This tour takes you to Southern Laos which is still mostly unexplored by regular travelers. Laos still retains a slow, rather old-fashioned charm and the hospitality & friendliness of the people are undoubtedly one of the highlights of any visit. This trip to Laos will leave every traveler indifferent!
Day 1: Vientiane
Day 2: Vientiane – Luang Prabang
Day 3: Luang Prabang
Day 4: Luang Prabang
Day 5: Luang Prabang – Vientiane
Day 6: Vientiane
DAY 1: ARRIVE VIENTIANE
On arrival in Vientiane, you will be picked up from the airport and brought to your hotel. Time permitting, we will make a half day city tour where we will visit the major temples of Vientiane including the oldest, Wat Sisaket, a temple of thousands of miniature Buddha statues, and the former royal temple of Wat Prakeo, which previously housed the famous Emerald Buddha Image. We also visit Lao national icon, That Luang Stupa, and we stop to take some pictures of the imposing Patuxay Monument, which is Vientiane’s own Arc de Triumph.
DAY 4: SALA HIN BOUN – PAKSE
We leave Sala Hin Boun and continue venturing in southern Laos, towards Pakse, the capital city of the South. Along the way we make stop at Sananakhet. This fast growing town has become an important trade center between Vietnam and Laos. Savannakhet or Kaysone Phomvihane (population 120,000) is a city in western Laos and the capital of the Savannakhet Province, previously known as Khanthabouli. This is the second-largest city in Laos, after Vientiane.
The city is the birth town of Kaysone Phomvihane, former president of Laos, and was named after him in 2005. Although the old French colonial quarter of the town, along the Mekong River-front, is depressed and crumbling, the town’s proximity to Thailand’s booming economy has brought about new commercial development in the northern part of the town, near both the river crossing and the bus terminal. Like all Lao cities, Kaysone Phomvihane has a mixed population of lowland Lao, Thai Dam, several small Mon-Khmer groups (Lave, Katang, Pako, Suay, Bru, Mangtong, Kaleung, Chali), Vietnamese and Chinese. The villages of Savannakhet are among the most typically Lao, especially those in the Jamphon Valley near Ban Kengkok (south-east of the capital). Savannakhet is the best place in Laos for seeing the flotsam of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the primary supply route to South Vietnam for the North Vietnamese Army during the Indochina War.
In Savannakhet we will visit the That Ing Hang Stupa. This 16th century stupa is one of the most revered in the country of Laos. Each year in February, many Buddhists travel to this holy site for an annual festival. It is located 13 km north-east of Savannakhet.
Afterwards we drive to the Dinosaur Museum where we can take a look at a 200 million year old chunks of fossilized wood, stone, or dinosaur bone. This very under visited, hands-on museum is a fascinating insight into the much underexplored prehistory of Savannakhet. Although all the labels are only in Lao and French, one of the curators will be happy to show us around and explain everything in English. To the right of the admission desk, note the interesting satellite photograph of the Australian- Lao gold mine, which has its own airport to allow the treasures extracted here to be flown directly to Perth. The museum also houses a few other maps showing where bones and relics have been dug up. The last dig was in 1999-2000, led by a French team. But as the curator lamented the French have gone, and left many holes but no money. Much is still to be unearthed in the province. Certainly worth a look!
We continue to drive to Pakse (French Paksé; literally “Mouth of the river Se”) is a city of 70,000 in southern Laos, situated at the confluence of the Xedone and Mekong Rivers. It is the largest city in Champasak province and its capital. We will arrive in Pakse town by midafternoon and have time to stroll around and catch our first glimpse of the town.
DAY 6: TADLO – DON KHON ISLAND
The views of tumbling water and lush vegetation around the waterfalls are nothing short of spectacular. We leave this lovely destination and drive back to Pakse and enjoy a leisurely trip to the former royal capital of Champasak, our base for exploring the ruins of Wat Phu. It is 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 continue our journey by motorboat to Don Khon, in the South Mekong river region known as the 4,000 islands, one of the most scenic areas in Laos.
DAY 2: VIENTIANE – SALA HIN BOUN
You will be picked up from your Vientiane hotel this morning after breakfast, and travel south along route 13. En route we stop at Prabaht Ponsan, an ancient stupa dating back to the 15th century. It is also home to the ancient Buddha footprint, discovered in 1933, and now an important religious site in Laos. Following lunch we continue onwards into Khammoune province and into the mountainous area, where a stop at a view point near Khoun Kham offers a breathtaking view over the surrounding area. We eventually reach Ban Naphouak, where we board a local boat on the Hin Boun River. The journey upstream takes us past some stunning limestone karst scenery, as well as a number of villages with smiling waving children. We reach your accommodation for the night Sala Hin Boun, late afternoon. You have the remainder of the day to spend free at leisure.
DAY 3: SALA HIN BOUN
After breakfast in Sala Hin Boun we take the boat upriver to Kong Lor village, where you have the chance to explore the surroundings and meet the locals, before we board a smaller boat into the famous Kong Lor Cave. We navigate through the cave, which is over 7 km long and includes a spectacular cavern over 100 m high, following lunch in a remote village on the other side of the cave. We return to Sala Hin Boun before sunset.
DAY 5: PAKSE – TADLO
The next destination of our trip will be Tadlo. On our way we pass many lush plantations, hills, forests and villages. Part of our pleasure of travelling in this region is to observe the beautiful countryside and meet local people. We stop over at some of the nearby villages, home of the Kato hill tribe group. The hill tribe people are unfailingly friendly; welcoming you with waving hands and smiling faces. These ethnic minorities still retain their age and old cultural traditions and are recognizably 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 being located high above the Mekong Valley. Rivers run off this high plateau in all directions and then plunge out to lush forests along in a series of spectacular surging 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 see the cultivation of rich coffee, tea, cardamom, bananas, and other crops that are grown in the area. This trip gives visitors the chance to venture off the beaten track and to discover some of the lesser-known areas of Laos, exploring the wild beauty of this southern region.
DAY 7: DON KHON ISLAND
Heading out of town we embark on a long tail boat for venturing into the widest reach of the Mekong River, where during the dry season the waters recede and leave behind thousands of islets, giving this area a lovely name “Si Phan Done”. We explore the local peaceful villages of Ban Khone, where you will see an array of relics from the French colonial era and retrace the old colonial past, including old French colonial buildings and the remnants of the first Lao railway with its locomotive. We continue to discover the 4,000 islands area by boat and visit the marvelous Liphi waterfall, also called the “Corridor of the Devil” one of the most beautiful waterfalls marking Lao border with Cambodia. If we are lucky, we may even see the rare freshwater Irrawaddy Mekong dolphin at Ban Hang Khone.
DAY 8: DON KHON ISLAND – PAKSE
Today is the last day of your tour. After breakfast at the hotel we will board the boat to Ban Nakasung and take the short drive to Pakse to catch our departure flight. We wish you a comfortable journey home and we are sure you will take some wonderful memories of Laos with you.
Tours and transfers with air conditioned vehicles as specified in our itinerary
Private slow boat trip as per tour program
All entrance fees to the sites mentioned in the itinerary
English Speaking stationed guide (different guide in each region)
Accommodation in twin/double room with breakfast
Mineral water serve during sight seeing
International flights to and from Laos
Travel & Health Insurance
Gratitude for driver and guide
Personal expenses are such as laundry, telephone, drinks, etc….
Any other meals not mentioned above
Drinks during meals, hotel extras and personal spending
``A most enjoyable trip. Our tour leaders Duong was excellent. Well, orgomufed, capable completely got on very well with the whole group.``