On arrival at the airport, you will be met and transferred to check in the hotel.
After a soft rest, your city tour begins with a visit to the magnificent Wat Xiengthong, a superb piece of Lao temple architecture, which presents a sweeping two-tiered roof and ornate mosaics including a beautiful ‘tree of life ‘glass montage on the rear temple wall.
If time permits, we will take a short walk around the small streets of city center, watching the life of local people.
After that, you will visit Royal Palace Museum, which was built in 1904 during the French colonial era for King Sisavang Vong and his family.
Late afternoon, we climb up to the top of Mount Phousi for an enjoyable exploration of the sacred, gilded stupa as well as a panoramic sunset view of the city and the Mekong River.
From there, join a private Baci ceremony at a local family. The Baci ceremony as a traditional ritual of the Lao people expresses the spirituality of the country and is a highly memorable experience and a deep insight into Lao culture for the participants.
Dinner will be served after that for you to share with the host family. This is the best chance for you to have first impression of local life and culture.
Overnight in Luang Prabang
Wake up as the sun rises, we will prepare to join the most sacred tradition of Laos, the daily morning alms giving, which dates to the 14th century. More than 200 Buddhist monks depart from various temple to gather their daily meal from the faithful residents sitting quietly on the streets.
From there, we will visit the temporary morning market near the former Royal Palace. Just set on the ground, the local people come here to barter their day’s catch from rice, to vegetable, to fish, or chicken. This is the best chance to experience the flavor of local life
After breakfast, our tuk tuk driver come to meet us at the hotel. From there, we transfer directly to the beautiful Kuang Si Waterfall where you can cool off with a refreshing swim in the pools or walk along the forest trails. You can also see up close Asiatic bears at the Bear Rescue Centre along the jungle walk to the waterfall.
The picnic lunch will be served at the shadow of the waterfalls
Before returning to Luang Prabang, we stop to visit the Kuang Si Falls Butterfly Park (closed from 15 APR – 30 JUN; 01-14 SEP, & 01 JAN every year), whose mission is to create a research centre studying and publishing about Laos butterflies, host plants and preservation.
Laos is also known for its traditional crafts, we will take a short visit to the Ock Pop Tock Living Craft Center, where you will have a short tour so you get information about Silk, about weaver, about the Women that work in the Centre.
After the tour, it is time for you to relax, and enjoy a cold drink at Silk Road Cafe overlooking the Mekong River. This is the perfect spot to admire the sun setting behind the mountains, and Mekong river.
Lastly, transfer back to your hotel by tuk tuk.
Overnight in Luang Prabang.
Today we begin our boat up the Mekong, enjoying the lush green forests and landscape. We will be able to stop off at a few villages and admire the breathtaking limestone karst scenery. Along the way we stop to visit the mysterious caves of Pak Ou, two linked caves crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes left by devoted pilgrims.
After visiting the caves, we will hop on the car and continue the transfer to Nong Khiaw, the small town along the lazy Nam Ou River.
After lunch at the local restaurant, visit the historical cave of Phathok. The Nong Khiaw villagers used this cave as a war shelter during the “Secret War”, to shelter people from bombs dropped in the region. It is about a 30 minute gentle walk from Nong Khiaw town and takes you through beautiful scenery. Learn more about a secret part of the Lao history and explore the historical caves with your guide. From the cave you will have a beautiful view of rice paddies and the valley. Walk back to Nong Khiaw along a small path through the rice paddies.
Enjoy the sunset over the river. There is a choice of local restaurants within walking distance (your own account)
Overnight in Nong Khiaw
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 Khiaw (Nong Khiau) by boat.
Today, we will drive through the most rural and least developed part of Laos via Vieng Kham to Muang Hiam. These back roads are a perfect way to venture off the beaten track and explore the real Laos. We see very few other travelers, mostly rural dwellers who are just as interested in finding out about our lives as we are of theirs. The drive can be challenging on some parts of our journey due to poor road conditions; however the verdant and rugged mountain scenery combined with the colorful local population makes for a memorable experience.
