Laos (Rhymes with WOW) Trip Notes

At Imaginative Traveller we always aim to provide accurate information for our travellers. Unfortunately information such as the price of optional activities is occasionally subject to change, and this means that we are constantly revising our trip notes. In order to ensure that you have the most up to date information for your trip we suggest that you check the trip notes for your tour around one month before departure.

  • Trip code :GTLS
  • Trip length : 12
  • Trip starts in : Bangkok
  • Trip ends in : Vientiane
  • Maximum group size : 16
  • Ages : 18 - 39
  • Meals : 2 Breakfasts
  • Accommodation : Boat, Local Bus, Mekong Slow Boat, Mini-Van, Songthaew, Tuk-Tuk
  • Transport : Boat, Bus, Taxi

highlights1

  • Bangkok's Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha
  • The monks of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Luang Prabang
  • Explore Buddhist temples in Laos
  • Mekong slow boat cruise
  • Kuang Si Waterfalls
  • The Buddha images of Tam Ting Cave
  • The ethnic tribes of Pakbeng
  • Huay Xai - old Yunnanese caravan disembarkation point
  • Vang Vieng's river
  • Chiang Mai's Night Bazaar - Lanna handicrafts and traditional wares of the hilltribes

Kick off in old Bangkok, wind through fun-times Chiang Mai and hoon over the border into Laos where the real adventure begins. Peaceful Huay Xai’s up first, then river times on the mighty Mekong, lazing in beauty queen Luang Prabang, nature lovin’ in Vang Vieng and finish up in sleepy Vientiane. You know they’re a welcoming bunch when you cross something called the Friendship Bridge. Take a leaf out of the Laotians book and make a few new friends in this part of the world.

daily-itinerary1

Day
1-2

Bangkok - overnight train

Meals included: 1 breakfast

  • Arrive in Bangkok and get to grips with this awesome city. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.

Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

Day 2

  • Visit Bangkok’s most famous sight, the Grand Palace.
  • Enjoy the rest of the day to further explore the city
  • Shop for bargains, eat in exotic restaurants and perhaps hit some bars or nightclubs

Head north to Chiang Mai in the evening on an overnight train journey, accommodated in air-conditioned sleeping berths (approx. 13hrs). Multi share compartments are air-conditioned, with bunk beds; sheets and pillow provided. Our baggage travels in the carriage with us. There is a food and drink service available on board.

Included Activities

  • Bangkok - Grand Palace

Optional Activities

  • Bangkok - Chatuchak Market visit - THB100
  • Bangkok - Jim Thompson's House - THB100
  • Bangkok - Thai massage - THB250
  • Bangkok - Urban Adventures - Bangkok by Bike - THB1500
  • Bangkok - Urban Adventures - Bangkok Chinatown Food Discovery - THB1870
Day
3

Chiang Mai

Arrive into Chiang Mai in the morning.

See how many activities you can pack into 24 hours,

  • Spend a free day exploring the northern city of Chiang Mai, with over 120 temples in the centre alone
  • Set off on an excursion to the top of Doi Suthep, with fantastic views over the city
  • Perhaps get a traditional Thai massage or even partake in a cooking class
  • Why not visit the Night Bazaar a great chance to practice those bargaining skills

Optional Activities

  • Chiang Mai - Thai massage - THB200
  • Chiang Mai - Bicycle tour - THB750
  • Chiang Mai - Thai cooking course - THB800
  • Chiang Mai - Doi Suthep temple - THB50 (entry fee only)
  • Chiang Mai - Urban Adventures - Mae Ping River Experience - THB2105
Day
4

Huay Xai

Feel like a real traveller as you catch a local  bus to Chinag Khong via Chiang Rai (approx 6.5 hours) We then complete border formalities, crossing the Friendship bridge to Huay Xai our first stop in Laos. Huay Xai is a peaceful little town where you’ll have loads of free time. Are you a book or a Kindle person? Either way, this is a good place to get stuck into your holiday reading.   

  • Enjoy time to wander around this small place and perhaps ascend the Naga stairs to Wat Jom Khao Manilat
  • Perhaps visit a nearby minority village, where they make rice whiskey, noodles and handicrafts
Day
5

Mekong River - Pakbeng

Cruise the mighty Mekong and say sabai dee to locals along the way. You’ll feel right at home tonight in your little guesthouse in Pakbeng.   

  • Board a slow boat for a trip down the Mekong River (approx 7 hours) This is where the real relaxtion starts as you ease into holiday mode, reading a book, playing cards, swapping travelling stories or just watching the scenery pass by on your slow boat.
  • Arrive in the late afternoon at Pakbeng; a colourful village situated at the junction of the Mekong River and the smaller Beng River.
Day
6-8

Luang Prabang

After a busy day seeing Buddhist temples, hiking to Kuang Si Falls or exploring Pak Ou Caves, we think you deserve a rest.  Find an herbal steamroom or play some pentanque with the locals (a bit like boules). Don’t expect them to go easy on your.   

  • Continue on the private slow boat, stopping to stretch your legs and explore the Pak Ou Caves, which contain hundreds of Buddha statues
  • Arrive in Luang Prabang in the evening and wander the streets of ‘the best preserved city in South East Asia’
  • Trek to the beautiful Kuang Si Falls if you feel like a swim in nature.

Included Activities

  • Luang Prabang - Pak Ou Cave

Optional Activities

  • Luang Prabang - Kuang Si Waterfalls USD2
  • Luang Prabang - Cooking demonstration - USD30
  • Luang Prabang - National Museum - USD4
  • Luang Prabang - Wat Xieng Thong - USD2
  • Luang Prabang - Royal Theatre - USD20
Day
9-10

Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng is surrounded by mountains, rivers and big limestone cliffs. Spend a couple of days checking out the caves, lagoons and forests. 

