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Laos Insight

                                                                                                                          18 days 17 nights                                                                    Photo Gallery for  this trip

Introduction

Looking for a complete view and insight into Laos?  You’ve found it!  The essential highlights of Luang Prabang, boat rides on the Mekong and other beautiful rivers, the Plain of Jars, fresh water dolphin spotting along the border with Cambodia, Vientiane’s slow pace of life, and the restful haven of Vang Vieng are all explored.  In addition, we get out to National Protected areas, visit minority villages, ride on gentle elephants, swim in tropical waterfalls and make offerings to monks. 

This trip can be started in Houeisai or Pakse and tailored to your arrival time.  Email us for information on how to reach the starting points as we’ve done it many times.


Brief Itinerary

Day 1: Boat trip Houeisai - Pak Tha - Ban Khonekham
Day 2: Boat trip Ban Khonekham - Na Le - Luang Nam Tha
Day 3: Ban Nam Yang Trek in the NPA and Akha Minority Visit
Day 4: Luang Nam Tha - Udomxai - Pak Mong - Nong Khiaw
Day 5: Boat trip Nong Khiaw - Pak Ou Cave - Luang Prabang
Day 6: Khao Niew Offering - Luang Prabang City Tour - Ban Phanom - Ban Xang Khong
Day 7:
Luang Prabang Hill Tribe Villages Tour
Day 8: Luang Prabang - Phou Khoun - Phonsavan
Day 9: Plain of Jars Tour
Day 10: Phonsavan - Vang Vieng
Day 11: Vang Vieng Discover
Day 12: Vang Vieng - Nam Ngum Reservoir - Vientiane
Day 13: Vientiane City Tour and Buddha Park
Day 14: Vientiane – Fly to Pakse - Tad Fan Resort
Day 15: Tad Fan Resort - Day trek – Pakse
Day 16: Pakse - Wat Phou - Ou Moung - Kiet Ngong Elephant Riding - King Fisher Lodge
Day 17: King Fisher Lodge - Don Det - Don Khone - Don Khong
Day 18: 4000 Islands – Khone Phapheng Waterfall - Boat to see dolphin – Laos Cambodia Border or Pakse


Day to Day Itinerary


Day 1: Boat trip Houeisai - Pak Tha - Ban Khonekham

At 8.30, we meet the guide and the boatmen in Houeisai. We then sail down the Mekong River for 1 hour to the old trading town of Pak Tha to the confluence of the Nam Tha River and Mekong. The boat will turn and proceed up the Nam Tha from this point. We will travel for 7 hours up the Nam Tha passing remote villages that can only be accessed by river or foot path. For lunch we stop at a sand bar and enjoy a Lao style picnic.

Near the village of Ban Peng, we stop for a view of Buddhist cliff art. We stop again in the village of Ban Peng for a break and to view the small village temple. If fortunate, there will be a local trader fair in Ban Peng village on that day. We arrive in Ban Khone Kham between 4 – 5 PM.  Accommodation for the evening will be in the boatman’s home. The boatman’s family will cook a traditional Lao family meal for us.


Accommodation: Dormitory style on the floor of the boatman’s home. Bathing can be done at the village tap, in the river or some homes will have a splash bath in their bathroom. Toilets will be squat toilets. Bedding and mosquito nets will be provided by the family.

Transit: 15 minutes by local transport/ 6 hours by boat
Transit time: 4 – 5 hours
Trekking time: limited

Trekking difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B, L, D


Day 2: Boat trip Ban Khonekham - Na Le - Luang Nam Tha

We depart from Ban Khone Kham at 8:30. It is a 3 hour trip to the district town of Nalè, a charming village located half way point between Pak Tha and Luang Nam Tha.

In the dry season (Mar – June), we change to a pick-up truck with benches for the onward 3 hour journey to Luang Nam Tha. Lunch will be provided in a local restaurant.

In the wet season (July- Feb), the boat will continue up river after a short stop to see the district market in Nalè. Lunch will be a Lao style picnic along the river. Going up river, the boats will pass the Nam Ha Protect Area and several small but exciting rapids along the way.  Arrive at the Luang Nam Tha Boat Landing 4 – 5 PM.

Luang Nam Tha is a mountainous province with a largest number of ethnic minorities of the country. Nam Ha protected Area contains some of the most densely forested region which is home to a number of rare mammals’ species.


Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our list
Transit: 5 hours by boat wet season/ 3 hours by boat in dry season plus 3 hours by vehicle
Trekking time: limited

Trekking difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B, L

Note: The boat of the above 2 day river trip is uncovered boat. Luggage will be covered. For reason of comfort and safety the passenger load on the boats is calculated at 6 persons per boat. In high water the boats may take as many as 8 persons. However, this may not be very comfortable. In the dry season due to low water it is recommended that there not be more than 4 persons per boat. In the event that a transfer from Nalè is required, no additional fees will be charged.


Day 3: Ban Nam Yang Trek in the NPA and Akha Minority Visit

An early transfer of 40 minutes will take us to Ban Nam Yang. We follow the old French road to Muang Sing. This is an easy trek through forest and upland fields to the highest point of the trek, where there is an Akha resting place. The road is wide, gains gradually in elevation. We reach to the top of the mountain where we stop for picnic lunch and enjoy wide views of surrounding hills and high mountains.

After lunch, we come downhill to a stream where we may see animal foot print. The trip is 6 – 7 hours long. You will walk along the road which is really more a track up to the Akha village of Nam Yang where you will have a chance to learn a bit about the life of the Akha in the hills. An Akha hunter will accompany you and display his bird calling skills. We return the same way back and have time to visit to the Black Tai village of Nam Ngaen where villagers make Laos Whiskey. If there is time, we will visit That Poum Pouk.


Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our list
Transit: 1 hour 20 minutes by vehicle
Trekking time: 6 hours
Trekking difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B, L


Day 4: Luang Nam Tha - Udomxai - Pak Mong - Nong Khiaw

After break fast, we drive to Nong Khiaw. We make a half way stop at Udomxai, often simply called Muong Xai, a booming Lao/Chinese trading centre. There is time to take a walk through Chinese Market, a charming hill tribe market.

After lunch, we continue to Nong Khiaw via Pak Mong. On arrival at Nong Khiaw, a 40 minutes walk takes us to Tham Pa Thok, a limestone cave where villagers lived during the Second Indochina War, and to a nearby waterfall.

Nong Khiaw is a scenic town surrounded by limestone mountains.


Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our list
Transit: 6 hours by mini bus or car
Trekking time: 1 to 2 hours
Trekking difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B, L


Day 5: Boat trip Nong Khiaw - Pak Ou Cave - Luang Prabang

After breakfast, we take a boat down the Nam Ou River. Nam Ou is the longest inland river in Laos. The cruise along the Nam Ou offers us an enjoyable time of viewing the beautiful scenic landscape and stunning mountains. At the confluence of the Mekong and the Nam Ou, we stop to visit Pak Ou Cave that is crammed with Buddha Images of all styles and sizes.

After lunch at a restaurant nearby the cave, we continue down the Mekong River. On the way, we stop at Ban Xang Hai, which means Jar-Maker Village at one time. Nowadays, the village is famous for its Lao sticky rice wine making, lao lao.

We return in Luang Prabang in the late afternoon. If you feel like ready for a climb, ascend the steps to the summit of Phousi, where we’ll find a good view of the town. We’ll be amazed by the sunset vitas from the western side of the hill next to the 19th century That Chomsi.


Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our list
Transit: 10 – 15 minutes by mini bus or car from the boat landing to hotel/ 5 hours by boat
Trekking and caving time: 1 to 2 hours
Trekking and caving difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B, L


Day 6: Khao Niew Offering - Luang Prabang City Tour - Ban Phanom - Ban Xang Khong

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 continue to visit Phosi Morning Market before returning to hotel for breakfast

Following breakfast, we’ll visit 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 finish the city tour at 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 half day tour at Ban Xang Khong, Sa paper making village and back to the town by lunch time.

After noon time is free at your leisure. You can visit some more temples or relax. You should not miss the night market where ethnic minority people gather to sell and buy. You may find an exotic souvenir for your trip.


Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our list
Transit: 2 to 3 hours by mini bus or car
Trekking time: 2 to 3 hours
Trekking difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B, L


Day 7: Luang Prabang Hill Tribe Villages Tour

We depart at: 9:00am and drive up hill toward North-East of the air port via Hath Hien Village. We make a stop at the village to lean how villagers make iron knife. We continue to Ban Pickngai of Yuan ethnic minority. Passing the paddy rice field, we arrive to Ban None Tan of Khmu & Low Land ethnic minority and to Ban Kok Wan (Khmu & Low Land). Our guide will prepare picnic lunch cooked out of local food while we enjoy the beautiful landscape of Hmong ethnic minority village.

