From £2,154 pp incl. UK flights
Half the holiday is spent in Laos’ spiritual capital Luang Prabang. Surrounded by green hills on a narrow tongue of land at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers, the exquisite setting helps create the relaxed, almost spiritual feeling of this heavenly city. Here we’ve put together a selection of tours that explore the town, rivers and countryside by bike, boat, zip line and on foot.
From here fly down to the somnolent south to explore the Bolaven Plateau, an extinct volcano and a few days by the Mekong enjoying the region’s natural beauty that’s little changed over the last 100 years. The holiday ends with a day exploring Vientiane (the Capital) by the every present Mekong River.
Day 1: Depart on your overnight flight to Luang Prabang via your choice of airport
Day 2: On arrival private transfer to your choice of hotel for 6 nights in Luang Prabang
Day 3: Up early for private guided Alms procession, central market and city tour
Day 4: Private Guided Mekong Boat Tour to Pak Ou Caves
Day 5: Private Walking Day to Ban Long Lao Village, Kuang Si Waterfall & Buffalo Dairy
Day 6: Countryside By Bike Private Tour
Day 7: Ziplining at Hoi Khua Waterfall
Day 8: Fly south. 1 night Pakse Afternoon walking tour of Bolaven Plateau
Day 9: Visit Wat Phu on way to Champasak. 2 nights River Resort or La Folie
Day 10: Tour to 4,000 Islands, Khon Phapheng & Li Phi waterfalls. Search for Irrawaddy dolphins
Day 11: Free day to enjoy your beautiful setting by the Mekong River and explore under own steam
Day 12: Early afternoon flight to Vientiane, the Capital, for 2 nights
Day 11: Private guided day tour of Vientiane
Day 14: Free day until overnight flight home
Day 15: Arrive home
Day 1: UK Airport / Luang Prabang
Depart on a choice of overnight flights to Luang Prabang via Bangkok or Hanoi. If you’d like to break your journey an add-on in either is easily added.
Day 2: Arrive Luang Prabang
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 6 nights. The rest of the day is free. Don’t miss the superb night market that runs through the centre of town every night.
Day 3: 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 re-join your guide for a private guided Walking tour around this beautiful World Heritage town. You’ll visit Wat Xieng Thong, one of the largest and most decorative temples and Wat Mai, with its beautiful gilded façade. From here continue on to the former Royal Palace, a commanding structure in the centre of town that until 1946 was the heart of the Lang Xang Kingdom. Today it’s the National Museum and its halls contain rare religious and cultural artefacts. Next climb 328 steps to the top of Mount Phousi and enjoy panoramic views of the city. The tour finishes with a visit to the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre, a repository of information on the country’s many ethnic-minority groups. Lunch will be in a local restaurant during the tour.
As the sun sets, take a one-hour walking tour of Luang Prabang’s night market, which is open from dusk until about 10pm. Browse for colourful textiles, quilts, carvings, basketry, ceramics, clothing and handmade paper.
Day 4: Luang Prabang (B) - Private Guided Mekong Boat Tour to Pak Ou Caves
This morning your guide will collect and take you down to the river where you board the small private boat. Cast off along the Mekong River to visit the Pak Ou Caves that 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. On the way, stop to visit Ban Xang Khong, where the weaving of Lao textiles still takes place on ancient wooden looms. Back at the hotel early afternoon and the rest of the day’s free.
Day 5: Luang Prabang - Private Walking Day to Ban Long Lao Village, Kuang Si Waterfall & Buffalo Dairy (B / L)
Start the day with a scenic drive up into the hills to Ban Long Lao Village, home to three ethnic groups: the Hmong, Lao and Khmu. Take some time exploring the village and learning more about the lifestyles of each group before embarking on a picturesque three-hour walk to Kuang Si Waterfall. The walk travels past lush rice paddies and through mountainous forest, offering spectacular panoramas of the surrounding countryside. Arrive at the breathtaking Kuang Si Waterfall, whose multi-tiered cascading falls tumble down jagged limestone reliefs into emerald pools. Quite a walk but you can reward yourselves with a refreshing dip into one of the pools. After cooling down enjoy Lao picnic lunch and rest.
This afternoon continue downhill a short way to the Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre. Run by the Australian NGO ‘Free the Bears’, the centre cares for over 60 moon bears that were rescued from poachers. Learn about the sanctuary’s conservation work and then continue by foot to Tad Pan Village to peruse the local market, picking up a souvenir or two, before heading back to Luang Prabang.
Along the way, stop at the Laos Buffalo Dairy for an authentic farming experience. Working with people from the surrounding villages, this social enterprise produces ice cream, yoghurt and cheeses, whilst supporting local farmers. You’ll have the chance to get up close with the grazing buffaloes, feeding them grass and bananas and treating them to a cooling bath before taking part in a hands-on milking workshop. Learn about the nutrients of buffalo milk and finish with a sample of the artisanal cheese. Return to Luang Prabang late afternoon.
