Most visitors travel to the capital city Vientiane and then head north to enchanting Luang Prabang. With plenty of sightseeing, activities, and traveller facilities it is no wonder that these two cities continue to draw the most visitors. However, the rest of the country should not be left unnoticed! Our escorted tours of Laos will ensure you truly experience everything this exciting country has to offer.
A full day tour of Vientiane’s main sights takes you through the historic periods of Lao culture. The tranquil Wat Sisaket was the only temple to survive the Siamese (Thai) invasion of 1827 and the beautiful wood-covered hallways are filled with thousands of Buddha statues. The nearby Wat Phra Kaew once held the Emerald Buddha now revered in Bangkok. A walk along Lane Xang Avenue might bring visions of Paris. Designed to resemble the Champs Elysees, this tree lined street in the centre of town even has its very own ‘Arc de Triomphe’. Slightly quirky, climbing to the top of Patuxay offers fantastic views of the city. Continuing out of town on Lane Xang Avenue, you reach That Luang. This magnificent gold-leaf covered stupa is the national symbol of Laos and one of its most important religious sights. Each fall, a massive festival is held in the grounds around the stupa and people from all over the country descend upon Vientiane to partake in the religious celebrations.
Vientiane is located on the banks of the Mekong River which forms the border between Laos and Thailand. In the late afternoon, the banks of the Mekong fill up with local stalls selling cold beers and fresh local food. Sitting by the river, you can watch the fishermen and catch a beautiful sunset view.
Exploring Luang Prabang is easily done on foot or by bicycle, or you can opt to take a local tuk-tuk or an air conditioned car. The main sites of the city lie along its peninsula, formed by the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers. In the centre of this peninsula sits Mount Phousi. Climb the 328 stairs to the top for sweeping views of the city and surrounding hills. Continue to Wat Mai, a temple renowned for its golden bas-relief, and Wat Sensoukarahm, which features a beautiful dazzling golden façade. You should not miss the spectacular Wat Xieng Thong, the most revered temple in Luang Prabang which is located at the end of the peninsula, close to the Mekong.
Feeling templed-out? There are many other things to do in Luang Prabang including the former Royal Palace, now the National Museum, and the Heritage Information Centre. Here you will learn about the methods being used to preserve the unique heritage and culture of Luang Prabang as well as gain further understanding in to the importance of developing sustainable and community-based preservation projects. Our tours feature a boat ride along the Mekong River to Pak Ou Caves, which contain thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues crammed into two caves carved out of a towering limestone cliff. We also visit Kuangsi Waterfalls which cascade down a multilevel limestone formation creating a series of turquoise blue pools – perfect for swimming on a hot day. The jungle and dense woods surrounding the falls is teeming with wildlife and spectacular walks can be taken along the natural footpaths. Travel to the surrounding wilderness areas where you can ride an elephant from the jungles to the waterfalls. This breath taking experience is a great way to get up close to one of Asia’s favourite animals.
Southern Laos is one of Asia’s hidden gems, where the people maintain their traditional ways of life and the scenery is unparalleled. The main town, Pakse, is a great base for the surrounding attractions. Heading east from Pakse, you enter the Boloven Platueau. Here, in the cool highlands, Laos’ delicious coffee and tea is grown and harvested. The area is also filled with great waterfalls and is an ideal trekking destination for light day hikes. South of Pakse is the town of Champassak, situated on the Mekong River. Champassak is a blend of English and French colonial buildings and traditional Lao houses. This tranquil area is also home to the splendid Wat Phou. Recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, Wat Phou is a spectacular pre-Angkorian temple that sits amidst the rice fields and waterways of southern Laos.
Starting in Champassak lies the 4000 Islands, called ‘Siphandon’ in the Lao language. This area is one of the jewels of the Mekong, where the river stretches over 14km wide and has thousands of islands between the river banks. The water flows around the islands and forms rapids as it runs down to the Cambodian border. Siphandon is a unique and breath-taking place with a laid back atmosphere. Spending a night or two on Don Daeng Island at La Folie Lodge is a real treat. The lodge is in a spectacular location: facing the hills of Wat Phou and surrounded by the Mekong River. The 4000 Islands are one of the remaining homes of the Irrawaddy Dolphin, a freshwater dolphin on the verge of extinction. Staying on the islands of Don Khone, Don Khong, or Don Det one is likely to spot these elusive animals.