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Northern Thailand & Indispensable Laos

From US$ 2,072 per person
  • No booking or credit card fees
  • E-ticket/Mobile voucher
  • Golden Triangle
  • Mekong
  • Luang Prabang
  • Vientiane
Earlier known as “Lane Xang Kingdom” (Country of A Million Elephants), Laos was founded in the 14th century with the help of Khmers and became the biggest kingdom of East-Asia until its fall during the 19th century. Today, Laos is a discreet country, unknown by most but loved by all who have travelled there, having been won over by the beauty of the landscapes and the smile of Lao people. This tour with duration of 9 days will guide you through the best of northern Thailand (Chiang Rai), and continue enjoy cruising on Mekong River down to Luang Prabang from Houay Xai by 2 days 1 night. You will discover the charm of Luang Prabang, our former capital and enjoy the life-style of people in each part of Laos from northern till Vientiane.

Day 1: Arrival in Chiang Rai from Bangkok – Lanjia Lodge (D)

Assuming arrival in Chiang Rai by morning flight from Bangkok. Upon arrival, meet your guide at the arrival hall in Chiang Rai and assist with your transfer around 2.5 hours to Lanjia Lodge. Check-in at the lodge. Lunch on your own.
This afternoon, get a first-hand experience on how to make Hmong batik handkerchief with Hmong ladies (about 45 minutes). Alternatively, you can learn how to make and set animal traps. Then you will help villagers to plant trees at the Herbal Plant Nursery Project. The project is dedicated to His Majesty the King to commemorate his 84th birthday on December 5, 2011. The main objective of the project is to improve the quality of life of local people by educating them on how to grow vegetables and the importance of the eco-system in their village.

Dinner while watching traditional Hmong performances

Accommodation at Lanjia Lodge.

Day 2: Lanjia Lodge – Chiang Khong – Houay Xai – Pakbeng (B/L/D)

Early breakfast at the lodge and transfer (without guide) around 30 minutes to the border to cross the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge between Chiang Khong and Houay Xai, in the Lao PDR. Check-out of Thailand. Cross the bridge on your own by regular shuttle vehicle. Allow approximately 30 THB per person. Clarence of immigration formalities in Laos.

Note: Upon your arrival at Houay Xai International border check point, it is possible to obtain your visa on arrival (VOA). Simply bring 1 passport picture along with between USD 30 and 45 / person in cash, visa fees varying from one nationality to another. Make sure your passport is valid at least 6 months beyond your return departure date. Visa on Arrival forms are available before immigration counters.

Note: please arrive at the Lao border not later than 0830 am.

Welcome by your Lao English-speaking tour guide behind the immigration counters who will transfer you to your private local slow boat for your 2 days cruise down the Mekong River to Luang Prabang.

You cruise will stop for one night in Pakbeng. This rural Lao town is located half way between a cruise from Houay Xai and Luang Prabang and vice versa. Today, you will visit some minority villages along the cruise and lunch will be served on-board. Arrive in Pakbeng in the late afternoon before sunset. Check in at your hotel with welcome drink and free time at leisure.

Dinner at the restaurant of the hotel.

Accommodation in Pakbeng.

Day 3: Pakbeng – Pak Ou Caves - Luang Prabang (B/L)

Eventually, before breakfast, opportunity to visit the local market to meet villagers and people from the countryside to experience the life of a market in a small rural northern Laos town.

After breakfast at the hotel, you re-embark on your boat and continue your second leg of the cruise down to Luang Prabang.

Enjoy the scenery along the Mekong River until you reach to the mysterious of Pak Ou Caves. In Pak Ou, thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues are crowded into the two caves carved out of a towering limestone cliff. They range in size from a few centimeters to the size of a human. Continue to Luang Prabang and stop at Ban Xang Hai, a village famous for its rice liquor locally called “Lao-Lao”. Villagers distillate rice in a very old fashion way. The bravest will dare sampling the local specialties!

You will arrive in Luang Prabang’s pier before sunset. Pick up and transfer to hotel for check in.

