LA1 Land of a Million Elephants TOUR


'Land of a Million Elephants'


Colonial, Imperial Luang Prabang; Mysterious Plain of Jars


Dates & Prices

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Prices are in US Dollars (USD), before taxes (if applicable) - All pricing reflects per-person Land Only expenses, however, we can book flights from virtually every city. Please call us for an air quote.

Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Tue 03 Nov 2015Wed 11 Nov 2015 $2360
Sun 13 Dec 2015Mon 21 Dec 2015 $2360
Tue 05 Jan 2016Wed 13 Jan 2016 $2360
Tue 01 Mar 2016Wed 09 Mar 2016 $2360
Tue 01 Nov 2016Wed 09 Nov 2016 $2360
Tue 13 Dec 2016Wed 21 Dec 2016 $2360

Optional Single Supplement: $460 (number of singles limited).

Tour Overview

We peruse stalls brimming with trinkets and souvenirs as we wander the colourful markets of Luang Prabang, also known as the "Land of a Million Elephants", and witness the local weaver's craftsmanship with their internationally renowned embroidered cloth. Climbing atop the hill in the centre of the city,we are able to enjoy a better view of the layout of the colonial-era architecture. While in Laos, we can experience the ancient wonders of the Pak Ou Caves with their many Buddha images or count the number of artifacts along the Plain of Jars. The awe-inspiring scenery of this country is beyond the scope of traditional beauty; every scenic photograph taken might be worthy enough to decorate a postcard. Memories made here will last a lifetime.

Regions visited: Southeast Asia
Countries visited: Thailand and Laos

Full Itinerary

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Day 1 Arrival in Bangkok
Arrive in Bangkok, Thailand.

Overnight in Bangkok (airport area).

Meal plan: dinner

Day 2 Bangkok, Thailand - Luang Prabang, Laos
Today we fly to Luang Prabang, Laos, a World Heritage Site.

In the 14th century, this city was established as the royal capital by Fa Ngoum, the first monarch of Lan Xang, the "Land of a Million Elephants." By this time, the city had already been the seat of local kingdoms for 600 years. According to legend, the site of the town was chosen by two resident hermits and was originally known as Xieng Thong --"Copper Tree City".

We have an orientation of this charming town, with its one main street lined with colonial era buildings housing shops and cafes. We have a chance to explore the town on foot and to climb to the top of Phu Si Hill. Looking directly downwards you can see that the former royal palace has a cruciform ground plan. We finish at Ban Phanom, a 300 year old weaving village is where shawls and sarongs are made from silk and cotton. The people in this area were originally from South China and were traditionally the King's weavers, soldiers and palace servants. The inhabitants make sarongs with dragon motifs, and shawls which are often dyed an indigo colour using a natural dye extract from a local plant. Some of the cloth woven in the village is embroidered with delicate silver and gold thread. Girls are taught from a very young age the skills which have been handed down from their forebears in Xishuangbanna District in China's Yunnan Province.

NOTE: The order of our sightseeing in Luang Prabang may vary depending on flight schedules that are subject to change.

Overnight in Luang Prabang.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 3 Luang Prabang Area
An early departure today takes to the Mekong River for a boat journey to visit the Pak Ou Caves. The boat is long and quite large, covered, with comfortable seat cushions, life jackets and a WC.

The Pak Ou Caves are two clefts in the side of a mountain stuffed with thousands of old Buddha images. The site has long been sacred for the Lao, even prior to Buddhism, when they worshipped spirits. The lower cave has over 4,000 images, ranging from 3 inches to 9 feet tall, stuck into nooks and crannies. The upper cave's Buddha images are placed far back into the cliff, so it's handy to have a flashlight. A real highlight of a trip to the caves is the breathtaking view of the mountains, villages, and fishermen during the 2-hour boat ride.

We return to Luang Prabang and visit the Royal Palace, a museum containing a collection of 15th-17th century Buddha statues including the significant Golden Buddha. The last member of the Lao royalty to live here was Sisavang Vong's son, Crown Prince Sisavang Vatthana. The private chapel is one of the most interesting wings of the palace. Here you will see the priceless gold Phra Bang Buddha in Abhayamudra (dispelling fear). It is made from 90% pure gold and is said to weigh 50 kg (110 lb).

We finish with a tour of the 16th-century Wat Xieng Thong with its richly decorated wooden interior. Wat Mai is another old temple of classic Luang Prabang design with gracefully curved roofs. We see many 400 year old wooden Buddha statues at Wat Wisunalat.

Overnight in Luang Prabang.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 4 Luang Prabang - Xieng Khouang (Plain of Jars) - Phonsavan
Today we travel by road to Xieng Khouang and the Plain of Jars.

Overnight in Phonsavan.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 5 The Plain of Jars
In the 18th and at the beginning of the 19th century, Xieng Khouang was the center of a kingdom of the Hmong (Meo). In 1832, it was conquered by the Vietnamese, annexing the entire region. The town of Xieng Khouang was totally destroyed during the Vietnam War. Even though it has been rebuilt in 1975, the name Xieng Khouang is now primarily used in reference to the province of the same name.

