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Day 1 : Arrive Vientiane

You will be met upon your arrival and taken to your hotel in the centre of the bustling capital city of Vientiane. The city is modernising rapidly but it still retains many features of the sleepy, little town it was once.

Take a short rest, and refreshed you will be given a short orientation tour. Stroll around the city distance, taking a look at the mix of architectural styles, sit to watch the sun set over the Mekong River and later in the evening enjoy just watching the Lao people relaxing. Overnight in Vientiane.

 
 
Day 2 : Sightseeing in Vientiane and fly to Xieng Khouang

After a good night’s sleep and breakfast, your day begins with a trip to Talat Sao – the Morning Market – where you will find an abundance of locally-made handicrafts – hand-woven textiles, silks, silver and gold jewellery, carvings, rattan products – the list is endless. Then we will tour some of the best sights – the Victory Gate standing proud at the end of the broad Lane Xang Avenue and the impressive That Luang Stupa.

Then we fly north to Xieng Khouang where upon our arrival we go straight to visit the Plain of Jars (1, 2, 3). This amazing archaeological site is on an open grassy plateau where hundreds of large stone jars are scattered. The origin and the purpose of these is unknown although it is possible that they served as funerary jars. We will also visit the old capital of Moung Khoun province and a nearby village to give you a taste of the local lifestyle. Then we go to your hotel in Phonsavanh for your overnight stay. (B, L, D)*

   
 
Day 3 : A quick tour of Xieng Khouang and then by road to Luang Prabang

After an early rise we will visit the morning market. Here you will see the ethnic minority people from the surrounding countryside selling a wide variety of animals and local herbal remedies for the forest. You can also watch the making of Lao noodles which should whet your appetite for breakfast here in the market. We will then visit a Hill Tribe village where the villagers have an interesting culture and a colourful history before going onto Khum Bome – a village devastated by the American bombing between 1964 and 1973.

Then we take the long drive to Luang Prabang of about six to seven hours stopping off on the way to visit Thampra – the site of Buddha images which are more than 200 years old and to see a variety of varied Hmong and other minority villages alongside the road. The villagers are very friendly and will give you a warm welcome. There will be plenty of opportunities for photographs.

We will continue our uphill drive climbing higher and higher into the mountains where we can enjoy the splendid natural mountain scenery, the forests and the views. After a tea or coffee break at Sala Phoukhoun, at the junction with the main Vientiane-Luang Prabang Road we continue our journey through yet more mountains to the World Heritage City of Luang Prabang where we will overnight. (B, L)*

   
 
Day 4 : Tour Luang Prabang City

Today your first visit will be to the National Museum – once the royal palace – but now home to an introduction to the history of Laos. Learn about the Lao leaders, fighters and martyrs – of both ancient times and the more recent revolutionary period. Luang Prabang is a city full of temples but we have chosen the best examples for you to visit. So after the museum you will visit two magnificent temples – Wat Visoun and the city’s oldest temple and one of the best examples of the classical architecture of Luang Prabang – Wat Xienthong.

After lunch we will take a boat trip up the Mekong River to the mysterious Tam Ting Cave with its thousand Buddha statues of all shapes and sizes. On the way we will stop at Ban Xanghai a village which is famed for the production of traditional Lao rice alcohol. Watch the distillation process and then sample the product. After the visiting the cave, we will visit the two Lao-Loum villages of Ban Chan and Ban Xiengmene.

And then at night we will explore the Night Market where you can hunt and bargain for a range of locally made handicrafts. Overnight in Luang Prabang.

 
     
Day 5 : Visit ethnic minority villages, Kuang Si Waterfall and the Footprints of the Buddha

No visit to Luang Prabang is complete without watching the early morning procession of the saffron-clad monks each carrying his bowl along Sisavangvong Road lined with Buddhist faithful earning merit by making offerings of food. However an early rise is necessary.

Then after breakfast we take a short drive to Ban Xangkhong – a weaving village. Watch how the weavers produce intricate patterns on their home looms. We also visit Ban XiangLek – a village where ‘sa’ paper is made. Then it’s on to Kuangsi Waterfall with brief stops in two more ethnic minority villages – Ban Na Oune, a Hmong village and Ban Tha Pane, a small Khmu village. You will have the opportunity to see how widely different the ethnic minorities are – in the style of their houses, their dress and their beliefs and customs.

Then we continue to the beautiful waterfall of Kuangsi set in the lush green surroundings of one of the country’s National Biodiversity Conservation Areas. Cool off by splashing around in the clear pools and just stroll around and enjoy the forest scenery. On our return to Luang Prabang in the late afternoon we will make our final visit of the day to Wat Siphouthabath where you can see the footprints of the Buddha – a relaxing finale to your day. Overnight in Luang Prabang (B, L)*

   

 

     
Day 6 : Depart Luang Prabang

On this, your final day in Luang Prabang there is another chance for you to finish off your present buying in the market and to take a leisurely stroll around the town. Explore on your own taking a closer look at the varying architectural styles reflecting the city’s past before going to the airport.