The wind gently grabs your hair. The sun shimmers in the water. Slowly you leave Thailand behind, and give in to the mother of Rivers, the Mekong. Flowing on her waters, you will be taken deep into the heart of Laos. Where the pace is still slow, life is charming and the nature is rough and incredibly breath-taking. Go ashore in laidback Luang Prabang with its colonial charm. Explore the outskirts, trek and bike through the local villages, past lush rice paddies and into the soul of the playing children and smiling farmers. Head South for some true adventure. Through rivers streams and waterfalls, across open valleys and down steep mountain slopes. Trek, zipline and abseil your way through Vang Vieng's rough surroundings, a treat for the adventurous. Then off you are towards great lakes and mountains high. To urban life in Vientiane. Bike through the rice fields. Kayak the rivers and let your senses fully take in the last bit of Laos. A land full of smiles, adventure and generosity. A land that truly gives you an experience beyond.
Included: Meals: 12 x Breakfasts, 6 x Lunch, 4 x Dinners
Accommodation: 1 Night at guesthouse in Chiang Khong, 1 Night at comfortable guesthouse in Pakbeng, 3 Nights at hotel in Luang Prabang, 1 Night at home stay in Luang Prabang outskirts, 3 Nights at hotel in Vang Vieng, 2 Nights at hotel in Vientiane, 1 Night on the mountain top in a bamboo hut during ‘Vang Vieng Challenge’ and 1 Night on sleeper train from Nong Khai to Bangkok
Transport: Bus from Chiang Mai to Huay Xai, public boat from Pak Beng to Luang Prabang, Songtheaw from Luang Prabang ferry port to accommodation in Luang Prabang. Bus from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng, Songtheaw from Vang Vieng bus station to accommodation, Private minibus from Vang Vieng to Vientiane (Via Nam Ngum lake) Boat on Nam Ngum Lake, Bicycle & Kayak in Vientiane, sleeper train from Nong Khai to Bangkok
English speaking tour guide: There is no overall tour guide on the tour. There will be guide during the trip as follows: English speaking guide during trip from Pak Beng to Luang Prabang. During weaving/dyeing course and during two days, one night trip in Luang Prabang. English speaking guide on the two day Vang Vieng Challenge, day trip from Vang Vieng to Vientiane (Via Nam Ngum) And during cycling and kayaking down the Mekong in Vientiane. Not included: · Drinks
· Any food not mentioned in tour proposal
· Tours and activities not mentioned in the itinerary
· Travel Insurance (compulsory)
· Entrance fee and respectable clothes for the White Temple if you do not have already (covering shoulders and knees)
All other expenses not stated as included in the above
· Relax on the slow boat as you cruise down the mighty Mekong River
· Learn traditional weaving or dyeing techniques as you take part in a half day class
· Cycle and trek through the beautiful countryside
· Explore the UNESCO World heritage city of Luang Prabang
· Travel along a beautiful mountain road from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng
· Take part in the exhilarating Vang Vieng Challenge
· Enjoy lunch on board a boat cruising the largest lake in Laos, Nam Ngum
· Cycle along the river banks and Kayak down the Mighty Mekong River
· Nostalgic overnight train journey from Nong Khai to Bangkok
Day 1: Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong
You will be picked up at your accommodation between 09.30-10.00 hrs and a minivan will drive you to Chiang Khong. You will have a brief 20 minutes stop at the magical White Temple in Chiang Rai on the way. Expect to arrive in Chiang Khong around 15.00 hrs, where you can check into your accommodation and spend the rest of your evening exploring the sleepy border town of Chiang Khong. (D)
Day 2: Amazing landscapes from Chiang Khong to Pak Beng by slowboat
Breakfast will be served today from 07.00 AM and is included. At 07:45 AM you will head towards the border crossing where you will exit Thailand and enter Laos (*please read our mini-guide below on crossing the border). Once on the other side, head to the pier where the slow boat departs at 10:30. Stock up on snacks and sweets beforehand and bring some games and get prepared for a joyable slowride - welcome to Laos. Expected arrival in Pak Beng is 17.00 hrs where you will be met by your guide (look for a sign with your names on) who has arranged accommodation for you in Pak Beng. (B)
*Before crossing the Lao border, please remember to check up on the visa requirement for your nationality. We will not be held responsible if you cannot enter Laos. For most travellers, it is possible to obtain 30-days visa-on-arrival for a fee of USD 30 and 1-2 passport photos.
We recommend you to NOT exchange money at the border due to excessively high exchange rates (there will be ATMs in Luang Namta), and to bring a bit of patience.
Day 3: Tranquility on the slowboat flowing from Pak Beng to Luang Prabang
Today begins early as you leave Pak Beng on the slow boat and head downstream to Luang Prabang, a journey which takes around 8 Hours.