Then, short visit to Phou Sy hill. The hill commands great views over the town, the Mekong and the Nam Khan rivers and the mountainous ranges. It takes you 328 steps to reach the top, and at sunset set, the changing colors of the sky are particularly spectacular. The light reflecting on the golden spire of the temple at the top is also beautiful. The stairs are lined up with flamboyant and frangipani trees providing a deserved shade as you walk up and down. Once back to ground level, stop at the awakening Hmong minority people Night Market. It is held daily in the streets around the National Museum. Villagers come here to sell their handicrafts.

Accommodation in Luang Prabang.

Day 4: Luang Prabang (B/L)

Breakfast at the hotel.

Half day city tour with essentials:

Start with The National Museum that used to be the former Royal Palace. Inside the complex of the National Museum, you will see the “Prabang” sacred golden statue, giving its name to the town. Then visit Vat Mai, the former royal temple. Vat Sene, one of the most beautiful temples in town, with its red walls and golden bas-reliefs. TAEC, the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre. Depicts Laos ‘rich ethnic diversity with themed rotating exhibits. It is hosted in a former French colonial times judge’s mansion. End with the Heritage House being a perfect example of Luang Prabang traditional building, made of wood on poles, at the back of Vat Xieng Muane. Drive to Ock Pop Tok weaving center, on the bank of the Mekong.

Enjoy lunch at “Silk Road Café”

Ock Pop Tok dyeing session. The Natural Dyes Class is an introduction to silkworms and silk types. In this class, students have a hands-on experience with natural dye preparation and complete their own color dyes. At the end of class you will take home 3 dyed silk skeins. Many of the natural dyes used are grown in their garden. Just to name but a few colors are turquoise, ochre, golden, ivory, emerald green, etc.

Accommodation in Luang Prabang.

Day 5: Luang Prabang – Kuang Si Waterfall – Luang Prabang (B/L)

05h40 – At discretion: Head by Tuk-Tuk to the peninsula to witness and attend alms giving. 06h - Long lines of monks and novices stroll the street of the town center to collect their daily food subsistence from the worshippers. This ancient ritual is locally known as “tak bat”.

Continue with a visit to the open-air food market that is held daily in the streets nearby the former Royal Palace. Lao people still like buying fresh food. While fridges are widely spread in households, people prefer going to local markets and returning home with fresh ingredients.

Return to the hotel for breakfast.

Optional: French style breakfast at Café Vat Sene bakery. Indulge in a croissant, fruit juice, coffee or tea plus French toasts with butter and jam. Lao people have inherited the culture of eating bread from the French. It is not unusual for Laotians to have a sandwich for lunch or on the go when they are traveling. It is also highly regarded in wedding receptions, while saucing the juice of a meat ragout.

After breakfast, depart to Kuang Si waterfall, 32 km south-west of Luang Prabang. En-route you will make stops to visit ethnic minority villages. Kuang Si is a good place to get more familiar with endemic and endangered Asian Black Bear at the Rescue Center. Enjoy picnic lunch on site. It is also possible to hike to the top of the falls via a steep trail, and if the weather is good, you might enjoy a swim in the crystal clear water ponds at the foot of the falls.

Return to town and enjoy a game of Petanque with local residents. Another French legacy here. This balling game is extremely popular with Lao gentlemen. Civil servants and retired people are numerous to gather in the late afternoon and evening to share some happy moments together. Bottles of Beerlao are often around and chit-chat playing with friends is another opportunity to cheer on any occasion!

Around 7 pm, head to Hive Bar and enjoy the Ethnic Fashion Show with snacks and soft drinks.

Accommodation in Luang Prabang.

Day 6: Luang Prabang - Vang Vieng (B/L)

Breakfast at the hotel.

Leave Luang Prabang town by road down to Vang Vieng. A drive will take around 6 hours passing by ever green mountainous landscapes. Stop en route to visit some villages along the way and recommend lunch a rest for lunch at Phou Pieng Fa restaurant. The site with amazing panoramic 360* views over the valley.

Arrive in Vang Vieng, in the second half of the afternoon.

Check-in at the hotel.

Light boating on the Nam Song River before sunset.

Accommodation in Vang Vieng.

Day 7: Vang Vieng – Vientiane (B/L)

Breakfast at hotel.

