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Mekong Adventure (extended version)

Some of Southeast Asia’s most remote and unspoilt areas with some of it's most sublime scenery and spectacular sights

A comprehensive Laos tour - from north to south

Our Laos tour, Mekong Adventure, follows one of the world’s greatest rivers through the heart of Indochina. Beginning in the historic and picturesque town of Luang Prabang, nestled in the mountains of the far north of Laos, we’ll travel, via the enigmatic Plain of Jars, to the modern day, riverside capital Vientiane.

From here our itinerary follows the Mekong south to the French-era river ports of Thakaek and Pakse where we’ll travel by boat up an underground river amid the surreal, karst landscapes of Hin Boun National Park as well as discovering the waterfalls and coffee plantations of the Boloven Plateau.

Continuing south by boat our next destination is quaint Champassak town with its well-preserved French architecture and spectacular pre-Angkor and UNESCO listed temple of Wat Phu. Farther still, along the border where Laos and Cambodia meet, we’ll explore the sublime scenery of Si Phan Don – an inland archipelago where thousands of islands dot the Mekong – after which the entire river tumbles over Southeast Asia’s and indeed one of the world’s largest, yet least known, waterfalls, Khone Phapaeng.

Another Mekong boat journey takes us over the border to the remote Cambodian town of Stung Treng from where we head west along the foot of the Dandrek Escarpment to majestic Preah Vihear – another Angkor-period temple and World Heritage site – spectacularly perched atop a sheer 600-metre cliff!

Our journey ends in Siem Reap in northwestern Cambodian where you have the opportunity to visit – or even revisit – the fabulous ruined jungle cities of Angkor itself.

An unforgettable, fascinating and varied voyage by road and river through Laos and Cambodia with some of Southeast Asia’s most remote and unspoilt areas, no less than 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, as well as some of it’s most sublime scenery and spectacular sights.

Note, for those with less time, this is an extended version of our 2-week Mekong Adventure also finishing in Cambodia’s Siem Reap but starting in the Lao capital, Vientiane.

Laos

Itinerary

Here's an idea of what you can expect to do and see day-to-day.

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Day 1 - Luang Prabang - arrival and walking tour

Arrival in Luang Prabang and check-in to our boutique-style accommodation in a converted, French-period villa. An afternoon introductory walking tour allows us to discover the picturesque town’s quaint lanes, fabulous temples and colonial architecture as well as sampling Lao delicacies (and the famous Lao beer!) in riverside cafes.

Airport transfers are included if you purchase the 'with flights' package.

Overnight: Luang Prabang Transport: Walk,  Meals: D, 

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Day 2 - Luang Prabang - into the surrounding hills

A drive through the surrounding hills to visit the spectacular Kuang Si Waterfalls as well as the commendable Free the Bears rescue centre with an opportunity en-route to discover the fascinating and still very traditional village life of some of the area’s inhabitants.

Overnight: Luang Prabang Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, L, 

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Day 3 - Phonsavan - overland to the Plain of Jars

A drive along scenic mountain roads to Phonsavan in Xieng Khouang Province, site of the remote and enigmatic 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. Arrival in Phonsavan and an atmospheric dusk visit to one of the famous jar sites.

Overnight: Phonsavan Transport: Minibus,  Meals: B, L, 

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Day 4 - Phonsavan to Vientiane - on to the capital

Visit the Mines Advisory Group to learn about the work they do in clearing the area’s landmines and unexploded ordnance before heading to the picturesque Jar Site 2 for a one-hour hike to the impressive, hill-top Site 3, consisting of around 150 giant jars. Afternoon 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?

Overnight: Vientiane Transport: Plane, Walk,  Meals: B, L, D, 

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Day 5 - Vientiane - city tour

Tour of the city’s varied sites including Si Saket Temple with its 1,000 Buddha images, the bustling morning market, Vientiane’s most famous monument – That Luang Stupa – and the unusual Buddha Park. A less cheerful, but highly informative stop will also be made at the excellent COPE exhibition centre, which highlights the problem of unexploded ordnance from the Vietnam War.

Overnight: Vientiane Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, L, D, 

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Day 6 - On the road - spectacular Khammoune Province

Leave Vientiane for a leisurely drive southeast to Khammouane, one of Laos’ most picturesque yet least-visited provinces. Stops along the way will include a 15th-century stupa and a lively Hmong, hill-tribe market! Afternoon arrival at our night’s riverside accommodation in remote Hin Boun set among dramatic limestone scenery.