  • Transfer to a local fan cooled bus and head toward the village of Vang Vieng, located on a bend in the Nam Song River. (approx travel time 6-7 hours)
  • Cross the river to explore the huge caves that line the West Bank
  • Enjoy plenty of time to make your own discoveries or partake in an optional kayaking day trip  along the Nam Song
Optional Activities
  • Vang Vieng - Bicycle hire - USD2
  • Vang Vieng - Kayaking on the Nam Song USD15
Day
11-12

Vientiane

Meals included: 1 breakfast

It's all over red rover.

  • Continue by bus to the Lao capital, located on the banks of the Mekong River. (approx 4 hours)
  • Check out some temples, including Wat Sri Saket.
  • Swap details so you tag yourself in everyone’s photos on Facebook.
  • Trip finishes after breakfast on Day 12.

Included Activities

  • Vientiane - Wat Si Saket
  • Vientiane - orientation walk

included1

  • Gecko’s expert English-speaking local tour guides in each country, and professional local site guides at some sites.
  • Sightseeing (including entrance fees where relevant): Bangkok - Grand Palace, Emerald Buddha, hundreds of Buddha statues in Pak Ou Caves; Kuang Si Falls; Vang Vieng Caves.
  • Slow boat cruise down the Mekong River to observe local life, with a night in a simple hostel in Pakbeng – home to the Hmong and tribal Tais.
  • Free time to explore Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Huay Xai, Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng.
  • Overnight sleeper trains from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.

not-included1

International flights, arrival and departure transfers, departure and airport taxes, visas, all other meals, all optional tours or activities during free time, transfers outside of the tour program, travel insurance, tips and items of a personal nature.

tripgrade1

RAW

Our Raw tours are best suited for those with a sense of adventure, are willing to step outside their comfort zone and don’t mind being thrown in at the deep end. For independent travellers who want to travel with others. Just the ticket for those aged between 18-35 or anyone young at heart who has an open mind, an eye on the budget and a nose for adventure. Authentic experiences that expand the mind rather than hold the hand.

Style Facts

  • The freedom to explore without breaking the bank
  • Time to do your own thing – or join in optional group activities
  • YOU choose where YOU want to eat
  • Basic accommodation
  • A variety of public transportation
  • Fully trained and experienced leader.

Basic

Our Basic tours offer superb value and are ideal for those who are happy to forgo some creature comforts in favour of an authentic and fun experience. Under the leadership of a fully trained tour leader, you will enjoy all the highlights and freedom of independent travel with the convenience, security and companionship of a small group.

Style Facts

  • Plenty of free time to explore independently
  • Optional activities to suit your budget
  • Freedom to choose your own meals
  • Simple famliy run hotels
  • Mostly public transportation
  • Fully trained and experienced leader.

This tour is operated by our partners Geckos Adventures

visa1

A necessary bugbear of adventure travel, visas can appear complicated, costly and confusing to apply for. Imaginative Traveller recommend applying for visas with a professional visa service who can guide you though the process and take care of lodging and collecting your passport with multiple embassies, so we have teamed up with The Visa Machine.

The Visa Machine ‘live and breathe’ visas and have the expertise to provide current and accurate information and arrange the correct visas for your trip, quickly and at a good price.

Please click here for more information. 

medical-preparation1

We strongly recommend you visit your doctor to discuss health requirements for your trip. They will advise you regarding the appropriate inoculations. In some places anti-malaria medication may also be required. Some vaccines need to be administered a few weeks before departure so allow yourself plenty of time. Obtain a certificate of vaccination and carry this with you on this trip. A dental check up is also highly recommended.

Money1

Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.

You will need to take cash to cover all additional expenses not included in your tour cost. These include food, drinks, optional sightseeing, tips, laundry, souvenirs and possible delays. If in doubt, bring more than you think you will need. It is always useful to carry an additional amount for emergencies. If there is a medical emergency you are sometimes required to pay at the time; providing your claim falls within the scope of your policy, your insurance company will make reimbursement later.

travel-insurance

You must have extensive travel insurance as a condition of booking with us, and without evidence of a valid policy you won’t be allowed to start your trip. Please click here for more information

responsible-travel1

Responsible tourism is at the heart of Imaginative Traveller. For 20 years we have taken customers to places around the world in social and environmentally responsible manner, ensuring everyone involved respects and maintains the natural and often delicate balance of the destination.As travellers ourselves we are well aware of the impact that tourism can have and whilst economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, it should never be at the expense of its culture or the environment. It is our aim to provide journeys that have minimal negative and maximum positive impact on the places we visit. We do not believe that, as visitors, we should impose our own cultures on others; rather that we should experience foreign cultures and appreciate them for what they are.We believe giving something back is essential. We therefore work with our customers and the people we visit to ensure the benefits go directly to contribute to local cultures and environmental conservation. This is not only good the communities we visit but it also gives our travellers more enriched adventures.For further information about responsible travel please click here.

other-important-information

Itinerary Variation

While the information presented here details our planned itinerary, including routes taken, activities included, accommodation and meeting times, please accept that unforseen changes may occur. We are constantly on the lookout to improve our program and further enhance your experience. Naturally, we will keep you up to date with any last minute amendments to your tour.

Meals

2 breakfasts.

Single room supplement

Most of our travellers like the thought of travelling with a few like-minded souls. There are NO compulsory single supplements on most tours as we simply arrange twin shared accommodation for you and another tour member of the same sex. But don't worry if that doesn't appeal. We do understand there are times when you just want a bit of privacy and 'me' time so we are more than happy to arrange a private room upon request when you book.

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