Day 1: Arrival Bangkok
Upon arrival at Bangkok airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
Day 2: Bangkok
After breakfast, meet your English-speaking guide and start your exploration of the city with a visit to two of the most interesting Buddhist temples in the city. The Buddha in Wat Trimitr weighs several tons, and is made of solid gold. Next, visit the famous Reclining Buddha at Wat Po, where there is also a blind massage institute. Then, visit a site many Thai people consider the most sacred in the Kingdom: the Grand Palace. This is one of the most beautiful examples of an ancient Thai court, with several halls in same compound. You will also visit the Temple of the sacred Emerald Buddha. Note that guests should wear long pants, shoes which cover the feet, and shirts that cover the upper arms (no vests or singlets). This is to show respect to Thai people, their religion and their culture. Also, the Grand Palace is closed on some National Holidays, so guests will visit alternative temples instead. Lunch is at a local restaurant. After lunch, walk along some of the small lanes in Chinatown and observe the hive of activity in this historic area. Browse through the inexpensive goods in the black market of Saphan Lek, famous for cheap electronics. The market is within easy walking distance of Chinatown. Amble through the narrow sois that are filled with vendors selling everything from replica watches to DVDs. End the tour at Pak Klong Talad, the biggest wholesale flower market in Bangkok.
Day 3: Bangkok – Chiang Rai
You will be transferred to Bangkok airport for your flight to Chiang Rai. Upon arrival in Chiang Rai, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Begin your exploration of the region with a visit to some villages of the Akha and Yao tribes. Visitors are able to gain an insight into the lives of the Akha, who originated in Tibet and are among the most striking of Thailand's ethnic minorities. The Yao originally migrated from China and still retain many of their ancient traditions. Next, move on to Chiang Saen, which is a small crossroads town on the banks of the Mae Khong River. From a viewpoint in the town visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of the Golden Triangle. Lastly, you will make a stop at the Thai-Burmese border in Mae Sai. The town is the farthest north in Thailand and has been strongly influenced by Burma. Here, visitors are given the chance to explore the town’s many flea markets.
Day 4: Chiang Rai – Houei Say Border & Cruise to Pakbeng
Early this morning, you will be met and transferred to Chiang Khong, where you will cross the Khong River to Houei Say, which is on the Laos side of the border. The Luang Say boat leaves Houei Say pier at 9am for a cruise down the Mekong River to Pakbeng. En route, a stop is made to observe rural life along the Mekong. A tasty buffet lunch is served on board the boat as you continue towards the town of Pakbeng. You will arrive in the town just before sunset. After checking in at the Luang Say Lodge and enjoying some time for relaxation, dinner will be served on a terrace overlooking the Mekong River.
Day 5: Pakbeng – Cruise to Luang Prabang
Enjoy a full breakfast at the Lodge and some leisure time before setting off for Luang Prabang. (Optional: walk to Pakbeng market, where people from the surrounding villages sell their goods). At 8:30am board the boat for the second leg of the cruise. A short stop is made to visit a village which is home to one of the region’s ethnic minorities. Here, you can watch the traditional process of Lao whiskey production before returning to the boat for a buffet lunch. Continue on your river journey before stopping at Pak Ou village, which is located at the mouth of the Nam Ou River. Here, you will visit the magical Tham Ting Caves of a Thousand Buddhas. Arrive in the UNESCO World Heritage town of Luang Prabang just before sunset. On arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel.
Day 6: Luang Prabang
Today, enjoy a tour around the atmospheric town of Luang Prabang. Visit Wat Xieng Thong, the finest example of Luang Prabang architecture, as well as the gilded and carved façade of Wat Mai. Also visit the National Museum, the former Royal Palace, where relics from Laos’ royal past remain. It is said that those who do not climb the 328 steps up Phousi Mountain have not truly explored the town. Venture up the hill and be rewarded with remarkable views of the area.
Day 7: Luang Prabang
If you wish, get an early start (6am) and observe, or participate, in the traditional Lao rite of Almsgiving. In the town, some 300 plus monks file through silently collecting alms. This is an amazing sight and your guide will be on hand to demonstrate and explain this important ritual. In the late morning, travel to the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Center, a private museum recently opened to educate visitors on the traditions of the country’s many ethnic minorities. Enjoy lunch in the adjacent Le Patio Café. After lunch, move on to the Living Crafts Centre. Spend the afternoon in a stunning Mekong riverside garden preparing natural dyes and producing your own silk scarves. The workshop shows the whole process from the silkworms to the natural dyes and weaving techniques. The afternoon’s program is interactive and full of fascinating information; a unique and entertaining opportunity to learn about silk weaving. Firstly, there is an introduction to silkworms and the types of silk they produce. After preparing the dye sources, use them to dye white scarves in your chosen colours. Try weaving and spinning on our demonstration looms. Lastly, enjoy a stroll around the garden and enjoy a cocktail as you watch the sun dip behind the mountains behind the Mekong.
Day 8: Depart Luang Prabang
Today, travel south of town to the Kuang Si Waterfall. At the falls, crystal water cascades into idyllic turquoise pools. Bring a bathing suit if you would like to swim. You can also take time to visit the nearby Sunbear Refuge to learn more about the poaching of these endangered creatures. Later in the day, you will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight.