Classic Laos

11 Days, from AU $2,362

Monks Praying, Luang Prabang

Pha That Luang, Vientiane

Si Phan Don Islands

Khone Phapheng Waterfalls, Pakse

Xieng Khuan Buddha Park, Vientiane

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Travel the length of the country from Luang Prabang to Pakse on this Classic Laos trip. Begin your journey in the enchanting town of Luang Prabang with its stunning colonial architecture, ornate monasteries and colourful markets. Rise early to witness the ancient dawn ritual of saffron robed monks collecting alms, discover the hundreds of Buddha sculptures in Pak Ou Caves, see the spectacular Kuang Si Waterfall and climb Phou Si hill to watch the sun sink slowly behind the Mekong river.

Travel to the sleepy riverside capital of Vientiane with its alluring monuments and leafy boulevards, and discover the ancient atmospheric temples, the golden spires of Pha That Luang, the bizarre sculptures in Buddha Park and the beautiful textiles of the region. Then on to Pakse, to explore the beautiful region of Si Phan Don (four thousand islands) and the Bolaven Plateau, with its coffee plantations, minority tribal villages and some of the most spectacular waterfalls in Laos.

Our Classic itineraries cover the key attractions with carefully selected experiences to ensure you get the most out of your holiday. Classic itineraries include time for relaxation or for adding extra activities. Discuss itinerary options and extensions with our Asia Travel Experts.

Suggested Itinerary

Day 1: Luang Prabang

Meet your guide on arrival, transfer and check-in to your hotel. During the drive your guide will provide an introduction to Luang Prabang, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day. Enjoy free time for the remainder of the first day.

Nestled in a mountain valley at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers is the enchanting World Heritage town and former royal capital of Luang Prabang. It's a magical and captivating place with stunning colonial architecture, ornate monasteries and colourful markets. Rise early to witness the ancient dawn ritual of saffron robed monks collecting alms, discover the hundreds of Buddha sculptures in Pak Ou Caves, see the spectacular Kuang Si Waterfall and climb Phou Si hill to watch the sun sink slowly behind the Mekong River.

Luang Prabang has many great cafes and restaurants and also night food stalls which emerge at dusk. Ask your guide for personal recommendations.

Itinerary Option: If you’re arriving to Luang Prabang in the morning, discuss additional day 1 activities with our staff.

Day 2: Luang Prabang

Accompanied by your guide, start the day with a visit to the Royal Palace, now the National Museum. The former Royal Palace was built in 1904 and framed by an avenue of Palmyra palms, blending traditional Lao with French styles. The museum houses precious exhibits that used to be possessions of the Laos royal family. The royal family’s former residential quarters have been preserved as they were when the king departed in 1975. The royal palace car collection is displayed in a separate outbuilding.

Then explore the main Buddhist temples of Luang Prabang including Wat Visoun, the most historically important temple, built in the 16th century and serving as a small museum for religious artefacts. Visit Wat That Luang, traditionally the cremation site for Lao royalty and housing the ashes of King Sisavang Vong and his brother, interred inside the large stupa erected in 1910. Wat Xieng Thong is a 16th century temple that epitomises the elegance and grace of Luang Prabang architecture and showcases classic Lao style roofs. This temple was one of only two temples that were spared by the Black Flag army in 1887, and it was then used as the leader’s headquarters during the invasion. Wat Mai, beside the Royal Palace, is Luang Prabang’s oldest Pagoda, and one of the city’s most sumptuous monasteries.

Wander around the fascinating Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre and learn more about the people of Laos. On display you will find valuable artefacts, traditional clothing and implements from each of the twenty ethnic minority groups that inhabit the Luang Prabang area.

The day ends with a climb to the top of Mount Phousi. The 100 metre (328 feet) hill is crowned by a gilded stupa, That Chomsi, which dominates the old city centre. Enjoy the wonderful views of the town, across the Mekong and Khan rivers, as well as the surrounding mountains. Watch the sun sink slowly behind the Mekong River before strolling back to your hotel.

