DAY 1, 5 APRIL 2021. ARRIVAL IN SIEM REAP
Arrive in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Once the center of the vast Khmer Empire that ruled the majority of the southern part of South-East Asia, Siem Reap is home to a cluster of temples and palace complexes. The site is so magnificent, that a Portuguese monk visiting it during the 16th century wrote “it is of such extraordinary construction that it is not possible to describe it with a pen…”, and the French explorer, Henry Mohout, who made the site popular in the west in the mid-19th century, wrote when first arriving there: “One of these temples—a rival to that of Solomon, and erected by some ancient Michelangelo—might take an honorable place beside our most beautiful buildings. It is grander than anything left to us by Greece or Rome, and presents a sad contrast to the state of barbarism in which the nation is now plunged.” Upon arrival meet the Cambodian guide at the airport and leave for the fishing village of Chong Kneas. Here board a boat for a trip on Tonle Lake, to see the floating villages and the traditional fishing techniques. The boat trip amongst these basic dwellings is a strong reminder of the major transition the country is going through. In the evening drive to the hotel in Siem Reap for a first night in Cambodia.
DAY 2, 6 APRIL 2021. EXPLORING ANGKORIAN TEMPLES
Begin the day touring Angkor Thom, the last and most enduring capital city of the Khmer Empire, which thrived during the 4th century AD. On to the Bayon, better known as the ‘Temple of Faces’, a bizarre structure with several architectural styles, reflecting a switch from Hinduism (the foundations) to Buddhism (the superstructure). Next visit the Elephant and Leper Emperor Terraces, followed by the Baphoun Temple, which is now nearing the end of an eight-year multi-million-dollar restoration program. At the afternoon visit Ta Prohm, strangled by massive tree roots and typical of the condition of the whole complex, when it was discovered in 1860. Continue to Angkor Wat itself, the largest, and for most people, the most impressive temple in the complex. Spend the afternoon exploring this magnificent temple before reverting to the hotel.
DAY 3, 7 APRIL 2021. EXPLORING SIEM REAP
Drive out of the main temple complex for a visit to Banteay Srei, “The Citadel of Women”. This temple, made of red stone, has the deepest and clearest carvings, and is considered to be the most decorated temple of all the Angkorian temples. After this visit take a walk at Kbal Spean. Located 25 kilometers away from Angkor Wat complex, this is a site of manmade and natural wonders. Along the banks of the Stung Kbal Spean River, the Khmer emperors have carved stunning figures into the surrounding sandstone. After the hike along the riverbed head back to Siem Reap for the last night in Cambodia.
DAY 4, 8 APRIL 2021. FROM SIEM REAP TO LAOS
Leave Siem Reap and take the approximately five hours’ drive to the Lao Border. Driving through rural Cambodia provides an insight into the simple lives of rural communities, with the clear evidence that the people of Cambodia still rise from the ashes left from the times of the Khmer Rouge ruthless regime. En route, pause by Koh Ker, a little-known gem hidden far off the main temples complex. Though not as impressive as the grand temples visited in previous days, this is a remnant of a city that for a short while was the center of the mighty Khmer Empire. In this region which is densely covered by jungle, archeologists keep on discovering more ruins and archeological finds that adds to the already existing evidence on the grandeur of the Khmer Empire- not only by its sheer power, and the vast land it has ruled, but also for its rich heritage and especially, the unique architecture it left behind for nearly a Millennia. Amidst the 30 structures that are left in the vicinity of Koh Ker, Prasat Thom, a 7-tier pyramid-shaped structure became the best-known icon of the temple compound. Early in the afternoon arrive at the Cambodian-Lao border. After immigration formalities on both sides, cross the border to embark on the Laos private tour. From here it’s a short drive to Khone Phapheng Falls, the largest waterfall in South East Asia, and the one prominent reason why the Mekong River cannot be navigated all the way from the South China Sea to the slopes of the Tibetan Plateau, at the source of this mighty river. After a quick visit to the falls, take to the very simple guesthouse not far from the falls, for a first night in Laos.