The boat will depart at around 08.30 hrs and cruise along the Mekong River passing through some beautiful countryside on your way to the beautiful UNESCO World heritage city of Luang Prabang, a journey which takes around 8 Hours leaving you plenty of time to relax and take in the sights at a serene pace.
You will arrive at the ferry port which is located just outside of Luang Prabang at around 17.00 hrs. Here transport awaits you for the transfer into town to your accommodation, the remainder of the day is left free for you to enjoy as you please. (B)
Day 4: Luang Prabang – Slow day and afternoon learning traditional weaving or dyeing techniques
Today the morning is free for you to do as you please.
Why not begin the day early watching the monks' procession through the city to collect offerings of food from the locals. It is colorful and peaceful and plays a big part of the local life.
Just after lunchtime you will be picked up from your hotel. Awaiting you are an afternoon where you will learn more on traditional weaving or dyeing techniques, which have been used for centuries. Passed down from generation to generation.
Normally, you will try hands on the various dyeing techniques. You will use a selection of different plants to create various colors to dye the clothes - The natural way. A great experience, which is sure to fascinate you!
Alternatively, you can be introduced to the art of different weaving techniques used to make a variety of clothing. If you would like to substitute the dyeing experience with weaving, we need to be informed in advance, upon booking.
After your afternoon class you will be taken back to your accommodation where the evening is free for you to enjoy as you please. Why not sample some of the delicious food on offer in Luang Prabang. The city houses many fantastic restaurants serving food from all over the world. (B)
Day 5: Luang Prabang – Cycle, trek and boat in the rural countryside and stay in local homestay
Today you will begin a two-day outdoor activity trip, which combines cycling, trekking and boating in the rural outskirts of Luang Prabang and along the Mekong River.
Experience local daily life during a homestay and learn about the unique culture while interacting with friendly people of different ethnic minorities.
You will be met by your guide and head to the Green Discovery office in town. From here you will depart by bicycle and cross the Mekong River by boat to Ban Xieng Man village, where you continue by bicycle to Ban Na Kham. The village is known for its sugarcane production and Kaolam, which is sticky rice and coconut milk cooked in bamboo stems. Be sure to try some!
There is time to look around the village before continuing to Ban Houay Tan, an ethnic Khmu village. Here you have a short break before heading on to Somsisomphou village where you will enjoy lunch.
After lunch and a bit of time to relax and rest the legs, you will switch from biking to trekking. The route begins by passing through rice paddy fields before crossing a stream. You carry on trekking for around 2.5 hours uphill through Ban Mok Prai before arriving in Ban Phou Luang Tai, a Hmong village, which is where you will stay overnight with a local family in their home, a truly amazing experience!
The roughness of the day will depend on the season and conditions of the road/tracks. Expect in general that the bike trip is medium to hard with a bumpy road in the dry season. Expect the trekking to approx. 3 hours up the mountain on a dirt road. (B,L,D)
• Infant - 0 to 5 years old are free of charge when travelling and sharing bed with parents
• Child - 6 to 11 Years old pay child prices
Please be aware of:
· No child sized bicycles are available during the trip in Luang Prabang
· The weaving class is not generally suitable for children under 12 Years old however the dyeing is suitable for all ages
· The bicycle tracks on the overnight trip in Luang Prabang can get muddy during the wet season (June to September)
· The Vang Vieng Challenge is more difficult in the wet season due the muddy trails and high river levels etc.. It is not recommended for Children under 10 years old during this time of year.
· The cycling in Vientiane can be muddy during the wet season and the flow of the river fast during this time also.
Comfortable standard hotels or guesthouses, local village homestay, bamboo hut on the mountain top and overnight train to Bangkok
Bus/Minibus from Chiang Mai to Huay Xai
Boat from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang
Songtheaw from Luang Prabang ferry port to accommodation
Bicycle during trip in to the countryside in Luang Prabang
Bus from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng
Songtheaw from Vang Vieng bus station to accommodation
Private minibus from Vang Vieng to Vientiane (Via Nam Ngum lake)
Boat on Nam Ngum Lake
Bicycle & Kayak in Vientiane
Shared minibus from Vientiane to Nong Khai train station
Overnight sleeper train (2nd Class Air Conditioned carriage) From Nong Khai to Bangkok
Not available during Lao new year (14 th – 16 th April)
All year apart from the dates as mentioned above. The best time to visit is from Nov - Feb when it is dry and the temperature is at its lowest around at around 20-25 degrees. At nighttime the temperature can drop to lower than 10 Degrees in December and January whereas From Mar to May the temperature can rise to above 40 degrees!
In northern Laos the rainy season lasts from the end of May until the end of October and can bring heavy and regular rainfall. Treks in this season can be challenging (though not necessarily). If the weather makes the trek unnecessarily rough, you might be offered to adapt itinerary on the spot. As the weather is unpredictable and beyond our control, we will never know this in advance.