Day 1 Depart London Heathrow Airport.
Day 2 Nestled in the mountains, long isolated from the outside world, we’ll discover World Heritage Site, Luang Prabang’s fabulous temples, French colonial architecture and taste Lao delicacies (and the famous Lao beer!) in riverside cafes. Morning is at leisure to allow you to wander the quiet, picturesque lanes or check out the hill-tribe handicraft market and an afternoon walking tour of the town including the National Museum & former king’s palace, Wat Xiengthong and the Fine Arts School to see how traditional Lao arts and handicrafts are being preserved with perhaps a sunset visit to Phu Si Hill Temple.
Day 3 Day trip through the surrounding hills to visit the spectacular Kuang Si Waterfalls and to discover the fascinating, traditional village life of some of the local peoples.
Day 4 Early departure for a drive along scenic mountain roads to Phonsavan Town in Xieng Khouang province – location of the famous and mysterious ‘Plain of Jars’. Stops on the way include Khmu and Hmong villages as well as a reminder that this region played a major part during the Vietnam War as we visit a hidden cave temple that served as an army hospital during the combat. Late afternoon arrival in Phonsavan and atmospheric dusk visit to one of the famous jar sites.
Day 5 Morning visit to the Mines Action Group or MAG office to learn about the work they do in clearing land mines and unexploded ordnance in the area. We then transfer out to the picturesque Jar Site 2, and begin our 1 hour trek along the ridge to the impressive Jar Site 3, consisting over around 150 jars located on top of a hill, offering great views over the surrounding countryside. Lunch in Phonsavan before a flight to the Lao capital of Vientiane and time perhaps to stretch our legs with a stroll along the Mekong waterfront for sundowners in a riverbank cafe?
Day 6 Day tour of some of the city’s fascinating sites; Si Saket Temple with its thousand Buddha images, the bustling morning market and Vientiane’s most famous monument – the That Luang Stupa as well as the unusual ‘Buddha Park’. Less cheerful, but we feel important and highly informative stops, will also be made at the excellent COPE exhibition centre, highlighting a major problem many of the local people face daily in the form of unexploded ordnance as a result of the heavy bombing campaigns during the Vietnam War era.
Day 7 Leave Vientiane for a leisurely drive south east to Khammoune, one of Laos’s most picturesque, yet least visited provinces. Visits along the way will include a 15th century stupa, a hill-tribe market and plenty of photo opportunities! Afternoon arrival at our night’s accommodation in Hin Boun, a remote and charming lodge set amongst dramatic limestone scenery. Time to relax or explore the area.
Day 8 Departure by boat for an exploration of the incredible Konglor Cave – a 7 km long cavern with spectacular stalactite formations and an underground river running from end to end. On traversing the cave we’ll have an opportunity for a hike through the hidden valley on the far side before completing our day with a transfer to the nearby town of Thakaek – an old Mekong river port from the French era – in time for sunset on the waterfront.
Day 9 A fascinating day trip through the area’s awesome limestone landscapes including a forest hike where local guides will show you traditional forest food and medicines collected by the local inhabitants; a walk around the serene Nong Thao Lake to discover local fishing techniques, stop-offs in rarely visited villages and a visit to a secret 300 year old cave temple, only discovered in 2004. Late afternoon drive to Savannakhet, another important colonial period town, for our night’s accommodation.
Day 10 Continue south along the Mekong to another old river port, Pakse. Lunchtime arrival and the afternoon at leisure to explore the local markets, try out a Lao style spa, or just relax in the hotel’s roof garden?
Day 11 Day tour of some of the sites of the Boloven Plateau, home to numerous ethnic minorities and the centre of Lao’s coffee growing industry including visits to one of the area’s coffee plantations, a fascinating local market and a chance to bathe in the spectacular Tad Yeuang Falls.
Day 12 Back on to the Mekong River for a boat trip south to the small, historic town of Champassak. Afternoon trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Wat Phu – a pre-Angkor, Khmer temple dramatically situated on a mountain side overlooking the valley of the Mekong.
Day 13 Morning to explore tranquil Champassak Town before a transfer across the Mekong to Kietngong Village for a stay in the delightful Kingfisher Eco Lodge on the edge of the Sepian national Biodiversity Area. Afternoon hike to discover the mysterious hill-top ruins of Phu Asa, with of course time to relax on your balcony to admire the superb views in this charming setting.
Day 14 Continue south to the ‘4 thousand islands’ - a stretch of the Mekong River of truly outstanding natural beauty straddling the Lao, Cambodian border where we’ll stay in riverside chalets on Khone Island.
