DAY 01 : ARRIVAL IN BANGKOK – CHIANG RAI
Free dinner - without guide - with driver - night in Chiang Rai
Thai Airways flight TG130 BKK-CEI 08:00 / 09:20
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Welcoming at Chiang Rai airport by our driver and transfer by private car to your hotel. Lunch at the hotel. Free time to rest, lazing by the pool. Dinner at your charge and overnight at the hotel in Chiang Rai.
Visit suggestion: Discovery of the Night Market, daily from 5 to 10pm in the city centre. Back to the hotel.
DAY 02 : CHIANG RAI – CHIANG KHONG – BAN HOUEY XAI – PAKBENG
Lunch and dinner included - night at Pakbeng - 7 hours cruise
Early breakfast. Around 7.30am, a driver will pick you up at the hotel to drive you to the border crossing Chiang Khong (about 1,5 hour). Formality immigration (exit of Thai territory) before crossing the Mekong River via the new Friendship Bridge to arrive in Laos. Without guide, you will purchase the bus ticket to cross the Mekong River (45THB / pax at your expense. Departure every 30 minutes).
An English-speaking Lao guide will wait for you at 8:30am with a sign of "Shompoo Cruise" or in front of the Lao immigration office with a sign of your name. Transfer to the pier of Houay Xay by tuk tuk.
Cruise on the Mekong River (about 7 hours) on a private traditional slow boat. Thus begins the discovery of the banks of the Mekong, mythical river that runs through China, Laos separates Burma and Thailand, plunges into Cambodia and opens in Vietnam. The scenery is beautiful. The Mekong River is the main axis of communication between the North of the country and Luang Prabang, busy road lined with villages. Stop in a village bordering the river.
Lunch on board. Arrive in Pakbeng Lodge by late afternoon (Luxury ***), where all rooms are facing the Mekong. Discovery of the village located on the Mekong halfway between Huay Xai and Luang Prabang, a perfect mix of Lao, Khamou and Hmong ethnic groups. Dinner and overnight at Pakbeng Lodge.
Pakbeng Lodge offers a cozy atmosphere off the beaten path where you will enjoy the comfort of life, the show of the Mekong at sunset and sunrise, the incessant round of the various boats come and go, accost or embark from the beach of the Lodge. Your stay will be punctuated by walks and unusual encounters: a total immersion in the Laotian life. www.pakbenglodge.com
DAY 03 : PAKBENG
Lunch and Dinner included - night at Pakbeng - 2 hours elephant ride - with French speaking guide
In the morning you will be welcomed by your English speaking guide, then you will go by canoe to the elephant camp and the village of mahouts families. Located along the Mekong River, the Elephant Camp offers the opportunity to discover, in a spectacular natural setting, the privileged place of the elephant in the Lao culture. It is an ideal starting point for elephant rides a few hours. Designed as an eco-tourism pilot project, the Mekong Elephant Camp illustrates the will of its creators to promote sustainable tourism by offering elephant owners a viable economic alternative to the intensive exploitation of the forest and involving the people in the project the surrounding villages.
We invite you to discover the daily life of mahouts and their elephants. You can watch the elephants bath in a natural basin of the river, privileged moment of communication between the mahout and his animal. You will walk on an elephant (2 hours) in the surrounding forest. (mekongelephantcamp.com).
Lunch at the lodge. In the afternoon, departure for a walk (about 3 hours) through the village and the forest. (please bring walking shoes with rigid soles). Stop at the local temple of Wat Si Chom Cheng beautifully overlooks the river. Dinner and overnight at Pakbeng Lodge
DAY 04 : PAKBENG
lunch and dinner included - night at Pakbeng - with French speaking guide
For the second day in Pakbeng, choose between two original programs to appeal the sportiest or greediest of you!
1) “Adventurous Trek and traditional massage”: 3 hours trek in the Mekong Elephant Camp (hard level during climb, 3 hours walk). The trek starts in the morning, following a stream running through the primary forest to the top of the mountain where a picnic lunch will be provided with drinking water and fruit. Picnic lunch and resting time. By early afternoon, down the mountain by a narrow path. You will meet elephants, and if you like bathing with them! Back to Pakbeng by late afternoon for a traditional Lao massage. Dinner and overnight at Pakbeng Lodge.
2) "Traditional local cooking class": You will discover the art of cooking with Lao food available in our organic farm and local market. So you can surprise your friends and family when you get back! In the morning, our chef and his team will bring you to the market, you will learn to choose the ingredients for the preparation of regional dishes. At lunch, tasting of your own dishes made in the morning. Your afternoon will be devoted to relaxation with a traditional Lao massage. Dinner and overnight at Pakbeng Lodge.
DAY 05 : PAKBENG – LUANG PRABANG
Lunch included - free dinner – night in Luang Prabang - 7h cruise
New Shompoo Cruise on the Mekong River to Luang Prabang (7 hours) with your English speaking guide. Lunch served on board. Stop at the sacred Pak Ou caves, which are home to hundreds of Buddha statues. The caves offer a magnificent view on the Mekong and the Nam Ou River. Arrival in Luang Prabang, a World Heritage Site by Unesco. The city houses the most beautiful temples of Laos, but also a well preserved architectural heritage: the oldest wooden houses on stilts, to colonial villas Lao style. You will be dropped at the hotel, not far from the center and its animation. Free dinner and overnight in Luang Prabang.