DAY 5, 9 APRIL 2021. THE FOUR THOUSAND ISLANDS
Spend the day exploring the region known as the 'Four Thousand Islands', one of the most scenic areas in Laos, where the Mekong swells to 14 km wide during the rainy season. This part of the river is dotted with islands of all shapes and sizes, from which its name derives. Take a 6 km ride by traditional tuk-tuk to visit the Li Phi Waterfall, which thwarted the efforts of the French to open the Mekong River to navigation. Continue to Ban Hang Khone to try and get a glimpse of the extremely rare Irrawaddy dolphins. Then visit the small-gauge railway and the colonial bridge built by the French to bypass the falls. In the evening take a boat ride back to the mainland for a drive to Pakse, the largest city in southern Vietnam. Here, set in the hotel for the night.
DAY 6, 10 APRIL 2021. FLYING FROM PAKSE TO VIENTIANE
After an early breakfast drive to the local airport for the flight to Vientiane, the Lao capital city. Upon arrival and after meeting the local guide, go to explore the main sites of the city. Begin with Wat Sisaket, the oldest temple to have survived the 1828 Siamese–Lao War; its cloister contains more than 8000 statues of the Buddha. Continue to Wat Ho Prakeo, the former home-temple of the Emerald Buddha statue or Prakeo, which now contains a collection of statues of the Buddha, antiques and all the most significant artifacts found in excavations around Vientiane. Then visit That Luang Stupa, a symbol of the Lao nation and the single most important monument in Laos. The monument was built to cover the original small stupa containing a piece of the chest bone of the Buddha. In the evening stroll around Patouxay (modelled on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris), which was built quite recently to commemorate those who sacrificed their lives for the nation, and today is the most prominent landmark in Vientiane. This is where the people of Vientiane gather in the evenings to cool off from the day's heat.
DAY 7, 11 APRIL 2021. FROM VIENTIANE TO VANG VIENG
After breakfast pay a visit to the local morning market before leaving the big city and heading to Vang Vieng, famous for its unique karst formations, and the caves running deep into these mighty karst cliffs which seem as they pop out of the ground at a chaotic disorder. Upon arriving in the tranquil town hop onboard a local tuk-tuk for a ride into the rural area. Take a walk to visit Tham Poukham (Gold Crab Cave) and continue riding to a natural freshwater pool, known locally as the ‘Blue Lagoon’, for a refreshing swim. In the evening revert to town and enjoy a stroll along the main street of the small town, which has quite justifiably been proclaimed as the Lao backpackers’ capital. Chill out on the wide balconies of the numerous cafés and restaurants perched along the street before taking to the hotel in Vang Vieng.
DAY 8, 12 APRIL 2021. JUNGLE WALK AND ON TO LUANG PRABANG
Leave Vang Vieng for a beautiful jungle experience. The Khoun Lang Nature Park offers an excursion into jungle clad mountains, cave exploring, and crystal-clear mountain stream with waterfalls in abundance. The park was created as an initiative to support local communities and promote environmental awareness with both locals and foreign visitors. Upon arrival in the park, be accompanied by a local guide for a hike along the paths established and maintained by the local communities to explore Khoun Lang Cave. Walk along the Houay San stream and enjoy its two impressive waterfalls. After enjoying and exploring this pristine jungle, hit the road again and head to Luang Prabang. If time is right, climb to the top of Phou-Si hill for a view over town at sunset. Check-in the hotel, and take to the town’s lively night market, where locally produced handicrafts can be found, all made by locals and hill tribe people from nearby villages.
DAY 9, 13 APRIL 2021. THE GOLDEN BUDDHA CAVES
Leave the hotel for the boat landing and take a boat ride upstream on the Mekong River to visit Pak Ou cave in the side of a limestone cliff at the confluence of the Mekong and Ou rivers. The sanctuaries at Pak Ou consist of two large caves, repositories of thousands of images of the Buddha, which range in height from a few centimeters to two meters. En route, typical Lao villages are barely visible through the foliage while slender canoes bob near the shore, with bamboo poles and floats marking the location of nets and fish traps. After visiting the two caves, cross the Ou River and pause at Ban Xang Hai, a village well known for its distillery of Laoh-Khao, traditional Lao rice whisky. Have a taste of the drink which is very common throughout the country. Then return to Luang Prabang in the late afternoon to enjoy an evening stroll through the town’s quiet streets. Once the seat of the king, the city features fantastic architectural fusion between traditional Lao, colonial and post-colonial buildings scattered throughout town, with beautiful ancient Buddhist temples amidst these.