Day 3: Luang Prabang

Wake before dawn to witness the offering of alms to the hundreds of saffron robed monks who walk barefoot through the streets of Luang Prabang carrying their begging bowls. This early morning ritual of monks leaving their monasteries to accept alms from the Buddhist devotees dates back generations. The ceremony enables the monks to demonstrate their vows of poverty and humility, and for the Lao people to gain spiritual merit by their charity. It is an inspiring sight that you are unlikely to forget. Watch the town as it comes to life before returning to your hotel for breakfast.

You have the opportunity to participate by offering sticky rice balls to the monks. Please let your guide know so that they can organise the offering the day before.

Late morning board the traditional Lao river boat to cruise upstream along the Mekong River to the Pak Ou caves in this full day shared group tour. From the boat, typical Laotian villages are barely visible behind thick foliage. Wooden canoes attached to bamboo poles bob by the shore while floats mark the location of fishing nets. The cruise is leisurely and the setting is peaceful. The Pak Ou Caves are dramatically located in a limestone rock formation opposite the mouth of the Mekong and Nam Ou rivers. The sanctuaries of Pak Ou consist of two large caves cut into the limestone cliff, revealing hundreds of Buddha effigies of various sizes and styles, from the tiny to the colossal and spanning many centuries.

After visiting the caves, reboard your boat and cruise along the river. Lunch is served at the foot of the beautiful limestone cliffs, and consists of a selection of typical Lao dishes. After lunch the boat cruises back along the Mekong to Luang Prabang, arriving mid afternoon.

Enjoy the remainder of the afternoon free to relax or explore Luang Prabang.

Day 4: Luang Prabang

Today sees you setting off with your guide to one of Luang Prabang’s most impressive and picturesque waterfalls, Tat Kuang Si. On the way stop off at Phosy market where you can observe locals trading in fresh produce. Across the street is Ock Pop Tock weaving centre which produces its own naturally dyed Lao silk and cotton textiles.

Kuang Si is a multi-tiered waterfall, the falls beginning in shallow pools on top of a steep hillside, with the various cascades falling into clear turquoise pools. Walk through the National Park to the waterfalls and if you're feeling energetic, climb to their source and go for a swim. After a picnic lunch in the tranquil surroundings of the park, return to Luang Prabang and enjoy free time for the afternoon.

Day 5: Vientiane

Relax this morning before your flight today from Luang Prabang to Vientiane. Meet your guide on arrival, transfer and check-in to your hotel. During the drive your guide will provide an introduction to Vientiane, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day.

Set on a sweeping bend of the Mekong River, Vientiane is the tranquil and timeless capital of Laos with a kaleidoscope of architectural styles and influences ranging from traditional Lao to Thai, Chinese, French, Soviet and American. Discover crumbling French mansions, the golden spires of Pha That Luang, ancient atmospheric temples, bizarre sculptures and the Patuxai Monument, the Arc de Triomphe of Laos. From steaming noodle bars to riverside cafes, Vientiane will surprise and delight you with its quaint placid charm.

Enjoy the afternoon to explore Vientiane. Vientiane has many great restaurants with Lao, Thai, French, Italian, Mexican and Chinese cuisines available. Ask your guide for personal recommendations.

Day 6: Vientiane

Accompanied by your guide, drive southeast of the city to the Buddha Park, built in 1958 by Luang Pu, a yogi-priest shaman. The park is a fanciful garden full of Buddhist and Hindu religious sculptures which appear to be centuries old. They include statues of Shiva, Krishna, Buddha and many other deities. Of particular interest is a giant pumpkin shaped concrete monument, with three levels joined by interior stairways. The three levels are said to represent hell, earth and heaven. The cement statues are ornate and many are bizarre in design.

In the afternoon visit the weaving home-studio of Mrs Carol Cassidy, an American textiles expert who arrived in Vientiane in 1989 as part of a United Nations project to promote traditional weaving. Carol was so impressed by the quality and diversity of weaving throughout Laos that she set up the Lao Textiles Studio in Vientiane. Today the studio employs over forty local weavers who create naturally dyed and woven silk pieces reflecting traditional Lao designs. Learn about the weaving techniques or make a purchase at the gift shop to help support the cause.

