Laos

Laos Highlights

Laos is a huge and varied country, with dramatic mountainous scenery in the north and beautiful peaceful river landscapes in the south. There are golden temples, remote hill tribe villages, endless paddy fields and some beautiful (if crumbling) colonial towns. This trip explores the best of the country, including the highlights of the north as well as some less well-known gems in the south.

Highlights

  Explore beautiful Luang Prabang
  Swim in waterfalls
  Take a boat up the Mekong
  Visit remote hill tribes
  Relax at the 4,000 Islands

14 days from £1,500 pp

Plus international flights from £750

A two-week holiday in Laos for a family of four usually costs from £6,000 to £8,500 plus flights, depending on type of accommodation.

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Laos Highlights day-to-day itinerary

Day 1 Luang Prabang
When you arrive in Luang Prabang you will be met by a Stubborn Mule representative and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax.

In the evening perhaps visit the lively night market that stretches along the main street of Luang Prabang.


Day 2 Luang Prabang
Today enjoy a tour of Luang Prabang, one of South East Asia’s loveliest cities and the ancient capital of Laos. You will visit the Royal Palace Museum which gives a great overview of local history and is also home to a number of beautiful wats (temples). From here take a quiet walk through the back streets to a beautiful heritage house where you can stop for an iced tea in the gardens. Later visit two of Luang Prabang’s most beautiful temples before returning to your hotel for some time to relax.

In the late afternoon your guide will meet you again for a walking tour of the town as dusk settles. The children will enjoy challenging the guide to a game of ‘petanque’ (boules), which is very popular amongst the locals. 


Day 3 Luang Prabang
Great fun this morning, as you make your way into the countryside to a community run enterprise where the villagers will show you in a very hands on manner how rice is grown. Depending on the time of year, you may find yourselves knee deep in mud, ploughing the paddy fields with the village water buffalo!

Later continue to beautiful Kuang Si waterfalls where you will enjoy a picnic lunch and can cool off with a refreshing swim in the turquoise pool or walk along the forest trails.


Day 4 Luang Prabang
After breakfast, visit an elephant sanctuary in the countryside outside Luang Prabang. You will spend the morning here learning about the elephants and spending time helping to bathe them in the river. This is always an absolute highlight for the children, as is the chance to then walk with the elephants through the rice paddies and creeks.

After a delicious local lunch, return to your hotel for a relaxing afternoon. This evening perhaps take a wander along the riverfront and stop for dinner in one of the many restaurants overlooking the water.


Day 5 Luang Prabang – Nong Khiaw
After breakfast board a private boat for a cruise up the Mekong River to the mysterious caves of Pak Ou. These are set in a limestone cliff facing the river and are crammed with thousands Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes.

Once you have looked around you will continue by vehicle to Nong Khiaw, an attractive small town in a dramatic location on the edge of the river.

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Day 6 Nong Khiaw
Take a local boat upstream on the Nam Ou River to a small hill-tribe village. You will have the chance to look around the village before taking a 3 hour hike into the surrounding hills, passing a number of waterfalls en route. At lunchtime you will reach the summit for one of the best views in Laos. Enjoy a delicious Lao style picnic lunch, served on banana leaves, before hiking back down to the river for a boat back to your hotel.


Day 7 Nong Khiaw – Muang La
Travelling again by boat (one of the main forms of transportation in this remote area), you will cruise up the Nam Ou River to Muang Kua. This stretch of river is particularly picturesque, passing through stunning limestone scenery and past remote villages, many of which can only be reached by boat. After around 2 hours you will disembark to take a tuk tuk ride around a dam before continuing again on the river to Muang Ka. From here you will drive through more spectacular scenery to Muang La where you will spend two nights.


Day 8 Muang La
A wonderful day today as you head out into the countryside around Muang La. The landscape here is incredibly beautiful and you will spend the morning exploring on foot, following a quiet mountain trail with views over terraced rice fields and small villages. Chat to the villagers and find out how they cultivate their lands and fish in the mountain streams.

You will stop in a small village for a traditional lunch before continuing to some nearby waterfalls where you can swim.


Day 9 Muang La – Vientiane
After a leisurely breakfast, it’s a relatively short drive to Oudomxay where you will take a flight to Vientiane, Laos’ capital. On arrival you will be met by a guide and transferred to your hotel.

There is time to relax in the afternoon before you head out at dusk by tuk tuk to the night market. This is a firm favourite amongst locals with few tourists to be seen and your guide will explain all about the different foods. Sample some tasty dishes and then sit down to a traditional Lao style BBQ.


Day 10 Vientiane
A full day to explore the city with a guide. You’ll visit Wat Sisaket with thousands of miniature Buddha statues and the former royal temple of Wat Prakeo which is now a museum. Climb up Patuxai monument (a homage to the Arc de Triomphe) for great views over the city and visit That Luang, Laos’ most important religious building.

In the afternoon explore the COPE exhibition centre, which has a fascinating (if horrifying) exhibition about the problems caused by unexploded ordnance dating back to the Vietnam War era. The kids will also enjoy the Buddha Park, a slightly extraordinary but enjoyable collection of sculptures on the banks of the Mekong River. There are Buddhist and Hindu sculptures as well as a giant pumpkin and other more unusual works of art!


Day 11 Vientiane – Champasak – 4,000 Islands
This morning you will be transferred to the airport for a flight south to Pakse. On arrival, drive south to Champasak for a guided tour of Wat Phou. The Khmer ruins here are reminiscent of those at Angkor Wat in Cambodia albeit on a smaller scale. They date back over 1,500 years and are in a dramatically beautiful setting on the edge of the Mekong, backed by forested mountains. The children will enjoy exploring at will, particularly around some of the less well-restored areas. In the meantime the adults can prop in the shade at a small drink stands and soak up the view.

From here continue to the 4,000 Islands, taking a boat to Don Daeng Island for three nights.


Day 12 4,000 Islands
A day to relax and enjoy your resort.

In the late afternoon, take a private cruise on the Mekong, enjoying sundowner drinks and snacks whilst the sun sets over the river.


Day 13 4,000 Islands
After an early breakfast, take a boat to the biggest of the 4,000 islands, Don Khong. You will spend the day exploring the region, cycling across the island past temples and rice fields, popping onto local ferries to cross to other islands, visiting friendly villages and stopping with a family for a delicious home cooked lunch. The landscape here is beautiful and as it is very flat, it is perfect for a family bike ride. (Those with younger children can explore on foot and by boat).


Day 14 4,000 Islands – Vientiane
This morning transfer back to Pakse airport for a flight to Vientiane to connect with your flight home. Alternatively, there are also direct flights to Siem Reap in Cambodia (the home of the Angkor Temples) if you would like to add this to your travels!

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