DAY 01 : BANGKOK – CHIANG RAI (without guide – without driver)
free lunch - dinner included - night at Chiang Rai
Thai Airways flight TG130 BKK-CEI 08:00 / 09:20
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Welcome at Chiang Rai airport by our local team (driver) and transfer by private car to your hotel. Lunch at the hotel. Free time to rest, lazing by the pool. Dinner at the hotel. Overnight at hotel in Chiang Rai.
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 Lodge- 7 h cruise - with guide - with driver
Days : Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday only
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 / person at your expense. Departure every 30 minutes).
An English-speaking Lao guide will wait 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 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
SLOW BOAT SHOMPOO CRUISE :
Measuring 38 to 42 meters long, these boats are equipped with an engine of at least 300 CV. Their steel hull ensures stability and security. The boat carrying capacity can reach up to 40 passengers over 10 tables at most. An area opening-roof with benches is at the front of the boat. At the rear is the bar. 2 western style toilets are available. www.shompoocruise.com
Departure only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays
DAY 03 : PAKBENG – MUANG LA
Lunch and dinner included - night at Muang La
In the morning you will be welcomed by your local guide and then you will go by canoe to the elephant camp and the village of mahout’s families. Located along the Mekong River, Mekong Elephant Camp offers the opportunity to discover, in a spectacular natural setting, the privileged place of the elephant in 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. To share a moment with them and develop a bond of relationship with this animal, very sociable. You can watch the elephant bath in the river basin, an opportunity of communication between the mahout and his animal. You will ride on elephant back (2 hours) in the surrounding bamboo forest. www.mekongelephantcamp.com Back to Pakbeng by canoe.
Lunch at the lodge. After lunch, drive through the valley of the Nam Beng towards Muang La. Muang La is a big traditional village, between rice fields and mountains. Surrounded by forest and along the river, away from mass tourism, Muang La is the ideal base for visiting Northern Laos and discover at your own pace its many treasures. On the way, visit of villages of minorities, and the pretty village of Tai Lue. Arrival at Muang La by late afternoon. Installation at the hotel. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Muang La.
DAY 04 : MUANG LA (MUANG LA RESORT SERVICES)
Lunch and dinner included - night at Muang La - 1,5h walk
(MLR 4) Drive by minibus to Pak Khai, the path of 20 minutes will be through beautiful views of the Nampak River, terraced rice fields and small villages of Khmu people. This walk is an opportunity to meet local farmers working in rice fields and learn how they cultivate the land, fish and hunt small animals. After 1,5 hour walk through green forests, you reach the village of Phavie at the top of a hill.
You will be invited into the house of the village chief for lunch; you will appreciate the Laotian friendliness. Then, walk to reach fresh waterfalls. You can swim in the clear water cascades refresh by the gentle breeze and the quiet setting. By early afternoon, you will go back (about 3 hours) to the resort where you will arrive in the afternoon. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Muang La.
DAY 05 : MUANG LA – MUANG KHUA – MUANG NGOY – NONG KHIAW
Lunch and dinner included - night at Nong Khiaw - 2h drive - 4h cruise
Morning drive to the pier in Muang Khua (about 1,5 to 2 hours drive). Then, cruise on a traditional boat for a slow descent of the Nam Ou River to Muang Ngoi (about 3 hours). The landscapes of steep karst cliffs partially covered with vegetation are impressive. Possible stop in a pretty village of Thai Ed. Arrival in Muang Ngoi. This charming village stretches along the Nam Ou River in a tropical atmosphere with palm trees and straw huts-bars. Lunch in a local restaurant. If time allows, walk around Muang Ngoi amidst rice field landscapes and karst cliffs reminiscent of Halong Bay in Vietnam. Depending on the season, the various stages of rice cultivation can be observed. Then, cruise to Nong Khiaw (about 1 hour boat). Installation at the hotel. Dinner. Overnight in Nong Khiaw.
DAY 06 : NONG KHIAW – LUANG PRABANG
Lunch and dinner included – night at Luang Prabang - 2h cruise
Continuation of the descent of the Nam Ou River (about 2 hours) to the dam Pak Nga. Then, drive to Ban Pak Ou village for a late lunch at a local restaurant. Mekong Crossing by boat to visit the Pak Ou caves which house for centuries hundreds of effigies of Buddha. Back on the left bank, then drive to Luang Prabang, the former royal capital, a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for arriving by late afternoon. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Luang Prabang.
