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A journey along the water and land in Laos

A journey along the water and land in Laos

By Siobhan Henderson
Product & Sales Manager for Alfred&

Discover Laos’s natural and cultural treasures on this 11-day itinerary. Cruise the mighty Mekong to UNESCO-listed Luang Prabang and continue overland to Laos’s sleepy capital, Vientiane. Along the way, you’ll visit archaeological wonders at the Plain of Jars, witness a sacred alms-giving ceremony and soak up karst scenery in Vang Vieng.

Places

Length
11 days
Best months to go
November to April
Guide price range
£2,900 - £3,190pp
including international flights

Top Experiences
Itinerary Highlights

The Vat Phou boat, Luang Say cruise
Huay Xai

A slice of real Mekong life on the Luang Say Cruise

My favourite part of the Luang Say cruise is experiencing the fresh air away from the city and seeing how people live along the Mekong...

Petanque with the locals in Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang

Petanque with the locals in Luang Prabang

Guests really enjoy getting a taste of Laos culture on this tour, where you’ll get to play petanque alongside the locals. ...

Exploring the Mysterious the Plain of Jars
Phonsavan

Exploring the mysterious Plain of Jars

On this day trip from Phonsavan, you’ll learn all about Laos war history and explore the famous Plain of Jars....

Day by day
Itinerary in details

1

Huay Xai

Welcome to Laos. A local guide will be waiting for you to cross the northern border into Huay Xai, ready to take you to the pier. Set sail at 9.30am for a seven-hour cruise along the Mekong River to Pakbeng on a traditional boat. Along the way, you’ll stop to visit a H’mong village and have lunch onboard while watching Laos’s karst scenery pass you by. Arrive in Pakbeng in the late afternoon, where dinner is served at your riverside lodge. Overnight at Luang Say Lodge.

Things to do:

2

Luang Prabang

After breakfast, you’ll continue your leisurely cruise, drifting seven hours downstream to Luang Prabang. Your first stop is at a village belonging to the Lao Loum people, who’ve inhabited the Mekong’s river valleys for generations. Enjoy lunch as your cruise and visit the sacred Pak Ou caves, which act as a shrine to Lord Buddha and the river spirits. You’ll arrive in Luang Prabang around 5pm and be transferred to your hotel. Overnight at Villa Maly Boutique Hotel.

Things to do:

3

Luang Prabang

Today you’ll explore Luang Prabang, a French colonial town and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rise early to watch hundreds of orange-robed monks collect offerings in the daily alms-giving ceremony. While you’re up, browse the colourful morning market before breakfast is served at your hotel. We’ll spend the rest of the morning at Ock Pop Tok, a fair-trade social enterprise that showcases ethically-made textiles. Here, you’ll learn all about the production process, meet the workers and get to dye your own scarf. Have lunch followed by a visit to Wat Xieng Thong, a 16th-century Buddhist temple covered in coloured glass, and tour the Royal Palace Museum where some of Laos’s most important cultural relics are housed. Continue on foot to Wat Mai temple and end the day with a climb up Phousi Hill. From the summit, you’ll get a panoramic view over the city, the Mekong and surrounding countryside. The evening is yours to spend as you please. Overnight at Villa Maly Boutique Hotel.

Things to do:

4

Luang Prabang

Today, you’ll spend the morning trekking from a village an hour outside of Luang Prabang to the Kuang Si Waterfall, a tiered topaz swimming hole with an on-site Bear Rescue Center. Enjoy lunch overlooking the waterfall before heading back to Luang Prabang via a buffalo dairy farm. Petanque is one of the most popular sports in Laos and this afternoon, you’ll get a chance to play with locals, accompanied by snacks and Beer Lao. The day ends with an after dark foodie experience where you’ll get to taste Luang Prabang’s culinary delights. A local will guide you to the best food stalls and eateries in the city to sample everything from crepes to papaya salad and a DIY BBQ experience.