The highlight of our visit here is the "Plain of Jars." Scattered over the plain are hundreds of enormous limestone jars, each about 1 to 2.5 metres high, with a diameter of about 1 meter. There is still no explanation as to how the clay jars found their way onto the plain, nor what purpose they served. Archaeologists have come up with the wildest theories, among them a claim declaring them brewery cauldrons. More likely, the jars are enormous urns. Many jars were destroyed or damaged during the Vietnam War, when American planes bombed positions of the communist Pathet Lao.

Overnight in Phonsavan.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 6 Phonsavan - Vang Vieng
Today we travel by road to Vang Vieng, a small village nestled in a scenic bend in the Nam Song River and surrounded by breathtaking limestone scenery. This is rapidly becoming Laos's premier destination for eco-tourism. The outcrops have inspired many Lao legends and stories in Lao literature and are known as "Phou Suan Mon Nang Eua", meaning "Silk Tree Garden Mountains of the Princess". The area also contains an extensive network of caves some of which are outlets for underground streams.

The latter part of our drive is truly spectacular -- limestone cliffs and sheer drops. About 20 kms before Vang Vieng, we'll stop at a bridge with a lovely view of karsts. There's also an attractive immediately before the bridge.

Overnight in Vang Vieng.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 7 Vang Vieng - Viangchan
Today we travel by road to Viangchan (Vientiane), the capital of Laos.

Overnight in Viangchan.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 8 Viangchan, Laos - Bangkok, Thailand
Today we fly from Viangchan to Bangkok.

NOTE: Our flight to Bangkok usually takes place in the afternoon, though air schedules can change without notice. Time permitting in Viangchan we will visit the morning market and allow 30-45 minutes here for shopping and absorbing the local colour. We will then drive to Pha That Luang, the most important Stupa in the city/country, followed by a stop at Haw Pha Kaew, a temple now serving as a museum of religious artifacts.

Overnight in Bangkok.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 9 Depart
Departure from Bangkok.


Meal plan: breakfast

Tour Map

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*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.

Hotel List

The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.

Miracle Suvarnabhumi Hotel

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Bangkok
Country: Thailand

All rooms are spacious with minimalist decor, large bathroom which is nicely equipped. The hotel also has a variety of
... and services including all day dining at the coffee shop, sumptuous Chinese restaurant and traditional Japanese restaurant, fitness center & spa, out door rooftop swimming pool.

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Triple Two Silom Hotel

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Bangkok
Country: Thailand

Triple Two Silom is an innovative and exclusive business class boutique hotel, providing high quality personalized service in a relaxed
... for both business and leisure travelers. Choose from our 75 luxury rooms in two sizes: Deluxe Room 45 sqm. Or Junior Suite Room 60 sqm.

Being only 25 kilometers from Bangkok International Airport, you can take the airport limousine, airport shuttle bus, or even a public metered taxi, while the Hotel’s taxi also provides 24 hour service for your convenience and security.

Hua Lumphong Railway Station is 3 kilometers away and can be reached within a few minutes.

A Skytrain Station is 1 kilometer away and can be reached within 10 minutes.

Expressway entrances are just 1 kilometer from the hotel.

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Mouang Luang Hotel

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Luang Prabang
Country: Laos

A 10-minute walk from town on a quiet street, the Mouang Loung is adorned with traditional Lao temple-style roofs. The
... are clean, with parquet floors and marble-tiled bathrooms (all with tubs). Street-side rooms have balconies. There's an open-air Lao restaurant in the back, and just above it is an enormous balcony reserved for Baci ceremonies. Mouang Luang has the distinction of being one of the only hotels in town with a pool.

Read More.

Trip Information

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Breakfast and dinner (at local restaurants and some hotels) are included daily; all meals on junk cruise. All transport, accommodation, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Gratuities for drivers, restaurant staff, porters, local guides. Airport transfers for land & air customers arriving / departing on tour dates.


Tour Leader gratuities, most lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), domestic and international (if applicable) air taxes, visa fees, and any excursions referenced as 'optional'. Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Optional trip cancellation insurance. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on shopping, not included meals, visas and locally paid departure taxes.

Seasonality and Weather

Our tours in SE Asia operate during the cooler, drier time of year, Nov-Apr. That said, however, the entire region experiences a warm-hot tropical climate with humidity and a chance of rain showers at any time. Inland regions can experience extreme heat, especially Feb-Apr, when it is also very dry and landscapes are brown. Coastal regions-Central Vietnam, Halong Bay-are cooled by sea breezes. Hanoi, Northern Vietnam & Plain of Jars (Laos) can be downright cold and damp, especially late Nov-Jan. Overall you should prepare for warm, sticky weather with the possibility of rain and some chilly nights / mornings in a few locales.

Transport and Travel Conditions

Land transport throughout will be by private air-conditioned bus. Most of the driving days are not long. The tour is not strenuous though it is busy; you must be steady on your feet and be able to endure some heat and long days. Porters are available at hotels but you must be able to manage with your baggage at airports.


Hotels used on tour are modern, comfortable, well-located, air-conditioned, 3&4 star properties with en suite bath / toilet. Single rooms are limited and possibly smaller than twins. Laundry facilities are available at most hotels for a reasonable price. Safe deposit boxes are available in most hotels either free or for a nominal fee. Most hotel rooms are well equipped and likely include hairdryers and irons, minibar fridge, TV. All are air-conditioned. Most hotels provide complimentary purified drinking water. Some hotels have swimming pools.

Staff and Support

Tour Leader, driver, local step-on guides in various locales.

Group Size

10-21 (plus Tour Leader)