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Laos & Cambodia Adventure

(14 Days - Departs Daily on a Private Basis)

Vientiane, Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang, Pakse, Champassak, Siem Reap

 

Few places are better for a quick escape than Laos, a tranquil land with stunning scenery, friendly locals, great food and an ambling pace of life. This tour starts in the relaxed capital city of Vientiane, then travels overland to Vang Vieng for some kayaking on the picturesque Nam Song River. Continue the journey to Luang Prabang for time to discover its rich heritage, before an adventure on the Nam Ou River exploring isolated river villages from a privately chartered boat. Next, you’ll fly south to explore the Bolaven Plateau, famous for its coffee plantations and many spectacular waterfalls. Continue to Siem Reap which will be your base for exploring the temples of Angkor.

 

** All our tours are Exclusive Private Tours, so you will not be put together with other guests **

 

 

Day 1: Welcome to Vientiane

Fly to Vientiane, LAOS

 

Welcome to Laos. Upon arrival at Vientiane Airport, obtain your Laos visa (please refer to your Special Program Note), and then clear Immigration and Customs. After collecting your baggage, exit the airport to meet outside a local Guide of Global Travel & Tours. He/she will be holding a sign with your names on it. Please note that local guides are not allowed inside the airport.

 

From the airport, you will be privately transferred to your lovely boutique hotel. Vientiane’s major attractions are the serene Buddhist monasteries that dominate the center of town. The city has kept its timeless charm with tree-lined avenues, brightly painted temples and quaint French architecture.

 

Settle in and enjoy the afternoon and evening at your leisure.

 

Accommodation: Stay 2 nights in Vientiane

 

First Class 4 Star Hotels: Salana Boutique Hotel, Ansara Hotel

 

Luxury 5 Star Hotels: Green Park Boutique Hotel, Settha Palace Hotel

 

Day 2: Vientiane

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Full day tour of Vientiane: After breakfast, you'll head out with your guide and spend the morning visit Morning Market and nearby Ethnic Handicraft Market. The Morning Market (Talaat Sao) is known for its superior silk weaving, metal work, and woodcarving. We continue to explore Vientiane capital by visiting the major sights of the capital; including the oldest Wat Sisaket with thousands of miniature Buddha statues and the former royal temple of Wat Prakeo, which previously housed the famous Emerald Buddha Image. En route to Lao's national precious heritage, the famous and sacred structure of That Luang Stupa, you will have the opportunity to take some pictures of the imposing Patuxay Monument, which is well known as Vientiane's own Arc de Triumph. The final visit of the morning will be the excellent COPE exhibition center, highlighting a much overlooked aspect of Laos and a major problem many of the local people face on a day to day basis in the form of unexploded ordnance as a result of heavy bombing campaigns during the Vietnam War era.

 

Later this afternoon we visit the quirky yet impressive Buddha Park, an enchanting collection of Buddhist and Hindu sculptures on the Mekong Riverside meadow. They were created by a mysterious monk spreading his philosophy on life and revealing his ideas about the universe. Upon returning to Vientiane we have the optional of stopping at the Lao Disabled Womens Centre, which provides valuable training and schooling for disabled women in Laos. Finish the day with the spectacular view of the Mekong River at sunset.

 

Day 3: Vientiane – Vang Vieng

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

This morning you will set out a quiet road passing through beautiful karst landscapes, atmospheric temples and paddy fields as you head for Vang Vieng, a journey of approximately 3 hours. Drive to Vang Xang archeological site. The name means Elephant Palace, a reference to an elephant graveyard found in the vicinity. The site, which consists of a cluster of 10 high-relief Buddha sculptures on cliffs, is usually assigned to an 11th century Mon provenance. Continue to Vang Vieng. En route, visit Ban Houei Mo, the fisher village. The main attraction of Vang Vieng is the karst topography lining the west bank of the river with sugar loaf hills and dramatic cliffs covered by lush vegetation and peppered by caves and caverns. Continue to your lovely resort. The Riverside Boutique Resort is a superior hotel located on the banks of the Nam Song River. The hotel is surrounded by tropical gardens, just a short walk from the centre, and offers sweeping views of the magnificent limestone mountains. The hotel’s exterior has been designed in a French colonial style, whilst the interiors are influenced by Laos’ numerous ethnic groups. Each of the rooms is furnished with luxurious beds and has Wi-Fi, cable TV, air conditioning and a balcony with wither garden, pool or river views. Facilities include a fabulous swimming pool and spacious sun deck overlooking the glorious Nam Song River.

