9 Day Laos Tour

Rolling mountains, remote villages, magical Mekong
TOURCODE: LA1

Duration:
9 Days

Activity Level:
2

When To Go:
Mar, Oct

Countries Visited:
1

Arrive In / Depart From:
Luang Prabang (LPQ) / Viangchan (VTE)

Max Group Size:
18

Tour Style:
Cultural

Price From:

Discover the country's true culture with the help of experienced local guides.

  • Small group sizes to help escape the beaten path.
  • Authentic local experiences with lots of inclusions.
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Tour Overview
Tour Overview
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Countries Visited: 1 Activity Level: 2 Tour Style: Cultural

 


 

Dates & Prices
Dates & Prices

 

Prices below are per person, twin-sharing costs in US Dollars (USD). Pricing does not include airfare to/from the tour and any applicable taxes. For single supplement rates and taxes (if any), please refer to below Prices & Dates table. For general information on flights to/from the tour, click here.

 

Select a date below to reserve your spot:

 


The above prices are subject to an additional $53 for taxes/fees levied on flights that occur as part of the tour. The internal airfares ARE included (any exceptions are listed in red below), but we list the taxes separately on your invoice as they are beyond our control and can change at any time.

Optional Single Supplement: $550 USD (number of singles limited).

 


 

Full Itinerary
Full Itinerary

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Day 1 Arrival in Luang Prabang
Arrive in Luang Prabang - Welcome to Laos!

Overnight in Luang Prabang.

Included Meal(s): Dinner



Day 2 Luang Prabang: Town Touring
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" (a charming and evocative nickname from times gone by. Latest figures indicate that Loas's population of wild elephants is in the range of 800-1,200). 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.

Overnight in Luang Prabang.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

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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.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 4 Luang Prabang - 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 wat immediately before the bridge.

Overnight in Vang Vieng.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 5 Vang Vieng - Viangchan (Vientiene) - Fly to Phonsavan
Today we travel by road to the airport of Viangchan, the capital of Laos, from where we fly to Xieng Khouang Airport, the gateway for exploring 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.

Overnight in Phonsavan.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 6 The Plain of Jars
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/American War, when American planes bombed positions of the communist Pathet Lao.

Overnight in Phonsavan.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 7 Phonsavan - Fly to Viangchan
Today we fly back to the capital. Time-permitting we may be able to see a bit of Viangchan today upon arrival.

Viangchan, largest city and capital of Laos, situated on a plain just northeast of the Mekong River. From 1899 to 1953, with the exception of the Japanese occupation (1945), Viangchan was in succession the seat of the French governor and the French administrative capital. The city is a complete contrast to anything else we have seen in Laos; a modern, bustling city of over a million inhabitants, but at the same time a city with deep religious roots.

Vientiane is actually the Frenchified name of the city; the French romanised it this way because they had problems pronouncing the name in Lao. You will feel the colonial history of the city – French influence is still strong, and you can see it in the architecture and, more prominently, the bakeries, which all stock piles and piles of freshly baked baguettes. The architecture is also striking; here you feel like its a special mix of East and West. Many houses and apartments are done in the French style, complete with tiny little balconies, shuttered windows that stretch from floor to ceiling, and decorated columns. But yet, there’s something unmistakably Asian about them.

Overnight in Viangchan.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 8 Viangchan Touring
Today's sightseeing takes us to Pha That Luang, a gold-covered large Buddhist stupa in the centre of the city. Since its initial establishment, suggested to be in the 3rd century, the stupa has undergone several reconstructions as recently as the 1930s due to foreign invasions of the area. It is generally regarded as the most important national monument in Laos and a national symbol. The architecture of the building includes many references to Lao culture and identity, and so has become a symbol of Lao nationalism.

We also stop at Haw Pha Kaew, a temple now serving as a museum of religious artifacts. It was a royal family temple for worshiping the Jade Buddha and holding religious ceremonies. The magnificent temple is three storeys high with gorgeous palace hall and huge Buddha altar. However, in 1779 A.D, the King of Siam with his army invaded the city and looted the Jade Buddha as well. Many precious collections can be seen there, such as the gold throne, the wood carving of high quality and statues of Buddha of various sizes and shapes.

