Departure Date: 10/10/2019
Described as the ‘Land of a million elephants’, Laos is probably southeast Asia’s most least touched region and therefore creates a uniquely relaxed atmosphere. Laid back and humble with dramatic scenery, Laos makes a lasting impression through its beautiful natural heritage and friendly locals wherever you go. There are many major sites to enjoy such as the northern mountains, the colonial charm of Luang Prabang, the Mekong and Nam Ou rivers, Vientiane and Champasak as well as the 4,000 islands!
Day 1: Pakse Arrival - Champasak
Day 2: Wat Phou
Day 3: A Southern Village Walk - Spa
Day 4: Champasak – Pakse – Luang Prabang
Day 5: LPQ City Tour HD – Royal Audience
Day 6: Kuang Si Waterfalls – Pha Tad Ke Garden
Day 7: Luang Prabang Departure
Day 1: Arrive Pakse - Champasak
Upon arrival in Pakse, a guide and driver will be waiting to transport you to the hotel on Don Daeng Island, in Champasak.
After checking in, you can relax by the pool at the hotel or explore the car-free island by bicycle and ride along the shady paths, interact with the locals or visit some of the island’s sandy beaches.
Overnight on Don Daeng
Distance and journey time: Pakse – Champasak (30 km): 1 hour
Day 2: Champasak – Wat Phou – Baci Ceremony (D)
After breakfast, visit Wat Phou. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Wat Phou is a spectacular pre-Angkorian temple that sits among the rice fields and waterways of southern Laos. The temple was constructed in three levels: the bottom level is focused on the baray (water reservoir) and promenade, the second level features pavilions and galleries of carvings, and the top level is the sanctuary. This site served as the most important economic and political centre of the region and still is one of the Lao people’s most revered temples.
Enjoy your afternoon at leisure.
At sunset, participate in a unique traditional Lao ceremony known as the Baci with the local community on the island. The Baci is performed in celebration of important events such as weddings, births, or for welcoming guests, and is a means of expressing goodwill and good luck to others.
After the ceremony, sit down and enjoy an authentic Laotian dinner.
Overnight on Don Daeng
Day 3: A Southern Village Walk – Champasak Spa (L)
Follow a quiet and authentic shaded bamboo path along the Mekong River and immerse in the simple life of Southern Laos. The walk offers insights into the daily goings-on in the village along the way including some traditional handicrafts and spiritual practices.
Some highlights of the walk are Wat Muang Kang – the oldest active temple in Champasak and a unique mix of colonial, Vietnamese and traditional Siamese – Laotian styles, a Catholic Church built at the end of 19th century, just after the permanent catholic mission founded in Ubon (Thailand) in 1881.
Depending on the season, guests can participate in different village activities, such as fishing, basket weaving, rice planting or harvesting.
Having worked up an appetite, head to a local family and help cook a traditional Lao dish. Join with the host family to enjoy the homemade lunch.
After lunch, head to Champasak Spa and Wellness Center for an indulgent treat. Situated by the Mekong River, the Spa’s tranquil ambience makes it a perfect place to truly unwind. Experience a traditional massage in a pavilion with river view. The well-trained local therapist will adapt the treatment to different needs and physical conditions. All products used at the spa are natural and organic.
Overnight on Don Daeng
Day 4: Champasak – Pakse - Luang Prabang
Upon arrival to Luang Prabang, our guide and driver will be waiting to provide transport to the hotel for check in.
Arrival in Luang Prabang. Welcome to the spiritual capital of Laos.
Be greeted by a private car and driver and be transferred to the hotel for check-in.
At the end of the day, climb the 328 steps to the top of Mount Phousi to enjoy a panoramic view of the city and the surrounding countryside. Go on foot back to the hotel and pass by the evening hill tribe market to find plenty of local souvenirs to buy items like handicrafts and textiles. Overnight in Luang Prabang
Distance and journey time: Champasak – Pakse Airport: 1 hour
Luang Prabang Airport – Luang Prabang (4 km): 15 min
Day 5: Luang Prabang – HD City Tour – Royal Audience (B/D)
Explore Luang Prabang with a knowledgeable local guide. Visit the highlights of this UNESCO World Heritage site and also learn about Laos’ rich, colourful culture.
Kick off the Luang Prabang with a half day tour at the former Royal Palace, a centrally-located building that now serves as the National Museum. Venture through the corridors and see intriguing displays of historical relics and informative exhibits.
