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Laos Cultural and Heritage Tour

                                                                                           9 days, 8 night                                                                     Photo Gallery for this trip

Introduction

Come explore the culture of Laos and the World Heritage Sites it has to offer.  Luang Prabang, Plain of Jars, Wat Phou and a tour of Vientiane are the highlights of this excursion. To complete the picture of Lao Culture we’ll take lessons in Lao cooking, participate in the daily offerings to Buddhist monks, explore Lao silk and handicrafts, an evening of traditional dance, visits to Lao landmarks and shopping excursions for traditional Lao clothing.

All meals on this trip are based on Lao culinary tastes, with exception to breakfast.  Hotels and accommodation will be representative in design and function of Lao Style as much as possible.  Your guide will take extra time to explain their family and how they interact. On the last night we’ll hold a Baci ceremony in Champasak with a local family to celebrate your trip and invite blessings on the local family you are with.

As with all of our trips, you may reverse the order and add on any suggested packages from our list.


Brief Itinerary

Day 1: Luang Prabang Arrival – Temples of Luang Prabang - Ban Phanom - Ban Xang Khong
Day 2: Monk Offerings - Cooking Course - Pak Ou Cave Tour
Day 3:  Luang Prabang Discovery (Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre, local silversmith shop, Wat Phu Si, Lao Massage)
Day 4:  Luang Prabang - Phonsavan
Day 5:  Plain of Jars Site 1, 2 and 3 – Xieng Khoang Old Capital
Day 6:  Tham Piew Cave – Fly to Vientiane
- a traditional Lao Dance performance
Day 7: Vientiane City Tour - Morning Market
Day 8: Vientiane – Fly to Pakse – Elephants and Phou Asa - Baci Ceremony
Day 9: Wat Phu Champasak – Pakse departure


Day to Day Itinerary


Day 1: Luang Prabang Arrival – Temples of Luang Prabang - Ban Phanom - Ban Xang Khong

On arrival, you will  be greeted by our tour guide.  We’ll check into our hotel, and have lunch at Maly Lao Food restaurant.  We’ll then visit the old Royal Palace which was built in 1904 during the early French colonial era as a residence for King Sisavang Vong and his family. The building features a blend of Lao motifs and French beaux-arts styles. We continue to Wat Visoun which was built by Visounnarat in 1513. It is the oldest operating temple in Luang Prabang. We continue to Wat Xieng Thong which was built by King Setthathirat in 1560. It is Luang Prabang’s most magnificent temple.  

We then drive east to Thai Lu village of Ban Phanom, which is well known for cotton and silk hand – weaving. We finish our day tour at Ban Xang Khong, Sa paper making village and back to the town.  Dinner tonight will be at a local Lao restaurant with traditional Lao music performance. 


Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our list
Transit: 45 minute flight, 20 minute airport transfer VTE and LPQ
Walking: 2 – 3 hours
Meal plan: L/D


Day 2: Monk Offerings - Cooking Course - Pak Ou Cave Tour

We start the day in the early morning at 05:30 for Khao Niew Offering. This unique experience gives us the chance to offer sticky rice to the adolescent monks and to join the tradition of Laotian people. We’ll practice the night before and make sure you observe the traditional way to making an offering to the monks.  We’ll have breakfast at the hotel and then at 08:30 begin a half day cooking course.  The menu will be primarily Lao culinary tastes mixed with a western fusion style.  Lunch is not served but prepared by you and your fellow classmates!

After lunch, we drive slightly north of town and take a boat across the Mekong River to Pak Ou Cave.  Pak Ou is a popular pilgrim destination for local people.  The caves are filled with images and statues of Buddha and are a holy site for Lao People.  The upper and lower caves are explored and we will visit the village of Ban Xang Hai. This village has for centuries made the earthen jars used as fermenting containers for Lao wine. Nowadays, it specializes in producing a wide range of lau lao (Lao whisky) and lau hai (Lao wine). Be sure to try just a little!

