Bangkok to Laos Mysteries Revealed 12 Days

Bangkok - Vientiane - Buddha Park - Vang Vieng - Xieng Khouang - Luang Prabang - Pak Ou Caves - Kuang Si Waterfalls

Overview

From the energy of Bangkok to the calm of Laos, this trip is a study in contrasts. You’ll discover from Bangkok’s lively markets and hypnotic temples, to Laos’ riverside exotica and stunning scenery. Reveal of mysteries of the great ancient city Ayutthaya, the Buddha park, and the famous Plain of Jars, discover the sacred caves of Pak Ou, spend some time cooling off at Kuang Si Waterfalls or simply sit back, relax, watch the scenery go by, and embrace travelling like a local.

12 days / 11 nights
Private tour
Departure: Daily from Bangkok or Luang Prabang
Theme: Interaction with local
Suitable:

Highlights

  • Discover UNESCO Heritage in style, explore the ancient Siam capital of Ayutthaya, charming Luang Prabang and mysterious Plain of Jars
  • Meet with a passionate antiques collector, join in Buddhist ceremonies Laos and explore small villages rich with local culture
  • Visit the Elephant Village, take a trek through the jungle on an elephant, learn to be a mahout and get up close with the adorable animals

Itinerary

Day 1: Bangkok Arrival

On arrival at the airport, meet guide and drive, then transfer to hotel in Bangkok.

Thailand’s bustling capital, Bangkok is famous for its tuk tuks, khlong boats and street vendors serving up delicious Thai food. Bangkok has so much to offer those with time to explore, so perhaps arrive a day or so early and take a riverboat to Chinatown and explore the crowded streets, uncover the magnificent Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, wander down the tourist mecca of Khao San Road, or indulge in some Thai massage.

Meals: NA
Accommodation: Hotel in Bangkok
Day 2: Full Day Highlights of Bangkok

A visit to the Royal Grand Palace, the nation’s landmark and most praised royal monument in Thailand, with the enclosed and dazzling Wat Phra Keo with its revered Emerald Buddha, the Golden Chedi, the Pantheon of the Chakri Kings and the Eight Coloured Towers, is a must. In Thailand by many, it is considered to be a living example of classical Siamese Court, being the former residence of the kings of Thailand.

Wat Pho is also regarded as the first centre of public education and is sometimes called ‘Thailand’s first university’. Mural paintings, inscriptions, and statues found in the temple-educated people on varied subjects such as literature, warfare, archaeology, astronomy, geology, meditation and to be considered, home of the Thai traditional massage. Here, you will enjoy a 30-minutes’ Thai massage as an excellent break after a morning sightseeing. Experience an afternoon trip along the bustling Chao Phya River and the quiet Klongs (canals) in a long tail boat enjoy scenes of life by water. We bring you to a more traditional way of living, more serene and traditional, away from all the high-rise and modern buildings of Bangkok City Centre, as we gently pass Thonburi residential areas. A stop will be made at the “Temple of Dawn” (officially named Wat Arun).

Finally, a visit to the Flower and vegetable market will round off this day. Located close to the Chao Phraya River, this part of Bangkok brings you to a rural piece of Bangkok where they have a vast selection of all kinds of flowers, especially orchids and tropical flowers and see how the merchants create very special flower garlands. The end of this Bangkok day ends at the Golden Mountain.

Photography is permitted in the Royal Palace Grounds and in the compounds of the Emerald Buddha Temple, but not inside the buildings.

Note:

– Please notice that the inner courts of Grand Palace are frequently closed on Sundays.

– Please dress respectfully by not wearing sleeveless, shorts or sandals, when visiting the Grand Palace and temple complex.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodation: Hotel in Bangkok
Day 3: Full Day Ayuthaya by coach

A full day tour, bringing you to visit the former capital of Thailand, Ayutthaya, situated approximately 75 kilometres north of Bangkok and one of those destinations, you have to see. The mixing of cultures in Ayuthaya began in the mid-16th century when ships from Ayuthaya plied the Asian seas, trading with neighbouring countries. When the Dutch began showing up in the 17th century, Ayuthaya became a port city and trade routes were extended to China, Japan, Indonesia, Portugal, Holland and France and up to the Scandinavian countries later. Although the ancient villages of foreign traders lining the Chao Phraya riverbanks were abandoned when the city was sacked by Burmese troops in 1767, some remnants survive to showcase the cities past glory. The tour starts at the Summer Palace of the late King Rama V), commonly known as “Bang Pa-In”, which is another touch of beauty. You continue to the magnificent ruins of early splendour that Ayuthaya is famous for all over the world. We will pass or visit all the most impressive ruins of this World Heritage Site for taking sufficient pictures. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant in Ayuthaya. We return to Bangkok by coach, where we will bring you back to your booked Bangkok hotel.