 

Settle in and enjoy the afternoon and evening at your leisure.

 

Accommodation: Stay 2 nights at the Riverside Boutique Resort (Deluxe Room)

 

Day 4: Vang Vieng

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

After breakfast this morning you will be transferred from your hotel to the Khmu village of Vieng Samay, about 10 km north of Vang Vieng. There will be an introduction to the basics of kayaking and the conditions on the Nam Song River.

 

The day starts with a few small but fun rapids on the way to the first stop at the cave of Tham Nam Thaem. This cave cuts straight through the mountain, and you emerge on the other side of the range for panoramic views of the Nam Kouang valley. A trek over a small pass leads up to a Lao style picnic lunch on the riverside. The next paddle stop is at the Organic Farm, where mulberry tea and a variety of fruit wines are produced. Further downstream lies the Tham Non Cave which one of the biggest in Vang Vieng and served as a rescue shelter for the villagers during the Second Indochina War. Today it is home to a bat colony and 'The Magic Stone of Vang Vieng'. The final leg is a gentle paddle returning to Vang Vieng.

 

Day 5: Vang Vieng – Luang Prabang

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

After breakfast at the hotel you will leave Vang Vieng for Luang Prabang, a journey of approximately 5 hours. The drive is on a beautiful road with breathtaking views over the mountains. There will be numerous photo opportunities on the way as you pass deep valleys and picturesque Hmong villages on the ridge tops. A stop will be made for lunch at a local restaurant en-route (payable locally). Stop at Pathang village for its dramatic view over the karst mountain landscape. On arrival in Luang Prabang you will be transferred to your lovely boutique hotel. The crown jewel of Laos and former Lanexang, Luang Prabang, is perhaps the best-preserved traditional city in South East Asia. Magical and charming, it has preserved its long-standing reputation as a stronghold of Lao culture with its splendid natural scenery and sense of timelessness. In 1995 UNESCO voted Luang Prabang as a World Heritage City. Settle in and enjoy the afternoon and evening at your leisure.

 

Accommodation: Stay 4 nights in Luang Prabang

 

First Class 4 Star Hotels: Le Sen Boutique Hotel, Burasari Heritage, Mekong Riverview Hotel

 

Luxury 5 Star Hotels: Belmond La Residence Phou Vao, Luang Say Residence 

 

Day 6: Luang Prabang & local rural life

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Full day tour of Luang Prabang: This morning your guide will meet you at your hotel and stroll through the lively Central Market where the ethnic minorities of the surroundings come daily. Visit the city’s oldest temple of Wat Sene and visit to Luang Prabang’s most beautiful temple, Vat Xiang Thong. Once a royal temple where Laotian kings were crowned, it is still home to the royal funeral chapel with the 12-meter-high funeral chariot and funeral urns for each member of the royal family. Remodeled in the 1960s, the temple features a gilded entrance, walls covered in black lacquer and decorated with gold figures and symbols and the impressive “tree of life” mosaic of stained glass, which is one of the best-known images in Laos, visit the Wat Mai temple; and take an orientation tour of the city and visit the National Museum, preserved from its days as a royal residence at the turn of the 20th century and depicting day-to-day life for the rich and royal.

 

Spend the afternoon on a community based living rice farm situated in the idyllic countryside, surrounded by mountains and rice paddies. You’ll have an opportunity to experience the life of local rice farmers and try your hand at some of their daily activities, or view them from the comfort of a traditional Lao rice house balcony, surrounded by rice terraces and an organic vegetable farm. There will also be time to visit local handicraft workshops featuring crafts including bamboo weaving, blacksmithing, and sugar cane processing. And a tour of an organic garden offers insights on how natural herbs are used in traditional medicine.

 

Returning to your hotel in Luang Prabang for an evening spent at leisure.

 

Day 7: Alms in Luang Prabang & Life in the Laotian countryside

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Shortly after dawn in Luang Prabang, a gong announces the end of morning prayers and the beginning of a procession of monks emerging from the temples to seek alms; rise early this morning to experience this extraordinary ritual. After breakfast, enjoy a relaxing local style riverboat trip with your guide on the mighty Mekong River, to visit the sacred Pak Ou Buddha Caves. Pak Ou caves have been home to many thousands of Buddha images that have been placed here by local people since 16th century, when King Setthathirath found the caves and declared them a holy spot, and even today many people still pay respect to this tradition. Afterwards, walk around Ban Pak Ou Village, a small Laotian fishermen’s village on the Mekong River, and your long-tail boat for a scenic ride on the Mekong until you reach the small weaving village of Ban Phone Xay, where you’ll enjoy a weaving demonstration and have a chance to purchase handmade items directly from the source.

