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 3 nights in Luang Prabang
Day 3: Up early for private guided Alms procession, central market and city tour
Day 4: Morning private guided tour to Kuang Si Waterfall
Day 5: Fly to Pakse, gateway to south. Private transfer to Bolaven Plateau (1 night) & guided walk
Day 6: Head to 4,000 Islands. Visit Wat Phu & elephant ride to Phou Asa. 2 nights Don Khong island
Day 7: Boat tour to Khon Phapheng & Li Phi waterfalls and searching for rare Irrawaddy dolphins
Day 8: Cross into Cambodia and follow the Mekong to riverside town of Stung Treng for 1 night
Day 9: Experience rural Cambodia following the Mekong River to Kratie for 2 nights on river island
Day 10: Morning cycle tour of island and afternoon river dolphin boat
Day 11: Continue to Phnom Penh for 2 nights in your choice of hotel
Day 12: Full day private guided Phnom Penh City Tour with Killing Fields
Day 13: Fly to Siem Reap for 3 nights in your choice of hotel
Day 14: Full day private guided tour of Angkor Archaeological Park with lunch
Day 15: Morning tour to stilted villages on Tonle Sap Lake
Day 16: Free day until flight home. Perhaps add Angkor tour
Day 17: 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 3 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 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.
Extra...Popular additions are a cruise along the Mekong River or a visit to the Kuang Si Waterfalls. Either can be added this afternoon.
Day 4: Luang Prabang (B) - Private Guided Kuang Si Waterfall Tour
This morning head out to the countryside with your private guide 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 5: 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 the Tad Fane Resort for 1 night. This is located high on 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 seen in most of the country and even at the hottest time it rarely rises above 27°C.
Check-in, enjoy lunch and then your private guide will rejoin you for an afternoon tour that involves a leisurely 3 hour hike exploring the plateau. This hike goes through a local village, coffee plantations, over a hanging bridge and on to the plains. Huge boulders, epiphytes and wild orchids abound. Large pine trees grow here, giving it a wholly different character of landscape. One of the prime draws is Tad Fane Waterfall whose twin streams dramatically cascade into a 200m deep gorge. Evening free and as you will be relatively high up you may need a jumper or light jacket in the evening.
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 6: Bolaven Plateau to Si Phan Don with visit to Wat Phu and Phou Asa (B / L)
After breakfast come back down to river level and continue south to Si Phan Don, where the Mekong splits to create an archipelago of thousands of sandbars and where it gets its more familiar name of 4000 Islands. En route you’ll have the chance to visit the Khmer Temple complex of Wat Phou. This represents the easternmost border of the Khmer empire. Climb to the top and you get a great view of the Mekong River snaking south.
You’ll also 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. Check in to the Sensothxeune Hotel for 2 nights and enjoy dinner overlooking the Mekong and watch the twinkling lights of fishing boats as they float by.
Day 7: Si Phan Don - 4,000 Islands Boat Tour (B / L)
Today your guide will collect you for a day exploring the southern border. Start with 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 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. Back at the hotel late afternoon.
Day 8: Si Phan Don - Cross Border into Cambodia - travel to Stung Treng (B / L)
After breakfast drive to Voen Kham border, the Laos-Cambodian water border. Say goodbye to your southern Laos guide and hello the Cambodia one. You journey starts with a 40km transfer to Stung Treng, a quiet country town that acts as an important trade hub at the confluence of the San River and Mekong River. Check into the Gold River Hotel for 1 night.
After lunch in a local restaurant enjoy a boat ride out to Thala Bariwatt, an historical site and home to the 8th century Preah Ko temple. Back at Stung Treng visit a local market and the balance of day at leisure. This evening you may like to walk along the river front, the centre of socialising when in Cambodia river towns.
Day 9: Stung Treng to Kratie - Koh Trong Island (B / L)
This morning continue to follow the river 130kms to Kratie. Lunch in a local restaurant. On arrival in Kratie you transfer by local boat across the Mekong to Koh Trong Island and 2 nights at the Rajabori Villas. The rest of the day’s free to relax by the pool or explore your immediate environs. Koh Trong is a completely unspoilt rural working island with no cars and is a world away from UK life.
After dinner if it’s a clear night take a short walk and enjoy the star studded sky.
Day 10: Koh Trong Island - River Dolphin Boat Tour (B / L)
This morning your guide will take you for a gentle cycle ride around the island. Shaded by the trees you have the Mekong on one side and villages on the other as you follow the flat sandy paths that skirt the island and offer access to the people, farms and orchards that make this rural idyll their home. Your guide will explain what life’s like here, but be prepared to shout a welcome to every child you see!