Note: Kindly be aware that proper attire is required to enter the Summer Palace compounds; Asia World Enterprise staff will be pleased to advise you accordingly.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodation: Hotel in Bangkok
Day 4: Bangkok - Fly to Vientiane

Free at leisure until car pick up at hotel and transfer to airport for flight to Vientiane.

On arrival at the Wattay International Airport, you will be met and transferred to check in the hotel. Welcome to “the city of the moon”, the least developed capital city of Asia. Free for the rest of the day to stroll around the city. The welcome dinner will be served at the local restaurant with the traditional dance & folk song, the best chance to experience the Lao culture.

Meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Hotel in Vientiane
Day 5: Vientiane - Buddha Park

08:30: Guide & driver pick up at hotel.

In the morning, we will first visit Wat Si Muang, which is very famous for its supernatural power. We then transfer out to see Buddha Park, an enchanting collection of Buddhist and Hindu sculptures on the Mekong Riverside meadow, close to the Friendship Bridge. There are approximately 200 religious images dating back over 500 years, which were created by a mysterious monk spreading his philosophy on life and revealing his ideas about the universe.

In the afternoon, we see the major sights of the capital; including the oldest Wat Sisaket, the temple with thousands of miniature Buddha statues and the former royal temple of Wat Prakeo, which previously housed the famous Emerald Buddha Image. On the way to Lao’s national icon, the famous and sacred structure of That Luang Stupa, we stop enroute to take some pictures of the imposing Patuxay Monument, which is well known as Vientiane’s own “Arc de Triumph”. A spectacular view over the Mekong River at sunset is a perfect way to finish the day.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodation: Hotel in Vientiane
Day 6: Vientiane - Vang Vieng

08:30: Guide and driver pick up at hotel.

We leave the capital early for our journey northbound; we will see some breathtaking scenery enroute as we pass through spectacular countryside towards the mountainous region. Along the way, we visit the busy and colorful market of KM52 where various hill tribes come to trade goods and buy provisions. We may also make a short photo stop at Hin Heup bridge, and the fish market in Ban Tha Heua. We reach our destination Vang Vieng, which is nestled on a bend of the Nam Song River. Its stunning scenery with limestone outcrops remains unspoiled, despite recent developments with the advent of tourism.

In the afternoon, we start our board through paddy field areas heading to Tham Phoukham caves, where your breath will be taken away seeing the most beautiful and famous limestone cavern, surrounded by natural forests. Along the way, you have chance to explore the local cultures by greeting the local villagers and learning about their daily lifestyle. There is a small natural pool in front of the caves where you can take a swim to refresh yourself from the hot climate or you could explore the nearby area.

Transfer back to town, we will enjoy the leisurely boat along the Nam song River while admiring the sun setting behind the mountains. Overnight in Vang Vieng

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodation: Hotel in Vang Vieng
Day 7: Vang Vieng - Xieng Khouang

08:30: Guide & driver pick up at hotel.

Today, we start exploring the town by visiting the most famous in Vang Vieng, the cave of Tham Jang, which was used in the early 19th century in defense against the Chinese invaders. We also cross the river to Ban Phathau, a very pleasant village where we can explore the different local lifestyles.

After that, we start our expedition to Xieng Khouang. The roads are well paved along the way for a smooth journey; we pass some stunning landscape scenery with a mixture of steep terraced fields and hill villages, we take a few photo stops at some small hill tribe village en route. Each hill tribe village in Laos has a different feel, some are more prosperous than others but all have plenty of life. Along the way, we still have time to stop at the peak of Phou Phiengpha to admire the panoramic view over the mountainous area.

