A fascinating journey, overland and down river, following the Mekong through southern Laos and northern Cambodia
Off-the-beaten-track Laos tour
A 2-week Laos tour following the mighty Mekong by boat and by road from the riverside capital Vientiane all the way through rarely-visited central and southern Laos to the town of Siem Reap in northwestern Cambodia,
The lesser-known south hides some of Laos’s – and indeed Southeast Asia’s – most sublime scenery including the awe-inspiring Tolkien-esque mountain scenery of Hin Boun, where we’ll travel up an underground river to visit a hidden valley, the plantations and waterfalls of the Boloven Platea, bucolic landscapes of the 4,000 Islands and last but not least the majestic Khone Phapaeng Falls on the Lao/Cambodian border. (One of the world’s largest yet least-known falls.)
The tour also includes the charming French-period river ports of Thakaek and Pakse as well as the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Wat Phu – a pre-Angkor Khmer temple spectacularly situated on a hillside overlooking the Mekong and Cambodia’s awe-inspiring Preah Vihear Temple, perched on the edge of a sheer 600-metre cliff!
Our tour finishes in Siem Reap so for anyone with a few more days to spare you can add on a 3rd World Heritage site and visit, ( or even re-visit) the ruined jungle cities and vast temples of Angkor.
An unforgettable journey by land and river through some of the most spectacular, but little-known, scenery that Southeast Asia has to offer.
Here's an idea of what you can expect to do and see day-to-day.
Day 1 - Vientiane - arrival and Mekong sunset
Morning arrival in Vientiane and an afternoon at leisure in the Lao capital. Explore the local markets, stretch your legs with a stroll along the Mekong waterfront or just sit back on a riverbank cafe and watch the world go by. An evening welcome dinner introduces you to the little-known but tasty cuisine in a local-style restaurant.
Airport transfers are included if you purchase the 'with flights' package otherwise transfers can be arranged.
Overnight: Vientiane Transport: Walk, Meals: D,
Day 2 - Vientiane - tour of the city sights
Day tour of some of the city’s fascinating sites including Si Saket Temple with its 1,000 Buddha images, the bustling morning market, Vientiane’s most famous monument – the That Luang Stupa – as well as the unusual Buddha Park. A less cheerful, but highly informative stop, will be made at the excellent COPE exhibition centre, highlighting a problem the local people face daily in the form of unexploded ordnance due to heavy bombing during the Vietnam War.
Overnight: Vientiane Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B, L, D,
Day 3 - On the road - to spectacular Khammoune Province
Leave Vientiane for a leisurely drive southeast to Khammoune, one of Laos’ most picturesque, yet least visited provinces. Stops along the way will include a 15th-century stupa and a traditional-style hill-tribe market. Afternoon arrival at Hin Boun, a remote village set among dramatic limestone scenery for our night’s accommodation in a charming riverside eco-resort.
Overnight: Hin Boun Transport: Minibus, Meals: B, L, D,
Day 4 - Hin Boun - boat journey along an underground river
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 leaving the cave we’ll hike through the hidden valley on the far side before completing our day with a transfer to the cute old French-era river port of Thakaek, in time for sunset on the waterfront.
Overnight: Thakaek Transport: Minibus, Boat, Walk, Meals: B, L,
Day 5 - Thakaek - hike through jungle and caves
A fascinating trip through the area’s awesome limestone landscapes. The morning will include a forest hike where local guides will introduce you to traditional 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, only discovered in 2004. Afternoon return to Thakaek.
Overnight: Thakaek Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B, L,
Day 6 - Pakse - drive from Thakaek and afternoon at leisure
Continue south along the Mekong Valley to another old French period river port, Pakse. Early afternoon arrival with time at leisure to stretch your legs along the riverbank, try out a Lao style spa, or just take in the views from the hotel’s roof-top cafe?
Overnight: Pakse Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B, D,
Day 7 - Boloven Plateau - coffee plantations and waterfalls
Tour of 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,
Day 8 - Champassak - down the Mekong to Wat Phu
Back on to the Mekong for a boat trip south to the small, historic town of Champassak. Afternoon tour of 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.
Overnight: Champassak Transport: Boat, Walk, Tuk Tuk, Meals: B, L, D,
Day 9 - Continue south to the 4,000 Islands
Morning departure by Mekong ferry for a visit to another Angkor period site – the small but atmospheric jungle temple of Wat Tomo. From here we’ll continue south to the 4,000 Islands and Don Khong for an overnight stay at a superbly situated riverside resort.
