Day 1 Depart London.
Day 2 Arrival in Bangkok and transfer to Chiang Mai, the cultural and historic capital of Northern Thailand. Afternoon free to explore this charming, friendly city or just recover from jet-lag by the pool before an evening tour of the famous night-bazaar.
Day 3 Leisurely morning to wander around one of the local markets or relax by the pool. An afternoon scenic drive through the mountains to neighbouring Chiang Rai Town, formerly the main commercial centre for the infamous ‘Golden Triangle’ region – so called because of its previous notoriety for warlords and opium cultivation.
Day 4 Day tour of some of the main sites of this far northern region. Beginning at the magnificent, mountain-top, botanical gardens at Mae Fah Luang and on to Sob Ruak where Burma, Laos and Thailand meet. Visit the unusual Opium Museum, before following the Mekong River via the historic ruined city of Chiang Saen to our day’s destination, the scenic riverside town of Chiang Khong.
Day 5 Time to cross the Mekong into Laos itself where we’ll begin with a drive up-country through mountains and jungle to the remote town of Luang Nam Tha near the Chinese border. Stop off on the way to visit the scenic Kao Rao limestone cave system, only recently discovered, as well as some of the area’s traditional minority villages. Accommodation at a beautifully situated eco-lodge on the banks of the Tha River.
Day 6 Day trip into the surrounding Nam Ha National Protected Area to hike through some of the spectacular scenery and visit some of the local hill-tribe villages to discover the traditional way of life of the area’s ethnic Akha people. Guides will show you some of the various forest plants used by the hill-tribe peoples as medicine or food, as well as cooking a traditional Akha jungle lunch.
Day 7 Continue across the mountains of Oudom Xai Province to the picturesque village of Nong Khiaw on the banks of the Ou River. Stopping to visit a Hmong village and hill-tribe market on the way and staying overnight in traditional Lao style wooden chalets set spectacularly on the banks overlooking the river.
Day 8 Boat trip up the scenic Nam Ou. The section north of Nong Khiaw is perhaps the most spectacular stretch of the river, winding through dramatic limestone escarpments. We’ll stop at a Khmu/Hmong village inaccessible by road. Return to Nong Khiaw in the afternoon with some time to relax in this superb mountain setting. Time to discover the area on foot or bicycle, or just sit back on your balcony and admire the mountains and river below.
Day 9 Morning drive south, following the Ou River Valley, to the famous cave temples near Pak Ou. Lunch in a riverside café, and visit a local village, with an afternoon arrival in the ancient Lao capital of Luang Prabang. Sunset at the nearby Phu Si hill temple.
Day 10 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 walking tour of the town including the National Museum & former king’s palace, Wat Xiengthong, Phu Si Hill Temple and the Fine Arts School to see how traditional Lao arts and handicrafts are being preserved. The afternoon is at leisure to allow you to wander the quiet, picturesque lanes or check out the hill-tribe handicraft market?
Day 11 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 12 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 and a hidden cave temple that served as an army hospital during the Vietnam War - a reminder that this region played a major part in the conflict. Late afternoon arrival in Phonsavan and atmospheric dusk visit to one of the famous jar sites.
Day 13 Morning visit to the Mines Action Group to learn about the work they do in clearing land mines and unexploded ordnance in the area. We then drive out to the picturesque Jar Site 2, and begin our 1 hour trek along the ridge to the impressive Jar Site 3, consisting of 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 14 Day tour of some of the city’s fascinating sites including Si Saket Temple with its thousand Buddha images, the bustling morning market, 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, a stop will also be made at the excellent COPE Visitors Centre. This was established to highlight 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 15 Morning departure from Vientiane, via Bangkok, and evening arrival in London.
Notes: Land only version - flights not included: This tour is offered with or without return flights to London - persons not wishing to take up the flights option should join the tour in Chiang Mai on day 2 and depart in Bangkok on day 15. (Note your flight Vientiane to Bangkok is included).
Suggestions: make the most of your time in Southeast Asia with a few days relaxing in Chiang Mai before the tour and/or a couple of days in Bangkok prior to your departure? Please contact us for further information.
Please note these are photos of sample hotels and resorts; accommodation options may vary and are subject to availability
The delightful Karinthip Village – lovely garden, refreshing pool and north Thai decor – an oasis in the heart of Chiang Mai City.
A wonderful find in Chiang Rai Town: La Luna has well appointed pool-side chalets set in a beautiful tropical garden a 5 minute tuk-tuk ride from the town’s lively night bazaar.
Perfect location overlooking the Mekong River to Laos – The Namkong Riverside Hotel in the small town of Chiang Khong.
Your comfortable chalet terrace at the excellent Boat Landing Eco-lodge in the remote town of Luang Nam Tha.
‘Nong Khiaw Riverside’, local style chalets in a spectacular location on the banks of the scenic Ou River.
Spectacular riverside location for the traditional style wooden chalets at the popular Nong Khiaw Riverside.
‘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.
"What a wonderful time we had. Our thanks must go to (our Lao guide) Pong who was the most terrific guide. He was so thoughtful, efficient, informative, delightful person. We loved him. Everything went to plan. We couldn't fault the organisation. Thank you to you all."
Rosie Mynors, Feb 2016
"You undersell the whole experience! It was fantastic! I can’t fault anything!"
"Thank you and everyone concerned for a great holiday which exceeded our expectations, we could not fault any part of it. It started as a holiday but quickly became an adventure. Everyone involved - guides, local guides and drivers were all superb. There were so many highlights to this holiday including visiting the hill tribe villages and interacting with the local people and especially the children, these memories will last a long time. We now appreciate the expertise of your company.
Wi was an absolutely great guide and looked after us brilliantly. However, we have a number of complaints to make about Wi; (a) she encouraged us to eat the excellent food and we have now got to go on a diet, (b) she encouraged us to laugh and smile too much (say chilies) which resulted in us getting face ache, (c) she encouraged us to appreciate the beauty of the area especially Laos which means we will now have return. Once again many thanks to everyone with a very special thanks to Wi!"
Ann & Mike O'Brien, 2011
Please find below a list of suggested extensions for this tour. For reservations please use the tour booking form on the same page
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