DAY 1, 5 APRIL 2023. ARRIVAL IN SIEM REAP
Arrive in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Once the center of the vast Khmer Empire that ruled most of South-East Asia from the end of the 1st millennia to the mid-15th century, Siem Reap is home to a cluster of splendid 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 known to the people of 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 cruise over Tonle Lake, where a large community of fishermen and their families reside in boats floating over the country's largest lake. The boat ride among these basic dwellings is a strong reminder of the significant 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 2023. EXPLORING ANGKORIAN TEMPLES
Begin the day touring Angkor Thom, the last capital city of the Khmer Empire, which thrived during the 12th and 13th centuries, just before the empire declined. Visit the Bayon, the best-known monument at Angkor Thom. Commonly known as the 'Temple of Faces,' it is a bizarre structure with several architectural styles, reflecting a switch from Hinduism in its foundations to Buddhism at 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 whole complex condition when it was first discovered in 1860. Continue to Angkor Wat itself, the largest and most impressive temple in the complex. Spend the afternoon exploring this magnificent temple before reverting to the hotel.
DAY 3, 7 APRIL 2023. EXPLORING SIEM REAP
Drive out of the main temple complex to visit Banteay Srei, "The Citadel of Women." This temple, made of red stone, has the deepest and clearest carvings and is considered the most decorated temple of all Angkorian temples. After this visit, take a walk at Kbal Spean. Located 25 kilometers away from the Angkor Wat complex, this is a site of manmade and natural wonders. Along the Stung Kbal Spean River banks, 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 2023. 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 farming communities, with clear evidence that the people of Cambodia still rise from the ashes left by the Khmer Rouge ruthless regime. En route, pause by Koh Ker, a little-known gem hidden far off the main temple complex. Though not as famous 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, densely covered by the jungle, archeologists keep on discovering archeological findings that add 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 left in the vicinity of Koh Ker, Prasat Thom, a 7-tier pyramid-shaped temple, 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 your 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 the first night in Laos.
DAY 5, 9 APRIL 2023. 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 up 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. 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 2023. 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 city’s main sites. 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 houses a comprehensive collection of Buddha statues, including some of the most significant artifacts found in excavations around Vientiane. Then visit That Luang Stupa, the most prominent symbol of the Lao nation and the single most important monument in Laos. The monument was built to cover a small stupa containing a piece of the chest bone of the Buddha. In the evening stroll around Patouxay, modeled on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, a modern structure commemorating those who sacrificed their lives for the nation. It is where city dwellers gather in the evenings to cool off from the day's heat amid fountains and splashing water.
DAY 7, 11 APRIL 2023. 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 its 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 over the Song River. 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 small town's main street, which has quite justifiably been proclaimed as the Lao backpackers' capital. Chill out on the expansive balconies of the numerous cafés and restaurants perched along the street before taking to the hotel in Vang Vieng.
DAY 8, 12 APRIL 2023. 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 exploration, and crystal-clear mountain streams with waterfalls in abundance. The park was created to support local communities and promote environmental awareness with both locals and foreign visitors. Upon arrival in the park, join 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 walking through this pristine jungle, hit the road again and head to Luang Prabang. If the time is right, climb to the top of Phou-Si hill for a view over the 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 2023. THE GOLDEN BUDDHA CAVES
Leave the hotel for the boat landing. Here board a boat for a ride upstream the Mekong River to visit Pak Ou cave on 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. While cruising, typical Lao villages are barely visible through the foliage, while slender canoes bob near the shore, with bamboo poles and floats that mark the location of nets and fish traps. After visiting the two caves, cross the Ou River and pause at Ban Xang Hai. The village is well known for its traditional distillery of Laoh-Khao- 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 king's seat, the city features a 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 2023. 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, all clad in saffron-colored robes, collecting offerings of alms (invariably sticky rice) from the faithful residents. 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 on the Mekong River's shore; a delightful part is when the locals build votive mounds of sand following 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 2023. 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. He and his family were sent to a re-education camp by the communist revisionists. In 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 2023. 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
5th April, 2023–16th April, 2023
- $2,338 Per Person (For a group of 6 or more)
- $1,048 Single Room Supplement
Laos private tour rates are quoted in US Dollars.
[email protected] reserves the right to change this 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.
Rates for private groups of 2 travelers and above:
2 travelers- US$3,074/ person
4 travelers- US$2,422/ person
- 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
- PCR/COVID tests, or any tests that might be required for international or domestic travel
- Expenses that might incur due to the results of COVID tests before, during or after the tour
- 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.
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