CAVES, ETHNIC MINORITIES
AND LANDSCAPES OF LAOS
Caves, ethnic minorities and landscapes of Laos is an example of a 6-day tour developed entirely overland blending the cultural, natural and beautiful landscapes of Laos. Although some transfers are unavoidably long, the views of the karst mountains and lush rice paddies are definitely rewarding.
This itinerary is suitable for those who like to take it slow and soak up the local culture and traditions.
Explore Vang Vieng, the town framed by a backdrop of karst mountains, lush forests and impressive caves, as well as Vientiane, the Laotian capital, which is home to buildings with unique architecture mixing French colonial and Buddhist temple styles such as the nationally symbolic Pha That Luang temple.
Explore Luang Prabang, ‘City of the Golden Buddha‘, the legendary capital of the Lan Xang Kingdom, located on the peninsula at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam rivers, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995.
Admire the beauty of the Kuang Si waterfalls and cruise the Mekong River to discover the Pak Ou Caves, or the Thousand Buddha Caves, an important place of worship and pilgrimage for centuries.
This sample itinerary starts in Vientiane and ends in Luang Prabang. It can be customised to suit your travel needs and combined with other routes.
Length : 6D 5N
From : VIENTIANE
To : LUANG PRABANG
Destinations : Vientiane, Tham Phoutham, Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang
01. ARRIVE IN VIENTIANE - CITY TOUR
That Luang Stupa
Welcome meeting by our staff upon arrival in Vientiane, the quiet capital of Laos on the banks of the Mekong River. Transfer to the hotel and check-in.
In the afternoon we visit the most significant landmarks such as Wat Si Saket, known for its thousands images of Buddha that, according to local belief, protected the temple during the Siamese invasion of 1828.
We continue to Wat Ho Prakeo, built in 1865 to house the famous Emerald Buddha, and to That Luang Stupa, considered the most important monument in Laos. The latter, according to local belief, houses a relic of the Buddha brought over in the 3rd century BC.
We conclude our visits to Vientiane at the Patuxai, or ‘Laotian Gate of Triumph‘ the monument dedicated to the fallen of all wars.
Included : Private pick up from them airport, tour guide, tickets, private transportation and hotel
02. VIENTIANE - VANG VIENG
Vang Vieng view
In the morning we transfer to Vang Vieng. Rather than a town, Vang Vieng is a large village where the real highlight is the undeniable beauty of the karst landscape and the unexplored caves, some of which have names that recur in local mythology and are said to be inhabited by spirits. During the transfer, the landscape is very interesting and gives us an insight into the daily lifestyle of the hill tribe.
On the way we stop at Vang Xang, the famous archaeological site dating back to the 11th century, home to the ruins of a Mon temple and five Buddha statues.
On arrival in Vang Vieng we visit Tham Chang Cave, the most famous and full of fascinating stories. It was once used as an impregnable refuge during the devastating raids of northern Chinese predators. An electrical system now lights the way to the upper cave from where you can see the superb surrounding landscape and the Nam Song River through a gap in the limestone wall.
Included : Hotel, breakfast, tour guide, tickets and private transportation
03. THAM PHOU KHAM CAVE
After breakfast, an unconventional excursion on board a local tractor through rice fields awaits us to visit the famous Tham Phou Kham cave, one of the most beautiful in Laos.
Access to the cave is not the easiest. However, for those who don’t feel like venturing inside the cave, the visit is definitely worth it to enjoy the beautiful natural environment and take a refreshing dip in the natural pool at the entrance of the cave.
Along the way we meet local people engaged in typical local activities.
Afterwards we return to Vang Vieng crossime some villages inhabited by the minorities Hmong, Souay and Tai Dam.
Included : Hotel, breakfast, tour guide, local tractor, tickets and private transportation
04. LUANG PRABANG
Luang Prabang view
After breakfast we begin the transfer to Luang Prabang, the legendary capital of the Lan Xang Kingdom, located on the peninsula at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam rivers.
The route is very is very enchanting and reflects the authenticity of Lao landscapes. An opportunity to observe the slow flow of daily life of the locals. The transfer is slightly long and includes a few stops to admire and take pictures of the scenery.
During the transfer we stop at Muang Xieng Nguen village, at the outskirts of Luang Prabang.
Arrival in Luang Prabang late in the afternoon and transfer to the hotel.
Included : Hotel, breakfast, tour guide and private transportation
05. LUANG PRABANG - PAK OU CAVES
Buddha statues at Pak Ou caves
At 5:30am we witness the Tak Bak ceremony, the monks’ quest, an ancient Asian Buddhist religious tradition practiced with constancy only in Luang Prabang. Every morning, for the past 2,500 years, hundreds of monks walk barefoot from their temples to the centre of the city. Forming a long line, they slowly walk through the streets to collect alms, especially ‘sticky rice’, donated by the faithful, who wait silently on the pavements, in exchange for prayers and blessings.
Once finished, we return to the hotel for breakfast. We then begin our walking tour of the most important monuments.
We visit the Wat Sene Souk Haram temple, or ‘Temple of 100,000 Treasures‘, built in 1718 using 100,000 stones extracted from the Mekong River, and Wat Xieng Thong, or ‘Monastery of the Golden City‘, founded in 1560, one of the most important in Luang Prabang, known for the grace and elegance of its architecture.
Next we head to the pier and embark on a river cruise to Pak Ou Caves, also known as the Thousand Buddha Caves. Located at the confluence of the Mekong and Ou rivers, they are one of the must-see sights on a trip to Laos.
The sanctuary consists of two large limestone caves: Tham Ting, the lower cavity, which can be reached by climbing the 30-step staircase, and Tham Theung, the upper cavity, which can be reached by climbing the 70-step staircase.
The Pak Ou caves have been an important place of worship for many centuries for the faithful, who offer a Buddha image as a gift when they make a pilgrimage there. As a result of this tradition, today both cavities house thousands of statues of Buddha of different sizes, from a few centimeters to about 2 meters, in different styles and spiritual positions (mudras), from meditation to ascent to nirvana.
During the cruise we admire the typical Laotian rural landscape and the local lifestyle.
We stop for a short visit to the village of Ban Xang Hai, known for the production of “Lao Lao”, the famous rice whiskey, Ban Xiengmene and BanChan, known for the ancient textile tradition and the production of paper from mulberry bark.
Included : Hotel, breakfast, tour guide, boat, tickets and private transportation
06. LUANG PRABANG - DEPARTURE
After breakfast we head to the National Museum: formerly the Royal Palace, it now houses an important collection of valuables including statues of Buddha and many other objects donated by visiting dignitaries to the court of Luang Prabang, in particular the golden statue of Buddha Phra Bang from which the city takes its name.
Following this, transfer to the airport in time for your departure flight.
Included : Breakfast, guide, tickets, private transportation to airport
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