We return down river by boat to Luang Prabang is in the late afternoon.  Dinner tonight is at the hotel.  After dinner we suggest a visit to the Night Market to examine local handicrafts and souvenirs found only in Luang Prabang. 


Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our list
Transit: 1.5 hour boat trip/ ½ hour transfer to Pak Ou/ ½ hour to and from the morning offering
Trekking time: 2 hours
Activity difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B, L, D


Day 3:  Luang Prabang Discovery (Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre, local silversmith shop, Wat Phu Si, Lao Massage)

We have a late start today, breakfast at 08:30 and then are off to the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre.  The Centre exhibits ethnic clothing, household objects, religious artefacts, and handicrafts, with information in English and Lao languages.  The Museum Shop sells books and exclusive handicrafts and photos from ethnic communities. From here we go to Thithpeng Maniphone, a local silversmith shop/museum that is still actively producing items. Lunch follows and you have a few hours free time until 16:00 when we start our walk up to Wat Phu Si for sunset.  Wat Phu Si sits high above Luang Prabang offering excellent views of the town, fortune telling Monks area available to tell you secrets about your life in a unique Asian style!  We descend and enjoy a 1 hour traditional Lao Massage followed by dinner.  Free time in the evening after dinner is up to you, maybe a return to the night market for that special gift you passed on the night before.


Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our list
Transit: Minimal
Trekking time: 2 – 3 hours
Activity difficulty: Easy, stairs are strenuous
Meal plan: B, L, D


Day 4:  Luang Prabang - Phonsavan

We enjoy our last breakfast in Luang Prabang and depart for Phonsavan by 08:00.  When we arrive at Phou Khoum, we’ll visit the market and buy food for a Lao picnic lunch that we will enjoy a few kilometers out of town (weather permitting)

On the way to Phonsavan, we’ll stop as you wish, possibly at a local school or village to have a wander.  When we arrive in Phonsavan, we check into the hotel and then make a short visit to the local MAG information centre (Mine Advisory Group) to learn about the damaging ordinance in the area left behind from the Indochina War.  Dinner tonight is at the hotel.


Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our list
Transit: 6 – 7 hours
Activity: MAG visit Picnic Lunch
Meal plan: B, L, D


Day 5:  Plain of Jars Site 1, 2 and 3 – Xieng Khoang Old Capital

After breakfast, we drive to Site 1 of Plain of Jars for a visit. We continue by car to Site 2 and hike to Site 3 (hiking is difficult in the rainy season from June to September). The sites are covering an area of around 1000 square kilometers, at an altitude of 1000 metres.  It gets its name from the hundreds of stone jars scattered across the landscape, ranging in site from 1-2.5 meters in height.  There is considerable speculation as to the origin of the jars.

After exploring 3 sites with interesting stories about the Indochina War, we drive to Muong Khoun for lunch.

Muong Khoun was once the capital of Xieng Khoang Province. There is time to visit temples such as Wat Chom Phet and Wat That Phoun which were built the same time as That Luang in Vientiane. We can also visit some colonial building and old Lao Military Base that was seriously damaged by American bombs.

On the way back to Phonsavan, we can stop by village where local people collect scrap metals which are partly from UXO and bomb shell.

Returning to town, we have dinner at Maly Hotel.  The restaurant has a good collection of war memorabilia and defused ordinance, the B-52 fuel cell and converted bomb casings to flower pots are interesting.  Given time, we may view the owner’s video documentary of the Ravens, the CIA pilots of Air America that operated out of Long Cheng, the secret US airbase in Laos.


Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our list
Transit: 2 hours
Trekking time: 3 hours, easy terrain
Meal plan: B, L, D


Day 6:  Tham Piew Cave – Fly to Vientiane - a traditional Lao Dance performance

We depart Phonsavan by 07:30 and drive east to Tham Piew Cave for a visit. The cave was used by local people during the Second Indochina War as a bomb shelter.  During the Indochina war, the cave was bombed and over 400 civilians were killed in the raid.  From the cave mouth is a view of the forest and plains below. A stream and small irrigation dam at the base of the cliff is picturesque.

