For those who want to experience unspoilt Asia, Laos is about as close as you can get. Life here has continued in much the same way as it has for hundreds of years, the countryside is pristine, the culture is rich and the locals are among the friendliest in the world.
On this tour you’ll experience Laos’ full diversity and spiritual beauty, from the urban Edens of Luang Prabang and Vientiane to the dramatic limestone mountains and rural river scenes up-country, before falling under the spell of the sleepy South’s idyllic Mekong River islands. The holiday ends with a week or so on your favourite Thai beach.
Day 1: Depart on your overnight flight to Vientiane
Day 2: On arrival met and private transfer to your hotel for 2 nights in Vientiane
Day 3: Full day private guided city tour
Day 4: Fly to Oudomxay for 2 nights at the Muang La Resort. Gateway to the northern hills
Day 5: Enjoy a day trekking through the villages and surrounding hill country
Day 6: Take picturesque 4 hour boat ride along Nam Ou River to Nong Khiaw for 1 night
Day 7: Travel to Luang Prabang stopping at Pak Ou Caves. 3 nights Luang Prabang
Day 8: Up early for Alms procession and city walking tour
Day 9: Morning private guided tour to Kuang Si Waterfalls
Day 10: Fly south to Pakse.Visit Phou Asa by elephant on way to Don Khong Island for 2 nights
Day 11: Full day tour to 4,000 islands & waterfalls on Cambodia border
Day 12: Follow Mekong north. 2 nights by the river in Champasak. Wat Phou temple tour
Day 13: Morning tour Wat Phou temple. Afternoon free to relax, kayak or cycle
Day 14: Fly to your choice of Thai beach resort for 7 nights (or less / more)
Days 15-20: 6 days to enjoy your choice of Thai beach resort, hotel's facilities and outlying islands
Day 21: Fly home overnight
Day 22: Arrive home
Day 1: UK Airport / Vientiane
Depart on a choice of overnight flights to Vientiane via Bangkok or Hanoi. If you’d like to break your journey an add-on in either is easily added.
Day 2: Arrive Vientiane
On arrival you’ll be met by your private guide and transferred to the city centre where you check in to your choice of hotel for 2 nights. The rest of the day is free to recover from the journey and explore your immediate environs.
Day 3: Vientiane - Private Guided City Tour (B / L)
This morning enjoy a tour of the city’s historical highlights. Start at beautiful Wat Sisaket, whose walls are home to thousands of miniature Buddha statues and was the only temple left intact after the Siamese invasion in 1828. Then head over to Hor Pha Keo, a religious museum showcasing a fine collection of Lao and Khmer art. Continue on to Patouxai, the Victory Monument, with panoramic views of town. Finally end up at That Luang, the holiest site in Laos and its national symbol.
After lunch in a local restaurant, travel to Xieng Khouan Buddha Park. Here a renegade monk formed his own sect and began to carve magnificent, eerie statues out of concrete, based on Hindu, Buddhist and Brahman iconography. He began in 1958 and continued on until the Communist takeover of Laos in 1975, when he fled across the border to Nong Khai, Thailand and sculpted a new park. This is a surreal “Buddhisneyland” full of interesting photographic opportunities!
The collision of cultures in Vientiane has resulted in a superb variety of restaurants and so this evening we recommend you take to the streets, perhaps stopping for a drink and watching the sun set over the Mekong.
Day 4: Vientiane (B) - Fly to Oudomxay
Time to leave the city and head to the hill country in the far north of Laos. On arrival met and transferred to the beautiful Muang La Resort for 2 nights. Nothing else is planned for the rest of the day so you can stroll around the village or just relax in the beautiful riverside setting, enjoy a massage or some time in the natural hot springs than run through the hotel.
Day 5: Muang La - Hill Tribe Walking Day (B / L)
This morning head out into the hills to meet Ikhos and H’Mong villagers - two typical communities of Laos. The track offers an incredible climb up to 1,000m where you will have a panoramic view of the stunning hill country. You will visit first the beautiful and isolated village of Ikhos. This community from Yunna and Tibet has remained extremely traditional. Lunch will be taken whilst enjoying a magnificent view. After lunch visit the H’Mong village of Ban Tauser (a 45 minute walk). This ethnic group, originating from the high steppes of Tibet, still has many traditional customs. Back at the hotel late afternoon.
Day 6: Muang La to Nong Khiaw by boat (B / L)
Travel north to Muang Khua a beautiful spot on the bank of the Nam Ou River, down which you'll enjoy a boat trip to Nong Khiaw (4 hours). Relax and enjoy river life as it passes by and there will be time to stop along the way to visit local villages.
Nong Khiaw is a small village picturesquely sandwiched between the jagged limestone mountains and coffee coloured waters of the Nam Ou River. You'll stay at the Nong Kiau Riverside Resort, the perfect place to absorb the remarkable scenery, as it squeezes every bit out of its magnificent location looking over the river and across to the mountains.
Day 7: Nong Khiaw to Luang Prabang (B / L) - Pak Ou Caves
This morning continue your journey to Luang Prabang by car, stopping at the Pak Ou Caves along the way. The caves rest high in the limestone cliffs and house thousands of Buddha statues that were hidden from the looting Chinese Haw. The caves were converted into Buddhist temples in the 15th century and are used as a site for old Buddha images that can no longer be venerated in a temple, either because they are damaged or the temple they were displayed in has been destroyed. Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant near the caves and then head on to Luang Prabang where you check-in to your choice of hotel for 3 nights. Don’t miss the superb night market that runs through the centre of town every night.