After lunch, we have time for swimming in Nam Pa River, one of the most scenic rivers. We then drive along the Nam Pa River bank to Ban Bo Hae, Ban Tha Oui and Ban Kok Muang to visit the Hmong villages. There is time to visit 2 more villages on the other river bank by crossing the wooden bridge. We return to Luang Prabang around 4:00pm


Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our list
Transit: 5 hours by minivan or 4x4 depending on the seasons
Trekking time: 2 hours
Trekking difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B, L


Day 8: Luang Prabang - Phou Khoun - Phonsavan

Depart from Luang Prabang early by car and we drive south on Highway 13. The ride offers some fantastic panoramic views over stunning mountains of Northern Laos. We stop for lunch at Phou Khun and time for stretching the legs.

After lunch, we continue east to Phonsavan. The road twists while offering stunning views or rolling hills and roadside villages. There is time to visit some of the local villages along the way (Khmu and Hmong ethnic minorities). We arrive in Phonsavan in the late afternoon.

Phonsavan is the main town of Xieng Khoang Province, surrounded by huge mountains, the highest of which is Phu Bia.  The town has a ‘wild west’ character but won’t win any beauty contests. 


Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our list
Transit: 7 hour by mini bus or car
Trekking time: limited
Trekking difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B, L


Day 9: Plain of Jars Tour

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.


Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our list
Transit: 2 hour by mini bus or car
Trekking time: 3 hours
Trekking difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B, L


Day 10: Phonsavan - Vang Vieng

Depending on the season and advice from local authorities, we have two options for the drive to Vang Vieng.  The first takes us south from Phonsavan to Tha Viang, a remote Lao village.  We then turn west to Xaysomboune and before reaching town, have a roadside picnic in the shadow of Phu Bia, the highest mountain in Laos.  From here we continue on to Tha Heua and turn north to Vang Vieng. 

The second optional drive is back along Highway 7 to Phou Khoun retracing our steps and stopping along the way at locations seen previously but not stopped at.  The turn south on Highway 13 to Vang Vieng offers some of the most dynamic viewpoints of Laos and as we descend, we stop at Kasi for lunch.  We arrive in Vang Vieng mid afternoon.

Vang Vieng is a small town nestled beside the Nam Song River amid stunningly beautiful limestone karts terrain. The main attractions are caving, trekking, kayaking and rock climbing.


Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our list
Transit: 7 hour by mini bus or car
Trekking time: limited
Trekking difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B, L


Day 11: Vang Vieng Discovery

After 14 km transfer to the north of Vang Vieng, we visit the first cave, Tham Xang (Elephant Cave) on the opposite bank of the Nam Song River. It is an important Buddhist temple and owes its name to a remarkable limestone formation. The nearby Tham Hoi cave (Snail cave) winds its way deep into the mountain. One hour of exploration through numerous corridors ends at a crystal clear spring. Here, swimming in the stream - in a cave lit up by candles - is possible all the year round. Another cool pool of spring water lies at the mouth of Tham river (Water cave), also a good place for a swim.

After a picnic lunch, we trek to the Hmong village of Phathao passing through rice paddy fields and vegetable gardens. The trip back to Vang Vieng varies according to the level of the Nam Song.  An easy kayak trip leads us through idyllic scenes of rural life: a unique area with limestone mountains in the background.


Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our list
Transit: 25 minutes by local transport
Activity: 1½ hours trekking/ 2 hours kayaking/ 2 hours caving
Activity difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B, L


Day 12: Vang Vieng - Nam Ngum Reservoir - Vientiane

We leave Vang Vieng on the road No 13 for an excursion to the Nam Ngum Reservoir 100 km from Vang Vieng. Nam Ngum is the vast artificial lake created by damming of the Nam Ngum River. We embark for a boat cruise to visit fishing villages in the picturesque islands. Our lunch will be served at a boat restaurant on the lake.

After lunch, we continue our journey to Vientiane via road No 10, a traditional salt abstraction site at Ban Keun and continue to Dong Ma Khai Market where local people gather to sell a variety of animals and large selection of insects.

We arrive in Vientiane in mid afternoon for check in. Vientiane, literately named the city of the fullmoon is an ancient city, situated on the bend on the left bank of the Mekong as the largest city and the capital of Laos.


Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our list
Transit: 3 ½ hours by mini bus or car/ 1 hour by boat
Trekking time: 1 hour
Trekking difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B, L


Day 13: Vientiane City Tour and Buddha Park

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. We make a lunch stop at a riverside restaurant.

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.  We then transfer to Buddha Park on the Mekong of which Buddha statues are built in various shapes and sizes. One of them is the largest reclining Buddha in Laos. They were built by a Lao man in order to teach following generations about religions worldwide after his study in India. A larger park was built in Nong Khai, Thailand and his body has been kept there. We return to Vientiane in the afternoon.


Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our list
Transit: 2 hours by mini bus or car
Trekking time: 4 hours
Trekking difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B, L


Day 14: Vientiane – Fly to Pakse - Tad Fan Resort

We take an early flight to Pakse. On arrival in Pakse, our guide will meet you at the airport. We drive eastward to Tad Fane Resort for check in.

In the afternoon, you can take a walk around the Tad Fane Resort located on top of the thickly forested gorge with stunning view of the tall Tad Fane Waterfall far below, this is a truly idyllic place for relaxing. Tad Fane is the most spectacular waterfalls in Laos, with parallel streams from Huay Bang Liang plugging out of dense forest and down more than 120m.


Accommodation: Tad Fan Resort
Transit: 45 minutes by mini bus or car
Trekking time: 1 hour
Trekking difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B, L


Day 15: Tad Fan Resort - Day trek – Pakse

Following breakfast, we take a short drive to Katoun hill tribe village where we start our trekking. We then trek under the shade of huge coffee plantation farm. The specialty of Bolaven Plateau! We’ll cross the road to Tad Yieng Waterfall for lunch.

After lunch, there is time for swimming. We’ll continue trekking back to Tad Fan thru growing secondary forest full of big trees. When arrive back to Tad Fan Resort, we drive back to Pakse.

Pakse is the capital of Champasak Province, one of the most visited province in Laos, sitting at the confluence of the Mekong River and the Se Don River. Wat Phou, the islands of Si Phan Done and Bolaven Plateau are the main attractions.


Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our List
Transit: 1 hour by mini bus or car
Trekking time: 5 hours
Trekking difficulty: Moderate
Meal plan: B, L


Day 16: Pakse - Wat Phou - Ou Moung - Kiet Ngong Elephant Riding - King Fisher Lodge

In the morning, we’ll 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 the boat restaurant.

We’ll head south via Ou Moung where all rocks to build Wat Phou had go by. We arrive at Kingfisher 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.


Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our list
Transit: 2 hour by mini bus or car
Activity time: 2 hours waking/ 2 hours elephant ride
Activity difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B, L


Day 17: King Fisher Lodge - Don Det - Don Khone - Don Khong

After breakfast at the lodge, we travel to Ban Nakasang. From here, we’ll take a short boat ride to Don Det. We then drive by truck thru Don Det and cross the railway bridge (the only line the French ever laid in Laos) to Don Khone, and continue to the dramatic Somphamit Waterfall, a well worth visiting place. We’ll enjoy lunch at Don Khone before driving to Done Khong for the night.

4000 Island (Si Phan Don) is one of nature’s marvels. Here the Mekong suddenly fans out, forming an intricate, beautiful network of channels, rocks and sandbars and island of 14km wide.


Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our list
Transit: 3 hour by mini bus or car
Activity time: 2 hours waking/ 15 minutes by boat
Activity difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B, L

Note: In summer time, Si Phan Don gets very high in temperature. On the small islands, there is no electricity except on Don Khong.


Day 18: 4000 Islands – Khone Phapheng Waterfall - Boat to see dolphin – Laos Cambodia Border or Pakse

We leave 4000 Islands and head toward south. We’ll visit Khone Phapheng Waterfall and boat to see dolphin. Si Phan Don is home to the rare Irrawaddy dolphins, which can often be spotted at the southern tip of Don Khone Island, along with two impressive waterfalls.

You will be drop off at Veun Kham Border to continue your trip to Cambodia by road/ or by river (see below) or return to Pakse to fly to the next destination.


Accommodation: None
Transit: 3 hour by mini bus or car/ 2 hours by boat
Meal plan: B


Our trip includes

  • English speaking guide
  • Accommodation as indicated
  • Meals as indicated
  • Transportation by car or minivan and boat
  • 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