Something of an outdoor lover's paradise, Vang Vieng, which is set on Nam Song River, is the perfect place for anyone seeking nature based activities - as well as some more adrenalin-seeking adventures. It's backdrop of serene cliffs and vibrant green paddy fields, coupled with an excellent selection of boutique hotels, make it the ideal place to chill for a day or two.
Vieng Xai Caves
This fascinating wartime cave hideout is set in beautiful gardens backed by delightful karst scenery. It is ideal for those who are travelling onwards to Vietnam and crossing at the land border - or vice versa.

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