Day 7: Vientiane

With your guide, discover the essential landmarks and iconic sights that the small and charismatic city of Vientiane has to offer. Vientiane remains a tranquil laid-back town, a world away from the frantic capitals in Asia, and most attractions can be reached on foot. Start at Wat Sisaket, believed to be Vientiane’s oldest surviving temple, left intact after the Siamese invasion of 1828. The interior walls of the cloister are covered in niches containing over 2000 silver and ceramic Buddha images. Next is a visit to Wat Phra Keo, built originally to house the famed Emerald Buddha and now a religious museum that displays a collection of art representing Lao and Khmer artefacts. Continue with a visit to the most popular Wat in town, Wat Si Muang before visiting Patouxay monument, Laos' version of the Arc de Triomphe and its most prominent monument. End your tour at the golden spired Pha That Luang, constructed in the 16th century and regarded as the holiest site in Laos.

Enjoy free time for the remainder of the day.

Day 8: Pakse

Today fly from Vientiane to Pakse in the far south of Laos and meet your guide on arrival in the airport, transfer and check-in to your hotel. Your guide will provide a quick introduction to the Pakse area, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day. Enjoy free time for the remainder of the first day.

Founded by the French in 1905, Pakse sits at the confluence of the Mekong River and Se Don (Don River) and is the riverside capital of Champasak Province, featuring Franco-Chinese architecture. It is the gateway to the south and to the four thousand islands of Si Phan Don, an archipelago of islands set amongst a beautiful maze of waterways and home to the elusive Irrawaddy dolphin. Nearby the Bolaven Plateau, formed by an ancient volcano, offers cooler climes and the chance to discover tea and coffee plantations, minority tribal villages and some of the most beautiful waterfalls of Laos. Fresh produce grown here is sold in the colourful market in Pakse. The Khmer-Hindu archaeological ruins of Wat Phu although on a much smaller scale, are said to rival those of the ancient temples of Angkor.

Pakse has a good choice of restaurants with Lao, Thai, Vietnamese and western cuisines available. Ask your guide for personal recommendations.

Day 9: Pakse

Accompanied by your guide, head south towards the Cambodian border to visit the Khone Phapheng waterfall. The falls are the main reason why the Mekong River is not navigable up to China. The falls cover an impressive 10 kilometre (6 mile) stretch of the Mekong River creating a majestic sight that is a highlight of southern Laos. Continue to the pier at Ban Nakasang and board a local boat for a visit to Si Phan Don. This section of the Mekong River fills out during the wet season, becoming the widest reach along its extensive 4,350 kilometre (2,720 mile) journey from the Tibetan Plateau to the South China Sea. During the dry season the river recedes and leaves behind thousands of islands and islets, some mere sand bars, hence the name Si Phan Don, meaning four thousand islands. Several of the permanent islands are inhabited with the village communities growing rice, sugar cane, coconut palms and vegetables.

Make a stop at the island of Don Khon, which features the remnants of the French colonial area including an old pier, a railway station, a former French hospital building and the maritime office. Enjoy lunch before continuing your exploration of the island. In the afternoon visit the Liphi waterfalls, nicknamed the Corridor of the Devil. Locals put fish traps at the bottom of the falls to catch fresh fish each day. The area is also home to the rare and endangered freshwater Irrawaddy dolphin. These dolphins are dark blue grey in colour with bulging foreheads and small dorsal fins. Return to the mainland and transfer back to your hotel at the end of the day.

Day 10: Pakse

With your guide, explore the Bolaven Plateau, a fertile highland area formed by an ancient volcano and famous for its high grade coffee and tea plantations. It is home to a number of ethnic minority groups and tribal villages, some of them still practicing Stone Age culture by using primitive agricultural tools and conducting spiritual ceremonies. The largest ethnic group found on the plateau is the Laven, and other groups include the Alak, Katu, Ta-oy and Suay.

Visit Tad Lo, located on the northern edge of the Bolaven Plateau. This waterfall is in fact a series of three falls, namely Tad Suong, Tad Lo and Tad Hang. Continue to the Katu village of Ban Houeihoun. This minority tribe is very primitive and earns its livelihood from forest products and traditional weaving. Katu villages have their palm and thatch houses arranged in a circle, and the women are known for their face tattoos. The Katu people have the unique custom of carving wooden caskets for each family member during their lifetime and storing these under the houses or rice sheds.