We also travel to Buddha Park (aka Xieng Khuan), a famous sculpture park with more than 200 religious statues including a huge 40-metre high reclining Buddha image. It was built in 1958 by Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat, a monk who studied both Buddhism and Hinduism. This explains why his park is full not only of Buddha images but also of Hindu gods as well as demons and animals from both beliefs. The most outstanding ones include Indra, the king of Hindu gods riding the three-headed elephant (aka Erawan and Airavata), a four-armed deity sitting on a horse and an artistic deity with 12 faces and many hands, each holding interesting objects. They are all equally impressive not only because of their enormous size but because they are full of interesting details and interesting motifs.

This evening you may wish to take a stroll along the river front and take in the giant sprawling market, with its instantly recognizable red-roofed stalls and crowds of people who come to snap up a bargain or just soak up the laidback Mekong atmosphere.

PLEASE NOTE that some or all of today's sightseeing and your departure tomorrow may be managed and guided by one of our local associates. This is due to the fact that your Tour Leader may be leaving early in the day with travellers who have chosen to extend their tour to include Vietnam.

Overnight in Viangchan.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner



Day 9 Depart
Departure

BON VOYAGE!!

Included Meal(s): Breakfast

 


 

Trip Info
Trip Info

Inclusions
Breakfast and dinner daily (see detailed itinerary for daily meal plan).

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 and for early arriving/late departing land & air customers who book their extra hotel nights through us.

Exclusions
International airfare to/from the tour.

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.

Seasonality and Weather
Our October departure is just outside of the coolest time of year and the end of rainy season in Laos; it still rains now and then, but not too much to seriously affect our trip. The scenery is green and lush, and the weather is generally pleasant at this time of year. We will likely still experience some heat, but our October visit avoids the possibility of being caught in cold weather outbreaks that tend to descend from the north Nov-Jan, which can uncomfortably chilly.

Our March date also skips the cool and cloudy winter period and the heat of summer, which begins in May. March may be somewhat less green overall as things begin to dry out; that said, it's an interesting time as it coincides with the harvest of various crops.

Overall you should prepare for warm-hot, sometimes 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, but progress can be slow due to the nature of the roads and traffic. Internal flights via scheduled regional carriers.

The tour is not strenuous though it is busy; you must be steady on your feet and be able to endure some heat and some long days. We have numerous walking tours and visit several sites that are LARGE with steps and uneven surfaces. Our level "2" rating for this tour refers to the ambitious itinerary, full travel days, early starts, walking tours, uneven surfaces, and the possibility of heat in some locales.

Porters are available at hotels but you must be able to manage with your baggage at airports. age with your baggage at airports.

Am I suitable for this tour? Please refer to our self-assessment form.

Accommodation
Hotels used on tour are modern, comfortable, well-located, air-conditioned, 3-4 star properties with en suite bath/toilet. Some are resort-style boutique properties with plenty of charm and atmosphere. Single rooms are limited and possibly smaller than twins. Laundry facilities are available at most hotels for a reasonable price.

Click on "Map & Hotels" tab elsewhere on this page for more info.

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

Group Size
Maximum 18 plus Tour Leader

Tour Extensions
This tour is part of a series that can be upgraded to make for a longer trip. For more options, please refer to tour code/s:

22 Day Laos & Vietnam Tour
MAR OCT
TOUR CODE: LA2
Tour Overview
27 Day Laos, Vietnam & Cambodia
MAR OCT
TOUR CODE: LA3
Tour Overview

 


 

Map & Hotels
Map & Hotels

Regions visited: Southeast Asia
Countries visited: Laos


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


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.


Mouang Luang Hotel
3 Star Accommodation 3 Star Accommodation 3 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 rooms are clean, with parquet floors and marble-tiled bathrooms (all with tubs). ... 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.