Overnight: Hin Boun Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, L, D, 

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Day 7 - Hin Boun - boat journey along an underground river

Departure by boat for an exploration of the incredible Konglor Cave. A 7-km long underground river running through the cavern is the only access to a hidden valley in the mountain’s interior. We’ll travel through the cave by boat for a short hike through the farmland and villages of this highly unusual feature before completing our day with a transfer to the nearby French-era river port of Thakaek, in time for sunset on the waterfront.

Overnight: Thakaek Transport: Minibus, Boat, Walk,  Meals: B, L, 

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Day 8 - Thakaek - hike through jungle and caves

A fascinating trip through the area’s awe-inspiring limestone landscape. The morning will include a hike where our guide will introduce you to traditional forest food and medicines collected by the local inhabitants; a walk around the serene Nong Thao Lake to discover local fishing techniques, stopping in rarely visited villages; and a visit to a secret 300-year-old cave temple.

Overnight: Thakaek Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, L, 

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Day 9 - Pakse - drive from Thakaek and afternoon at leisure

Continue south along the Mekong Valley to another old river port, Pakse. Lunchtime arrival with the afternoon at leisure to explore the local markets and temples, try out a traditional Lao-style spa, or just relax and take in the views from the hotel’s roof-top cafe?

Overnight: Pakse Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, D, 

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Day 10 - Boloven Plateau - coffee plantations and waterfalls

Tour some of the sites of the Boloven Plateau, home to numerous ethnic minorities and the centre of Lao’s coffee-growing industry.  The day will include a visit to one of the area’s coffee plantations, a fascinating local market, and a chance to bathe in the spectacular Tad Yeuang Falls.

Overnight: Pakse Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, L, 

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Day 11 - Champassak - down the Mekong to Wat Phu

Back on to the Mekong for a boat trip south to the charming little town of Champassak. A stroll to discover the numerous well-preserved French villas before an afternoon visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Wat Phu – a pre-Angkor, Khmer temple dramatically situated on a mountainside overlooking the valley of the Mekong.

Overnight: Champassak Transport: Boat, Walk,  Meals: B, L, D, 

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Day 12 - Don Khong - on to the 4,000 Islands

Morning departure on the Mekong Ferry for a visit to the atmospheric jungle ruins of Angkor-period Wat Tomo. From here we continue south to the 4,000 Islands for a stay at a superbly situated, riverside resort on Khong Island.

Overnight: Don Khong Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, L, 

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Day 13 - The 4,000 Islands - by boat to Don Khone

After a morning tour of some of the sites of Khong Island, we continue by boat through the 4,000 Islands – a stretch of the Mekong of truly outstanding natural beauty straddling the Lao/Cambodian border – to our day’s destination, picturesque Don Khone.

Overnight: Khone Island Transport: Minibus, Boat,  Meals: B, 

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Day 14 - Don Khone - Khone Phapaeng Falls and dolphins

Explore some of the serene islands by tuk-tuk, on foot and boat. 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.

Overnight: Khone Island Transport: Boat, Tuk Tuk,  Meals: B, L, D, 

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Day 15 - Preah Vihear - down the Mekong into Cambodia

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 to Preah Vihear – another UNESCO-listed site – a dramatic 12th-century temple perched atop a sheer 600-metre escarpment!

Overnight: Preah Vihear Transport: Minibus, Boat,  Meals: B, D, 

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Day 16 - Siem Reap - sunrise at Preah Vihear and on to Siem Reap

Early start for sunrise at the cliff-top temple before our final leg of our journey takes us overland to Siem Reap in western Cambodia – site of the famous Angkor temples – with an afternoon at leisure before a farewell, Khmer-style dinner.

Overnight: Siem Reap Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, D, 

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Day 17 - Siem Reap - end of tour

At leisure, relax by the pool or grab some last-minute shopping, and departure at your convenience.

Airport transfers are included if you purchase the ‘with flights’ package. If you purchased your own flights, airport transfers can be arranged.

Extra nights in Luang Prabang or Siem Reap after your tour are available on request.

Overnight: Departure Transport: Walk,  Meals: B, 

Print Itinerary

Details

The nitty-gritty, the things you need to know, the answers to your burning questions.