From there, we will drive a bit further to the T-Junction in Phoukhoun, and take the right turn onto Xieng Khouang province. After that, the road is getting a bit harder which includes some zigzagging mountain paths; and we will make some stop along the way to visit the local hill tribe villages, or to stretch your legs. We will make a short stop at Tham Pra, which served as the hospital during the Indochina Wars before arriving in Phonsavan.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodation: Hotel in Phonsavan
Day 8: Xieng Khouang Exploration

08:30: Guide and driver pick up at hotel.

In the morning you will journey through Phonsavan and the Plain of Jars.

The Plain of Jars is a huge archaeological complex littered with mysterious 2000 years old stone jars sized from 70cm up to 3 or 4 meters. Their true origin remains a mystery. It seems that they were carved into boulders. Several researches lead by the French archaeologist Madeleine Colani in the 30’s suggested that they could be old graves, but to this day they remain an enigma.

Your trip will enable you to visit the 3 sites and also discover some local villages where you can observe local village life. Site 1, close to the town is settled at Thong Hai Hin and is the biggest site. Site 2 is at Hai Hin on Phou Salator, “Phou” in Lao means “Mountain”. End your tour at site 3 in Hai Hin Lat Khai. Site 3 is the most impressive with over 150 jars. Close to this site, you will visit Ban Xiengdi where there is a small monastery with Buddha images. On the way back, you will pass areas that were important battlefields during the American secret war. You can still see bomb craters from that time today.

Attention: The Plain of Jars has been heavily bombed during the war and you have to respect all the signs and stay along the defined trails due to bombs, UXO and landmines.

In the afternoon, enjoy a half day trip to Muang Khoun. Muang Khoun one place in the old provincial capital that was not been destroyed by the American bombings during the secret war. Muang Khoun is home to unique sitting giant Buddha as well of some old pagodas that lies in ruins. The foundation and columns of Wat Pia Wat are still standing and close to this site, there is also an old 30m stupa constructed in the Lan Xang/Lanna period.

Then return to Xieng Khouang

Meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Hotel in Phonsavon
Day 9: Xieng Khouang - Luang Prabang

Early morning, we visit the Central Market of Phonsavan to watch the different hill tribe people barter and exchange merchandises.

Breakfast at the hotel, then take the direct transfer to Luang Prabang.

After numerous photo stops, we continue driving, enjoying the splendid natural scenery of the mountains, the forest and landscape. The roads are well paved along the way for a smooth journey; we pass some stunning landscape scenery with a mixture of steep terraced fields and hill villages, we take a few photo stops at some small hill tribe village en route. Each hill tribe village in Laos has a different feel, some are more prosperous than others but all have plenty of life. We will make a shot stop at Ban Phoudam village, where we can see the two hill tribe minorities of H’Mong and Khamu living in harmony, before driving to the photo stop at Ban Kiew Nya for the panoramic view prior to reaching Luang Prabang.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodation: Hotel in Luang Prabang
Day 10: Luang Prabang - Pak Ou Caves

08:30: Guide and driver pick up at hotel.

You will first visit Royal Palace Museum, which was built in 1904 during the French colonial era for King Sisavang Vong and his family. We then embark on a leisure cruise upstream on the Mekong River, which also gives us a breathtaking view of the tranquil countryside, before reaching the mysterious Pak Ou Caves, two linked caves crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes left by pilgrims. Along the way, we stop at the village of Ban Xanghai, where they make the local rice wine.

On arrival back in the city, we will visit magnificent Wat Xiengthong a superb piece of Lao temple architecture, which presents a sweeping two-tiered roof and ornate mosaics including a beautiful ‘tree of life ‘glass montage on the rear temple wall. Afterwards, we will visit the Traditional Art and Ethnology Center (closed on Monday) to learn about Laos’ many ethnic cultures. From there, we will transfer to visit Wat Prabath to admire the sunset; this is the really peaceful place to catch the last beauty of the day. The tour ends after a visit to the famous Night Market, where you can find a lovely collection of handmade textiles made by local and hilltribe people surrounding Luang Prabang. Overnight in Luang Prabang

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodation: Hotel in Luang Prabang
Day 11: Luang Prabang - Kuangsi Waterfall

Wake up as the sun rises, we will prepare to join the most sacred tradition of Laos, the daily morning alms giving, which dates to the 14th century. More than 200 Buddhist monks depart from various temple to gather their daily meal from the faithful residents sitting quietly on the streets.