DAY 07 : LUANG PRABANG
Lunch and dinner included – 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 in a restaurant (Coffee Color or similar). Overnight in Luang Prabang.
DAY 08 : LUANG PRABANG
Lunch and dinner included - night at Luang Prabang - 1,5h drive
Around 8:30, tour to Khouang Sy waterfalls to enjoy the quiet of the morning (about 35 km - 45 min drive in a private car). The road is lined with villages and rice fields. Picnic lunch on the premises. 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 the hotel. Overnight in Luang Prabang.
DAY 09 : LUANG PRABANG (OPTIONNAL)
Lunch and dinner included – night at Luang Prabang
From 9am to 3pm, your day will be devoted to a traditional local cooking class at the restaurant "Tamarind". You will discover the art of cooking with Lao food available at the local market. So you can surprise your friends and family when you will be back, with an exotic gastronomic experience that will leave a lasting memory. The chef and his team will bring you to the market, you will learn to choose the ingredients for the preparation of regional dishes that you will cook yourself. At lunch, tasting your dishes made in the morning. In the afternoon, you will discover weaving technique at the center "Ock Pop Tok". Your guide will explain the development of a product (scarf, shirt). Dinner at the hotel. Overnight in Luang Prabang.
DAY 10 : LUANG PRABANG – VANG VIENG – NAM NGUM LAKE
Lunch and dinner included – night at Blue Lagoon Resort
Morning transfer by road to Vang Vieng (about 4 hours drive). It takes a pretty mountain road offering beautiful views. Lunch at a local restaurant in Vang Vieng (Villa Nam Song or similar). Boat trip on the Nam Song River, along a landscape of karst cliffs, land version of Baie D'Halong. Then visit the famous cave of Tam Tiang which is accessed by a staircase of 140 steps. By late afternoon, short transfer to Ban Tha Heua, and installation at the Blue Lagoon Resort. Dinner and overnight at the Blue Lagoon Resort.
The best place to stay is our resort in Laos. The blue lagoon resort & water sports is a little paradise for relaxation, equipped for your great fun. With our jet ski activities, super jet, wake board, banana boating, wind surfing, kite surfing, fishing. Our charming bungalows provide the best for the residents and visitors of Laos. The Blue Lagoon Thaheua resort, hotel restaurant, beach and water sports is located 120 km from the capital Vientiane on Route 13 towards Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang. Blue Lagoon is an island on the lake at the edge of the Nam Ngum odds Thaheua fishing village in the mountains. A preserved natural site where you can go jet skiing, windsurfing, kite surfing, wake boarding and fishing. Our comfortable bungalows are located in a tropical garden on an island in the lake Nam Nung. Relax with a cocktail and watching the sunset over the lake and mountains. Enjoy our delicious Lao and international cuisine. Enjoy the comfort of your room and wake up admiring the stunning views from your terrace.
DAY 11 : NAM NGUM LAKE
Lunch and dinner included – night at Nam Ngum lake
Morning stroll in the Lake Islands. You will observe the monkey island; sanctuary of injured monkeys. Then visit a village on a beach at the lake. Picnic lunch. Then swim and / or go back to the resort to attend a boating activity. Dinner and overnight at the resort (Lake Nam Ngum).
DAY 12 : NAM NGUM LAKE– VIENTIANE
Lunch and dinner included – night at Vientiane - 3h drive
After breakfast, transfer to Vientiane (about 2,5 hours to 3 hours drive). Discovery of Vientiane, administrative and economic capital of the country, with the relaxed and charming atmosphere which blends colonial architectural heritage and colorful temples, including:
1) the Vat 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. Lunch in a local restaurant (Kuala Lao or similar);
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 in a local restaurant (Café Indochine or similar). Overnight in Vientiane.
DAY 13 : VIENTIANE – INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT
free lunch and dinner - Transfer to the international airport
After breakfast, transfer to the airport of Vientiane for your international flight via Bangkok.
Lao Airlines Flight QV441 VTE – BKK 7:35/8:35
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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.