For those wanting to see the best of cultural Laos, look no further. This tour begins in the cultural capital of the country; UNESCO-protected Luang Prabang before driving you to see the mysterious and ancient Plain of Jars, which is often described as the Stonehenge of Laos. From there we take you to the French-inspired capital of Vientiane before finishing in southern Laos with trips to the coffee region and idyllic 4,000 Islands.
You will be met at Luang Prabang Airport by your private driver and English-speaking guide who will take you to a smart boutique hotel in this UNESCO protected town. Maison Daluabua, set around large lotus ponds with a delightful swimming pool is a lovely place to relax, unwind and feel the stresses of life drop away. If you want to head into the centre it is a short walk or bicycle ride.
In the morning, see the key sites that have made Luang Prabang the cultural capital of Laos including the Royal Palace Museum, the picturesque temple of Wat Visoun and the magnificent Wat Xiengthong. Visit the excellent Arts and Ethnology Centre before enjoying an afternoon to yourselves. End the day with a sunset cruise along the Mekong with drinks and canapés.
Rise early this morning to experience the daily morning ritual of ‘Tak Bat’ or giving alms to the monks. Visit the beautiful Kuang Si Waterfall and enjoy a luxury gourmet picnic breakfast overlooking the falls before anyone else arrives. Transfer to a riverside village and cruise to Ban Chan, where pottery is a 400-year-old tradition. Watch the potters and enjoy a private lesson in the unique Lao way of making pottery.
The first of this day is at your leisure to soak up this idyllic town. In the afternoon, visit Tamarind Cooking School to learn about the habits and customs at the heart of Lao cuisine. At the Tamarind Gardens, learn how to cook Lao-style using fresh ingredients, some intriguing and some with unfamiliar flavours. You’ll learn five dishes and of course, the art of perfecting sticky rice and its eating etiquette.
Today you begin your journey to the Plain of Jars. The journey is incredibly scenic – along a twisty, mountain road and you will stop at stunning view points and small, authentic villages en route. The final stop of the day is a reminder that this region played a major part during the Vietnam War – visit a hidden Buddha Cave that served as an army hospital during the war – before checking into Vansana Plain of Jars hotel.
This morning, visit the Mines Action Group (or MAG) to learn about the important work they do in clearing land mines in the area before continuing to explore two of the three jar sites, which contain hundreds of ancient jars on scenic plains and ridges. In the late afternoon, visit the the former provincial capital where you can explore the ruins of a number of ancient pagodas. Afterwards, transfer to the PhouXang Viewpoint, to enjoy the panoramic sceneries and a beautiful sunset!
Start your day at the largest site of the Plain of Jars before visiting The Mulberry Farm, a cooperation of local farmers, weavers and artisans from over 200 families. Meet the producers and be introduced to their projects in mulberries, silk and handicraft products as a means of social and economic recovery. Fly from Phonsavan to Vientiane where you can check into the lovely Lao Poet Hotel.
Today, see the cultural highlights of the city including Wat Sisaket with thousands of miniature Buddha statues, the former royal temple of Wat Prakeo, which now serves as a museum of arts and antiques, the Paris-inspired Patuxai Monument, the golden stupa of That Luang, and the COPE centre, which tells the plight of thousands affected by bombs dropped in the Vietnam War. In the evening, explore a locals’ food night market with your guide. You’ll be off the beaten track and eating out the way the Lao do.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight to Pakse, which is the gateway of southern Laos. From here your private driver and guide will take you to the hilltop Buddha at Phou Salao, which offers great views over the surrounding area. After, transfer 45 minutes to Champasak and cross the Mekong to Don Daeng, where you will check into the beautiful La Folie which is perched on this idyllic river island.
Today you will be taken into the Bolaven Plateau, where Loas’ delightful, rich coffee grows. After a stop at the picturesque twin chute Tad Fan waterfall, you’ll continue to the village of Ban Beng and transfer to a vintage Jeep, the best way to discover the back roads of the region. Take a dip at Tad Moan waterfall and carry on to your guide’s coffee farm. Explore the plantation, witness the roasting process, and enjoy a home-cooked lunch. You’ll return to your hotel in the late afternoon.
Cath the sunrise at Wat Phou, an ancient Khmer religious complex older than Angkor Wat. This dramatically sited temple is one of the highlights of any trip to Laos and at sunrise, you will have the whole temple to yourself! Return to your hotel for breakfast and enjoy the day to yourselves until late afternoon when you’ll board a boat for a private cruise on the Mekong. Enjoy drinks and snacks in this breathtakingly beautiful spot as the sun sets.
After an early morning breakfast, travel south to board a local private boat for a boat tour of the 4,000 Islands. Reach the picturesque island of Don Khone by lunchtime, and in the afternoon explore the island by tuk tuk, tracing the route of an old abandoned railway, admiring some of the old French Colonial buildings, and the beautiful Liphi Waterfall. Visit the spectacular Khone Phapheng Falls before driving back to the La Folie for the night.
Following breakfast and check-out, you’ll be transferred about one hour to Pakse, where you can board your flight homeward – there are regular flights from Pakse to Bangkok, Saigon, and Siem Reap. Check-out is at 12 noon so you can spend the morning relaxing at the River Resort if you have a later flight booked. Safe travels!
This itinerary costs from £3,170 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.