From there, we will visit the temporary morning market near the former Royal Palace. Just set on the ground, the local people come here to barter their day’s catch from rice, to vegetable, to fish, or chicken. This is the best chance to experience the flavor of local life

After breakfast at the hotel, we ascend the 329 steps to the top of Phousi Hill for a panoramic view of the city and the Mekong River. We then visit Wat Visoun, dating back to 1513 during the reign of King Wisunarat (Visoun), this is Luang Prabang’s oldest temple and was once home to the Prabang Buddhas.

We then transfer directly to the beautiful Kuang Si waterfalls which is the biggest in the Luang Prabang area with three tiers leading to a 50-metre drop into spectacular azure pools before flowing downstream. The pools also make great swimming holes and are very popular with both tourists and locals

We will also take a short visit to the Bear Rescue Center, which houses a couple of dozen animals rescued from the hands of poachers and traffickers.

Before returning to Luang Prabang, we stop to visit the Kuang Si Falls Butterfly Park (closed from 15 APR – 30 JUN; 01-14 SEP, & 01 JAN every year), whose mission is to create a research centre studying and publishing about Laos butterflies, host plants and preservation.

Laos is also known for its traditional crafts, we will take a short visit to the Ock Pop Tock Living Craft Center, set serenely close to the Mekong, this beautiful, traditionally styled workshop, where weavers, spinners and batik makers produce top-quality fabrics, offers free tours every half-hour. Overnight in Luang Prabang

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodation: Hotel in Luang Prabang
Day 12: Luang Prabang - Elephant Camp - Departure

08:00 Guide and driver pick up at hotel, transfer to Elephant Village. On arrival, you will be welcome and greeting by the Camp Manager and participate in short briefing. After enjoying the impressive experience of approx. 30-minute elephant ride on the neck; you will then take a return boat trip to the Tad Sae Waterfall and spend some time in the clear water. Your lunch will be provided at the Elephant Village Restaurant (Buffet lunch served with Coffee or Tea and drinking water).

We are free to stroll around before transferring back to the center. Along the way, we take a short visit to the tomb of the 19th century French explorer Henri Mouhot; the first European to rediscover Angkor Wat and the Royal Kingdom of Luang Prabang.

We then transfer out to the airport to take the departure flight.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodation: NA

Important Notes:

  • PROGRAMS & SCHEDULES SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT PRIOR NOTICE
  • In case of unpredictable bad conditions of weather in Halong Bay, please kindly understand that the cancellation will be made ONLY by the Management Board of Halong Bay and normally the announcement will be informed in short notice.

Price & Inclusion

Hotel (11 nights) - Standard (2*)
Price for 2 Adults
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Discount
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Total
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Hotel (11 nights) - Superior (3*)
Price for 2 Adults
US $0
Discount
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Total
US $0
Hotel (11 nights) - First Class (4*)
Price for 2 Adults
US $0
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Total
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Meals

11 Breakfast, 9 Lunch

Transportation

Airplane, Car

Price Includes

  • Overnight in shared Twin/ Double room with Air-condition (AC) at hotel.
  • Overnight on local train at a shared compartment with 4 soft berths (if any)
  • Overnight at local homestay in a shared room, private blanket and mosquito net (if any)
  • All transport during tour on air – conditioned vehicle as per itinerary (including airport pick up & see off)
  • All in-tour stationed local English speaking guide.
  • Meals as indicated in the program
  • Entrance fees as per itinerary
  • Flight in tour Bangkok – Vientiane (20 kg luggage inclusion)

Cancellation by Customer

  • 30% of total package price should be deposited once the booking is confirmed
  • Cancellation received less than 72 hours prior arrival date or No show: full charge the total package rate
  • Cancellation received from 4 days to 14 days prior arrival date: 50% of total package tour charged
  • Cancellation received from 15 days to 20 days prior arrival date: 10% of total package tour charged

Children Policy

  • 50% discount for child under 6 years accompany with 2 full paying clients, staying in same room with parents
  • 75% charged for child from 6-11 years accompany with 2 full paying clients, staying on extra bed
  • The above children rates are applicable for booking made with 2 adults and a maximum of 2 children occupancy in a room.
  • Child age of 12 years up is subject to adult rate