Day 8: Luang Prabang - Private Guided Almsgiving & City Tour (B / L)
It feels to some that the city is bathed in Buddhism and this feeling is at its most accessible each morning as monks rise early for the silent alms procession. Today rise at dawn to watch this beautiful, understated and authentic tradition with your private guide. On the way back to the hotel they will take you to the Morning Market, a feast of local and somewhat unusual (to us) produce. After a leisurely breakfast join your guide for a private guided Walking tour around this beautiful World Heritage town, visiting a number of Wats (temples), the Royal Palace and central market. Luang Prabang is best experienced by foot (we can arrange a car) and is home to a growing number of niche shops and galleries. The morning finishes with a climb up the 328 steps up Phousi Mountain for superb views of the area. Lunch will be in a local restaurant and then the rest of the afternoon is free.
Day 9: Luang Prabang (B) - Morning tour to Kuang Si Waterfalls
This morning your guide will collect you for a tour out into the countryside to visit the Kuang Si Waterfall, whose multi-tiered cascading falls tumble down jagged limestone reliefs into emerald pools. Quite a climb but worth it as you can cool off with a swim in the pools. The tour ends with a visit to the Ock Pop Tok Living Crafts Centre, established to showcase the weavings of the Lao-Tai peoples. Other handicrafts such as paper making are also featured and the proceeds go back to the people who make them. The quality is good, so you might want to make room in your case for a few presents. Afternoon free.
Day 10: Fly Luang Prabang / Pakse - Elephant Camp - Don Khong Island (B / L)
Early transfer to the airport for the short flight to Pakse, gateway to the south. On arrival you’ll be met by your private guide and transferred south to Don Khong Island, close to the Cambodia border in the centre of the Mekong River. En route visit an elephant camp and get the chance to watch the mahouts in action before climbing aboard for a ride to the top of Phou Asa, home to a series of mysterious ruins and a great view across the wetlands. Continue on to the island on Don Khong by car and boat for 2 nights. Enjoy dinner overlooking the Mekong and watch the twinkling lights of fishing boats as they float by.
Day 11: Don Khong Island - 4,000 Islands with Boat Tour (B / L)
Today your guide will take you on a day exploring the southern border area. Start with a boat ride to Asia’s largest waterfalls on Cambodia’s border. Khone Phapeng & Li Phi Falls were the major obstacles that thwarted the French in their efforts to open the Mekong River to navigation. Here live some 50-100 Irrawaddy dolphins and if you’re lucky you'll see them. Lunch in a local restaurant. This afternoon walk along the small gauge railway and Colonial Bridge that were built by the French to circumnavigate the falls and open up the region. Back at the hotel mid-afternoon.
Day 12: Don Khong Island (B) - River Resort, Champasak
This morning you'll be transferred to Champasak for 2 nights by the Mekong staying at the the River Resort. The afternoon is free to enjoy the beautiful setting, relax by the pool, explore the surrounding countryside on foot or by bike, take a kayak down the river or walk around Champasak town. If you have time this is a great spot to add a few nights R&R after such an extensive tour.
Day 13: Champasak (B) - Wat Phu Temple
This morning your guide will show you the famous Khmer Temple complex of Wat Phu which pre-dates Angkor Wat and may even be its blueprint. Climb through the complex and you’ll be rewarded with a great view down to the Mekong. Back in time for lunch and afternoon free.
Day 14: Champasak (B)- Flight to Thai beach via Vientiane
Morning airport transfer and flight to either Bangkok or Phuket via Vientiane for 7 nights on the beach. The easiest resorts to reach are either Hua Hin (2 hours from Bangkok), Phuket or Khao Lak (close to Phuket airport).
Day 15-20: Thai Beach Stay (B)
6 full days to enjoy your beachside location, the hotel's facilities and the outlying islands & reefs. THe beach stay can be as long or as short as you'd like.
Day 21: Beach (B) - Flight home
Day free until private airport transfer to connect with your overnight flight home. Arrive the following morning.
Each featured itinerary is really a starting point from which to create your ideal holiday.
We can include as much or as little as you like, mix and match hotels, excursions and experiences, add extra nights and change the destinations you'd like to visit.
The common thread is that each is a privately guided holiday, allowing you to travel where and when you want, with your own private transport and dedicated guide.
- Return scheduled international flights (optional if you would like to arrange your own)
- English speaking, local guide & driver
- Choice of hotel accommodation
- Transport in private air-conditioned vehicles
- Domestic flights detailed in itinerary
- Admission fees to all attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
- All meals as detailed (B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner)
- Entry visas International airport departure taxes if payable locally
- Optional Tours / Excursions
- Any meals not listed in the itinerary
- Personal expenses
- Tips for Guides / Drivers (discretionary)
- Travel insurance
- Any camera or video fees charged at sites
The hotels below are there as examples, designed to act as a starting point from which to create your holiday. There are plenty of alternatives to choose from and when we quote we will include other suggestions so we get to understand your likes and dislikes. Quite often clients mix and match hotel categories throughout their holiday.
Hotels in Vientiane
The delightfully friendly Capital is the perfect place to start a holiday in Laos
Hotels in Muang La
Idyllic riverside location nestled in untrammelled hills at the heart of the underdeveloped north
Hotels in Nong Khiaw
Picturesquely sandwiched between the jagged limestone mountains and coffee coloured waters of the Nam Ou River
Hotels in Luang Prabang
This UNESCO World Heritage city is very special and should not be missed
Hotels on Don Khong Island
Sitting in the Mekong River close to the Cambodia it's a great base from which to explore the 4,000 Islands area
Hotels in Champasak
You'll find beautiful Mekong riverside hotels in this Ancient Khmer outpost and entrance to Southern Laos
Hotels in Hua Hin
Just 2 hours drive south of Bangkok you'll find this royal beach resort
Hotels in Phuket & Andaman Coast
Not only is Phuket the most popular beach destination, it also acts as the gateway to other resort areas