Classic Laos

8days -> Vientiane -> Vang Vieng -> Phonsavanh -> Luang Prabang

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Overview

Itinerary Summary

By Day Destinations Activities Meals
Day 1 Fly to Vientiane Breakfast
Day 2 Vientiane City Tour Breakfast, Lunch
Day 3 Vientiane - Nam Ngum Lake - Vang Vieng Breakfast
Day 4 Vang Vieng - Phonsavanh Breakfast, Lunch
Day 5 The Plain Of Jars Breakfast, Lunch
Day 6 Phonsavanh - Luang Prabang Breakfast, Lunch
Day 7 Luang Prabang City Tour Breakfast, Lunch
Day 8 Luang Prabang Departure Breakfast

Full itinerary

Day 1

Fly to Vientiane

Upon arrival in Vientiane, transfer from Wattay International Airport to the hotel. The rest of the day will be left free to relax after your flights. Depending on your arrival time, there is still a chance to explore the city and walk along the Mekong River and visit the Night Market.

Overnight in Vientiane

Meals: Breakfast

Day 2

Vientiane City Tour

Discover the charms of Vientiane, a quiet but endearing capital city. Tour includes Wat Sisaket, Hor Phra Keo, That Luang Stupa and Patuxay Monument. Visit to the Talat Sao (Morning Market), where you can find an abundance of locally made handicrafts.

WAT SISAKET

Wat Si Saket is an early 19th century Buddhist monastery in the center of Vientiane. It is the oldest temple of the town that is still in its original form. The temple was built in 1820 near the Royal Palace in the center of town by King Anouvong, the last King of Vientiane. It is one of the very few temples that survived the destruction that came with the Siamese armies that looted and burnt the city in 1827. The temple was restored in the 1930’s. Next to the cloister is the more recent, active part of the temple with resident monks. Right across the street is another one of Vientiane’s most important temples, the Hor Phra Keo.

HOR PHRA KEO

Hor Phra Keo is one of Laos’ most highly venerated temples, now turned into a museum. The temple derives its name from the Emerald Buddha, Thailand’s most highly revered Buddha image which was enshrined in the temple for over 200 years

THAT LUANG STUPA

That Luang Stupa or “Great Stupa” is the most important Buddhist monument in Laos. The large golden stupa in Vientiane is believed to enshrine a breast bone of the Buddha. The pagoda also known as That Luang is officially named Pha Chedi Lokajulamani, which translates to “World Precious Sacred Stupa”.

 PATUXAY MONUMENT

Vientiane' s Arc de Triomphe replica is a monumental sight. Officially called 'Victory Gate' and commemorating the Lao who died in pre-revolutionary wars, it was built in the 1960s with cement donated by the USA intended for the construction of a new airport. Climb to the top for panoramic views over Vientiane.

TALAT SAO (MORNING MARKET)

Talat Sao (Morning Market) and its two malls sit in a cluster on Lane Xang Road. Talat Sao mostly serves locals seeking housewares, textiles, everyday products, and souvenirs. It is straddled by two malls. One mostly offers clothes, mobile devices, gold jewelry, and nick-knacks, while the newer mall offers more upscale products and cafes.

Overnight in Vientiane 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 3

Vientiane - Nam Ngum Lake - Vang Vieng

Drive north to Nam Ngum Lake and embark on a 2-hour boat ride. Sit back and relax as you explore the lush vegetation along the backwaters and soak up river life. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before continuing to Vang Vieng, which is tucked in amongst giant limestone cliffs and sits along the Nam Song River. This is an area of immense natural beauty, with the Nam Song River passing through the shadows of the dramatic mountains.

NAM NGUM LAKE

Nam Ngum Lake is located some 80 km to the north of Vientiane. The beautiful scenery over the Nam Ngum River and its green valley is enhanced by the presence of this vast, spectacular lake.

 VANG VIENG

The small town of Vang Vieng is located 160 km north of Vientiane. This is a place of a dreamlike landscape of bizarre limestone mountain peaks and scenic cliffs with the Nam Song River bisecting the town. At the base of the town’s limestone mountains are a network of caves.