We return to Phonsavan and prepare for the afternoon flight to Vientiane.  Upon arrival in Vientiane, we check into the hotel and freshen up.  Tonight we will attend a traditional Lao Dance performance followed by dinner at Kualao
Restaurant. 

Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our list
Transit:  2.5 hours car/ VTE airport transfer 20 minutes/ Flight time 40 minutes
Trekking difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B, L, D


Day 7: Vientiane City Tour - Morning Market

Breakfast today is at a local noodle shop for a taste of a Lao morning!

In the morning time, we take a sightseeing tour of Vientiane, to visit religious museums of Wat Sisaket, the oldest temple to have been survived from the Siamese war of 1828 and its cloister contains more than 8000 Buddha statues; Ho Prakeo, the former home-temple of the Emerald Buddha statue or Pra Keo from the early time of Lane Xang Kingdom until 18th century, but today it contains a collection of Buddha statues, antiques and all artifacts found in around Vientiane; That Luang Stupa, the single most important monument in Laos, which was built to cover the original small stupa containing a piece of the chest bone of Buddha, That Luang serves as the main and symbolic stupa in Laos. It's also our national symbol and recognizable throughout the world, gathering place for national Buddhism ceremony. It's also the biggest stupa in Laos; Patouxay (Arch de Triumph), built quite recently in commemoration of those who died during the wars in the past and it is today as the land-mark of Vientiane.

Lunch today is at Makphet, a restaurant training school for disadvantaged youths.  Traditional Lao cuisine and interesting non-alcoholic beverages are served.  Information on Friends International NGO is available and we’ll have a look at the second floor where a selection of handicrafts are available.

In the afternoon, we continue the sigthseeing tour to Carol Cassidy House, a Gallery weaving Lao textiles and natural dye making process from A-Z.  From here we go to the Morning Market to shop for clothing and handicrafts from various parts of Laos. We suggest an early night tonight as the flight to Pakse is early, very early.


Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our list
Transit:  short periods between locations
Meal plan: B, L, D


Day 8: Vientiane – Fly to Pakse – Elephants and Phou Asa – Baci Ceremony

The flight to Pakse departs at 06:00 and after our 1 hour flight we will have breakfast in Pakse.  We journey to Kingfisher Eco-Resort. After check in, there is time for a short rest. We’ll enjoy elephant riding from Ban Kiet Ngong up to the archeological site of Phou Asa which overlooks the Pha Pho wetland, rich with bird life. 

Dinner tonight will be at Ban Kiet Ngong, a village near Kingfisher and we will have a traditional Lao ceremony, the Baci.  Dinner will follow the ceremony hosted by a local family.  The Baci is to celebrate our time in Laos and to bring blessings to the host family we are with.


Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our list
Transit:  2.5 hours car/ VTE airport transfer 20 minutes/ Flight time 1 hour
Elephant ride: 1hour
Meal plan: B, L, D


Day 9: Wat Phu Champasak – Pakse departure

Breakfast on our last day and we depart to Champasak and visit Wat Phou, occupying a dramatic mountainside site over looking the Mekong valley. The Wat is divided into lower and upper parts and is joined by a steep stairway. After visiting Wat Phou, we stop for lunch at a local boat restaurant.  We continue back to Pakse and conclude our trip. 

 

Options for this night include hotel overnight in Pakse or transportation to the border with Thailand/transfer airport to fly back to Vientiane or Siem Riep.

Accommodation: Not included
Transit:  2.5 hours
Walking time: 1-2 hours
Walking difficulty: easy
Meal plan: B, L


Our trip includes

  • English speaking guide
  • Accommodation as indicated
  • Meals as indicated
  • Transfer and pickup airport
  • Transportation by car or minivan
  • One way flight Vientiane - Pakse
  • Tour as indicated
  • Entrance fee

Our trip excludes

  • International flights
  • Visa & visa arrangement
  • Meals not indicated
  • Drinking water, soft drink and alcohol
  • Tips & personal expenses

Prices contact info@remoteasia.com