Tiger Trail - We are Laos

16 Days | explore history, culture, and natural beauty

Overview

TOURCODE 63190 (16-LOL) Description

This tour stretches from the south, where the Mekong River broadens to its widest, through the central regions of Laos, to the northern province of Luang Prabang. You’ll explore ancient ruins, the 4000 Islands, beautiful waterfalls on the Bolaven Plateau, enchanting caves, the Plain of Jars, Lao-style markets, and so much more on this full-featured journey.

Itinerary

Highlights

  • Visit ancient Wat Phou
  • Explore 4000 Islands by boat, visitng the Li Phi Waterfall, and the French railroad ruins
  • Relax or be active on Don Khone Island / Khone Phapheng Falls
  • Stay on the cooler Bolaven Plateau in Coffee Farm Homestay
  • Cool down at the Tad Lo, Tad Fane and Tad Nyuang waterfalls
  • Tour Sikhottabong stupa and “The Giant Wall of Laos” (Kamphaeng Nyak)
  • Boatrip on the Hinboun River
  • See the 7.5 km long Khong Lor Cave by boat
  • Shop at the Phonsavanh local market
  • Contemplate the mystery of the Plain of Jars and Muang Khoun
  • Marvel at the stupa tower of That Foun built in 1576
  • Tour the Morning Market, Wat Mai, the National Museum, and Phou Si hill in Luang Prabang
  • Be a Potter for half a day ( Ban Chan Pottery Village) and cruise up the Mekong to Pak Ou caves
  • Meet Khmu and Hmong ethnic villagers on a jungle trek to Kuang Si waterfall

Daily Itinerary

Day 01: Pakse to Champasak - Don Khong  (L)

After early arrival in Pakse, you'll be transferred to Champasak to visit the Khmer temple ruins of Wat Phou, which date to the 11th century and are situated near the Mekong River at the base of Mount Phu Kao. There was a temple on the site as early as the 5th century but the surviving ruins date from the 11th to 13th centuries.
After lunch we head southwards to Don Khong Island for the night.

Day 02: 4000 Islands – Don Khone (B)

We’ll take a boat to explore the 4000 Islands (Si Pan Don). Here, the Mekong River stretches to its widest point, up to 12 km wide during the rainy season. When the water recedes, many small islands are exposed, giving the region its name.

From a distance you'll hear the sound of the Li Phi Falls, a destination later in the day. A rare few Irrawaddy freshwater dolphins live in the vicinity of the falls, and Ban Hang Khon is one of the few places on earth where you can observe these endangered mammals (optional / most likely extinct on Lao side).  We’ll stop to visit the old locomotive and railroad bridge, built by the French in order to circumvent the rapids and waterfalls that make this part of the Mekong impassable. You'll spend the night on Done Khone.

Day 03: 4000 Islands – Khone Phapheng - Bolaven Plateau (B)

Morning departure by boat and back on the mainland, we'll head to the largest waterfall in Southeast Asia, Khone Phapheng before driving further north to Pakse and the Bolaven Plateau, home of many waterfalls, coffee & tea plantations where we stop.
Overnight on Bolaven Plateau 

Day 04: Bolaven Plateau / Jeep Tour & Homestay (B/L/D)

Drive to Ban Beng, a small town nestled right in the heart of the Bolaven Plateau.
Meet Mr Khamsone – local tour guide, hop on his jeep car to take a jeep tour along a rustic trail that passes through local bush and rolling farmland (including lettuce, ginger, cabbage...) on the way to Tad Moun cascade. On arrival, free at leisure at the waterfall.

The Bolaven Plateau is an elevated region which extends over Champasak, Salavan, Xekong and Attapeu Provinces in southern Laos. Located between the Annamite Mountain Range, the region’s temperate climate makes it a coffee grower’s paradise, and its superb waterfalls and numerous small villages are sure to enchant. The plateau derives its name from the Laven ethnic group, which has historically dominated the region.
Hike further toward Mr Khamsone’s farm named MMC ( Mystic Mountain Coffee ) crossing glorious vegetation, and plantations. Arrive at his farm around 12h:30 pm and enjoy a local specialties lunch. Settle in his homestay.
In the afternoon, visit his coffee plantation to learn more about the production process.
A young coffee tree is productive three to four years after planting. The shrub can then live for many decades. The crown is folded down to avoid excessive height development. When fruits reach maturity (six to eight months after flowering for arabica - nine to eleven months for robusta) the coffee harvest can begin. Two methods are used, picking or destemming. Then come the processes of drying, and roasting, this one developing the aroma and the final color of the coffee.
Then continue trekking to the mountain Phoukatouk.
Late afternoon, get back to the homestay. The remainder of the evening is at leisure.