 

After lunch, a scenic drive through the countryside leads to the multi-tiered cascades of the Khouang Si waterfalls. The distance is about 30km and takes approximately 1 hour passing through very scenic Laotian countryside. The waterfalls tumble over multi – tiered limestone formations into cool, clear pools ideal for swimming and relaxing. On the way to the waterfalls, visit small villages of Ban Na Oune, Hmong village and Khmu minority village of Ban Thapane for a glimpse into their lifestyle. Continue to the waterfalls. Return to Luang Prabang. On the way, visit Ban Ou, a lowland Lao village known for its cotton production. Continue to see silk production at Ban Phanom, a weaving village that become famous as the ‘weavers of royalty’, producing items for the Royal Palace of the last King of Laos.

 

Later afternoon, you'll be returned to your hotel for free to relax or explore independently.

 

Day 8: Shangri-La Lao Expedition

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Your guide will meet you at 8am at your hotel. Drive to elephant camp. Relive the footsteps of the historic 19th century French explorer, Dr. P. Neis, with this original and authentic colonial style expedition. You will be picked up early morning from your hotel and transferred to the Shangri Lao Camp, located 15km outside of Luang Prabang. On arrival, you will get an introductory tour of the camp, the elephants and their hospital.

 

After you meet your elephant you will begin your 5km ride in a traditional Howdah seat with roof through the river, jungle and mountain tops. You will want to have your camera handy to take pictures of the majestic landscape that surrounds you. You will then stop for a secluded lunch of traditional Lao food and wine in the jungle Sala beside the cascading waters of the Huay Sae River. After lunch you will trek through the jungle for 5km passing waterfalls, limestone cliffs, bamboo bridges and turquoise pools while learning about this important ecosystem. Once you leave the valley you will finish with an uphill section of the trek through farmlands, fields and plantations. Once you reach the Nam Khan River you will board a luxury bamboo raft. Enjoy coffee or tea while you float down river for 5km taking in the traditional village life of farmers and fishermen. When you reach the camp you will then be transferred by minibus back to your hotel in Luang Prabang.

 

Day 9: Luang Prabang – Pakse – Champasak

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

After leisurely morning, you will be transferred to the airport in time for your flight to Pakse.

 

Fly Luang Prabang to Pakse on Laos Airlines QV 512, departing 10:05, arriving 11:05

Economy Class - Issued By Global Travel & Tours

 

Welcome to Pakse. Upon arrival at Pakse Airport. After collecting your baggage, exit the airport to meet outside a local Guide of Global Travel & Tours. He/she will be holding a sign with your names on it. Please note that local guides are not allowed inside the airport.

 

Road journey from Pakse to Champasak: Upon arrival at Pakse drive south to the River Resort near Champasak. Upon arrival there will be a visit to the fascinating pre-Angkorian ruins of Wat Phou, one of Southeast Asia's most dramatically situated temples.

 

Guided tour of Wat Phou: Founded in the first decades of the 9th century by Jayavarman II, the first king of an independent Khmer nation, the pre-Angkorian Wat Phou Temple (6th-13th centuries). Wat Phou Temple lies on a hillside and offers spectacular views on the surrounding plains and on the Mekong River. UNESCO listed Vat Phu Temple as a World Heritage site in 2002. Hindu Khmer probably chose the site because of the spring that flows from near the top of the hill. Historians say that Phu Pasak was in fact sacred to the pre-Angkorian Kingdom of Chenla (6th century) and may have been the site of human sacrifices. The temple is divided in two parts. The lower part consists of two ruined palace buildings at the edge of a pond, which was used for ritual ablutions. The upper section, the temple sanctuary itself, once enclosed a large Shiva phallus (linga). It was later converted into a Buddhist temple but much of the original Hindu sculpture remains. The lintels feature various forms of Vishnu and Shiva as well as Kala, the Hindu god of time and death. The naga stairway is lined with plumeria (Dokchampa), the Lao national flower.

