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Self-guided Laos Tour

From World Heritage Luang Prabang to the Karst Landscapes of Vang Vieng

Luang Prabang to Vientiane

This 10-day self-guided Laos tour includes some of the highlights of the northern reaches of this rather remote and still little-known Indochinese nation. After a few days discovering the ancient temples, local markets and well-preserved old French architecture of World Heritage-listed Luang Prabang you’ll head overland into the rugged mountains of Lao’s Central Highlands. Your next stop will be the spectacular karst setting of Vang Vieng Town and a stay in chalets at a small garden resort close to the Song River.

Explore the region’s famous limestone cave systems, boat or kayak down the scenic Song River and discover the fantastic landscapes on foot or by bicycle. From Vang Vieng, you’ll continue by way of the picturesque Nam Ngum Lake, south to the present-day capital Vientiane. A couple of days checking out some of the varied sites of this laid-back Mekong-side town completes your tour.

Highlights include a stay in a delightful converted French villa, a walking tour of the former capital Luang Prabang and side trips to the stunning Kuang Si Falls and famous Pak Ou Cave Temples while Vientiane visits could include the unusual ‘Buddha Park’, the sobering but fascinating COPE Centre, beautiful Wat Si Saket and haggling for handicrafts in the colourful Morning Market. Last but not least, don’t miss Luang Prabang’s well-placed riverbank cafes and Vientiane’s vibrant street food scene.

Our recommended accommodation and door to door private transfers are arranged for you while you’ll also receive a professionally compiled PDF mini-guide with details and info on our suggestions for additional activities as well as recommended local cafes and restaurants. Note all suggested activities can either be booked in advance, arranged with our on the ground contacts or reserved by your hotel reception.

This self-guided Laos tour is ideal for couples, smaller groups and families and both departure dates and itinerary details are entirely flexible. Note, this tour is offered as ‘land only’, from Luang Prabang to Vientiane, or inclusive of return flights from the UK while for those with a few more days to spare why not arrive in style with our 2-day Mekong cruise from Thailand’s Chiang Rai?

Laos

Itinerary

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

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Day 1 - Arrival in Luang Prabang

Arrival in Luang Prabang and check-in to our centrally located boutique style accommodation in a charming, converted French period villa. We’d suggest stretching your legs with an orientation stroll of the area. Perhaps take in the nearby Hmong handicraft market before sundowners in a riverbank cafe, a briefing with our local All Points East guide and local-style welcome dinner.

Overnight: Luang Prabang Meals: D, 

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Day 2 - Luang Prabang - walking tour of the World Heritage town

Plenty to see in a day exploring this beautifully-preserved UNESCO-listed town; ancient temples, colourful markets, the former Royal Palace (now excellent museum) plus checking out the river scenes from a local cafe. We’ll list our personal favourites for you including addresses where you can sample some of the town’s renowned culinary specialities.

Overnight: Luang Prabang Meals: B, 

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Day 3 - Around Luang Prabang

Again, there are plenty of interesting options outside of town with perhaps the ‘must-sees’ being the picturesque Kuang Si Falls and a boat trip up the river to the Pak Ou Cave Temples. An early start – there are fewer visitors around – for the Falls and adjacent Save the Bears project should see you back in town for lunch and a leisurely afternoon boat trip up the Mekong.

Overnight: Luang Prabang Meals: B, 

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Day 4 - Overland through the highlands

Departure overland through spectacular mountain scenery. Various stops on route include viewpoints, a roadside market and lunch break with a mid-afternoon ETA in Vang Vieng. Our choice for accommodation are delightful garden chalets with a spectacular mountain backdrop.

Overnight: Vang Vieng Transport: Minibus,  Meals: B, 

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Day 5 - Vang Vieng - explore the area

A wealth of options in picturesque Vang Vieng so we’ve allowed 2 full days to explore the karst scenery, cave systems and local villages by bicycle, boat and on foot. As usual, we’ll proffer our recommendations and suggestions which you can book in advance, have a word with our guide, or just play by ear.

Overnight: Vang Vieng Meals: B, 

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Day 6 - Vang Vieng - explore the area

Another day in your garden chalets in the spectacular surrounds of Vang Vieng.

Overnight: Vang Vieng Meals: B, 

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Day 7 - South to Vientiane

A leisurely morning before a drive south to the Vientiane. A fishing village on the shores of Nam Ngum Lake makes for an excellent lunch break with an afternoon arrival in the laid-back, Mekong-side capital with perhaps a sunset stroll along the promenade for sundowners and time to select one of the myriad riverbank barbeques?

Overnight: Vientiane Transport: Minibus,  Meals: B, 

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Day 8 - Exploring Vientiane

Lao’s small capital still manages to squeeze in plenty of varied and interesting sites so, for your 2 days in town, we’d suggest setting aside the first for some of the in-town spots and the second for the surrounding area. Included in the former; the iconic That Luang Temple, Patuxai Monument, Wat Si Saket with its thousand Buddhas, the bustling Morning Market and, last but not least, grazing in the street food market.

Overnight: Vientiane Meals: B, 

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Day 9 - Vientiane

We did make quite a number of suggestions for the previous day so, perhaps, after a morning catching up on the sites you didn’t have time to fit in we’d recommend grabbing a tuk-tuk or taxi for an afternoon trip out to unusual Xieng Khuan, better known as ‘Buddha Park’. A stop on the way at the excellent COPE Centre rounds off an excellent afternoon.

Overnight: Vientiane Meals: B, 

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Day 10 - Vientiane and end of tour

Leisurely morning, midday check out and departure at your convenience. Note that airport transfers and or extra accommodation can be arranged on request as can onward flights to Bangkok or if you have a few more days to spare, how about a few days relaxing on a tropical Thai island?

Meals: B, 

Print Itinerary

Details

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

Laos, Wat Saket, Vientiane

Just a few of the many highlights

  • All your Lao accommodation and travel selected and reserved in advance
  • Discover the spectacular karst scenery, mountains, caves and villages of Vang Vieng
  • Sample the bustling local markets, well-placed local cafes and sumptuous local specialities
  • Explore ancient temples, colonial architecture and narrow lanes of World Heritage Luang Prabang
  • Check out the many and varied sights of the Mekong-side capital, Vientiane
  • Recommended optional activities that you can book in advance or on the ground

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

Chanthapanya Hotel Vientiane view

  • Well-appointed rooms with pool, restaurant, bar and gym
  • Great location, a short walk from town centre and riverside
  • Centrally located yet quiet position

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

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