Natural Laos (easy trekking/nature programme) 7 Days/6 Nights

Vientiane-Luang Prabang

Following the route of the 'classic' Luang Prabang and Vientiane tour in Laos, this programme is ideal for anyone with an interest in trekking and nature, and forms an ideal varied 1 week itinerary

Itinerary

Day1. Arrival – Luang Prabang
On arrival at the airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Luang Prabang has been claimed by UNESCO to be 'the best preserved city in South East Asia'.
Overnight in Luang Prabang.
Meals: _/_/_

Day2. Luang Prabang full day tour
An optional early start gives you the fantastic opportunity to participate in the daily morning ritual of saffron-clad monks collecting offerings of Alms from the faithful residents. This procession is very unique in Laos, being the only Buddhist nation still preserving the tradition. Afterwards, we have the option of visiting the local morning market, before returning to the hotel for breakfast.
After breakfast we visit the Royal Palace Museum which hosts a range of interesting artefacts and a guided audio tour (closed on Tuesday). We then begin our temple tour taking in some the cities most beautiful, including the nearby Wat Mai, the magnificent Wat Xiengthong, with its roofs sweeping low to the ground, representing the classical Luang Prabang style, as well as Wat Visoun, known as 'The Water Melon Stupa' due to its shape.
In the afternoon we visit the excellent Arts and Ethnology Centre which gives us a further insight into the ethnic mix and culture of Laos (closed on Monday). We then visit the weaving textile and jute paper making villages of Ban Xangkhong and Ban Xienglek. Late this afternoon stretching your legs climb Mount Phousi, these offers a spectacular sunset and a panoramic view over Luang Prabang and the Mekong River. Afterwards, strolling through the night market (open between 5pm-10pm) setting in downtown selling a large variety of local textiles and ethnic handicrafts.
Overnight in Luang Prabang.
Meals: Breakfast/_/_

Day3. Luang Prabang – Hmong trek Ban Long Lao
Leaving Luang Prabang with your private guide and driver, you travel for around one hour and twenty minutes out of the town. On the way you pass through beautiful scenery and rural landscapes with rice terraces and pineapple fields. You visit Ban Longlao a local H'mong village where the culture, customs and language are all different to mainstream Laos. Your trek starts from the H'mong village and takes two and a half hours through primary forest and jungle on the way visit the Hermit cave and refreshment at the spring before reaching the spectacular Kuang Si Waterfall. Lunch can be taken at the falls with time for relaxation, swimming and the possibility to climb to the top of the waterfall. Afterwards you return to Luang Prabang in time to catch the sun setting over the Mekong.
Overnight in Luang Prabang.
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/_
Note: moderate trekking; wear suitable footwear, especially important if travelling between June and November.

Day4. Luang Prabang – Boat trip Pak Ou Caves
After breakfast, we board a cruise upstream on the Mekong River, which gives us a panoramic view of the tranquil countryside. Our first stop is the village of Ban Muangkeo where weaving of Local traditional textiles and Loa rice whisky distillation after tasting rice whisky for high energy we start a short trek to reach the mysterious Pak Ou Caves, two linked caves crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes left by pilgrims. Lunch at the local restaurant overlooking the confluence of the Mekong and Num OU river, We then return to Luang Prabang on the way stop to visit ancient temples Wat Longkhoun and Chomphet on the other side of Luang Prabang. We arrive back in Luang Prabang by mid afternoon.
Overnight in Luang Prabang.
Meals: Breakfast/_/_
Note: during rainy season (May-September) the itinerary is subject to change due to the weather conditions, an alternative programme is available.

Day5. Luang Prabang – Vientiane (Flight)
You will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Vientiane. Upon arrival you will be checked into your hotel and following lunch we 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. Enroute 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. Wat Si Muang, site of the lak meuang (pillar-stone) of Vientiane, Si Muang temple is home to the guardian spirit of the statues. You have the option to visit the excellent COPE exhibition centre, 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. A spectacular view of the Mekong River at sunset is a perfect way to finish the day.
Overnight in Vientiane.
Meals: Breakfast/_/_

Day6. Vientiane - Phou Khao Khouay and Tad Xay
Early this morning we leave the hotel and drive to Ban Hatkhai via a stop at Prabaht Phonsan a stupa dating back to the 15th Century and home to the Buddhas footprint. We also make a stop at Ban Huay Leuk and visit the school there, before continuing to Ban Hatkai, arriving there mid morning.

At Ban Hatkhai you meet your local guide, and we take a local songthaew, or small truck to Tad Xay Waterfall. A short 20 minute walk along a path will take you to Tad Xay for a local style picnic lunch and time to admire the multi tiered waterfall, as well as a swim in the refreshing pools.

We then begin our 1½ hour trek through the forest, where we can see beautiful wild orchids. We arrive at the Nam Mang River, and here we board a small local boat to take us back to Ban Hatkhai village where you can see the locals weaving sticky rice baskets. We then return back to Vientiane, stopping at the interesting Lak Saojet Market, which hosts a range of interesting foods on offer to try, including ant eggs and insects for the very brave! You will then be transferred back to you hotel by early evening.

Overnight in Vientiane
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/_

Note: during rainy season (May-September) the itinerary is subject to change due to the weather conditions, an alternative programme is available.

Day7. Vientiane – departure
After breakfast, free time before your transfer to the airport for your international flight.
Meals: Breakfast/_/_

Photographs
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