Best of LaosReference WW40582
This route is one of Southeast Asia's true epics - spectacular mountain scenery, deep river valleys and a mosaic of ethnicities steeped in tradition. With unforgettable vistas and spectacular scenery along the Mekong and Nam Ou rivers to be found along the way, the Phongsaly Loop is one of the jewels in Laos's crown.
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Depart the UK for your indirect flight to Luang Prabang, arriving the following day.
Arrive in Luang Prabang. Your guide and private car will meet you and transfer you to your hotel for check-in. Welcome to the spiritual capital of Laos! Enjoy free time at leisure or take a walk around the town.
After breakfast, transfer to the most photographed temple in Luang Prabang, Wat Xieng Thong. You will then board your private longtail boat to cruise up the Mekong River to the famous Pak Ou Caves. On the boat journey, admire the several waterways that have traditionally been used as the local form of transportation. These waterways continue to be used in that manner today in many parts of the country and a local boat is probably one of the most rewarding ways to discover life along the rivers.The city tour begins in the afternoon with your guide who will teach you more about the enchanting World Heritage Town of Luang Prabang. The tour starts at the former Royal Palace, now the National Museum. Continue to Wat Mai, a temple renowned for its golden bas-relief.
After breakfast visit Wat Visoun, the holiest temple of the city, entirely rebuilt after being destroyed in 1887 by the invading Black Flags from Southern China. You will then be driven through the Luang Prabang countryside to Kuang Si Waterfalls. Along the way, you will drive through beautiful landscapes of rice fields, hills, and small villages. There are also viewpoints overlooking the Mekong River. Upon reaching Kuang Si Waterfall, relax and enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings. The jungle and dense woods surrounding the falls is perfect for exploring on foot. For the adventurous, it is possible to walk to the top of the falls via a steep track where stunning views await you at the top. Enjoy a delicious picnic lunch next to the falls. On your return to Luang Prabang, you can climb the 328 steps to the top of Mount Phousi.
You will be transferred to the airport in time for your flight to the capital. Your guide and private car will meet you at the airport and transfer you out of town for your morning tour, starting at Buddha Park. Drive along a road which serves as an important link between the Lao capital and Thailand. Arrive at Buddha Park and enjoy a stroll around the park. Also known as Xieng Khuang, this unusual park is filled with over 200 Buddhist and Hindu statues. Another stop will be made at the Lao Disabled Women Development Center. This centre aims to bring knowledge and skills to disabled women so that they can become self-sufficient, productive members of the community. The centre focuses its efforts on helping people with disabilities gain independence and self-confidence.
Today enjoy a guided tour to discover the hidden charms of Vientiane, which is one of the quietest capital cities in the world and far away from the hustle and bustle of other Asian capitals. Enjoy a delicious Lao-style lunch at Makphet Restaurant. Established by Friends International, Makphet is a charity-run restaurant aiming to train the area’s street children in the hospitality industry. Visit COPE, an association working to help landmine victims. A visit to the centre provides in-depth information about the history of the American/Vietnam war and the lasting impact of unexploded ordinances (UXO) in the area and the efforts underway to clear them. Next, your tour takes you to That Luang, the holiest site in Laos. Constructed by King Setthathirat in the 16th century, the temple is resplendent as the sun shines upon its towering golden spire.
You will be transferred to the airport in time for your flight to Pakse. Your guide and driver will meet you and transfer you into Pakse for lunch in a local restaurant.
On the confluence of the Mekong and Sedona rivers, Pakse is the most important town in southern Laos. After lunch, you will be driven 1 hour to Wat Phou. Recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, Wat Phou is a spectacular pre-Angkorian temple that sits amidst the rice fields and waterways of southern Laos. Transfer to your nearby hotel in Champasak and check in before enjoying a beautiful sunset on the Mekong River.
Depart at 08:00 for a full day exploring the area known locally as Sipandon (‘4000 Islands’). In this beautiful area, the Mekong River reaches 14 kilometres wide and thousands of small islands dot the waterway. Start with a short boat trip will give you the chance to spot the rare Irrawaddy Dolphin. Please note that sightings are never guaranteed.
Visit the impressive Lippi falls, which are on the west of Don Khone, very close to the Cambodian border. Their original name, Tad Somphamit, means “trap spirit” and the locals revere these falls as they believe they act as a trap for bad spirits.
After breakfast, your guide and private driver will transfer you back to Pakse. A transfer to the airport is included for your onward indirect flight to the UK.
Arrive back into the UK