Trip Inspiration

13 Days: A Deep Discovery of Laos

Genuine Experiences, Profound Moments

Rarely do travelers have an opportunity to connect with a country as deeply as this journey will connect you with beautiful Laos. This luxury adventure takes you from the lofty mountains in the north, to the stunning '4000 Islands' archipelago in the south. You will visit the country's most sacred and significant sites and witness its beautiful landscapes and vistas. Interact with remote villagers who continue traditions that have been passed on for centuries. When your exploration comes to end, you may find yourself leaving a piece of your heart in this exceptional country.

Trip Highlights

Locations

  • 2 nights on the majestic Mekong River
  • 4 nights in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang
  • 2 nights in remote Muang La in the mountains of northern Laos
  • 1 night in the capital city of Vientiane
  • 2 nights on Don Daeng Island in Champasak
  • 1 night in the mystical 4000 Islands Archipelago

Activities

  • Cruise the Mekong River aboard Gypsy
  • Explore sacred sites, unique architecture and savory cuisine
  • Enjoy cultural interactions with locals in remote villages
  • Experience waterfalls, wildlife, and mystical mountains
  • Visit Wat Phou, a Khmer temple pre-dating Angkor Wat
What does “Trip Inspiration” mean?

At Travel Beyond, we believe your trip should be designed just for you, not for the masses. Our travel consultants create a custom itinerary for each client, offering recommendations for places and experiences that best fit your style. The itinerary below was planned for a past client, but we’re sharing it for travel inspiration and as an example of what a trip to Laos might look like. Let us know when we can design a trip just for you!

Day 1

Mekong River

From Chiang Rai, the heart of Thailand’s Golden Triangle, you will embark on an unforgettable voyage on the Mekong River! It is here that you will board the Gypsy, your private Mekong River home for the next two nights.

Cast away your cares as you embark on an unforgettable journey through the heart of Southeast Asia! Over the next two days, you will experience one of the world’s most magnificent waterways in boundless comfort. With only two suites, Gypsy allows you to lose yourself to the tranquil charms of the river. Throw open the floor-to-ceiling doors of your suite to let the crisp mountain air in or enjoy gourmet cuisine by candlelight underneath the stars. Gypsy offers exquisite experiences and you will enjoy your exploration of the famed Mekong River!

After a safety briefing, you begin your journey downstream. Enjoy a fresh lunch prepared by your personal chef while you gently cruise toward Pak Tha village. Later you will anchor for the night near Ban Pha Tha. Savor a special welcome cocktail and canapes before a delicious dinner. After dinner, relax under the stars with a nightcap or dessert.

Gypsy Cruise Lunch/ Dinner

Day 2

Mekong River, Aboard Gypsy

Enjoy another beautiful day on the Mekong!

This morning, your crew will provide an introduction to Buddhist meditation before serving a tasty breakfast. You will be sailing toward Ben Huay Palam, a beautiful Khmu village famous for its weaving and scarf production. Stop for a visit and an opportunity to interact with the local villagers.

Back on board, Gypsy sets sail for the village of Ban Kook Eak. Enjoy a sunset cocktail followed by a dinner of local specialties.

Gypsy Cruise Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

 

Day 3

Mekong River, Arrive Luang Prabang

Early this morning, Gypsy will set sail toward Khok Aek. Wake up with yoga on the sun deck before breakfast.

This morning you will sail to Ban Baw village for a guided tour of this traditional weaving village. Take an opportunity to taste (and purchase!) Lao Lao, the traditional Laotian rice whisky. Continue to Pak Ou while you enjoy lunch onboard. You will next arrive at Pak Ou for a guided visit of its two Buddhist caves filled with thousands of Buddha sculptures. Later this afternoon you will arrive in Luang Prabang, where you will disembark.

You will be met for your private transfer to Amantaka resort where you will stay for four nights in a Suite. Enjoy your evening at leisure, exploring the lovely grounds of this unique property. Dinner is included at the hotel this evening.

Amantaka Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 4

Luang Prabang

Today you will explore some of the fascinating colonial and Laotion heritage and architecture that often go unseen in the city. Your guide will be Francis Engelmann, a French writer and one of the key proponents in helping Luang Prabang achieve UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1995. You will delight in Francis’ expertise as he introduces you to his beloved, adopted city!

Together you will visit the wooden heritage house of Ban Xieng Mouane. As one of the oldest aristocratic mansions in the city, the home illustrates some of the earliest Luang Prabang architecture. Next, visit the exhibition room of the Buddhist Archives Center in Vat Khili. Francis will explain the origin and significance of this unique collection of historical photos. More than 35,000 pictures highlight Theravada Buddhist Meditation, and you will come to greatly appreciate the important role of the Buddhist monks in Luang Prabang history.

Next you will travel south to the majestic Kuang Si waterfall to enjoy a picnic lunch near the falls. Relax as crystal waters cascade into idyllic turquoise pools. Bring a bathing suit if you would like to swim! Also take time to visit the nearby Sunbear Refuge to learn more about the poaching of these endangered creatures.

