ITINERARY BY DAY
Day 1: Luang Prabang
Arrive in Luang Prabang and enjoy a tour around this beautiful UNESCO World Heritage town. Enjoy a tour around the quaint township starting at Wat Xieng Thong, the finest example of Luang Prabang architecture, as well as the gilded carved façade of Wat Mai. Visit the National Museum, formerly the Royal Palace, where relics from Laos’ royalist past remain. Then walk up the 328 steps to the top of Mount Phousi, for panoramic views of the city.
Day 2: Luang Prabang
Today, head just out of town to the Pak Ou Caves, known locally as Tham Thin, which sit at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Ou Rivers. Hop aboard your boat and cruise the orange coloured waters of the Mekong River to explore them. Make a short stop along the way to visit a local village where they make a living from weaving on ancient wooden looms.
The Pak Ou Caves consist of two limestone caves that have become shrines to devotees of Buddhism. For hundreds of years, followers have come to the caves to pray and make merit, by leaving behind a statue of Buddha. Nowadays, the caves are jammed packed with statues big and small, with more being added each year. Take a short walk from the caves to a nearby village for lunch, before cruising downstream back to Luang Prabang in the early afternoon.
Day 3: Luang Prabang
Grab your swim suit and travel a short distance from Luang Prabang to the Kuang Si Waterfall. The falls cascade over many calcified tiers and down several hundred feet into a series of cool, turquoise pools, perfect for swimming when seasonal water levels allow.
Next to the falls is the Sun Bear Reserve, a conservation centre that rescues animals from the wildlife trade. Meet the cute furry residents and learn about the efforts to protect Sun Bears in the wild.
Day 4: Luang Prabang – Phonsavan
Rise early to the sound of the temple gong and witness Luang Prabang’s mystical daily ritual. In the cool of the early morning, a procession of about three hundred young monks walk silently by, collecting sticky rice and other foods in their bronze bowls.
Later, head off on your road trip to Xieng Khoang. The eight-hour ride includes stops in remote villages where you can get a glimpse of Laos daily life and chat to the locals. By early evening arrive in your hotel in Phonsavan, the gateway to the Plain of Jars.
Day 5: Phonsavan – Plain of Jars
Visit the mysterious Plain of Jars from sunrise until lunch. Little is known about these giant urns, as archaeologists have only recently been able to start their investigations. Wander among them and try to imagine their history yourself!
Next, head to Muang Khoun a former royal kingdom renowned for the beauty of its many temples and stupas. Very little of the kingdom remains, due to pillaging and the intense bombing by B52 bombers during the Vietnam War years, however, traces of its colonial grandeur are still visible.
Day 6: Phonsavan – Vang Vieng
Take a six-hour drive along picturesque winding roads to Vang Vieng. Admire stunning vistas of towering limestone karst hills around every turn and enjoy great photo opportunities of Hmong tribal villages along the way. Arrive in Vang Vieng in the afternoon, just in time for sunset views over the river and spectacular mountain scenery.
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
Today, explore the network of caves surrounding Vang Vieng. Visit Tham Chang, with its vast panoramic views, and Tam Xang, or the Elephant cave, where the limestone formations create an image of an elephant. After your tour, it’s a three hour drive to Vientiane arriving later in the afternoon.
Day 9: Vientiane – Fly to Pakse
Today, journey on to Pakse for a few days of immersion in the natural beauty of Laos. Your guide will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the airport for your flight.
Pakse is the sleepy provincial capital of Champasak, a former French town where traces of colonial architecture can still be found. Begin with an easy trek through coffee plantations, villages and forest to reach the plains of the Bolaven Plateau. The plateau is located in an ancient volcano which erupted millennia ago and is full of lush vegetation, rich soil and a year-round temperate climate that is the perfect environment for growing Arabica and Robusta coffee. See waterfalls and ancient Khmer inspired temple ruins, and enjoy the refreshingly cool climate - a rarity in Southeast Asia!
Day 10: Pakse - 4000 Islands
Travel to the ancient ruins of Wat Phou temple complex that pre-dates Cambodia’s famous Angkor Wat by a couple of hundred years. Take an elephant trek to the archaeological site of Phou Asa to peek at more ancient ruins and go by ferry to Khong Island, a riverine archipelago in the Mekong River and the gateway to the 4000 Islands.
Day 11: 4000 Islands
Cruise past the tiny islands dotted throughout this tropical paradise to Khone Phapeng and Li Phi Falls, the largest waterfalls in Asia, situated on the very southern tip of Laos where a swirling torrent of water pumps thousands of litres of water into Cambodia every second. If you’re lucky, you might see some of the rare and elusive pink Irrawaddy dolphins. Surprisingly, the dolphins are thought to be related to the killer whale with their large rounded heads and short snouts!
Day 12: 4000 Islands – Depart from Pakse
Say goodbye to this beautiful region and drive north back to Pakse for your onward flight.