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Land of a Millions Elephants

(11 Days - Departs Daily on a Private Basis)

Luang Prabang, Phonesavanh, Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang

 

This is a wonderful itinerary for those looking to delve a little deeper into Laotian life and explore some of the hidden gems that make Laos such a rewarding destination. Much of the travel is done by road in order to enable you to stray far from the madding crowd.

 

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

 

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Day 1: Welcome to Luang Prabang

Fly to Luang Prabang, LAOS

 

Welcome to Laos. Upon arrival at Luang Prabang 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. 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 2: 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 3: 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 4: 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 back to your hotel in Luang Prabang.

 

Day 5: Luang Prabang – Phonesavanh

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Road journey from Luang Prabang to Phonsavan: After breakfast at your hotel leave Luang Prabang for Phonsavan along a mountainous road with beautiful panoramic views. On the way you will pass through Khmu and Hmong villages and after a long ascent you will stop at Kiukhacham for refreshments. Afterwards continue on via the mountainous and windy road which affords breathtaking views. A stop will be made at Phoukhoun where you can see the market. This afternoon continue your drive through the mountains passing numerous Hmong villages. Eventually the mountains disappear giving way to small hills and peaceful countryside. Upon arrival in Xieng Khouang in the late afternoon, transfer to the hotel in Phonesavanh. The northern province of Xieng Khouang was heavily bombed during the Vietnam War and, as soon as the plane begins to descend, one can notice how much of the province is still pockmarked with impressive bomb craters. The original capital, Xieng Khouang, was almost totally destroyed, so the capital was moved to Phonesavanh. Near Phonesavanh is the mysterious Plain of Jars, which is soon to be listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. The jars weigh mostly from 600 kg to one ton but the biggest one weighs as much as six tons. The jars have been fashioned from solid stone, most from a tertiary conglomerate known as molasses, akin to sandstone, and a few from granite.

 

Accommodation: Stay 2 nights at the Vansana Plain of Jars (Deluxe Room)

 

Day 6: Phonesavanh – Plain of Jars – Phonesavanh

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Full day tour of the Plain of Jars & surrounding area: After breakfast start your day with a visit to the local market and afterwards head for the mystical Plain of Jars. Visit the Plain of Jars (site 2 which features 250 jars weighing from 600 kg to one ton and site 3 with 90 jars), a large area extending around Phonesavanh where several   hundred huge jars of unknown origin are scattered about in over a dozen groupings. Several   theories have been advanced as to the functions of the jars (burial urns, wine fermenters, rice storage), but there is no evidence confirming one theory over the other. However, in the 1930s, French archeologists found ashes, stone axes, bronze ornaments and ceramics, which may have been offerings to the dead. When the Plain of Jars is listed by UNESCO and cleared from remaining UXOs, further archeological investigation may bring a clue to all the unanswered   questions regarding the most enigmatic site in Laos. The jars weigh mostly from 600 kg to one ton but the biggest one weighs as much as six tons. The jars have been fashioned from solid stone, most from a tertiary conglomerate known as molasses, akin to sandstone, and a few from granite. Continue to Muang Khoune, the former capital of Xieng Khouang Province, which was destroyed by heavy bombings and visit its ancient temples. This afternoon return towards Phonsavan, passing a number of Hmong settlements, before you reach site no 1 which has the greatest number of jars and the biggest in size. After the day's exploration return to your hotel.

 

Day 7: Phonesavanh – Vang Vieng

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Road journey from Phonesavanh to Vang Vieng: After breakfast at the hotel you will leave Phonesavanh for Vang Vieng. The drive to Vang Vieng 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. This small provincial town nestles along a scenic bend of the Nam Song River. 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 8: Vang Vieng

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Kayaking trip on the Nam Song River: 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 9: Vang Vieng – Vientiane

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Road journey from Vang Vieng to Vientiane: After breakfast you will set out a quiet road passing through beautiful karst landscapes, atmospheric temples and paddy fields as you head for Vientiane. En route, visit Ban Houei Mo, the fisher village, next you’ll 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 the capital around midday. Check into your lovely 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 10: 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 11: Depart Vientiane

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Today free at leisure until transfer to the Vientiane 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 $1,555*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.

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