Day 6: Luang Prabang - Countryside By Bike Private Tour (B / L)
This morning time to get on your bike (helmets provided) and with your private guide embark on an informal cycling tour of the rural villages that dot the countryside. Whizz past local farmers, pineapple fields and rice paddies and stop at the village of Ban Laksip after about ten kilometres. Take some photos of the serene and untouched scenery and continue through the more remote Laotian countryside for another ten kilometres to the village of Ban Pik. Here your guide will show you round the village and talk to villagers to learn a little about their daily lives.
Cycle a little further to the Khan River where you’ll enjoy a delicious picnic. Time to relax and perhaps take a swim before heading on to Ban Phanom Village. Known for its artisanal silk and cotton production, explore the little town, watching weavers at work and browse through the colourful textiles on offer. Continue on to Ban Xang Khong Village and watch how traditional Saa paper is produced from the bark of mulberry trees. The final 5 kms are along rolling hills, arriving back at the hotel late afternoon.
Day 7: Luang Prabang - Ziplining at Hoi Khua Waterfall (B / L)
After breakfast join your private guide and walk to the local ferry that crosses the Mekong River. Continue on by foot to the spectacular Hoi Khua Waterfall where an exhilarating rope course and zip line adventure awaits. Before climbing up high into the canopy of the jungle, enjoy a cup of tea or coffee and short safety training course.
Travel up into the treetops of the nature park and feel the adrenaline rush whilst navigating from station to station along a thrilling 900-metre zip line course. In between the dozen posts are several obstacles to overcome, including suspended rope bridges, climbing nets and swinging walkways, all designed to get the heart pounding. After completing the course, enjoy a local Lao lunch before hiking back to the starting point along the Green Organic Trail. Take a short rest before returning to Luang Prabang for a final night.
Day 8: Fly Luang Prabang / Pakse (Southern Laos) - Bolaven Plateau (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 to your choice of Pakse hotel for 1 night and enjoy lunch. This afternoon your guide will take you up to the Bolaven Plateau, formed by an ancient volcano and one of the most scenic spots in the region, full of beautiful landscapes made up of forests, rivers and waterfalls. At an altitude of over 1,000 metres, the scenery is very different to that experienced in most of the country and even at the hottest time it rarely rises above 27°C.
One of the prime draws is Tad Fane Waterfall whose twin streams dramatically cascade into a 200m deep gorge. From here walk on through the unusual landscape to Paxong and Tadlo that also boast impressive waterfalls. Along the way you will stop at small tea and coffee plantations, as well as visiting minority villages of the Neua Pong Kok and Bhoung people. Return to the hotel and evening free.
Southern Laos is one of the most beautiful and least developed parts of the country, where the Mekong River breaks down into a myriad of arms and channels that surround tiny islands, sandbars and islets to create a water world, home to rare flora and fauna including the freshwater dolphin. During the rainy season this section of the Mekong fills out to a breadth of 14km, the river’s widest reach along its 4350km journey from the Tibetan Plateau to the South China Sea.
Day 9: Pakse - Wat Phu Temples - Champasak (B / L)
After breakfast continue south to following the Mekong River to either the River Resort or La Folie Lodge, two beautiful boutique hotels right on the river where you’ll spend 2 nights. En Route visit 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.
Day 10: Champasak - Private Guided 4000 Islands Mekong Tour (B / L)
This morning your guide will collect you for a day exploring the south. Drive down to the 4000 islands for a boat ride to the largest waterfalls in Asia on Cambodia’s border. Khone Phapeng & Li Phi Falls were the major obstacles which thwarted the French in their efforts to open the Mekong River to navigation. Here also live some 50-100 Irrawaddy dolphins. If you’re lucky you'll see them. Lunch will be at 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. Transfer back to the hotel late afternoon.
Day 11: Champasak (B) - Free Day
A free day to take a break from touring and enjoy the holiday’s riverside position and facilities. The surrounding countryside can be explored on foot, by bike or kayak.
Day 12: Champasak (B) - Pakse / Vientiane
Late morning airport transfer and flight to Vientiane, the Capital. On arrival you’ll be met by your private guide and transferred to your choice of hotel for 2 nights. Evening free.
If you’re expecting the usual hectic Asian capital you’ll be surprised by Vientiane’s quiet, laid back atmosphere. While the city is the largest in Laos, it somehow manages to maintain its charm as it slowly develops into a modern city. The French influence is immediately evident with tree lined streets, but you’ll also see Thai, Chinese and Soviet architecture that gives the city a rare type of timelessness. Against this background artsy little cafes, restaurants and galleries are starting to spring up as the city starts its next stage of life.
Day 13: 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. Conclude the morning 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 this evening we recommend you take to the streets, perhaps stopping for a drink to watch the sun set over the Mekong.
Day 14: Vientiane (B) / UK Airport
Day free until your private airport transfer and overnight flight home that arrives 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 Luang Prabang
A beautiful and unique place to stay, you won't want to leave!
Hotels in Champasak
You'll find beautiful Mekong riverside hotels in this Ancient Khmer outpost and entrance to Southern Laos
Hotels in Vientiane
The delightfully friendly Capital is the perfect place to start a holiday in Laos