Overnight in Vang Vieng

Meals: Breakfast

Day 4

Vang Vieng - Phonsavanh

Depart from Vang Vieng, following the road over the highlands and through the stunning countryside to Phonsavanh. Enjoy scenic views along the way. 

Stop for lunch at Phou Khoun and enjoy a panorama view from Phou Khoun Observation Site. Continue to Phonsavanh with a stop in Muang Sui to visit Tham Pha Cave and Nong Tang Lake.

THAM PHA CAVE

These two limestone caves hid hundreds of small Buddha figures from the Haw invasion a few centuries ago. Dimly lit with the help of the rigged electrical lights (switched on by the locals for a small donation) making the passageways that link one cave to another accessible. The caves persist deep into the hillside and are pretty amazing.

NONG TANG LAKE

Nong Tang Lake is a large picturesque natural lake flanked by high limestone cliffs. 

PHONSAVANH

Phonsavanh is the capital city of Xieng Khuang Province, a well-known tourist destination for its famous Plain of Jars. By 1973, almost every town and village in Xieng Khuang had been bombed and destroyed as a result of what is now called “The Secret War” in Laos, a ten-year period during which the USA and its allies bombed the region without regard to borders in an attempt to stop movements on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Approximately two tons of ordnance per inhabitant was dropped on the country, with much of this bombing occurring over Xieng Khuang. However, the area is still remarkably beautiful, with the mysterious ancient jars resting near the strange craters that scar the earth, memories from the dark days of a devastating war. 

Overnight in Phonsavanh

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5

The Plain Of Jars

Start the day with a visit to the Plain of Jars (Site I and Site II) which is one of the  largest ancient cultural sites in Laos. 

 PLAIN OF JARS SITE I

Plain of Jars Site I is one of the largest sites with over 300 jars. The site, also known as Site I is located about 15 km. Southwest of Phonsavanh. The large area surrounded by a fence is adjacent to a Laos army military base. 

PLAIN OF JARS SITE II

Plain of Jars Site II or Hai Hin Phu Salato is located about 20 km. Southwest of Phonsavanh. The site contains 93 jars spread across two adjacent hills.

Continue to Muang Khoun the former royal capital of Xieng Khuang Region to visit Wat Phia Wat, That Foun Stupa and That Chomphet Stupa.

WAT PHIA WAT

Admire this massive Buddha prominently sitting amid the bombed out remains of its 400-year-old temple. A short trail leads from the main road on the eastern edge to Wat Phia Wat's distinguished and sizable sitting Buddha that surprisingly survived the bombing relatively intact. 

THAT FOUN STUPA

 

Built in 1576, around the same time as Vientiane’s That Luang Stupa, That Foun Stupa stands alone on a knoll scathed only by time. Believers say That Foun Stupa covers Buddha’s ashes brought from India. A tunnel through the base presents visitors with a cool channel to examine the inner construction of precisely placed bricks.

THAT CHOMPHET STUPA

For more than 500 years, That Chomphet Stupa has overlooked Muang Khoun and the Nam Ngiap River Valley from its shrubby hilltop perch. Time has taken its aesthetic toll on the ancient monument, but it remains solid under a carpet of vegetation. A diamond once topped the sacred stupa, but is long gone, possibly pilfered by Haw invaders during an 1874 raid. 

Overnight in Phonsavanh

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 6

Phonsavanh - Luang Prabang

Depart from Phonsavanh, take the road over the highlands through stunning countryside to Luang Prabang. Enjoy scenic views and visit one of the many Hmong villages in the region. The Hmong are an ethnic group from the mountainous regions of Laos. They are also one of the sub-groups of the Miao ethnicity in Southern China. Hmong groups began a gradual southward migration in the 18th century due to political unrest and a lack of arable land.

Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This beautiful city was the royal capital and seat of government for the Kingdom of Laos until the revolution of 1975. The main part of the city consists of four main roads crisscrossing a peninsula between the Nam Khan and Mekong Rivers. 

Overnight in Luang Prabang 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 7

Luang Prabang City Tour

Explore the city by Tuk Tuk. The Tuk Tuk (a motorized-rickshaw) was brought to Southeast Asia in 1934 from Japan, and has since then become an icon of the region. The classic Tuk Tuk is a sheet-metal roof covering an open frame which rests on three wheels. They’re one of the most popular forms of transportation in Laos, Thailand and Cambodia, and this Southeast Asian emblem is the perfect vehicle for an open-air tour of Luang Prabang. 

