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Northern Laos

Explore wonderful Luang Prabang, ancient capital and UNESCO World Heritage Site, before travelling through the mountains to the mysterious Plain of Jars and on to the present day capital, Vientiane

Luang Prabang and the Plain of Jars

Our Northern Laos tour, Luang Prabang and the Plain of Jars, is 1-week exploration of some of the fabulous historical, cultural and scenic highlights of northern Laos.  It includes the ancient capital,  Luang Prabang, now UNESCO World Heritage Site, where we’ll explore the beautiful old temples and French, colonial architecture of what is acknowledged to be the best-preserved city in Southeast Asia. From there we’ll head southeast on an overland journey through the scenic central highlands, with stops at traditional villages and local markets, to the remote, fascinating and mysterious Plain of Jars.

Our tour of the site also includes a visit to MAG, (the Mines Advisory Group), to see how they are tackling the problem of unexploded ordinance left over from the extensive US bombing of Laos – in particular, the Plain of Jars region – during the Indochina war.

From here a domestic flight takes us down to the laid-back, present-day capital of Vientiane with its scenic location on the banks of the Mekong River.

This 1-week tour is designed as a stand-alone northern Laos tour but can also be extended into rarely visited central and southern Laos on our Mekong Adventure or alternatively with a flight from Vientiane to Phnom Penh for our 2-week Indochina Adventure.

 

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 Mekong boat cruise

Arrival in Luang Prabang.  Time to relax before an afternoon boat trip up the picturesque Mekong River. Visit the village of Ban Muang Keo for a short trek to reach the mysterious Pak Ou Caves, crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes left by pilgrims. Return to Luang Prabang for sunset at Phu Si Hill and a chance to sample some local specialities in a riverside restaurant.

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

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

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Day 2 - Luang Prabang - city walking tour

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 and former king’s palace, Wat Xiengthong and Phu Si Hill Temple. Afternoon at leisure to wander the quiet, picturesque lanes or check out the hill-tribe handicraft market?

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

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Day 3 - Luang Prabang - into the surrounding countryside

Day trip through the surrounding hills to visit the spectacular turquoise Kuang Si Waterfalls. We’ll also visit the nearby Free the Bears site while stops en-route offer the opportunity to discover the fascinating and traditional village life of some of the locals.

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

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Day 4 - Central Highlands - Luang Prabang to Phonsavan

Early departure for a drive along scenic mountain roads to Phonsavan 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. Late afternoon arrival and an atmospheric dusk visit to one of the famous jar sites.

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

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Day 5 - Plain of Jars - morning tour and transfer to Vientiane

Head out to the picturesque Jar Site 2, and begin our hike along the ridge to the impressive hill-top Jar Site 3, consisting of around 150 jars. 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 riverside cafe?

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

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Day 6 - Vientiane - tour of some of the City's sights

Tour of some 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, as well as the surreal Buddha Park. Less cheerful, but we feel important and highly informative, is a stop at the excellent  COPE visitors centre, established to highlight a major problem locals face daily in the form of unexploded ordnance from the Vietnam War.

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

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Day 7 - Vientiane and departure

Morning at leisure in Vientiane before departure. Note that airport transfers are included if you purchase the ‘with flights’ package. If you obtained your own flights, airport transfers can be arranged if necessary.

Extra nights in Luang Prabang before your tour or in Vientiane afterwards 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.

Laos, Mekong sunset

Just a few of the many highlights

Discover ancient Luang Prabang, nestled in the hills of northern Laos overlooking the Mekong and the remote archeological site of the Plain of Jars before travelling south to the present-day capital, Vientiane

  • Travel by boat to the spectacular, ancient cave temples at scenic Pak Ou on the banks of the Mekong River
  • Discover the serene landscapes, traditional villages and picturesque Kuang Si Falls near Luang Prabang
  • Explore the ancient temples, colonial architecture, narrow lanes and bustling markets of UNESCO World Heritage Luang Prabang
  • Tour the modern, riverside capital of Laos, Vientiane, with it's colourful markets, picturesque temples and waterside cafes
  • Visit Phonsavan and the mysterious Plain of Jars archeological site in Northeastern Laos
  • Last but not least, sample the justifiably reknowned local Lao cuisine in restaurants, street stalls and local markets

Air Departures (UK)

  • 21 December 18 1,950 GBP
  • 15 January 19 1,750 GBP
  • 11 February 19 1,750 GBP
  • 10 March 19 1,750 GBP
  • 6 April 19 1,750 GBP
  • 19 April 19 1,850 GBP
  • 3 May 19 1,750 GBP
  • 30 May 19 1,750 GBP
  • 26 June 19 1,750 GBP
  • 23 July 19 1,850 GBP
  • 11 August 19 1,850 GBP
  • 31 August 19 1,750 GBP
  • 8 October 19 1,750 GBP
  • 31 October 19 1,750 GBP
  • 23 November 19 1,750 GBP
  • 21 December 19 1,950 GBP

Land Departures

  • 22 December 18 850 GBP
  • 16 January 19 850 GBP
  • 12 February 19 850 GBP
  • 11 March 19 850 GBP
  • 7 April 19 850 GBP
  • 20 April 19 850 GBP
  • 4 May 19 850 GBP
  • 31 May 19 850 GBP
  • 27 June 19 850 GBP
  • 24 July 19 850 GBP
  • 12 August 19 850 GBP
  • 1 September 19 850 GBP
  • 9 October 19 850 GBP
  • 1 November 19 850 GBP
  • 24 November 19 850 GBP
  • 22 December 19 850 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

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

Visa Info & Notes

Visa requirements: A 30-day visa can be obtained upon your arrival in Luang Prabang Airport (Approx. $35).

Further info: Click here for more details and photos of our Laos tour, or here for our suggested reading and viewing list here.

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