FROM LUANG PRABANG
TO THE MYSTERIOUS JARS
  

Length

8 DAYS

Type of tour

CULTURE/NATURE

Type of service

PRIVATE

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TRIP OVERVIEW

The Luang Prabang to Mysterious Jars tour stands out from the classic itineraries thanks to a diversion to Xieng Khouang to see the impressive ‘Plain of Jars‘, the archaeological site currently under research to understand the meaning and origin of hundreds of large jars scattered over the plateau for about 2000 years.

The journey is developed in 8 days exclusively overland and provides a naturalistic and cultural experience to the local villages through contact with ethnic minorities.

Visit 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.

Explore the 16th-century ruins of Muong Khoune and 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.

This sample itinerary starts in Luang Prabang and ends in Vientiane. It can be customised to suit your travel needs as well as combined with other routes.

From Luang Prabang to the mysterious jars - map © In Asia Travel

DOWNLOAD ITINERARY

Length : 8D 7N
From : LUANG PRABANG
To : VIENTIANE
Destinations : Luang Prabang, Xieng Khouang, Vang Vieng, Vientiane

ITINERARY

01. ARRIVE IN LUANG PRABANG

Mount Phusi © Gabriele Stoia - In Asia TravelMount Phusi

Welcome meeting by our staff upon arrival in Luang Prabang, the ancient capital of the Lan Xang Kingdom located on the peninsula at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam rivers, UNESCO World Heritage since 1995, whose origins date back to the ancient city Muang Sua built in 698.

Late in the afternoon we climb Mount Phousi to visit the sacred golden stupa and admire the beautiful city skyline and a romantic sunset over the Mekong.

A walk to the Night Market on Luang Prabang’s main street in the evening is definitely worthwhile, as you can meet local traders selling handicrafts from the area’s ethnic minorities.

Included : Private pick up from the airport, guide, tickets, private transportation and hotel

02. LUANG PRABANG - PAK OU CAVES

National MuseumNational Museum

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 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. We continue along the quiet streets lined with buildings from the French colonial period to admire their architecture and learn about their original function.

Next 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.

Later 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 Kong, known for its ancient textile tradition and the production of paper from mulberry bark. We end the day with a beautiful sunset from the top of the Wat Phabath temple.

Included : Hotel, breakfast, tour guide, boat, tickets and private transportation 

03. LUANG PRABANG - KUANG SI WATERFALLS

Kuang Si waterfallsKuang Si waterfalls

After breakfast we continue the visits to Wat Visoun, built in 1513, Wat Aham, or ‘Monastery of the Blossoming Heart‘, built at the beginning of the 19th century as a place of meditation and a meeting place between animist and Buddhist cultures, and the Wat Mai, ‘New Monastery‘, built at the end of the 18th century, one of the most complex and picturesque temples in the city, richly decorated and easily distinguishable by its unique five-level roof.

Afterwards we continue to the outskirts of Luang Prabang to the incredible Kuang Si waterfalls. Along the way we visit some villages inhabited by ethnic minorities. Once at the falls, there is plenty of free time for a refreshing dip in the turquoise waters, to explore the trails that lead into the forest, or simply to relax surrounded by this beautiful natural setting.

Included : Hotel, breakfast, tour guide, tickets and private transportation 

04. XIENG KHOUANG - PLAIN OF JARS

Plain of jarsPlain of Jars

After breakfast we travel to Xieng Khoang, the province heavily affected by the American bombardment during the Second Indochina War (Vietnam War).

The path is very enchanting and reflects the authenticity of Lao landscapes. It is unusual to come across other tourists in this area as it is still off the beaten track. The transfer is slightly long and includes a few stops to admire and take pictures of the scenery.

We reach the Plain of Jars, the large archaeological site with hundreds of large jars scattered over the plateau.

Archaeologists claim that the jars are around 2,000 years old, although no concrete explanation has yet been found as to what they were used for, whether they were burial urns or were merely used to store the popular rice wine.

Included : Hotel, breakfast, tour guide, tickets and private transportation 

05. PLAIN OF JARS

Plain of jarsPlain of Jars

After beakfast we travel to Muang Khoune archaeological site, capital of the Tai Muang Phoan autonomous principality in the 16th century, which was heavily damaged by the American bombardment.

On the way we visit some villages of the Thai Dam (Thai Black) and Phuan ethnic minorities.

We visit the ruins of Wat Phia Wat, the temple built in the 16th century, still a place of worship and pilgrimage. Next, we visit the ruins of Wat Tha Foune temple, built in the 14th century in ‘Ayutthaya style’ with its typical bell shape.

Included : Hotel, breakfast, tour guide, tickets and private transportation 

06. VANG VIENG

Vang Vieng viewVang Vieng view

After breakfast we move on 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 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 

07. VIENTIANE

That Luang Stupa © Gabriele Stoia - In Asia TravelThat Luang Stupa

In the morning we transfer to Vientiane, the quiet capital of Laos on the banks of the Mekong River.

On arrival in Vientiane 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 : Hotel, breakfast, tour guide, tickets and private transportation 

08. VIENTIANE - DEPARTURE

Transfer to the airport in time for your departure flight.

Included : Breakfast, private transportation to airport

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