Departing from the hotel at 08:30, get on the Tuk Tuk  to the open-air Morning Market in the old town. There are only a few large grocery stores here—instead, food is still produced by small farming families and villages and brought to Luang Prabang from the surrounding rural areas. Guide will explain the common vegetables and fruits that are in season and pick up some snacks for later.

A short walk from the market is Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham (“New Monastery ''), the National Museum (Royal Palace) and Hor Phra Bang. After the museum, travel again by tuk tuk through more of the picturesque town to Wat Visounnalath. Continue to Heuan Chan Luang Prabang for a short activity and learn how to make Banana Leaf and Flower.

Another short tuk tuk ride along the Nam Khan River to Wat Xieng Thong. End the day’s tour on top of Mount Phousi. 

 MORNING MARKET

This small market is the Laotian "supermarket" where they come to buy their fresh fruit, vegetables and meat, which are offered in showcases which are not always the way we used to see in most of our countries. Some products are coming from the jungle around, and will be for sure highly exotic for travelers from western countries.

WAT MAI SUWANNAPHUMAHAM

The impressive Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham is one of Luang Prabang’s largest and most richly decorated temples. Both its interior and exterior are extensively adorned with black and red lacquer decoration and gold leaf. The temple, also known as Wat Mai, meaning “new temple” , was founded around 1780 by King Anurat of Luang Prabang Kingdom. 

 NATIONAL MUSEUM (ROYAL PALACE) AND HOR PHRA BANG

Set in a spacious, well-tended garden just off one of Luang Prabang’s main boulevards (Sisavangvong Road), you will find the fascinating Royal Palace Museum, which is also known as Hor Kham. The museum is well worth a couple of hours of your time if you want to learn more about Lao history and culture. Originally the residence of the king, the museum was designed in the French Beaux-Arts style, with many tasteful accents of traditional Lao culture. When the communists came to power in 1975, they took over the palace and sent the royal family to re-education camps. The palace was converted into a museum that was opened to the public in 1995 after careful renovation, and remains in good condition. The grounds contain a number of other buildings including a new exhibition hall and a chapel (Hor Phra Bang), and a statue of King Sisavangvong.

 WAT VISOUNNALATH 

Founded in 1512 during the reign of King Visounnalath (1501-1520), this temple was a symbol of the Kingdom’s unity. The carved wooden railings in the temple’s windows are reminiscent of the Wat Phou temple in Champasak, in the far South of Laos. Inside you can admire ancient statues and steles. Also located on the grounds of this temple is the That Pathoume, also known as That Mak Mo (the watermelon stupa) because of its shape.

 WAT XIENG THONG

Founded at the tip of the Luang Prabang peninsula is one of Laos most beautiful and richly decorated temples. This temple is a Royal temple built by King Setthathirath in 1559 on the banks of the Mekong river. It is one of the few temples that was not destroyed during the Black Flag Army invasion of 1887.

MOUNT PHOUSI

Rising 150 m above the center of town, Mount Phousi cuts a distinctive figure on the Luang Prabang skyline. The hill is popular as a place to watch the sun rise or set over the Mekong River. From the summit, enjoy a spectacular 360 degree outlook across the city and its many temples, and out over the surrounding landscape to the mountains in the distance. For a complete experience, go up Mount Phousi on one side and use the other set of steps to make your way down again.

The tour will end with a tuk tuk trip back to the hotel. 

Overnight in Luang Prabang

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 8

Luang Prabang Departure

After breakfast, relax at your hotel or explore the city on your own, until the appropriate time for transfer to the airport for your departure. 

 

Meals: Breakfast

Trip Notes

Inclusions

  • Accommodation with daily breakfast
  • English speaking guide [Other languages are available as well]
  • Meals as mentioned in the itinerary
  • All transfers / Transportation
  • Daily bottle water on coach

Exclusions

  • Visa
  • International or Domestic flights
  • Tips or anything not mentioned in the itinerary

Accommodation

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