Thailand and Laos tour, village scene

Just a few of the many highlights

From Laos' beautifully preserved Luang Prabang and the Plain of Jars, we'll follow the Mekong south through the spectacular scenery of Hin Boun and the 4,000 Islands to the World Heritage sites of Wat Phu and Preah Vihear

  • Explore the ancient temples, colonial architecture, narrow lanes & bustling markets of World Heritage Luang Prabang
  • Visit the mysterious Plain of Jars archeological site in Northeastern Laos
  • Visit the awesome Khone Phapaeng Falls - little known, yet one of the largest waterfalls (in volume) on the planet
  • An exciting boat journey up the underground river of Konglor Cave followed by a trek through the hidden valley
  • Discover the Mekong's picturesque 4,000 Islands region in the far south of Laos
  • ...and last but not least, sample the sumptuous, varied and contrasting local cuisines of Laos and Cambodia

Air Departures (UK)

  • 22 December 18 3,200 GBP
  • 16 January 19 3,000 GBP
  • 12 February 19 3,000 GBP
  • 11 March 19 3,000 GBP
  • 7 April 19 3,000 GBP
  • 4 May 19 3,000 GBP
  • 31 May 19 3,000 GBP
  • 27 June 19 3,000 GBP
  • 24 July 19 3,100 GBP
  • 12 August 19 3,100 GBP
  • 1 September 19 3,000 GBP
  • 9 October 19 3,000 GBP
  • 1 November 19 3,000 GBP
  • 24 November 19 3,000 GBP
  • 22 December 19 3,200 GBP

Land Departures

  • 23 December 18 2,000 GBP
  • 17 January 19 2,000 GBP
  • 13 February 19 2,000 GBP
  • 12 March 19 2,000 GBP
  • 8 April 19 2,000 GBP
  • 5 May 19 2,000 GBP
  • 1 June 19 2,000 GBP
  • 28 June 19 2,000 GBP
  • 25 July 19 2,000 GBP
  • 13 August 19 2,000 GBP
  • 2 September 19 2,000 GBP
  • 10 October 19 2,000 GBP
  • 2 November 19 2,000 GBP
  • 25 November 19 2,000 GBP
  • 23 December 19 2,000 GBP

Guaranteed Places Left Special Price Solo Traveller Closed

*Air departures are from the UK. Land departures start from Luang Prabang

*Land departure dates correspond to the FIRST day of the itinerary.

We choose our hotels based on a combination of location, comfort and convenience. Here is a *selection of the types of hotel/rooms you can expect to stay at on this tour...

Villa Chitdara, Luang Prabang view

  • 'French colonial' chic at Luang Prabang's Villa Chitdara
  • Friendly staff, a relaxed atmosphere and central location
  • Great spot for exploring the old World Heritage town

Sengtawan Riverside Hotel, Vientiane view

  • Central but quiet location in Vientiane
  • Scenic riverside setting overlooking the Mekong
  • Great rooftop bar and restaurant

Spring River Resort, Hin Boun

  • Spectacular garden setting overlooked by limestone cliffs
  • Comfortable, traditional-style wooden chalets
  • Located on the banks of the picturesque Hin Boun River

Inthira Hotel, Thakaek view

  • The hotel is set in a renovated colonial period house
  • Central location in Thakaek Town close to the waterfront
  • Excellent in-house bar and restaurant

Pakse Hotel, Pakse view

  • Splendid views from the hotel's rooftop bar and restaurant
  • Sip a cold one as you watch the sun set over the Mekong
  • Central but quiet location in the old port town

Seng Ahloune Resort, 4,000 Islands

  • Scenic riverside location
  • Located on Khone Island in Sth Laos's scenic '4,000 Islands'
  • Traditional style wooden chalets

City River Hotel, Siem Reap view

  • City River is out first choice in Cambodia's Siem Reap.
  • Rooftop pool; spa, riverside location, super friendly staff
  • Only a 5 minute walk from the bustling Old Market district

*This list should be considered a guide only, hotels/rooms may change (without notice) depending on availability.

Visa Info & Notes

Laos: visas are available on arrival at Luang Prabang International Airport for between $30 & $42 depending upon nationality

Cambodia: No visa in advance is required. A 30-day visa is issued on arrival at the Cambodian border on day 16. (Approx. $33 plus a passport photo)

Further info: more details and photos of our Mekong Adventure tour or check our suggested reading and viewing list here.

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