Things to do:

5

Phonsavan

Have a final breakfast in Luang Prabang before the seven-hour drive to Phonsavan, which takes you through mountainous scenery. This small town is located in Xieng Khouang province, an area that was heavily bombed by America during the Vietnam War, leaving behind approximately 80 million unexploded bombs and cluster munitions. Despite the bomb craters, Phonsavan is known for its beautiful surrounding countryside which is home to the Plain of Jars, named for its collection of ancient stone funeral urns. Check into your Phonsavan hotel and spend the rest of the day relaxing. Overnight at Vansana Plain of Jars Hotel.

6

Phonsavan

Start the day with a visit to the morning market and then head out to explore the Plain of Jars. Designated a heritage site by UNESCO, these giant stone jars date back to 500BC. Visit three different archeological sites with a guide and then drive on to Muang Khoun, the former Tai Phouan capital, for lunch at a local restaurant. In the afternoon, you’ll visit Ban Naphia, known as the War Spoon Village because locals make a living crafting spoons and bracelets from US bombshells. Return to Phonsavan for dinner at your hotel. Overnight at Vansana Plain of Jars Hotel.

Things to do:

7

Vang Vieng

Today you’ll make the six-to-seven-hour journey to Vang Vieng, one of Laos’s most scenic riverside towns. Loved for its dramatic limestone peaks and cave networks, this tiny town is bisected by the Song River and known as the Guilin of Laos. When you arrive, you’ll take a boat trip along the river to soak up views of Vang Vieng’s famous karst landscape. Check into your boutique riverside hotel, then the rest of the day is yours to relax. Overnight at Riverside Boutique Resort.

Things to do:

8

Vang Vieng

Take a songtheaw ride north to Phathao, where you’ll begin a trek through Vang Vieng’s countryside. Climb steep mountain paths for panoramic views of the area and explore Tham Hok Cave, which is decorated with stalactites and stalagmites. Descend down the other side of the mountain to a swimming hole known as Secret Eden for its forested setting and azure waters, where you can cool off with a swim followed by a picnic lunch. Overnight at Riverside Boutique Resort.

Things to do:

9

Vang Vieng

Spend the day as you please. Simply chill out by the hotel pool or explore independently. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can opt for a hiking and cycling tour, which will take you across the river via a bamboo bridge. Bike through Vang Vieng’s karst landscape and then set off on foot to Silver Flower Cave, which is filled with hidden corridors and rock formations. Continue via the red cliff and Phonxay village to a blue lagoon for some swimming time. From here, the road circles back to Vang Vieng. Overnight at Riverside Boutique Resort.

Things to do:

10

Vientiane

Say goodbye to Vang Vieng and make the three-and-a-half-hour journey to Laos’s capital, Vientiane. Enjoy lunch before a visit to Pha That Luang, the most revered shrine in Laos. The shrine has a golden stupa shaped like a banana flower said to hold the breastbone of Lord Buddha. Check into your hotel, where you’ll be given a welcome drink, before we head to our last stop of the day: Patuxay. This grand arch, known as the Victory Gate, is a war memorial situated on the Presidential Palace Road. Overnight at Settha Palace Hotel.

Things to do:

11

Vientiane

Start your final day with a trip to Vientiane’s oldest temple, Wat Sisaket, and neighbouring Hor Phra Keo, which is now a museum. Our last stop is a moving trip to the COPE Visitor Centre, a non-profit organisation that provides care and support for disabled people in Laos, many of whom have been affected by unexploded ordnance. Your Laos adventure has now come to an end and you’ll be transferred to the airport for your flight home.

Things to do:

Holiday Budget
Guide price information

Low Season

1 Apr – 30 Sep

£2,900

High Season

1 Jan - 31 Mar & 1 Oct - 31 Dec

£3,190

Alfred & Siobhan Henderson

Siobhan has been with Kuoni for over 11 years and is passionate about all things travel, particularly when it comes to South East Asia. Having travelled the region extensively, from Cambodia  to Japan, Vietnam and many countries in between, Siobhan now shares her expert knowledge of the region as the Alfred& Product and Sales Manager. One of Siobhan’s most memorable travel moments was reaching the top of Heaven’s Gate while leading a charity trek to the Great Wall of China in aid of Cancer Research UK.
Siobhan Henderson

Alfred & our Laos holiday experts

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