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Undiscovered Laos

23 days from £4690 per person

One of Indochina's gems, Laos is a beautiful, diverse, welcoming nation blessed with great cultural sites and spectacular natural beauty. A journey for the more adventurous, this itinerary traverses the length of the country from Luang Namtha in the far north to Champassak on the Laos-Cambodia border. In-between, visits will be made to remote minority villages around Muang La, beautiful Luang Prabang, the enigmatic Plain of Jars and Laotian capital Vientiane. Heading south explore the Kong Lor Caves and Bolovens Plateau before relaxing at the excellent La Folie Lodge.

Route: Bangkok – Luang Namtha – Muang La – Luang Prabang – Phonsavan – Vientiane – Ban Tiou – Savannakhet – Tad Lo – Dong Daeng Island – Bangkok

Itinerary Highlights

Luang Namtha is popular as a starting point for hill-tribe treks. Nestled in the lush, green mountains, the town is a delightful destination in itself with many local Lao restaurants.

The Plain of Jars near Phonsavan consists of thousands of stone jars scattered over the Xiangkhoang Plateau. It is accepted that these jars are linked to prehistoric burials.

The spectacular Khmer temples of Vat Phou are some of the finest religious complexes in the region. Older than the remains at Angkor, Vat Phou is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Itinerary: Undiscovered Laos