On the way back to town, you will visit a buffalo dairy farm, known for its sustainable approach to farming and its work with the local community. A guided tour will give you the chance to interact with the animals and see demonstrations of buffalo feeding, bottle-feeding calves, milking, and tending to the other farm animals. At the end of day, you will be rewarded with a fresh dinner featuring the farm’s specialties, local favorites and champagne.

Amantaka Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 5

Luang Prabang

Today you will have fun with a hands-on lesson in Lao cuisine! From shopping in a nearby market, to helping with food preparation in a local village home, you will get an true Lao food experience.

Your day starts at a local fresh market, where you will meet Mrs. Noy, an excellent local chef and your teacher for the day. After choosing a selection of interesting local produce, you will hop aboard a boat to cross the Mekong River to Mrs. Noy’s home village. Meet her neighbors and family as you begin your private cooking lesson. Don’t expect a star-awarded kitchen – you will be preparing your meal in her home with simple local specialties. You will treasure this experience to learn from Mrs. Noy as you cook and dine together.

After lunch, head back to the city by boat. Take in the lush river life along the Mekong’s banks while sipping champagne and tasting Lao snacks.

You will have some time to relax at your hotel before being transferred to a small village called Ban Mano to witness the refined grace of a private Baci ceremony, led by the Nai Ban (village chief). As a welcome, the kind villagers will greet you and gently tie cotton cords around your wrists. These cords symbolize luck, friendship and good health and are the villagers’ way of offering you tidings of good fortune. The Baci ceremony will be held at a local family home where you can appreciate the great reverence for this important tradition. Next, you will visit a hidden temple, rarely visited by foreign visitors, for a special encounter with local monks. They will teach you the fundamentals of meditation and invite you to join them in their daily chanting.

Amantaka Breakfast / Lunch

Day 6

Luang Prabang

This morning you will rise early to view the sacred ritual of monks on their alms rounds, known locally as Sai Bath. You will witness the long lines of barefoot monks go through the streets to receive their morning rice from the local villagers.

You will next visit the Manda Lao Elephant Sanctuary Camp. Start with an introduction to elephant behavior before embarking on a quick boat ride across the Nam Khan River to the waiting elephants. You will be introduced to your new elephant friends and be able to feed them some special treats. If the elephants are in a playful mood, you may be able to observe them being washed, swimming, or playing in the water. Take a walk with the elephants through a beautiful stretch of traditional Lao gardens and arrive at the jungle-covered Huay Nok stream. As you crisscross through the cool water you will experience a profound sense of understanding, respect, and care for these amazing animals.

Head back to the camp for a delicious Lao meal made from their own organically grown products before returning to Luang Prabang. Enjoy the remainder of your afternoon at leisure.

This evening you will experience an exclusive dinner at Paste, the first Michelin-star restaurant in Laos. Paste is run by Chef Bee Satongun who brings more than just skill, creativity and experience to the dining experience: Her family heritage traces back across northern Thailand and Laos, providing an important genetic connection allowing her to maximize the complex natural flavors of the area. The menu is based on the traditional Lao recipe of Phia Sing.

Amantaka Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 7

Luang Prabang to Muang La

After breakfast, you will be met for your private transfer to the Muang La. You will love the views of the mountains of Northern Laos, as they are some of the most beautiful, traditional and unspoiled areas in all of Southeast Asia. En route you will stop and visit a ethnic minority village.

Upon arrival in the small village of Muang La, you will check in to Muang La Lodge where you will stay for two nights in a Deluxe River View Room. The resort’s local-style architecture merges seamlessly with the surrounding forests, rice fields and hot-springs. Set amid luxuriant gardens, Muang La Lodge’s lovely wooden villas are decorated with indigenous artwork and offer comfort and quality service you may not expect in such a remote location.

Muang La Lodge Breakfast / Dinner

Day 8

Muang La

Today you will set off to visit villages of the Khamu, Hmong and Ikhos people; three of the many ethnic groups in Laos. Your route will climb to 4200 feet above sea level and offers some magnificent views of the stunning mountain scenery.

Your first visit is to a Khamu village. To this day, these remote villagers carry on strong traditions, including respect for the wisdom of the elders, the innocence of youth and the solidarity of the community. You will see examples of all these beliefs during your visit.

Next, drive further into the mountains to an isolated Hmong village. The Hmong originate from the high steppes of Tibet and you will learn about their way of life, including the importance of their livestock and the gentle care they give to their animals.

From here, take a 30-min walk which will bring you to a nearby Ikho village. This ethnic group originates from Tibet and the Yunnan Province in China. Observe daily life of the village and see how the locals continue to follow the customs passed down to them through the centuries. Enjoy a picnic lunch while you enjoy the views, walk further in the lovely surrounds and visit additional Ikho villages before heading back to your lodge.

This evening, you can enjoy a display of traditional Khamu music and dance right at your resort! Dinner will follow.

Muang La Lodge Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 9

Muang La to Vientiane

Today you will fly to the capital city of Laos, Vientiane. Upon arrival you will be met for your private transfer to Settha Palace, where you will stay for one night in a Deluxe Room. Enjoy time to freshen up before meeting your guide for your exploration of the highlights of Vientiane.

