Tailored from £4,200 per person excl. flights
9 days Bangkok, Luang Prabang, Phonsavan, Vientiane
9 days Bangkok, Luang Prabang, Phonsavan, Vientiane
Known as the land ‘where time stops’, Laos is brimming with kind-hearted people who will make your adventure holiday all the more special. This exotic and peaceful country is an alluring combination of physical beauty and historical tradition, with lustrous golden spires dotting the landscape. Landlocked and nestled between Thailand, Myanmar, China, Cambodia and Vietnam, it has the smallest population in the region. With its French colonial past, still very much on display in the architecture, it is a bewitching place, from the sleepy capital of Vientiane to the lush hills of Luang Prabang and the stark landscape of Phonsavan.
We will meet you on arrival at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK) airport, look out for the Wayfairer welcome sign, and transfer to your hotel for the night on a B&B basis. Depending on your arrival time your local guide will meet you at the hotel tonight to brief you about your tour, take you around the city and recommend some great dinning options. Your unforgettable journey starts here!
Starting early on this busy day, we set out to discover the wonderful contrasts of Bangkok. You will explore the glittering Grand Palace, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and Wat Pho with its spectacular 46-metre long Reclining Buddha. After lunch we go to the airport and fly to Chiang Rai in the north of Thailand, near the mysterious Golden Triangle, bordering Myanmar and Laos. This evening you can browse through the bustling Chiang Rai Night Bazaar, where hill tribe people and lowlanders gather to sell their handicrafts.
We start early today with a two-hour trip to the Thai border town of Chiang Khong. We then cross the border by boat to Huay Xai in Laos where your guide can help you get your Laos entry visas on arrival. We board a private boat for a two-day personalised cruise down the river at a serene pace past beautiful jungle scenery and small traditional-style villages. We will stop at Pakbeng, a friendly town where the Mekong meets the Beng River. The town has regular tribal visitors and vendors along the street sell local textiles and handicrafts, designed to brighten up a house located anywhere in the world.
We continue cruising south along the Mekong River and stop to stretch our legs and explore the amazing Pak Ou Caves, which contain hundreds of Buddha statues, before arriving in Luang Prabang late afternoon. Luang Prabang has been claimed by UNESCO to be ‘the best preserved city in Southeast Asia’ and is the perfect place to wander the streets and back alleys and discover why so many people fall in love with this beautiful town with its gleaming temple roofs, fading French architecture and stunning mountain backdrop.
If you rise early, you will be rewarded with the ages-old sight of locals making merit by giving alms to a parade of saffron-robed monks from the city’s temples. Mist covered, with rays of the rising sun breaking through, you will feel as if you are in another world. After breakfast, you take a guided walking tour that takes in the stately Wat Xieng Thong with its sweeping roof and rare reclining Buddha. We also visit the hemispherical Wat Wisunalat, representing the earliest style of Laos architecture and Luang Prubang’s oldest operating temple. We then go to Phu Si Hill to take in panoramic views of the city and deep gulps of fresh Laos air. After lunch we visit the lovely, multilevel Kuang Si Falls, where you can wash away the day’s exertions in a series of turquoise clear pools. In the evening your guide will point you towards the street in Luang Prabang,which has a run of intimate, mostly French restaurants, with food and atmosphere which would not be out of place in the small rues of Paris.
Today we travel to Phonsavan in the remote Xieng Khuoang Province, an area dominated by pine forests and green hills that is peppered with craters from the massive bombing campaign during America’s secret war with Laos, against the Red Hmong tribal people. You will see local villages consisting of colourful wooden houses and soon spot the neighbourhood cowboys raising their cattle in violently coloured cowboy hats. The weather is cool and fresh here due to its high altitude. You spend the night in a simple hotel in Phonsavan.
After breakfast we make our way to the Plain of Jars, an ancient site where there are hundreds of large stone jars scattered across the plateau. Little is known about the age or purpose of these vessels, though they are estimated to be about 2,000 years old and were burial urns or possibly for distilling alcohol. Your imagination will run riot as you approach the clusters. In the afternoon, we fly to Vientiane. Probably the world’s sleepiest and unlikeliest capital city, Vientiane has grown considerably in the last couple of decades and is home to the country’s largest and most majestic temples. It is a very relaxed place populated by friendly and easy-going people and your guide can point you to some great dining options in town or by the river.
Today we explore Vientiane starting with the oldest remaining temple in the city, Wat Si Saket, built in the early 19th century. We then visit Haw Pha Kaew, the former royal temple of the Lao monarchy and home to some of the best examples of Buddhist sculptures to be found in Laos. We also visit Pha That Luang, the most important national monument in Laos and symbol of both the Buddhist religion and Lao sovereignty. The morning concludes with a visit to Patuxai Monument – Vientiane’s answer to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris – where you can ascend the stairs for a wonderful view of the city. In the afternoon you are free to explore the Talat Sao Morning Market, which is confusingly open in the afternoon. Tonight why not try a lively, local music venue where tourists rub shoulders with locals, in a vibrant setting? Your guide will be happy to suggest some different venues depending on your personal taste.
It is time to farewell your guide and enjoy breakfast. If there is time, and to gain even more perspective on the culture and history of Laos, visit the Laos National Museum where insightful displays are held in a two-storey colonial mansion.We will then transfer you to Vientiane (VTE) airport in good time for your onward journey.