Overnight on Bolaven Plateau / Mystic Mountain Coffee Farm Homestay


Day 05: Bolaven Plateau / Mystic Mountain  – Laven & Suay village – Bamboo waterfall – Dan Xinxai  (B/L)

8.00am: After breakfast take a jeep drive to visit Laven&Suay (bamboo village)
11.00am: Continue driving to Bamboo waterfall
12.00hrs: Arrive at Bamboo waterfall and break for a picnic lunch + swimming
& relaxing time for 2hrs. (Fruits & Beverages are provided)
2.00pm: Continue trekking 1 hr to Dan Xinxai plateau and enjoy the views and photo opportunity
3.00pm: Jeep-transfer to the meeting point.

Continue to Tad Lo Waterfall by minivan for the night there.

Overnight in Tad Lo Lodge

 
Day 06: Bolaven Plateau – Savannakhet (approx. 300 km) (B)

A scenic drive from the Bolaven Plateau will return us to the Mekong, heading north to reach Savannakhet in the late afternoon. Before retiring for the night in Savannakhet, we'll have time for a stroll along the Mekong shore with the view of the Thai city of Mukdahan on the opposite bank of the Mekong River.

Day 07: Savannakhet - Thakhek (approx. 180km) (B)

A cozy ride through the countryside will provide beautiful views and an insight into rural Lao life. After arriving in Thakhek city, a charming country town with colonial architecture, you'll check into your hotel and have an opportunity for a tour to Sikhottabong Stupa and the Giant Wall.


Day 08: Thakhek - Nahin - Kong Lor (B)

We'll set out early on a cross-country minivan trip to the northern part of the provinces Khammouan and Bolikhamxay. The Phou Hin Boun nature reserve is home to many rare animals such as Assam macaques, langurs, gibbons and birds.
On the way stop at ‘The Rock Viewpoint’ for spectacular views over the limestone rock formations which the area is known for. A short walk on the passageway built over the rocks gives you an opportunity to take a closer look.
Continue to Nahin and we end the day in Ban Konglor, where we stay for the night.
Overnight in Ban Konglor

Day 09: Hinboun River - Kong Lor Cave (B)

We’ll take a boat trip on the Hinboun River passing through evergreen jungles and the Kong Lor cave system. With a little luck, we'll meet one of the rare species face to face. We'll explore the 7.5 km long Kong Lor Cave by boat; this is considered by some to be the greatest natural wonder in Laos. 
Overnight in Ban Konglor

Day 10: Ban Konglor – Phonsavan (approx. 350 km) (B)

Today we’ll embark on a long scenic day drive through Bolikhamxay province to Phonsavanh and the Plain of Jars, driving through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Laos. You'll spend the night in Phonsavanh.

Day 11: Plain of Jars Tour (B)

Your guide will take you to explore the Phonsavan local market and an exhibit displaying the huge variety of bombs used during the Indochina War on the way to visit the Plain of Jars. You'll visit sites 1, 2 & 3 within the Plain of Jars, all of which have been made safe (other areas are considered too dangerous due to remaining unexploded ordnance (UXO).

Afterward we’ll take you to explore the city of Muang Khoun, the former royal capital of the Xieng Khouang region. Though the town was heavily bombed during the war, a few colonial French buildings remain, along with several temples and the famous stupa tower of That Foun, built in 1576, and Wat Pievat. It’s said that That Foun was built over the ashes of Lord Buddha which were brought to Laos from India.  Lastly we will visit the MAG Visitor Center in downtown Phonsavanh where you can view a film further discussing the areas we visited today. You'll spend the night in Phonsavan.

Day 12: Phonsavan – Luang Prabang (B)

Leaving Xieng Khouang, we’ll take the road over the highlands to Luang Prabang.  You’ll be able to enjoy scenic views and visit one of the many Hmong villages in the region. The Hmong are an ethnic group from the mountainous regions of Lao PDR. They are also one of the sub-groups of the Miao ethnicity in southern China.
Our destination, Luang Prabang, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The royal capital and seat of government for the Kingdom of Laos until the revolution of 1975, it is situated at the confluence of the Mekong and Khan Rivers.


Day 13: Luang Prabang - Tuk Tuk City Tour (B/L)

Starting from your hotel at 8:30, we’ll drive to the Morning Market, where your guide will tell you about the common vegetables and fruits that are in season and you'll pick up some snacks for later.
After a short walk along the streets you will arrive at Wat Mai (“New Monastery,” built in 1796). It was given its present name following the restoration undertaken in 1821 by King Manthathourat. The most striking feature of the temple is the gilded relief panels covering the front facade. The panels tell the story of the highest incarnation of the Buddha - Vessentara. The gilded door frames merge into the relief panel, forming what looks like a monolithic wall of gold.  Next to Wat Mai is the National Museum, which used to be the Royal Palace (Haw Kham).
After lunch, visit Wat Xieng Thong.  This is one of the most important temples in the entire country of Laos and the most important one in Luang Prabang. To finish our trip we will climb the steps of PhouSi hill which is studded with many small temples and shrines. From here enjoy the view of the peninsula where the Nam Khan River meets the mighty Mekong River.  Overnight in Luang Prabang.