Day 15 Explore some of the islands by boat, kayak and on foot. Visit Southeast Asia’s largest waterfalls, the stunning Khone Phapaeng Falls, and with luck catch a glimpse of some of the rare freshwater dolphins which still inhabit this stretch of the river.
Day 16 Continuing down the Mekong we’ll follow the picturesque jungle-lined river into Cambodia and the remote town of Stung Treng. Here we’ll visit a traditional silk weaving workshop before continuing overland, south to the old French port of Kratie for our night’s accommodation. Afternoon to wander the bustling river front area.
Day 17 The final leg of our journey will take us overland via Kompong Cham and a visit to the Angkor era temple of Wat Nokor to Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh.
Day 18 Departure for London, via Bangkok and evening arrival.
Our 15 day version begins...
Day 1 Depart London Heathrow Airport.
Day 2 Morning arrival, via Bangkok, in the Lao capital Vientiane and an afternoon at leisure to recover from jet-lag, explore the local markets or perhaps stretch your legs with a stroll along the Mekong waterfront and sundowners in a riverbank cafe?
Then continues as per day 6 above.
Notes: this tour is offered inclusive of return flights from London. Those persons not wishing to take up the flight option would join the tour in Luang Prabang on day 2 and finish in Phnom Penh on day 18 or join in Vientiane on day 5 and depart Phnom Penh on day 18, (15) of the shorter version.
Please note these are photos of sample hotels and resorts; accommodation options may vary and are subject to availability
‘French colonial’ chic at the Villa Chitdara in Luang Prabang. Friendly staff, a relaxed atmosphere and central location make this a great spot for exploring the UNESCO old town.
Awesome view of sunset over the Mekong from the rooftop bar of the riverside Sengtawan Riverview Hotel in Lao’s capital Vientiane.
…and relaxing on the terrace at Sala Hin Boun.
The roof garden and restaurant at the excellent Pakse Hotel in central Pakse. Awesome views and a great spot for a cold wet one at sunset.
Anouxa Guesthouse, Champassak – simple but comfortable and friendly guesthouse with a riverside location.
The superb Kingfisher Eco-Resort in Kietngong village. Luxury in the middle of nowhere!
Dusk view from the cafe of the Seng Ahloune Resort on Don Khone Island in South Laos’s scenic ‘4,000 Islands’ region.
Street life in front of our hotel in north Cambodia’s Kratie Town, an old colonial period river port, – the Santepheap Hotel located on the waterfront overlooking the Mekong.
The superb Hilary’s Boutique Hotel in Phnom Penh. Refreshing pool, cocktail terrace and a quiet, yet central, location make this a consistently popular spot to stay in Cambodia’s capital. Read our Hilary’s review here.
Brilliant holiday, good mix of activities, and a real insight into rural Laos. I had a great time, felt so refreshed and invigorated that the experience has blown away the cobwebs. Laos is stunningly beautiful, I was enchanted with the place, so different in feel from Cambodia. An excellent holiday. Richard - October/November 2015
Every day was something different, we walked through jungle; rode elephants; explored caves and sailed in wooden boats, sometimes we used a wooden plank, sometimes we were knee deep in the river! We saw amazing temples and wooden huts that the locals lived in, we saw how people lived and how they dried peppers in their satellite dishes! There were sad parts too, understanding the legacy of the Vietnam war, unexploded bombs everywhere and maimed people.However, the people were great fun, as curious about us as we were about them.
This was our first trip to Southeast Asia, so we were unsure about what to expect. The hotels were all ok or good, with showers and proper toilets, but when you are out and about it's mainly squat toilets. Everything was well organised, and the guides and transport were always on time. Colin and Jenny November 2015
Please find below a list of suggested extensions for this tour. For reservations please use the tour booking form on the same page
Images of Phnom Penh is designed as an introduction, not only to travel and street photography, but to photography in Cambodia as well. Long term more..
A spare day in Phnom Penh? Escape the hustle and bustle of this fascinating, yet admittedly hectic city with a day out to nearby Koh more..
Cambodia, Angkor Temples: an unforgettable four-day visit to this fabulous site – its vast jungle clad temples and mysterious stone carvings: a tour of the more..
Seen Angkor Wat and Bayon’s mysterious faces? Visited the tragic Killing Fields site, shopped in the Russian Market and had a sun-downer at the famous more..
Koh Mak; a wonderful unspoilt island lying in the eastern part of the Gulf of Thailand just south of its more famous neighbour Koh Chang. more..
Scenic Koh Chang; a large island lying on the eastern side of the Gulf of Thailand with a mountainous, jungle-clad interior and a series of more..