DAY 10, 14 APRIL 2021. CELEBRATING LAO NEW YEAR
Today’s early start provides a fantastic opportunity to mix with the locals and watch the daily morning procession of monks clad in saffron-colored robes collecting offerings of alms (invariably sticky rice) from the faithful residents. This tradition is unique in Laos, which is the only Buddhist nation where this procession still takes place. Revert to the hotel for a quick breakfast and then leave for the beginning of the Lao New Year celebrations. Take part by walking through the streets to buy various traditional items including zodiac flags. Then visit the Secret Pools area and watch the crowded festival taking place on the shore of the Mekong River; a delightful part is when the locals build votive mounds of sand in accordance with their belief that the mounds give life to birds and fish. Then watch the dancing, singing and water throwing on the beach. In the evening enjoy dinner, which includes a traditional Baci ceremony, offering blessings for the New Year.
DAY 11, 15 APRIL 2021. EXCURSION TO KWANG-SI WATERFALLS
Begin the day roaming the morning Phou-Si market. The market is full of fresh produce and vegetables including some exotic products like sugar-coated bat wings, dried and fried bugs, and other appetizing sorts of food. Continue to the National Museum, previously the Royal Palace. Enjoy the beautiful collection of artifacts reflecting the richness of Lao culture during the monarchical era. This period ended in 1975 when the king was overthrown, and he and his family were sent to a re-education camp by the communist revisionists. At the afternoon drive to a sanctuary built to rehabilitate Asian Bears. These bears, often abducted from the jungle and abused by humans, are being brought to the sanctuary to embark on the long journey to rehabilitation. Few of these would be released back to their natural habitat, while others would at least enjoy a dignified and peaceful life within the sanctuary. Continue to Kwang Si Waterfall, with beautiful travertine pools filled with turquoise water at its bottom. Take a walk along the paths running through the jungle and enjoy a swim at the pools before reverting to Luang Prabang for the last night of this Laos private tour.
DAY 12, 16 APRIL 2021. DEPARTURE FROM LAOS
After breakfast drive to Luang Prabang International Airport to end the Laos private tour and board the departing flight out of Laos.
Dates & Pricing
Laos private tour rates are quoted in US Dollars and are valid for two confirmed travelers and above.
[email protected] reserves the right to change Laos private tour rates and programs due to changes in flight schedule, changes in airfares, and other local circumstances.
Prices are based on twin share occupancy.
Discounted rates for groups of 4 travelers and above:
4 travelers- US$2422/ person
6 travelers- US$2338/ person
8 travelers- US$2221/ person
- Applicable only for travel groups of 4 people or more booking their trip together.
5th April, 2021–16th April, 2021
- $3,074 Per Person (From 2 people)
- $1,048 Single Room Supplement
- Accommodation in shared double/twin occupancy at hotels listed below
- Domestic flightfrom Pakse to Vientiane
- Daily breakfasts and one dinner
- Transfers by private A/C vehicle
- English speaking guide for each area
- Entry fees for all sightseeing
- Bottled drinking water
- International flights to Siem Reap, and from Luang Prabang
- Travel insurance of any sort
- Lao tourist visa
- Cambodian tourist visa
- Excess luggage
- Expenses of personal nature (food and drinks beyond those provided, laundry, etc.)
- Anything not clearly mentioned in the program
- Siem Reap- Somadevi Angkor Boutique 5-star
- Khone Island- Sala Done Khone (simple guesthouse)
- Pakse- Champasak Grand Hotel 4-star
- Vientiane- Aansara Hotel 4-star
- Vang Vieng- Amari Hotel 4-star
- Luang Prabang- Luang Prabang View 4-star
Note: the listed hotels are tentative. Final hotel list shall be confirmed upon placing a booking and paying a deposit.