You will start with a visit to Wat Sisaket, the only structure to survive the Siamese invasion of 1828 intact. Across the street sits Wat Ho Pha Kheo, reconstructed in the 1930s on the site of the original building. It once housed the Emerald Buddha, which now lives in Bangkok. Today it is home to a collection of Lao artistry and artifacts.

A short journey up Lane Xang street will provide you with a glimpse into the changing face of Vientiane. Here, modern structures mingle with ancient tradition. Visit Patouxai, the Lao Victory Monument. Wat That Luang, with its central lotus-bud spire and 30 surrounding stupas, is the most sacred structure in all of Laos. Pay a visit to the COPE Visitor Center for a moving insight into the “Secret War” which left Laos as the most heavily bombed country in history.

Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before heading to Xieng Khouan Buddha Park. Here a renegade monk formed his own sect and created magnificent and eerie statues out of concrete, based on Hindu, Buddhist and Brahman iconography. Upon completion of your tour, you will be returned to your hotel and can enjoy the remainder of your day at your leisure.

Enjoy your stay at Settha Palace, located in the heart of bustling Vientiane. Settha was built around 1932 and has been painstakingly restored to its former imperial glory. Truly a testament to the era of elegance, service and charm!

Settha Palace Breakfast

Day 10

Vientiane to Champasak

Today you fly to Pakse in Southern Laos. Upon arrival in Pakse you will be met by your private guide for your visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Wat Phou, an ancient Khmer temple predating Cambodia’s Angkor Wat!

Wat Phou is a temple built on three levels: The lower level includes the baray (water reservoir) and the promenade to join it with the second level, which is home to the galleries and the quadrangular pavilions. The upper level is the sanctuary itself. When the temple was erected, it was the most important economic and political center in the region.

You will get to La Folie Lodge just in time to check in and catch the sunset over the mystical mountains surrounding Wat Phou. You will stay for two nights in a Deluxe Room. Enjoy your evening at leisure.

La Folie Lodge Breakfast

Day 11

Champasak

This morning you will be met for a one-of-a-kind touring experience on the Bolaven Plateau: Exploring coffee plantations and remote waterfalls by jeep and on foot.

Upon arrival in Paksong, you will be treated to a great cup of local coffee at Jhai Cafe, the world’s first completely philanthropic coffee roaster & cafe. With your morning caffeine taken care of, you are ready to hop aboard a classic Jeep and begin your exploration. Traverse the back roads of the Bolaven Plateau for spectacular views of mountains and highlands which were formed by an ancient super volcano.

Your short (and bumpy) ride brings you to Mystic Mountain Coffee where you will meet Mr. Khamsone. No one knows Bolaven coffee better than “Kham,” who has been running his coffee plantation for 17 years. Tour his coffee plantation with him and follow it up with a coffee roasting demonstration. After, you will enjoy the freshest cup of coffee you’ve ever tasted!

Climb back aboard your Jeep and head to the secluded Tad Moun waterfall to take a dip in the crystal-clear water and enjoy a traditional Laotian picnic lunch alongside the falls.

After your tour, you will head back to your hotel. Along the way you will make a stop at the scenic twin waterfalls of Tad Fane to take in the majestic view as the water descends over 300 feet into the gorge below.

La Folie Lodge Breakfast / Lunch

Day 12

Champasak to Don Khone Island

After breakfast, you will be met for your private transfer to the mystical Si Phan Don, or ‘4,000 Islands,” near the Cambodian border.

Si Phan Don is a unique river archipelago where the Mekong expands to more than nine-miles wide and is home to a huge collection of large and small islands. Just this channel of the river alone provides most of the fish consumed across the country. As the home to one of the few remaining groups of the critically endangered Irrawaddy Dolphin, this is a crucial ecological area in Southeast Asia. Keep your eye out for these special river dolphins – with their bulging foreheads, they resemble small beluga whales!

Take a short boat ride through these enchanting islands and feel the sense of tranquility that makes this place so special. Arrive at Don Khone Island, where you will check into the Senghaloune Resort where you will stay for one night in a Deluxe Mekong River View Room.

This afternoon you will join a local fishermen to experience the 4000 Islands from their perspective, aboard a traditional wooden boat. Equipped with fishing nets, you will head out to the fishing-grounds where you can practice throwing your net and try your luck at catching a fish for dinner.

Float along the river surrounded by small islands and animals about to settle in for the evening. Continue to a nearby beach where you will be welcomed by a crackling bonfire to enjoy the sunset and a private BBQ of local specialties. At the end of your day, you will be returned to your hotel.

Senghaloune Resort Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 13

Depart Laos

After breakfast you will take a short boat ride through the 4000 Islands to the Nakasong Pier where you will be met for your private transfer to the Pakse Airport. Along the way, you will visit Kon Phapheng Waterfall, the largest waterfall by volume in Asia. It is here where the Mekong River descends downwards making for a spectacular feast for the eyes.

Continue to the Pakse Airport for your onward flights home.

N/A Breakfast