Day 1: Arrival in Vientiane
When you arrive in Vientiane, one of our courteous staff will meet you at the airport, and help you transfer to your centrally-located hotel for check-in. As a melting pot of many diverse cultures, Vientiane has influences from Thai, Lao, French, American, and Vietnamese sources. This has created a capital like no other on Earth! Once you have caught your breath, the tour begins with a set of major landmarks around the city. Some of the stops include the oldest temple in the city where thousands of miniature Buddhas are kept called Wat Sisaket, and the former temple of Wat Pratkeo- the former home of the famous Emerald Buddha. Several photo opportunities will be available on the way, including the impressive Patuxay monument otherwise known as Vientiane’s own version of the Arc de Triumph.
Day 2: Vientiane to Xieng Khaung
From the lavish city of Vientiane, we will board an airline to the area of Xieng Khaung. This area was once devastated from American bombing from 1964 to 1973, but the rebuilding has made a cultural hotspot like none other. This area is rife with historical points of interest, including an archeological site with hundreds of stone jars aptly named the Plain of Jars. Later in the afternoon, the tour will visit the old capital of Muang Khoun Province with nearby villages that are home to the Hmong hill tribe and Tai Dam people. These peoples represent unique local cultures, and boast a rich history with entrancing tales.
Day 3: Muang Kham
After a chance to have some breakfast, the tour is on the move again. This time, to the Central Market of Phonsavanh for a vibrant and energetic chance to see local shops and cultural wares. After that, a drive of 50 kilometers to Muang Kham. Along that route are villages of Hmong, Tai Dam and Khmu. These locations also allow the tour to stop by the hot springs and Tham Piew cave, a historical shrine that once provided shelter for hundreds avoiding aerial bombing during the Indio-Chinese war. Once at Muang Kham, we will visit the local market for another chance to see the differences in how that area has different influences and cultures. In the late afternoon, the tour will return to Phonsavanh before heading to Xieng Khaung for an overnight stay.
Day 4: Xieng Khouang to Luang Prabang
This day is particularly packed with interest! Getting an early start, we will visit the central market of Phonsavanh to witness the bartering techniques of the hill tribe. After that, the group will visit Luang Prabang, and on the way stop to see Buddha images in Thrampa. These images are over two centuries old, and the area is populated by the Hmong and Hill tribe groups. Photo opportunities will often come up on this trip, often taking advantage of the lush greenery and magnificent views of mountains, landscapes, and forest. A short tea or coffee break will happen in the area of Sala Phoukhoun at the borders of several major areas including Vietiane, Xieng Khouang, and Luang Prabang. The mountainous area is unique and provides wonderful opportunities to catch views unlike anywhere else.
Exemplifying peace and tranquility, the area is rich with natural scenery and cultural sights. Depending on time, the tour may check into a hotel upon arriving. Either way, the next point is a visit to the stupa of Wat Visoun and the shrine of Wat Aham. All this on the way up to the top of Mt Phousi to explore a sacred gilded stupa and see an unforgettable view of the city and Mekong River around sunset. The breathtaking view is unlike anything you have seen and must be experienced at least once. After that opportunity, the group will have an opportunity to visit the night market, a rich and vibrant area full of a dizzying array of wares. The tour will stay in Luang Prabang overnight to gather our strength for the next leg of the tour.
Day 5: Luang Prabang, Pak Ou cave, and Khouangsi waterfall
This day offers a choice of how to get started. Members can, if they wish, opt for an early start for a wonderful opportunity to participate in the daily morning rituals of the saffron-clad monks of the area. They are out collecting Alms (amounts of sticky rice) from faithful residents. This is a highly specialized tradition unique to this area, and is the only Buddhist nation that still reveres this tradition.
Regardless of that choice, after a chance for breakfast, the tour is on the move again. After a short tour of the city’s oldest temple of Wat Sene and the breathtaking Wat Xiengthong with low-sweeping rooftops, guests can get a sense for the classical Laotian architecture. After that, the tour moves to a cruise up the Mekong River, offering a panoramic view of the beautiful area and a visit to the intriguing Pak Ou Caves, a meeting of two caves crammed with thousands of golden Buddha statues left by pilgrims. The trip also includes a stop at the village of Ban Xanghai, home of a rice wine distillery. Later, we will visit Luang Prabang- a village famous for the intricate weaving of silk by hand and traditional Saa paper making.
As the day winds down, we will visit the Khouangsi waterfall and several local villages that are home to a variety of local minority groups. At the waterfall, you can splash around and enjoy the soothing waters in crystalline turquoise pools, or take a leisurely walk along worn forest trails. This place is idyllic, offering a perfect paradise for people. All this before witnessing a beautiful sunset at Wat Siphouthabath, and spending another night in Luang Prabang.
Day 6: Luang Prabang and Vientiane
All your trip has been leading up to this day, the highlight of the tour. On this day, we visit the National Museum in what was once the Royal Palace. This collection of artifacts represents the richness of Lao culture dating back to the early kings of the region all the way through the last ruler. Silver Smiths, fine arts schools, and the Central Market are also must-see spots, and we make sure those spots are given a chance prior to leaving the area.
After a final check to the hotel, we move out to the Buddha Park. This area is home to a stunning collection of Buddhist and Hindu sculptures in a melding of the two faiths in a single location. Approximately 200 separate images adorn this handsome park, some dating back five centuries. These were created by a mysterious monk that once travelled the area to spread his philosophy on life and reveal ideas about the universe. This park will allow a magnificent and indescribable view of the Mekong River at sunset as the perfect sendoff to your time here. The group will spend one final night in Vientiane before the morning.
Day 7: Departure
The group will have a chance for a final breakfast together before visiting the Morning Market and weaving village if time permits. After all this cultural glory, you will be given help transferring to the airport for your trip home.