Today depart the UK on the Thai Airways flight to Bangkok. (N)
Bustling and eccentric, intriguing and unforgettable, Bangkok is the gateway to the country and Thailand's principle city. With a history stretching back a little over two-hundred years, Bangkok has always been a modern forward-thinking place yet much traditional Thai culture remains, as do beautiful monasteries, colourful markets and opulent palaces. (N)
Accommodation in Bangkok: Ariyasom Villa 
Alternative option: The Sukhothai
Upgrade option: Mandarin Oriental Hotel (or similar)
Today explore Bangkok with your guide starting at the Grand Palace. Built by the early kings of the Chakri dynasty, this vast complex contains not only the King's private residence, stables and ministries but also over fifty temples including Wat Phra Kaeo, Thailand's oldest temple which houses the thousand year old Emerald Buddha. Afterwards visit the Reclining Buddha at Wat Po, then the atmospheric flower market before boarding a private long-tail boat to cruise the quiet canals of the Chao Phraya River. End the day at Wat Arun for a panoramic view of the Grand Palace and river. (B/L)
Accommodation in Bangkok: Ariyasom Villa 
Alternative option: The Sukhothai
Upgrade option: Mandarin Oriental Hotel (or similar)
This morning return to the airport for the flight to Luang Namtha via Vientiane. Located close to the Thai and Chinese border, Luang Namtha is a bustling little town and important trading centre for northern Laos regularly frequented by the many different minority groups that inhabit the surrounding region. (B)
Accommodation in Luang Namtha: Boat Landing Guesthouse (or similar)
After breakfast take a walking tour of the Tai Dam villages of Ban Pasak and Ban Phoung, then drive to Ban Nam Dee. This Lanten village is famous for its paper making and indigo dyeing – much of which is used to record religious texts and other important texts. In the afternoon visit Ban Thong Jai. This visit is also home to the Tai Dam who, over the centuries have perfected the use of natural dyes and to this day produce beautiful silk and cotton textiles. (B/L)
Accommodation in Luang Namtha: Boat Landing Guesthouse (or similar)
Leaving Luang Namtha, drive south through beautiful countryside to the remote village of Muang La. A key commercial centre for the local hill tribes, the areas around Muang La are home to the Khmu and Ikhos. In the afternoon explore the village on foot to experience daily life before ending the day with panoramic views over the Nam Pak River, rice terraces and local salt mines. (B)
Accommodation in Muang La: Muang La Lodge (or similar)
Today visit two villages of the Ikhos people. The Ikhos are some of the most reclusive communities in Laos and it is believed that the inhabitants originate from Tibet and the Chinese province of Yunnan. Their remote mountain villages are characterised by houses made of wood and bamboo whilst belief in the spirit world, which impacts all aspects of everyday life, is fundamental to their identity. (B)
Accommodation in Muang La: Muang La Lodge (or similar)
Today leave Muang La and drive to Luang Prabang. Encircled by the mountains of northern Laos and resting on the banks of the Mekong River, the former Royal capital of Luang Prabang is an eclectic mix of historic temples and beautiful old French colonial mansions. (B/L)
Accommodation in Luang Prabang: Xiengthong Palace Hotel (or similar)
Upgrade option: Maison Souvannaphoum Hotel
Alternative upgrade option: La Residence Phou Vao
With its historic temples and colonial architecture Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a wonderfully atmospheric place to explore. With your guide start the morning with visits to the Royal Palace Museum, Wat Xieng Thong and That Makmo, known locally as the 'Watermelon Stupa'. Leaving the town, trek to Pak Ou – a place famous for caves full of small Buddha images – on what is an enjoyable walk and different to the normal approach by boat. (B)
Accommodation in Luang Prabang: Xiengthong Palace Hotel (or similar)
Upgrade option: Maison Souvannaphoum Hotel
Alternative upgrade option: La Residence Phou Vao
After breakfast continue east to Phonsavan. Phonsavan is the gateway to the Plain of Jars, a 1,000 metre high plateau scattered with over 300 surviving stone jars. This region was a command centre of the North Vietnamese and Pathet Lao during the Vietnam War and was a major battlefield that was also heavily bombed. (B)
Accommodation in Phonsavan: Vansana Plain of Jars Hotel (or similar)
Spend the day visiting the Plain of Jars. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, speculation abound as to the origin of the jars with local legend suggesting they were used to brew alcohol. More likely, the jars were ancient funeral urns for regional leaders – a theory backed up by high value ornaments found in the vicinity – although, in reality, their original purpose remains a mystery. (B)
Accommodation in Phonsavan: Vansana Plain of Jars Hotel (or similar)
This morning you are at leisure before transferring to Phonsavan Airport for the flight to Vientiane. Capital of Laos, Vientiane is set on the banks of the Mekong River facing neighbouring Thailand and has retained much charm with well-preserved French colonial buildings and wide tree-lined boulevards. (B)
Accommodation in Vientiane: Settha Palace Hotel (or similar)
Today explore the Laotian capital with your guide. Places of interest include That Luang Stupa, one of the holiest Buddhist monuments in the country, and the superb temples of Wat Phra Keo and Wat Sisaket – the latter being the oldest religious complex in Vientiane. Also visit the Anousavari Monument which bears more than a passing resemblance to the Arc de Triomphe. (B)
Accommodation in Vientiane: Settha Palace Hotel (or similar)
Leaving Vientiane, this morning drive south-east to Ban Na Kang stopping en-route to visit Wat Prabath Phonsane – the 'Temple of the Footprint of Buddha'. Approaching Ban Na Hin the lush green jungle and vibrant rice paddies are succeeded by towering limestone karsts and, once in the Phou Hin Poun National Protected Area, board a local boat for the journey to Ban Tiou. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Ban Tiou: Spring River Resort (or similar)
Today explore the area around Ban Tiou. The natural karst scenery adds to the ethereal atmosphere that few tourists have the fortune of experiencing. A highlight of the day is a visit to the Kong Lor Caves – an 8kms system that reveals vast formations of stalactites and stalagmites. Later visit some of the villages close to the cave where there will be an opportunity to meet the locals after their day's work. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Ban Tiou: Spring River Resort (or similar)
After breakfast continue by road to the Mekong city of Savannakhet. Despite its proximity to Thailand, this is a quiet provincial city of tree-lined streets and welcoming locals. This afternoon, if time permits, visit the 19th century Wat Sayaphum before enjoying a stroll through Savannakhet's colonial centre. (B/L)
Accommodation in Savannakhet: Daosavanh Resort and Spa (or similar)
Today drive to Tad Lo, which is located on the edge of the Bolovens Plateau. An area of rich fertile soils, the plateau is a major agricultural base supporting numerous coffee and cardamom plantations developed by the French during the 1920s. Heavy bombing of the Ho Chi Minh Trail during the Vietnam War led to the relocation of numerous minority groups and to this day many remain living in the hills around the town. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Tad Lo: Tad Lo Resort (or similar)
Explore Tad Lo and the surrounding region with your guide. Home to many different Mon-Khmer hill-tribes, visits will be made to local villages including those inhabited by the Alak and Lao Theung. There may also be an opportunity for an elephant trek or a day hike. In the afternoon visit the pretty Tad Lo waterfall where there are deep pools ideal for swimming. (B)
Accommodation in Tad Lo: Tad Lo Resort (or similar)
After breakfast head towards Pakse then continue on to Dong Daeng Island and the pretty La Folie Lodge. Set amidst lush tropical gardens, this simple colonial-style lodge has twenty-four comfortable rooms all with fabulous views over the river to the Khmer temple ruins of Wat Phou. There is also a lovely swimming pool and good restaurant. (B)
Accommodation in Dong Daeng Island: La Folie Lodge (or similar)
This morning cross the river to Champassak which is located close to the fascinating archaeological site of Wat Phou. Sitting in the shadow of the sacred mountain of Linga Parvata, this is one of the finest temple complexes anywhere in Southeast Asia. Re-discovered by a French explorer in the mid-19th century, the crumbling ruins pre-date those at Angkor Wat by almost 200 years and are equally mysterious. Spend time exploring the site before returning to the hotel in the afternoon. (B)
Accommodation in Dong Daeng Island: La Folie Lodge (or similar)
At leisure to relax and enjoy La Folie Lodge. (B)
Accommodation in Dong Daeng Island: La Folie Lodge (or similar)
This morning leave La Folie Lodge and head towards the Laos-Thai border. After crossing back into Thailand continue to the airport at Ubon Ratchathani for the onward flight to Bangkok. Here connect onto the Thai Airways flight non-stop to the UK. (B)
In the morning arrive back into the UK. (N)
**KEY: N = No meals, B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

What To Do Next?

We design unique, tailor-made holiday itineraries to suit you, by combining your ideas with our knowledge and experience. Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, or if you require some advice, please call us or complete the enquiry form online for a quotation.

What's included

  • International flights from the UK
  • Domestic flights
  • Private car and driver
  • Sightseeing with local English speaking guides
  • Hotel accommodation and taxes

What's not included

  • Cost of visas
  • Travel Insurance
  • Expenses of a personal nature

Guide to Price

The above price is based on two people travelling together and sharing accommodation in low season. The price is only a guide and can vary according to selected airlines, hotels and date of travel. If you wish to travel with your family, friends or on your own we will be very happy to assist you with your arrangements.

Malaysia, Vietnam and Laos Holiday Review

It is the fifth major trip that you have organised on our behalf, all of which have been a great success. However on this occasion you have excelled yourself. It was an excellent mix of destinations and experiences. Each was unique in itself and we find it difficult to identify which was the highlight of the trip. They all were!

AW - Malaysia, Vietnam and Laos - February 2016

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For over 30 years, Pettitts Travel have led the way in creating authentic, tailor-made holidays. Our knowledgeable team have first-hand knowledge of our destinations and no two itineraries we prepare are the same.

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