Suggestion: Choose between relaxation and shopping at the Night Market located in the main street of 17-22 hours.
DAY 06 : LUANG PRABANG
Free Lunch and dinner – night at Luang Prabang
Suggestion for early birds (without guide): In the city center at sunrise (between 5 and 6am) observe a silent procession of monks in saffron robes. An important moment in the monk life: the morning alms to the faithful to get food (for the meal of the day) and offerings of all kinds. A solemn moment that we should respect (observe, photograph or video, but silently and within walking distance).
In the early morning visit of Luang Prabang by tuk tuk. Sights include:
1) the Vat May, built in the late eighteenth century, a sanctuary topped by a five-sided roof topped by three parasols.
2) the Royal Palace, now converted into the National Museum. Lunch at the hotel.
3) Wat Visoun: it is the oldest temple in the city, it is unlike any other temple, with its windows wooden balusters inspired the Khmer temple of Wat Phou.
4) Wat Aham: right next Vat Visoun, it is framed by two large banyan trees.
5) Mount Phousi, sacred hill located in the city center. It is reached by a long stairway with numerous pagodas in winds loaded legends. At the top, panoramic view of the city and the Mekong River. Discovery of the daily Hmong Night Market in the main street, 5 to 10pm. Dinner at your charge. Overnight in Luang Prabang.
DAY 07 : LUANG PRABANG
Free lunch and dinner - night at Luang Prabang - 1h30 drive
Around 8.30am, drive to Khouang Sy waterfalls to enjoy the morning quiet (45 min). The road is lined with villages and rice fields. Picnic lunch at your charge. On weekends, the place is frequented by locals. Swimming in the clear waters of the waterfall, which are scattered in many basins. Back to Luang Prabang by early afternoon and late visits with:
1) the Vat Xieng Thong, the Temple of the Royal City, a vast array of sacred buildings, one of the jewels of the Laotian art and the most beautiful temple of the city;
2) the small ethnological museum TAEC, "Traditionnal Arts and Ethnology Centre" exposing outfits and traditional costumes of different ethnic minorities. End of the afternoon free for personal discovery of the city. Dinner at your charge and overnight in Luang Prabang.
DAY 08 : LUANG PRABANG – VANG VIENG – NAM NGUM LAKE
Free lunch and dinner - night at the Nam Ngum Lake - 4h drive
Morning transfer to Vang Vieng (about 4 hours drive) by a pretty mountain road offering beautiful views. Lunch at your charge in Vang Vieng (Villa Nam Song or similar). Boat trip on the Nam Song River, along a landscape of karst cliffs, land version of Halong Bay. Then, visit the famous cave of Tam Tiang which is accessed by a staircase of 140 steps. By late afternoon, short transfer to the resort at Ban Tha Heua. Dinner at your charge and overnight at Nam Ngum Lake.
DAY 09 : NAM NGUM LAKE
Free lunch and dinner - night at the Nam Ngum Lake
Breakfast at the resort. With your guide, cruise on the Lake and discover the numerous Islands. You will observe Monkey Island; sanctuary of injured monkeys. Then visit a village on a beach of the lake. Picnic lunch at your charge. Then swim and / or go back to the resort to attend a boating activity. Dinner at your charge and overnight at the resort.
DAY 10 : NAM NGUM LAKE – VIENTIANE
Free lunch and dinner - night at Vientiane - 2,5h drive
After breakfast, transfer to Vientiane (about 2,5 hours drive). Discovery of Vientiane, administrative and economic capital of the country, with the relaxed and charming atmosphere which blends colonial architectural heritage and colourful temples, including:
1) Phra Keo, built in 1565 to house the famous Emerald Buddha. It was rebuilt identically in 1942. Located in a beautiful garden, it houses under its sloping roof, typical of Lao style and Northern Siamese, superb sculpted panels and elegant colonnades wood
2) Wat Sisaket, despite the Siamese influence, unique architecture of its kind. Its old style Bangkok has allowed him to be spared from destruction. This is the most beautiful and largest temple in Vientiane.
3) Wat Si Muang temple pillar of the city's busiest Vientiane;
4) the Pha That Luang, a cloister enclosing a large stupa spared during the sack of the city by the Siamese, but damaged by the Ho looters in 1873. It was restored by the French in 1930. It became the symbol of the nation, representing both the Buddhist religion and Lao sovereignty. This large reliquary is a masterpiece of Laotian architecture;
5) Patuxai, triumphal arch erected in memory of war victims
Dinner at your charge. Overnight in Vientiane.
DAY 11 : VIENTIANE
Transfer to international airport
Breakfast at the hotel. Free time till the transfer to Vientiane airport. International flight via Bangkok.
Lao Airlines flight QV445 VTE – BKK 18:35 / 19:35
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Note: The order of visits may be modified at any time in case of force majeure. If some elements of the visit - mentioned in the above itinerary - for whatever reason are made and are not executable, they will be replaced by other valid alternatives of similar quality.