The next visit is Wat Xieng Thong, one of the oldest and most revered temple in the country. The temple is situated on the tip of the city’s peninsula and is filled with ornate carvings and mosaics that have withstood the test of time. Wrap up the Luang Prabang half day tour with a better understanding of this charming, northern Laos city.
The last stop is the Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre to learn about the various ethnic groups in Laos. Accompanied by one of the two co-founders/directors of the Centre, explore the displays of colourful costumes and traditional tools used by the different races. There are fabulous explanations about the history and beliefs of each of the ethnic groups, this is a great eye-opener to the diversity of the Lao people. EXO Foundation proudly sponsors the museum’s latest exhibition “Seeds of Culture: From living plants to handicrafts”. (Note: closed on Monday).
After lunch, transfer to the home of Nithakhong Somsanith for a unique encounter. Learn about some almost forgotten traditional arts and explore the prince’s private collections of arts and items from the Old Court of Luang Prabang family.
Overnight in Luang Prabang
Day 6: Luang Prabang – Alms Giving & Kuang Si Waterfalls (B/L)
For early-risers (05h30) there is a very special dawn visit to witness the monks leaving their pagodas to receive offerings of food from Luang Prabang residents. It is a beautiful, serene ceremony that highlights the spiritualism of the Lao people. Return to the hotel for breakfast.
After breakfast, continue your day with a drive through the Luang Prabang countryside to Kuang Si Waterfalls. Upon reaching Kuang Si Waterfall, enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings or explore the surrounding dense jungle on foot. For the adventurous, it is possible to walk to the top of the falls via a steep track where beautiful views await.
These waterfalls cascade down a multilevel limestone formation creating a series of turquoise blue pools, this is perfect for swimming especially on a hot day (if swimming, please dress modestly).
On the way back, board a local long tail boat and cruise along the Mekong to Pha Tad Ke Botanical Garden. The garden is a regional research centre, which not only created the first living collection of the flora of Laos, but also provides education to local school children and the general public about nature. Pha Tad Ke is a project that our non-profit affiliation, EXO Foundation, proudly supports.
Enjoy a delicious Lao set lunch at the Pha Tad Ke café.
After lunch, receive a short presentation about the gardens. Continue with a walk through the Ginger Garden and Ethno-botanic Garden, which acts as the site’s centrepiece.
Follow the Limestone Walk, soaking in the amazing mountainous Mekong landscapes. Reaching the hunting lodge of the former royal family, stop for a quick lesson on how to craft a bamboo stick animal. Continue the Pha Tad Ke botanical garden walking tour through the Arboretum, Palm Garden and Bamboo Garden to the viewpoint overlooking the rice fields. Make a brief stop at the Mist House to learn more about the importance of biodiversity conservation. Finish the excursion with an optional orchid talk at Pha Tad Ke Nursery.
Discover Lao traditional herbal medicinal teas through a testing session before heading back to Luang Prabang by boat.
Overnight in Luang Prabang
Distance and journey time: Luang Prabang – Kuang Si (32 km): 1 hour
Kuang Si – Ban Sing pier: 20 minutes
Ban Sing Pier – Pha Tad Ke Garden (boat): 1hour 30 minutes
Pha Tad Ke – Luang Prabang (boat): 20 minutes
Day 7: Luang Prabang Departure (B)
The morning is free at leisure for some last minute shopping or sightseeing until transport (provided) to the airport for the departing flight.
Distance and journey time: Luang Prabang – Luang Prabang Airport (4 km): 15 min
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Flights on Qatar Airways ex Johannesburg via Doha to Parkse and from Ho Chi Minh and return from Luang Prabang via Bangkok and Doha to Johannesburg, approx. airport taxes, a 6 night stay in a shared twin or double room with breakfast daily, meals indicated as per the itinerary, tours and transfers by private air-conditioned vehicles, an English speaking local guide and all entrance fees as per the itinerary.
6 Nights from R48,630 pps
These offers are brought to you by Travel Counsellors (Pty) Ltd. Valid: 10 October - 31 December 2019. Offers are per person sharing. Rates for other periods are available on request. Packages are subject to availability, seasonal surcharge; high season supplements, flight price increases and currency fluctuations. Packages excludes: items of a personal nature, meals, drinks, tours and entrance fees not included in the itinerary, tips and travel insurance. Supplier's terms and conditions are available on request. Additional information available on request. Valid for SA residents only. Terms and conditions apply. Prices and information correct at time of publishing. E&OE.