 

Accommodation: Stay 2 nights at The River Resort (Deluxe River Room)

 

Day 10: Champasak – Four Thousands Island – Champasak

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Full day tour of the Four Thousand Islands: After an early morning breakfast, we head south by road and boat explore Khone Island. Cruise along the backwaters to explore Siphandone. During the rainy season, the Mekong River reaches a breadth of 14kms, the river’s widest reach along its 4,350 km journey from the Tibetan Plateau towards the South China Sea; when the river recedes, it leaves behind thousands of islands and islets. Visit the surrounding islands of Done Det and Done Som for a glimpse into the traditional lifestyle of the fishermen. Continue to Done Khone Island and hike along its ancient railway built by the French in 1897 in order to bypass the powerful rapids when transporting goods from Cambodia. Continue to the Sumphamith Waterfall. Return to Ban Khone. Board a local long-tail riverboat to reach Ban Phiengdee for lunch. In the afternoon, continue by car to visit the magnificent Khone Phapheng Waterfall, the largest cascade along the Mekong River. A fault line caused the cascade, which is 6 km wide at this point, and the astonishing force of the water has cut dramatic gorges through the brittle bedrock.

 

Day 11: Champasak / Pakse / Siem Reap / Discovering the Ancient Capital

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

After leisurely morning, you will be transferred to the airport in time for your flight to Siem Reap.

 

Fly Pakse to Siem Reap on Laos Airlines QV 306, departing 09:10, arriving 10:00

Economy Class - Issued By Global Travel & Tours

 

Welcome to Cambodia. Upon arrival at Siem Reap Airport, obtain your Cambodia visa (please refer to your Special Program Note), and then clear Immigration and Customs.  After collecting your baggage, exit the airport to meet outside a local Guide of Global Travel & Tours. He/she will be holding a sign with your names on it. Please note that local guides are not allowed inside the airport.

 

From the airport, you will be privately transferred to your lovely boutique hotel. Siem Reap is the base for exploring the fabled temples of Angkor, the ancient capital of the Khmer empire.

 

Settle in and enjoy the afternoon and evening at your leisure.

 

Accommodation: Stay 3 nights in Siem Reap

 

First Class 4 Star Hotels: Shinta Mani Resort, Viroth’s Boutique Hotel, Pavillon d’Orient Boutique

 

Luxury 5 Star Hotels: Park Hyatt Siem Reap, Belmond La Residence d’Angkor, Victoria Angkor Resort

 

Day 12: Siem Reap

Meals Provided:  Breakfast

 

These temples were built from the 9th to 12th centuries by a Khmer empire that controlled not only Cambodia but large parts of what are now Laos, Thailand and Vietnam as well. With their grandeur of scale and extraordinary delicacy in detail, the temples rank among humankind's most supreme artistic expressions. Spend the early morning visit the ancient capital of Angkor Thom (12th century). See the South Gate with its huge statues depicting the churning of the ocean of milk, visit Bayon temple (unique for its 54 towers decorated with over 200 smiling faces of Avolokitesvara), Baphuon (recently re-opened after years of restoration), the Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas, the Elephants Terrace, and the Terrace of the Leper King.

 

In the late afternoon and sunset hours, explore the most famous of all the temples on the plain of Angkor: Angkor Wat. The temple complex covers 81 hectares and is comparable in size to the Imperial Palace in Beijing. Its distinctive five towers are emblazoned on the Cambodian flag and the 12th century masterpiece is considered by art historians to be the prime example of classical Khmer art and architecture. Angkor Wat’s five towers symbolize Meru’s five peaks – the enclosed wall represents the mountains at the edge of the world and the surrounding moat, the ocean beyond. Sunset at Angkor Wat.

 

After dusk, you'll be returned to your hotel with the evening free to relax or explore independently.

 

Day 13: Siem Reap

Meals Provided:  Breakfast

 

