Rise with the sun and watch saffron-robed monks shuffle between houses, where the faithful wait with offerings as part of an alms giving ritual.. See the crowning-jewel of Laos’ spiritual monuments – Pha That Luang, a shining Buddhist stupa that sits on ground that has been considered holy for thousands of years.. Splash in the blue waters of Kuang Si Waterfall, where multi-tiered cascades ensconced by thick jungle give the appearance of a Laotian Eden.. Give something back with a visit to Ock Pop Tok, a sustainable and ethical textile partnership helping women to earn a living.
A peaceful oasis among the chaos that defines much of Southeast Asia, Laos is a comparatively relaxed country that is nonetheless bursting with pride, history and colour. In this compact six-day trip, you’ll soak up the best of what Laos has to offer. Travel from the gilded capital Vientiane, where evidence of French colonial rule still exists among the myriad wats and stupas, to the lush forests and limestone cliffs of Luang Prabang.
Breakfast Included: 5 Lunches Included: 1 Dinner Included: 1
Welcome to Vientiane, the city of gold and green. With its lush parks and spectacular gilded shrines, temples and statues, the capital of Laos is a relatively calm and agreeable city. You'll be met on arrival at Vientiane airport and transferred to your hotel. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. If you're going to be late, let your travel agent or hotel reception know. We'll be checking your passport details, insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so it’s important you attend. Your hotel is located close to the bank of the Mekong River and Chao Anouvong Park, which hosts a nightly market near the water. If you have the energy, why not dive right into your Laotian adventure with a stroll along the promenade?
Get ready for a full day of spiritual and significant sightseeing in this chilled-out city. The scarlet and gold pillars and awning of Wat Hor Pra Kaeo are up first, followed by Wat Si Saket, one of the oldest temples in the city. Next, visit the grand stone archway of Pratu Xai, a war monument dedicated to those who fought for independence from French colonial rule. The crowning-jewel of Vientiane’s monuments is Pha That Luang, a shining Buddhist stupa that sits on ground considered holy for thousands of years. After spending some time admiring this Laotian icon, take a visit to COPE – an organisation that crafts and supplies prosthetics and orthotics free of charge. Spend a free evening in town, perhaps ask your leader where you’ll have the best chance of finding a khao jee (a baguette with salad, meat and pate).
Board a flight bound for Luang Prabang arriving less than an hour later. There are a bunch of local dishes that you should consider trying while you’re here, and lunch today is the perfect opportunity to get started. You might see local sausages called sai oua (made with pork, chilli, garlic, spices and herbs) hanging up to dry around town, or perhaps a whole barbecued fish is more your style? Whatever you decide, it will most likely be served with the ubiquitous sticky rice. Once you’ve eaten, make an afternoon trip to Ock Pop Tok, a sustainable and ethical textile partnership helping women to earn a living. Once the sun goes down, hit the lively night market, where locals sell food, trinkets, clothes and snake whiskey from blue and red tents.
Rise with the sun this morning and witness a traditional alms giving ceremony. View the procession of saffron-robed monks on their daily outing collecting food offered by devotees, a practice that dates back centuries. The offerings must be collected early, as the monks cannot eat anything after midday. By giving food to a monk, it is believed you ‘het bon’ (make merit) which will be carried over into the next life. Then, gain insight into the myriad of diverse ethnic groups in Laos through the textiles and handicrafts on display at the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre (TAEC). Dedicated to collecting and preserving these crafts, TAEC aims to engage both Laotians and foreigners on the importance of cultural protection. Hop on a boat and enjoy a leisurely lunch cruise down the mighty Mekong River. Take in the sight of verdant countryside while you eat (and if the weather is clear distant mountains) as you head towards the Pak Ou Caves. Disembark and spend some time exploring these holy limestone caves, where statues and carvings of the Buddha gaze down from every conceivable surface. Return to Luang Prabang in the afternoon and spend the rest of your day at your leisure. Perhaps take a dip in the hotel pool or venture out in search of some khao niao mamuang (sticky rice with fresh mango).
Discover a jungle paradise with a morning trip to the Kuang Si Waterfall, about 30 kilometres south of Luang Prabang. These multi-tiered falls are ensconced in thick green trees and snaking vines, giving the appearance of a hidden Laotian Eden. Return to town and enjoy a free afternoon. If you can't get enough of the local cuisine you might be interested in a cooking class where you can learn the art of mixing sweet, sour and spice. Those with an inclination towards the historical may enjoy a visit to the Lao National Museum. Located in a worn French colonial building, the exhibits trace the nation's contemporary and ancient history. From dinosaur bones and Khmer sculptures to an unexploded ordinances gallery and anti-imperialist literature, it's a fascinating place. In the evening, toast to your new friends with a final dinner at Kaiphaen Restaurant, a social enterprise where the food is delicious and authentic and your meal helps local kids get hospitality training.
Your adventure comes to an end this morning after breakfast and hotel check out. If Laos has stolen your heart, why not stay on for a few days more? The Home Cooked Luang Prabang day tour from Urban Adventures might be just what you’re looking for to get the most out of your time in this incredible country.