Highlights of Laos
All content by World Expeditions
Step back in time and discover the hidden delights of Laos
Geographically mountainous, culturally diverse, spiritually rich and historically fascinating, Laos will take your breath away and leave you coming back for more! This comprehensive itinerary will give you a taste of Laos, ensuring that all its highlights are experienced. We begin in the charming small city of Luang Prabang, which is set on the Mekong River where we explore the exquisite golden temples, the Kuang Sii waterfalls and the Pak Ou Caves. We then travel to Xieng Khoang to visit the country's megalithic archaeological landscape known as The Plain of Jars, before heading to the capital city of Vientiane to explore its many temples and Buddhist monuments and stupas, including the famous Pha That Luang. Flying south to Pakse we transfer by road to Tadlo passing through charming villages en route. In Tadlo we relax by the waterfalls and stroll through the sleepy village, before making our way by road and boat to Dong Kong Island where we experience traditional village life on the Mekong. After visiting the spectacular Khone Phapaeng waterfall, the biggest of its kind in Southeast Asia, we return to Pakse where our adventure concludes.
- Discover the beauty of UNESCO World Heritage listed Luang Prabang
- Explore the mysterious Pak Ou Caves
- Walk amongst the archeological site of the Plain of Jars
- Watch the sunset on the banks of the Mekong river in Vientiane
- Take a refreshing break to the fertile rich Boloven Plateau
- Journey to Southern Laos' 4000 islands and marvel at South East Asia's biggest waterfall, Khone Phapheng
Day 1 Arrive Luang Prabang
Upon arrival in Luang Prabang you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Please look for the WORLD EXPEDITIONS welcome sign in the arrivals hall. Luang Prabang is perhaps the best preserved traditional city in South East Asia. The tranquility and charm of this city with its splendid natural scenery and cultural sights make it one of the most delightful places to visit in Laos. The remainder of the day is at leisure to this beautiful city.
Day 2 Luang Prabang
An optional early start provides a fantastic opportunity to participate in the daily morning rituals of saffron-clad monks collecting offerings of Alms (food & water) from the faithful residents. This tranquil Buddhist tradition experienced amongst the morning mist is well worth the early rise. Today we enjoy a short-guided tour seeing the city’s oldest temple of Wat Sene and the magnificent Wat Xiengthong with its low sweeping roofs which represent classic Laotian architecture. During our time here, we visit the impressive stupa of Wat Visoun and the shrine of Wat Aham, Wat Mai. In the afternoon we’ll visit local villages of Lao ethnic minority groups and then drive to the beautiful Khouangsi Waterfall where you can cool off with refreshing swim in the turquoise pools or walk along the forest trails. We then return to the city where we climb to the top of Mount Phousi for an exploration of the sacred, gilded stupa as well as a panoramic view of the city and the Mekong River at sunset. From there we explore the night market, where you can find a lovely selection of handmade textiles made by the local and hill tribe people surrounding Luang Prabang. Overnight Luang Prabang.
Day 3 Luang Prabang, Pak Ou Caves
After breakfast we visit the National Museum (closed Tuesdays) at the former Royal Palace, which displays a lovely collection of artifacts, which reflect the richness of Lao culture dating from the days of the early kings right through to the last sovereign. We then embark on a cruise up the Mekong River, which gives us breathtaking views of the tranquil countryside before we stop to explore the mysterious caves of Pak Ou. These two caves are linked and are crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes left by devoted pilgrims during the ‘Secret War’. Along the way we'll also visit the village of Ban Xanghai, where they make the local rice wine. We then return to Luang Prabang and upon arrival we visit the traditional villages of Ban Xienglek and Ban Xangkong to see jute paper making and weaving textiles being made by hand. Overnight Luang Prabang.
Day 4 Drive to Xieng Khoang
Today we leave this charming town and drive to Xieng Khoang an area once devastated by American bombings between 1964 and 1973. These back roads are a great way to explore the real Laos. We see very few other travellers, mostly rural dwellers who are just as interested in finding out about our lives as we are of theirs. Along the way we can stop at our leisure, to stretch our legs and take capture some wonderful photographs. In the afternoon there will be time to see the old capital of Muang Khoune and its' nearby villages. Overnight Xieng Khoang.
Day 5 Visit Plain of Jars
After breakfast, we visit the Central Market of Phonsavan, the biggest 'plain of jars' (site 1), before driving 50 km to Muang Kham. On route we visit the tribal villages of Hmong, Tai Dam and Khum. We also visit the hot springs and Tham Piew cave - a historical shrine where hundreds of local people hid during the bombings of the Indo-China War. We explore the local market at Muang Kham and visit local villages before returning to Phonsavan by late afternoon. Overnight Xieng Khoang.