Today, meet your personal guide and driver. Rise early to travel to Ta Phrom. Built in 1186, Ta Phrom was dedicated to the mother of Jayavarman VII. Its atmospheric dark gray sandstone towers and courtyards exude an aura of reverence and mystery. Unlike most of the other inner temples of Angkor, Ta Phrom has been left to the elements and looks very much as it must have when "discovered" by Henri Mouhot in the 1860s. Navigating through its narrow passages, immense kapok trees and jungle-covered ruins is an unparalleled experience and one of the highlights of Angkor. Next, you’ll visit Preah Khan or 'Sacred Sword', built by King Jayavarman VII in the late 12th century. Sister temple to Ta Prohm, the cruciform corridors here are impressive and there are some wonderful carvings adorning the walls, including the spectacular hall of dancers. Look out for the curious two-storey structure that is almost Grecian in inspiration. This is one of the few temples originally dedicated to Buddhism and Hinduism. The original eastern entrance was for Mahayana Buddhists, while the other cardinal points represented the Hindu trinity of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. Next, to Banteay Kdei This temple was the first great Buddhist monastery in Cambodia, constructed by Jayavarman VII during the 12th and 13th centuries. Its system of galleries and vestibules that were added after the construction of the main towers makes it look like a cloister. It was built in sandstone, which has deteriorated quite badly. However, there remain some very beautiful lintels and pediments. Although it is in a ruinous state. You’ll then visit Ta Keo King Suryavarman I commissioned this temple in the 10th Century, but it was never completed so has no elaborate decoration like its contemporaries. It is a pyramid on 5 levels and is dedicated to Shiva. Some scholars contend this was due to an inauspicious lightning strike during construction. Others have suggested the high quality sandstone was simply too hard to carve in detail.

 

Later this afternoon, journey north to visit Banteay Srei. This petite pink temple is the jewel in the crown of Angkor-era sculpture. The elaborate carvings here are the finest found in Cambodia and the name translates as ‘Fortress of the Women', thanks to the intricate detail here, considered too fine for the hands of a man. Originally believed to date from the latter part of the Angkor period, inscriptions at the site suggest it was built by a Brahman in 967. However, some architectural historians have suggested that the inscriptions may date from an earlier structure on this site and the temple is in fact later, marking a high-water mark in Khmer sculpture. Stop at a local village to visit families who are producing palm sugar. Make a short stop at the Land Mine Museum, a rather humble look at the land mine problem, past and present, in Cambodia.

 

This evening, walk up Phnom Bakheng for a sunset view of Angkor Wat and the surrounding areas. This view provides a wonderful overview of the entire area. (Please note that this site becomes very crowded at sunset, so you may choose to walk up to Pre Rep instead.) 

 

Returning to the hotel after dusk, the evening will be free to relax or explore on your own.

 

Day 14: Depart Siem Reap

Meals Provided:  Breakfast

 

For a further glimpse into local life, this morning, depart Siem Reap for a tour of the surrounding countryside and take an ox-cart ride through the villages and the rice fields. At the end of your ride, have a fresh coconut drink with the family and do not hesitate to talk with the local people to get to know more about their lives. Then driver to boat pier and board a wooden boat for a ride on Tonle Sap often called the “Great Lake”. We will float by schools, markets and police stations all built within the lake and observe the typical local activities. We’ll visit a floating house to interact with a local family before returning to town. Next, visit “Les Artisans dAngkor - Chantiers Ecoles”, this centre is working with young artisans; the team creates, produce and market a unique collection of ornamental sculpture, lacquer ware, silk weaving and silk painting. The company promotes fair, sustainable development in order to provide benefits to the rural communities.

 

You will have free time in the afternoon until transfer to the Siem Reap airport in time for your flight to the next destination. We wish you a safe and pleasant journey.

 

 

Price guideline:

 

The above tour costs from $2,190*per person, based on 2 people sharing a double or twin room.

 

*Please note this price is subject to change at the time of booking, and depends on the date of travel and the availability of accommodation.

 

 

Our price includes (Private tour): 

• Accommodation base in a shared double or twin room throughout

Daily buffet breakfast at hotel and all hotels taxes and service charges.

Pick-ups and transfers by private air-conditioned vehicle as specified in the itinerary.

Travel by private, air-conditioned vehicle with an experienced, safe driver.

Private sightseeing with local, English-speaking guides as indicated in the itinerary.

Meals included as indicated as in program: B: breakfast, L: lunch & D: dinner.

Domestic flight tickets: Luang Prabang – Pakse on Economy Class.

International flight tickets: Pakse – Siem Reap on Economy Class.

Boat cruise as specified in the programmed.

Entrance fees according the above program.

Local bottled water while sightseeing and transfers.

VAT and all taxes and service charge.

 

The price does not include

International flight tickets and Visas

Any items of purely personal nature such as laundry and telephone calls

Personal, travel and health insurance

Early check in and late check out

Drinks during meals

Meals that are not specified

Gratuities/tipping to tour guide, driver and hotel staff and restaurant’s staff

 

 

All of our itineraries can customized as you wish, add extra days, change a hotel, and see different sights. For information on this or our other tours please email us at: info@globaltravel-asia.com