Visit Tham Jang cave, then leave Vang Vieng and continue overland to Vientiane, the capital of Laos. It takes around 3 hours.

Lunch at Makphet restaurant.

This afternoon, sightseeing starts with Vat Sisaket: the only temple left intact after the Siamese invasion in 1828. It shelters hundreds of statues of Buddha in its walls. Continue with Vat Phra Keo, now used as a religious museum where you can see Lao and Khmer works of art. It used to host the “Emerald Buddha” that is now on display at Bangkok’s Royal Palace. Continue to That Luang, the holiest place in Laos and object of an amazing pilgrimage in November. It is iconic and represented on all bank notes and official stamps. It is a golden stupa that crowns a small hill. Conclude with Patuxai Monument, also called Anousavari, and enjoy a panoramic view over the city from the roof. It is Vientiane’s own Arc de Triomphe that is located at the top of Lan Xang Avenue, the Champs Elysees of the Lao capital.

Accommodation in Vientiane.

Day 8: Vientiane – Buddha Park - Vientiane (B/L)

Breakfast at hotel.

Meet your guide at hotel, then visit Buddha Park. It is located around 30 minutes driving from down town, locally also call Vat Xieng Khuan. It contains numerous of religious sculpture mix up Hindu and Buddhist styles which it is over 200 statues along the Mekong River bank. Return to town and stop en-route visit at Lao Disable Women’s Development Center.

Lunch at the restaurant on site.

Then, return to Vientiane and visit COPE center with a part of Lao history that is not very well known: the Secret War, which corresponds to the Vietnam War (also known as American War from a Vietnamese standpoint). Laos is unfortunately the country which has received the most bombs per capita in the entire history. Still today, a good deal of those unexploded ordnance (UXOs) explode as people work their fields and children play in the countryside. Laos is actively fighting the use of these cluster bombs and COPE Center will depict and inform visitors on these issues. And part of the complex is actually a medical center where disabled people get new hopes as they receive prosthesis and get new mobility after reeducation.

Free at leisure to stroll along the Mekong River and the local night market.

Accommodation in Vientiane.

Day 9: Vientiane – Departure (B)

Breakfast at hotel.

Free time at leisure till your transfer to airport.
what’s included
  • Accommodation at selected hotels, based on twin/ double occupancy with daily breakfast
  • Meals as indicated on the itinerary (B = Breakfast, L= Lunch, D= Dinner)
  • Ground transportation in private A/C vehicle
  • English speaking guide
  • All entrance fees as mentioned in the program
  • Private boat cruise as mentioned
  • All permissions and local taxes
  • Refreshing tissue during the transfer
Optional Addons (Available during check-out)
  • SGL Room
what’s excluded
  • Visas and stamps in Laos: visa available at the border (30 US$ to 45 US$ per person depending on nationality, + one passport sized picture + overtime fees; passport must be valid at least 6 months
  • Domestic and International flights and taxes.
  • Drinks, tips, personal expenses (such as internet, laundry, but not limited to)
  • Travel insurances
  • Banking fees
  • Any other services, meals not mentioned in the proposal
  • Charges incurred as a result of delays beyond the control of Lolei Travel
  • Not including any additional charges from hotel during its peak season, the additional charge is to be advised up on the request of booking during peak season
Tour details
Availability Available Daily
Duration 9 days
Minimum Participants 2 people
guiding method Live guide/instructor
guide language English
meeting/Start point Chiang Rai, Thailand
Good to know You have chosen to visit some remote areas of Laos where tourism is still in its infancy. We thank you for your open-mindedness and consideration. We are persuaded you will enjoy your time in these little visited parts of our beautiful country. We take this opportunity to inform you that you might occasionally face some situations when you may not be attended in a very professional manner simply because staffs have not necessarily been properly trained. In developing countries, it is an on-going concern which is being addressed by the relevant local and national authorities but we rest assured that tour guide will do his/her utmost to compensate the eventual weaknesses encountered here and there. We thank you for your understanding and look forward to your feedback.

Full payments for this trip needs to be received upon confirmation of the tour. The tour can be cancelled without charge 1 week prior to departure. The tour can be amended to another day free of charge up to 48 hours prior to departure.
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