Arriving in Muang Hiam, check in your hotel before strolling around this small town to stretch your legs, and explore the local life.
Overnight in Muang Hiam.
After breakfast transfer to Ban Son Khua, where we will join the transfer into the Nam Et-Phou Louey NPA (National Protected Area).
Here you will experience the Nam Nern Night Safari and stay in a simple ecolodge, all of which has been developed with the local community. Learn about wildlife conservation, medicinal plants, traditional agriculture and the history of the Secret War from your local Khmu guide.
Upon arrival at Ban Son Koua, an ethnic Khmu Village, village guides and boatmen will meet you and take you on a short tour of the village where you will learn about the animist tradition of appeasing the village spirit. Then embark on a 1.5-hour journey to the park substation on the Nam Nern River by long-tail boat, along the way learning about upland rice cultivation and having opportunities to spot monitor lizards and bird life.
After arriving at the park substation, you will enjoy a lunch prepared by the village cooking group. After lunch, receive a briefing by park staff about the on-the-ground efforts in protecting tigers and their prey. Around the middle of the afternoon you will depart for the night safari.
Stopping near a salt lick, you will hike into the forest. Your local guide, a skilled hunter and tracker, will explain how local people track deer and other wild ungulates. The guides point out evidence of wildlife, such a tracks or scat at the salt lick.
The boats will continue upriver to the dinner site, a sandy, flat bank, where you will have a picnic dinner around a campfire. After dinner, your guides tell Khmu folktales and stories about dragons, wildlife, and ghosts. They educate you about the species of animals they may see during the spotlighting and explain the rules and expectations for spotlighting.
Depending on the amount of moonlight, depart for the night spotlighting 1-2 hours after dark, floating down river with engines off. There is only one light per boat. Only guides use the light, to avoid scaring the animals. The guides and boat drivers communicate via hand signals to avoid talking that might disturb the animals. The boat is very quiet so as not to disturb the animals. Animals that may be seen include Sambar Deer, Otters, and Barking Deer, various species of Civets, Slow Loris, Porcupine, and Owls (Hogbadgers, Asian golden cat and wild dogs have also been seen).
At the end of the spotlighting, the boats arrive at the evening camp. Before going to bed you will be able to check out a variety of insects attracted to the black light set up near the substation.
Overnight in Nam Nern.
Before breakfast, local guides take you on a walk around the jungle, teaching about the use of some medicinal plants and explaining the history of the site, which was once a major settlement during the Secret War. After breakfast, the boats float back through the core zone at a relaxing pace with engines off, while the guides point out wildlife along the way.
Upon arrival in the village, you are invited to try earthen jar rice wine (lao hai).
From Ban Son Keua, we will continue driving to Vieng Xai. Along the way, we will take a short visit to the Standing Stone of Hingtang, whose purposes still remain the mystery. We continue to drive to Tad Saleuy, which is still fresh, and not popular to tourism. We arrive in the town of Viengxai late afternoon, check in your basic guesthouse. Overnight in Viengxai town.
The town of Viengxay contains hundreds of caves which sheltered local people and the country's future leaders for a vital period in world history.
In the 1960s Laos was caught up in the conflict known to the world as the Vietnam War. For nine years, from 1964 to 1973, more than 20,000 people lived in a 'hidden city' they built inside the limestone peaks all around the area to try to survive daily aircraft bombing raids directed by US forces.
They were only able to farm or work at night, so inside the caves they built everything they needed for their society to survive, including schools, hospitals, markets, a radio station and the headquarters of the Lao Patriotic Front - also known as the Pathet Lao.
Take the audio tour that tells the story of the 'hidden city' through the history that created it and interviews with local people and discover the area's beauty as well as its fascinating hidden history.
After the tour, we will transfer directly to the border of Nameo to cross the border to Vietnam (Thanh Hoa).