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Frequently Asked Questions
ASK A QUESTION
FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions
ASK A QUESTION
01. What is the maximum number of participants on a trip?
Most of our tours carry a maximum of 18 participants; some tours (ie hiking tours) top out at 16. In the event that we do not achieve our minimum complement by our 90-day deadline, we may offer group members the option of paying a "small-group surcharge" as an alternative to cancellation. If all group members agree, we will confirm the trip at existing numbers; this surcharge is refundable in the event that we ultimately achieve our regular minimum. If the small group surcharge is not accepted, we will offer a refund of your deposit or a different trip of your choice.
02. Can I extend my tour either at the beginning or end? What about stopovers?
Yes, you can extend your tour either at the beginning or the end and we can book accommodation in our tour hotel. Stopovers are often permitted, depending on air routing. Stopovers usually carry a "stopover" fee levied by the airline.
03. How do I make a reservation? How and when do I pay?
The easiest way to make a reservation is via our website; during office hours, you are also more than welcome to contact us by telephone. A non-refundable deposit is payable at the time of booking; if a reservation is made within 90 days, full payment is required. Some trips require a larger deposit. If international airline bookings require a non-refundable payment in order to secure space or the lowest available fare, we will require an increase in deposit equal to the cost of the ticket(s). Early enrolment is always encouraged as group size is limited and some trips require greater preparation time. Once we have received your deposit, we will confirm your space and send you a confirmation package containing your trip itinerary, any visa/travel permit related documents, invoice, clothing and equipment recommendations, general information on your destination(s), and forms for you to complete, sign and return to us. Your air e-tickets (if applicable), final hotel list, final trip itinerary, and instructions on how to join your tour, will be sent approximately 2-3 weeks prior to departure.
04. What about cancellations, refunds, and transfers?
Please review our cancellation policy page for details.
05. I am a single who prefers my own room. What is a single supplement?
All of our tours have a single supplement for those who want to be guaranteed their own room at each location. This supplement is a reflection of the fact that most hotels around the world do not discount the regular twin-share rate for a room by 50% for only one person occupying a room. Most hotels will give a break on the price, but usually in the range of 25-30% of the twin-share rate. This difference, multiplied by each night, amounts to the single supplement. The conventional amount can also vary from country to country and some destinations are more expensive than others for single occupancy. In order to be "single friendly," the supplements we apply are not a profit centre for us and we do our best to keep them as reasonable as possible. On most tours we limit the number of singles available, not to be punitive, but rather because many hotels allow for only a limited number of singles; some smaller hotels at remote locations also have a limited number of single rooms available. Please note that most single rooms around the world are smaller than twin-share rooms and will likely have only one bed.
06. Do you have a shared accommodation program?
Yes! If you are single traveller and are willing to share, we will do our best to pair you with a same-gender roommate. On most of our tours, if we fail to pair you, we will absorb the single supplement fee and you will default to a single room at no extra charge. At some destinations, however, where single rooms are not significantly discounted, or not at all, we may apply a "mandatory" single in the event that we cannot find you a share partner. This is usually 50% of the usual supplement, but can be as much as 100%. If applicable, this proviso will be noted on each tour page on this website, on your invoice, and in our tour date/price book (available for download under "Resources").

 

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Countries Visited: 1

Laos.
Activity Level: 2

These are particularly busy tours that feature a lot of moving around, sometimes by train and short journeys on local transport. Walking tours of towns and cities are leisurely but you should be prepared to be on your feet for several hours. Some of our cultural trips that occur at high altitude and/or require greater independence with baggage handling (at hotels, airports, train stations) also fall into this category.
Tour Style: Cultural

These three- and four-star hotel-based, "soft adventure" trips concentrate on the culture, history, and natural attributes of our destination. Though there are no strenuous activities built into these tours, you need to be prepared for some full days with some early starts, plenty of walking on uneven surfaces through villages, cities and archaeological sites, and not a lot of "down time." Independence, reasonable fitness, and an ability to be steady on one's feet are critical in order for you to get the most out of these programs.
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