Day 1: Luang Prabang
Arrive in Luang Prabang, and enjoy a half-day tour around this beautiful World Heritage town. Nestled in a stunning setting amid lush mountains, this sacred city of golden temples and saffron robed monks provides endless opportunities for sightseeing. Visit a number of Wats (temples) and other fascinating sites. Spend the afternoon exploring on your own at the relaxed pace of laid-back Laotian life.
Day 2: Luang Prabang
Cruise the Mekong River to visit the famous and sacred Pak Ou Caves. Since the 16th century, the local people have brought images of the Buddha to place in the caves—by now there are thousands. Visit the village of Ban Xang Khong where weaving of traditional Lao textiles takes place on ancient wooden looms.
Day 3: Kuang Si Waterfall
If you wish, get an early start and participate in the traditional Lao rite of giving alms to the monks. Every morning, some 300 monks file through the city silently collecting offerings. After breakfast, drive to beautiful Kuang Si Waterfall. The falls cascade over many calcified tiers and down several hundred feet into a series of cool, turquoise pools. You can cool off with a swim before returning to Luang Prabang. Enjoy a local lunch before returning to the hotel for an evening at your leisure.
Day 4: Luang Prabang – Xieng Khouang
An eight-hour drive to the mountainous plateau of Xieng Khouang is a great way to see more of rural Laos. There are plenty of stops along the way to stretch your legs and photograph the spectacular views.
Day 5: Xieng Khouang – Plain of Jars
After breakfast, our guide will take you to the Plain of Jars, one of the more mysterious sites in Laos. Visit the Old Town and the stupa and temple at Muang Khoun. Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant before returning to the hotel.
Day 6: Xieng Khouang – Vang Vieng
Take a six-hour drive along picturesque winding roads to Vang Vieng. There are stunning vistas of towering limestone karst hills around every turn. Enjoy lunch along the way. The afternoon is free for you to relax on the scenic banks of the Song River or explore the lovely town.
Day 7: Vang Vieng
Enjoy the scenic wonders of Vang Vieng at your leisure. You can go inner-tubing in the cool, lazy river, try your hand at kayaking or caving, or just relax and enjoy the amazing views from your balcony.
Day 8: Vang Vieng – Vientiane
Drive three hours to Vientiane. Visit Wat Sisaket, with its thousands of miniature Buddha statues, as well as many other picturesque sites and monuments, followed by lunch.
Day 9: Vientiane – Pakse
After a very early breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight to Pakse. Your first adventure here is an easy four-hour hike up to the Bolaven Plateau. This hike goes through a local village, coffee plantations, over a hanging bridge, and on to the plains. Huge boulders, pine trees, epiphytes and wild orchids abound. Return to the hotel for lunch. The afternoon is free for you to explore Pakse.
Day 10: Pakse – 4000 Islands
Drive south to the famous Khmer Temple complex of Wat Phou. This UNESCO World Heritage Site represents the easternmost border of the Khmer empire. Continue on to an Elephant Camp to see how handlers (“mahouts”) train these giant, friendly beasts! Ride one of the friendly pachyderms to the top of Phou Asa to see mysterious ruins there. After lunch, you’ll continue to 4000 Islands by van and boat.
Day 11: 4000 Islands
The section of the Mekong River that runs through southern Laos boasts thousands of tiny islands. This morning, you’ll cruise through this tropical paradise to the largest waterfalls in Asia, Khone Phapeng & Li Phi Falls. If you’re lucky, you might see some of the 50-100 Irrawaddy (freshwater) dolphins that make 4000 Lakes their home. Spend the afternoon relaxing or exploring an island on your own.
Day 12: 4000 Islands – Pakse
After breakfast, drive north to Pakse airport for your flight.