The Mekong around Kratie is one of the best places to see the rare freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins and so after a relaxing lunch the tour heads further up the Mekong River to search for these beautiful mammals aboard a local boat for about one hour. After the tour head back to Koh Trong for a final night.
Day 11: Kratie to Phnom Penh
This morning return to the mainland and head on to Phnom Penh which will take most of the day with regular stops along the way. On arrival check in to your choice of hotel for 2 nights. Evening free.
Phnom Penh is a traditional Far East city, full of energy and still tatty around the edges. A great place to start in the early evening is to take a tuk tuk to the riverside promenade. As you walk along the Mekong look across to the French colonial buildings that are interspersed with the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda and National Museum. Evening is the time everyone congregates along the wide promenade with impromptu aerobics, football matches and time to catch up with friends. There are plenty of restaurants and bars along the way.
Day 12: Phnom Penh - Private City Tour with Killing Field (B / L)
After breakfast your guide will pick you up for a half day city tour of the fascinating Khmer Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda. After lunch in a local restaurant you visit the sobering and poignant Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a testament to Cambodia’s bloody past. Then you can explore the colourful stalls of the vast Central Market. The tour ends at the Choeung Ek Killing Fields just outside the city. This is now a Buddhist memorial park that has been constructed around the mass graves of the thousands of victims.
Dozens of mass graves are visible above ground, several which have not yet been excavated. The field is marked by a Buddhist stupa that has glass walls and is filled with over 5,000 skulls. You’ll be back at the hotel by the late afternoon.
Day 13: Fly Phnom Penh (B) / Siem Reap
Private transfer to the airport in time for your flight to Siem Reap. On arrival met by your private guide and transferred to the town centre where you check in to your choice of hotel for 3 nights.
Extra...This evening you might like to visit the circus that performs nightly in the centre of town. It's organised by the NGO Phare to help poor and handicapped children gain education and livelihoods. The evening is a mix of traditional and modern theatre, music, dance, acrobatics, juggling and tight rope walking. More than a show, it's a joyful celebration of Cambodia culture. Tickets should be pre-booked as very popular.
Day 14: Siem Reap - Private Guided Angkor Temples Tour (B / L)
This morning your private guide will pick you up for a private guided tour of the iconic Angkor Archaeological Park. Start off at Angkor Thom, the last great capital of the Khmer Empire.
Highlights include the magnificent Bayon, one of the most recognisable sites because of the 54 towers adorned with 216 enigmatically smiling stone faces, the Terrace of Elephants, a giant viewing stand for public ceremonies and the Terrace of Leper Kings, whose walls boast beautifully carved nagas, demons and other mythological beings.
In the low morning sun the carvings really stand out and as you stand on the Terrace of Elephants you get a great view across a parkland scene interspersed with giant trees protected in the National Park.
Then move onto the temple of Ta Phrom, jungle covered and pretty much left as originally found by European explorers to create a mystical atmosphere.
Back to Siem Reap (15 minutes away) for lunch and a rest in the hot midday. This afternoon return to explore Angkor Wat, the most famous and best preserved of all the Angkor temples. You’ll have time for a thorough exploration before climbing to the top of Pre Rup temple to watch the sunset over the jungle. Back to the hotel by early evening.
Extra...The great thing about having your own specialist guide is that the itinerary can be tailored to you and be adapted on the ground to take advantage of local knowledge and keep ahead of the crowds. Angkor represents the universe in miniature and you could spend weeks touring round the thousand or so temples, so on this tour we focus on the highlights, but we can easily extend your stay.
Day 15: Siem Reap (B) - Tonle Sap Lake Stilted Villages Tour
This morning you’ll be collected by your guide and transferred 45 minutes through the Cambodia countryside to Tonle Sap Lake where you board a longtail boat to explore the lake and visit Kompong Phluk, an isolated community of three villages built on stilts. These scenic villages are flooded for around half the year and you will board a local boat, rowed by a villager, to explore the local community. You will also be taken through the flooded mangrove forests that are the main building block of this valuable ecosystem that supports a variety of wildlife. Back in Siem Reap in time for a late lunch.
Day 16: Siem Reap (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 Bolaven Plateau
Formed by an ancient volcano, Bolaven Plateau is one of the most scenic spots in Laos
Hotels in Don Khong (Si Phan Don)
Beautiful island south of Laos
Hotels in Stung Treng
Accomodation in the riverside town of Stung Treng is comprised of charming guesthouses.
Please don't hesitate to contact us to find out more.
Hotels in Kratie
A sleepy town on the Mekong River. Ideal for those travelling from Laos to Cambodia
Hotels in Phnom Penh
Authentic and cultured, Phnom Pehn is filled with amazing sights