Day 14: Ban Chan Pottery Village - Pak Ou Caves  (B/L)

1/2 day Pottery House in Ban Chan Village 

Tours are divided into morning and afternoon half-day segments with both being led in English from the locals who know the village best. In addition to the pottery, we are able to offer an authentic Lao meal during your tour whether you choose a morning or afternoon time. We promise a truly Lao, laid-back experience and we hope you leave feeling like friends and family! 

Ancient Lao Pottery Making 

For over 400 years the families of our village have been making pottery. Ancient kings of Laos chose this village for their pottery making skills and it became the central way of life for the people. At first the pots were used to ferment fish and hold water but now families produce a large range of items from beautifully decorated planters to terracotta roof tiles, making them almost entirely by hand using the same techniques passed down through the centuries. We have started our company in part to help preserve this amazing history as it's slowly fading away with only six families still preserving these techniques. 

On your tour, you not only get a behind-the-scenes look at these ancient techniques but will also have an opportunity to get hands-on with the clay yourself. Our skilled pottery makers will help guide you as you experience, up close and personal, a truly Lao cultural activity. How many people can say they've made Lao pottery using ancient techniques? You will! 

Experience a Traditional Lao Village

Most Lao people live in villages. Luang Prabang, though small compared to many cities in other countries, is considered a major population center by the people in Laos. Spending all of your time in cities like this means you might miss out on some of the most extraordinary parts of Laos. 

Located just across the river from Luang Prabang, our village provides a convenient and authentic look into what most of Laos looks like. We will make sure you get to see Laos the way Lao people do! We have made sure that you will have access to modern amenities such as western restrooms and clean drinking water but we guarantee you'll walk away with a different outlook on the world! 

Eat Delicious Lao Food

One of the highlights of Laos is the wonderfully delicious Lao food cooked (as always) with lots of love. If you decide to take our half day tour we will finish up our tour with a traditional Lao food cooked by our family! All the ingredients come from local sources and if the season is right might even come from our very own organic garden (just ask!). We will make sure you get a sampling of all of Luang Prabang traditional foods like khaipan (fried river weed), grilled fish, eggplant dipping sauce, and spicy papaya salad.  We promise you that your stomach will thank us! 


Morning Itinerary 
Pick up from hotel by 08:30 
09:00-10:30: Tour village pottery center and our village while learning about traditional Lao life. 
10:30-11:40: Private demonstration of Lao pottery techniques by local families followed by a hands-on opportunity for each guest. Kids have an opportunity to paint pre-made pots!
11:45: Enjoy an authentic Lao meal made from local ingredients
13:00: Return to Luang Prabang / continue by boat upriver to the famous Pak Ou caves.

Return to Luang Prabang by van and visit the local villages of Ban Xang Hai and Ban Xang Khong, renowned for the local Lao Lao Whisky and beautiful weaving and other handicrafts.

PAK OU CAVES

One of the most respected holy sites in Lao; Pak Ou Caves have a history dating back thousands of years. Packed with over 4,000 Buddha icons, the caves, a shrine to the river spirit and Lord Buddha, are set in a dramatic limestone cliff at the point where the Mekong joins the Nam Ou River. There are two caves to visit, the lower cave called Tham Ting and the upper cave Tham Thueng, both boasting miniature Buddhist figures that are mostly made from wood. 
Overnight in Luang Prabang.


Day 15: Kuang Si Waterfall Trek (B/L)

After breakfast you'll take a short drive to a Hmong ethnic village. From here we'll begin a 3-hour jungle walk to the famous Kuang Si waterfall. A short steep climb brings you to the bottom of the falls, where you'll have a chance to cool off with a dip in the turquoise waters. You can also see some Asiatic bears in their waterfall sanctuary.  After your time at the falls we provide a transfer back to Luang Prabang in the late afternoon.
You'll spend the night in Luang Prabang.


Day 16: Luang Prabang – Departure (B)

On the last day of the tour we will transfer you to the airport, boat pier, or bus station, depending on your travel plans, though it's possible to extend this tour for a 2 day Mekong cruise upriver to Houay Xay / Chiang Khong. From there, you can proceed to Thailand.

Services

Included Travel Services

  • All sightseeing as described in program above
  • Transportation in private vehicles
  • Accommodation in hotels (twin shared)
  • English speaking guide
  • Admission fees to sights described above
  • Meals: B= breakfast, L= lunch, D= dinner
  • Lao PDR governmental tax and service charge
  • Luggage handing

Not Included Travel Services

  • International air tickets to/from Lao PDR
  • Visa fee (approximately US$40/pax)
  • Travel insurance of any kind
  • Meals not mentioned in itinerary
  • Tips, drinks, personal expenses and other expenses not described in the program above
  • Single room surcharge on request

Our statement on elephants in tourism.

Info

Accessibility: Our trips are generally unsuitable for people with reduced mobility and other disabilities. Please contact us to discuss if this trip is suitable for your specific requirements.

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