Day 6 Drive to Vientiane
Today we head to the Laos' capital, Vientiane. On the way, we visit the Cave of Tham Jang in Vang Vieng, which has now been made famous due to it's use is the early 19th century in defense against the Chinese invaders. We'll arrive into Vientiane late this afternoon. Located on the banks of the Mekong River, Vientiane is a charming and fascinating capital, with an interesting mix of Laos, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, French, Soviet and American influences. After a short rest, an orientation walk of this relaxed and easy going city is a pleasant way to spend the afternoon. Overnight Vientiane.
Day 7 In Vientiane
After breakfast, we see the major sights of the capital including the oldest Wat Sisaket, the temple with thousands of miniature Buddha statues, and the former Royal Temple of Wat Prakeo which previously housed the famous Emerald Buddha image. On the way to Laos' national precious heritage structure, the famous and sacred That Luang Stupa, we stop enroute to take some pictures of the imposing Patuxay Monument which is well known as Vientiane's own Arc de Triumph. In the afternoon we visit Buddha Park, a scattered enchanting collection of Buddhist and Hindu sculptures on the Mekong Riverside, close to the Friendship Bridge. There are approximately 200 religious images dating back over 500 years, which were created by a mysterious monk spreading his philosophy on life and revealing his ideas about the universe. Taking in the spectacular view over the Mekong River at sunset is a perfect way to finish the day. Overnight Vientiane.
Day 8 Fly to Paske and drive to Tadlo
After an early breakfast, we catch an early morning flight to Pakse. On arrival you'll be met at the airport and transferred to our next destination, Tadlo. On the way we pass many lush plantations, rolling hills, forests and villages. Part of the pleasure of travelling in this region is observing the beautiful countryside and meeting the local people. We stop at some of the nearby villages, home of the Kato hilltribe people. These people are very friendly and welcome you with waving hands and smiling faces. These ethnic minorities still retain their age old cultural traditions and are recognisably distinct from each other by their dress. We continue our journey through the Paksong and Boloven Plateau. The Boloven Plateau is known for its cooler temperature due to its location high above the Mekong Valley. Rivers run off this plateau in all directions and then plunge into lush forests in a series of spectacular waterfalls. The scenery around Tad Fan waterfall is spectacular, with twin waterfalls plummeting into a deep gorge surrounded by flourishing vegetation. A trip to the plateau provides a refreshing break from the heat and allows you to observe the rich cultivation of coffee, tea, cardamon, bananas, and other crop plantations. It also allows you to venture off the beaten track and discover some of the lesser known areas of Laos, exploring the wild beauty of this southern region. Overnight Tadlo.
Day 9 Drive to Dong Kong Island
In the morning we enjoy the lush vegetation of Tadlo before driving back to Pakse. From here we enjoy a leisurely trip to the former royal capital of Champasak, our base for exploring the ruins of Wat Phou - one of Southeast Asia's most dramatically situated temples. We have time to explore these intriguing Khmer ruins, which are perched at the base of Mount Phu Kao. Wat Phu is one of the Lao World Heritage sites recognized by UNESCO in 2001. This wonderful archeological site of Khmer civilization dates back to the 9th century, predating the famous Angkor Wat in Cambodia. A festival of this site is held yearly during the full moon in February and attracts numerous pilgrims from all over southern Laos. We then continue our journey by traditional motorboat to Dong Khong Island, the largest island in the South Mekong river region known as the 4000 islands. This region is one of the most scenic areas in Laos. Overnight Dong Khong Island.
Day 10 Transfer to Pakse
After breakfast, we board our traditional wooden boat to Ban Nakasung and take a short drive to the Lao – Cambodia border, en route we visit the breathtaking Khone Phapheng waterfall, South East Asia’s biggest waterfall, known as the Niagara of the East. At the border we bid farewell to Laos (and our Laos guide) and cross into Cambodia at the Dong Kalor and Trapaing Kriel border gate (please note a visa for Cambodia must be obtained in advanced). After crossing the border, your Cambodia guide and driver will transfer you to Kratie, arriving late afternoon. Overnight in Kratie.
Day 11 In Pakse, trip concludes
- 10 breakfasts
- airport transfers (day 1 and 11 only)
- comfortable accommodation on a twin share basis
- internal flight Vientiane/Pakse (valued at $US140)
- private air conditioned transportation
- sightseeing and entry fees as per itinerary
- expert bilingual guides
- medical kit
- 11 day trip
- 10 nights hotel/guesthouse
Group Size Min
Group Size Max