Overnight: Khong Island Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B, L,
Day 10 - The 4,000 Islands - boat journey through the archipelago
Early morning visit to a lively and very traditional local market followed by a tour around the island. From here we’ll continue south 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 the picturesque Khone Island
Overnight: Khone Island Transport: Minibus, Boat, Walk, Meals: B,
Day 11 - Don Khone - Khone Phapaeng Falls and dolphins
Explore some of the islands on foot and by boat or kayak; visit Asia’s (and one of the world’s) largest waterfalls – the stunning Khonephapeng 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: Minibus, Boat, Walk, Meals: B, L, D,
Day 12 - The Mekong - by boat into northern 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 district and stay overnight at a chalet-style resort at the foot of the Dandrek Mountains.
Overnight: Preah Vihear Transport: Minibus, Boat, Meals: B, D,
Day 13 - Preah Vihear - sunrise visit to the World Heritage Temple
Sunrise visit to this spectacular World Heritage site – a 12th-century Angkor temple perched on the edge of a 600-metre sheer cliff! Morning transfer to Siem Reap with the afternoon at leisure to check-out the spa and pool or maybe some last-minute shopping in the market before an evening farewell, Khmer-style dinner.
Overnight: Siem Reap Transport: Minibus, Meals: B, D,
Day 14 - Siem Reap - morning at leisure and end of tour
Morning at leisure, relax by the pool or grab some last-minute shopping, and departure to Siem Reap International Airport at your convenience
Extra nights in Vientiane or Siem Reap before or after your tour are available on request.
Airport transfers are included if you purchase the 'with flights' package. If you purchased your own flights, airport transfers can be arranged.
Overnight: Departure Transport: Walk, Meals: B,
The nitty-gritty, the things you need to know, the answers to your burning questions.
Just a few of the many highlights
Travel up an underground river and hike through Hin Boun's incredible karst landscape, explore the Boloven Plateau, discover one of the world's greatest waterfalls and visit the UNESCO sites of Wat Phu and Preah Vihear
- Visit the sights of Vientiane, Laos’s laid-back, friendly capital lining the banks of the mighty Mekong River
- Explore rarely visited Khammouane Province of Central Laos with the incredible limestone scenery of Hin Boun
- Sunrise at the awe-inspiring, cliff-top Cambodian World Heritage site of Preah Vihear
- Follow the Mekong and travel by road and by boat through southern Laos and northern Cambodia
- Visit the spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Site of Wat Phu, an Angkor period temple, overlooking the Mekong Valley
- Meet the exceptionally friendly and welcoming local people and, last but not least, sample the sumptuous and varied local cuisine
Air Departures (UK)
- 25 December 18 2,675 GBP
- 19 January 19 2,475 GBP
- 14 March 19 2,475 GBP
- 10 April 19 2,475 GBP
- 7 May 19 2,475 GBP
- 3 June 19 2,475 GBP
- 30 June 19 2,475 GBP
- 27 July 19 2,575 GBP
- 15 August 19 2,575 GBP
- 4 September 19 2,475 GBP
- 12 October 19 2,475 GBP
- 4 November 19 2,475 GBP
- 27 November 19 2,475 GBP
- 26 December 19 2,675 GBP
- 26 December 18 1,625 GBP
- 20 January 19 1,625 GBP
- 15 March 19 1,625 GBP
- 11 April 19 1,625 GBP
- 8 May 19 1,625 GBP
- 4 June 19 1,625 GBP
- 1 July 19 1,625 GBP
- 28 July 19 1,625 GBP
- 16 August 19 1,625 GBP
- 5 September 19 1,625 GBP
- 13 October 19 1,625 GBP
- 5 November 19 1,625 GBP
- 28 November 19 1,625 GBP
- 27 December 19 1,625 GBP
Guaranteed Places Left Special Price Solo Traveller Closed
*Air departures are from the UK. Land departures start from Vientiane
*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...
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 Vientiane 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 12. (Approx. $33 plus a passport photo)
Holidays should never end, stay a little longer. These extensions go well with this tour...
Here is what out guest have to say about their experience on this tour...
" The tour exceeded my expectation, we saw amazing parts of the country off the usual tourist trail with packed days at a doable pace that allowed the tour group to dwell on the points of interest to them. I truly think that this is the best tour I have been on, not just because of the amazing country and their people but because of the management and tour approach. I would recommend it as a must-do if you love Asia. "
Colin and Jenny
" Every day was something different, we walked through the jungle, explored caves and sailed in wooden boats. 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. "
Kay & Michael
" The logistics were amazing – we were always met and everything ran smoothly. Some of the hotels were out of this world. We had some brilliant experiences and although there was a lot of travelling, we so enjoyed watching life from the window of the minibus. We loved meeting the people of Laos who were so friendly, and the guides very helpful. Thank you for a great experience. "