In the afternoon, visit Paksong and the nearby Tad Fane waterfalls where lunch is served. Beyond the waterfall stretches the extensive jungle of Dong Hua Sao from where the perfectly synchronized twin falls originate and plunge 200 metres (656 feet) down a deep gorge. Continue to Tad Yeung waterfall, which drops an impressive 42 metres (138 feet) and is surrounded by lush vegetation. End the day with a visit to a tea and coffee plantation and learn why the Bolaven Plateau an ideal area is for these plantations.

Itinerary Option: Some customers prefer to visit Champasak and the UNESCO World Heritage pre-Angkorian Wat Phu temple.

Day 11: Pakse

On your last day enjoy free time until your departure transfer.

Personalise Your Trip

Phone now to discuss options to personalise your itinerary.

Ideas to upgrade or extend your itinerary:

  • Luang Prabang: Visit a museum to learn about the dangers still facing the people of Laos.
  • Luang Prabang: Other options include hill tribe visits, cooking classes, farm visit with traditional agriculture demonstrations, elephant rides and bamboo raft trips, elephant mahout experience, cycling and kayaking trips.
  • Vientiane: Visit the Phou Khao Kway National Park (Orchid Park) home to exceptional flora and fauna, including wild elephants and over half of Laos’ wild orchid species.
  • Vientiane: Visit Nam Ngum Reservoir including a boat trip and stops at villages and the Vang Xang archaeological site.
  • Vientiane: Visit the Houey Hong Vocational Training Centre for Women.
  • Pakse: Visit UNESCO pre-Angkorian Wat Phou temple.
  • Pakse: Visit the island of Don Daeng, home to a number of pre-Angkorian ruins, Buddhist temples, an ancient forest stupa and a protected forest.
  • Pakse: Trek Phou Khong Mountain with overnight homestay in Ban Mai Singsamphan.
  • Pakse: Tree Top Explorer 2 or 3 day adventure trips that include canopy walks and zip-line traversing steep gorges.

Travel Styles

All Get About Asia trips have been designed to make sure you have an unforgettable travel experience. We have developed several trip styles to cater for our diverse range of travellers. Read what your ideal Get About Asia experience might look like here.

Standard:from AU $2,362
Superior:from AU $2,911
Deluxe:from AU $2,922

All GetAboutAsia prices are based on twin share and depend on availability and season. All our itineraries can be customised including international flights and extra nights. For questions or further information, Enquire Now!

Important Information

Accommodation:

Hotels each night of the itinerary (excluding your departure day). All GetAboutAsia accommodation is handpicked by us. Upgrades are available for this itinerary.

Inclusions:
  • All breakfasts at your hotel each morning.
  • All airport transfers.
  • All internal airfares and transport on tour.
  • All itinerary attractions including fees or permits.
  • Professional tour guides for all airport pickups, day tours and activities.
  • Lunch and dinner as indicated on trip notes. We do not include lunch and dinner where it is practical for you to make your own choices, as we find that GetAboutAsia customers prefer the freedom of eating what they want, which is one the of joys of travelling.
Notes:

This trip package includes 2 internal flight (Luang Prabang - Vientiane and Vientiane - Pakse) which retail at about 200AUD per flight.

Price Dependent:

Availability of accommodation and season.

Trip Information

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"Overall you did a great job. Excellent hotels, good guides and drivers, great food and drinks. Vientiane hotel is in the heart of an area filled with lovely little restaurants and bars. The boat ride on the Nam Ngum lake was great. Kham took me to some great markets, and found me some birds, and went out of his way to make my stay better." — Mr. Phippen, Sydney, March 2018

"We have just finished a wonderful week with GetAboutAsia in Vientiane and Luang Prabang. Organisation, knowledge and helpfulness of the local tour guides was outstanding. Hotels were very central and of a high standard. In Vientiane the French restaurant in Ansara Hotel is said to be the best in the city, we were impressed." — Gavin and John, Gold Coast, January 2017

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