Journey Down the Laos Mekong 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 : PAJD
Trip length : 9
Trip starts in : Bangkok, Thailand
Trip ends in : Vientiane, Laos
Maximum group size : maximum 16
- Mekong slow boat cruise
- The mysterious Plain of Jars
- Kuang Si Waterfalls
- The reclining golden Buddha of Wat Po
Follow the Mekong River and uncover the secrets of Laos. From the bustle of Bangkok, we find a quieter South East Asia in the north of Thailand and an even more tranquil one still when we cross into Laos. The regal temples, with spires pointing towards the heavens, extols the glories of Theravada Buddhism. The mysterious Plain of Jars exemplifies the remoteness of some of Laos' key attractions. Meanwhile the Mekong River threads its way through the country, supporting communities that include its laid-back capital, Vientiane, which still maintains an ambiance that borrows from both ancient Lao traditions and colonial French influences.
- Arrive in Bangkok where you are transferred to the comfortable and centrally located Nouvo City Hotel.
- A pre-trip briefing is held in the evening, to meet the other members of your group and discuss the trip itinerary. Please check for a Welcome Notice on the Peregrine noticeboard located near the hotel lifts which will provide your tour leader's name and the exact time and location of your Welcome Meeting.
- Until this meeting we encourage you to get out and discover the delights that Bangkok has to offer, including trying some of Thailand’s famous cuisine. After the group meeting in the evening we may adjourn to a nearby restaurant and enjoy a meal together (this is optional and at your own expense).
- The rest of the evening is free - perhaps a quiet drink or a visit to the bustling night markets of Bangkok.
- You will enjoy a city tour of Bangkok. You will visit the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), a must for first-time travellers to Bangkok.
- You will also visit Wat Pho, home of the famous Reclining Buddha. (When visiting temples and palaces in Thailand, please dress conservatively in order to respect the local culture).
- You will then transfer to the airport and fly up to the northern city of Chiang Rai.
- Today is a very early start, you will we need to leave Chiang Rai before dawn to travel approximately 2½ hours to Chiang Khong.
- After completing border formalities you will take a small boat across the Mekong River to Huay Xai, your first stop in Laos.
- For centuries Huay Xai was a disembarkation point for Yunnanese caravans led by the Chinese Muslims on their way to Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai, in ancient Siam. Today it is a hustling ferry town on the banks of the Mekong River.
- You will transfer to the boat pier, where you will board a slow boat for the trip down the Mekong River.
- The pace is very relaxed - a perfect way to observe the local lifestyle close up. You will arrive in the evening in Pakbeng; a colourful village situated at the junction of the Mekong River and the smaller Beng River, hence the town’s name ‘Pak’ meaning ‘mouth’ in Lao.
- Hmong and tribal Thais are frequently seen on the main street of Pakbeng, and small vendors along the street sell local textiles and handicrafts. You will spend the night in a simple hostel.
- Please be warned that the accommodation standard is very basic, but also bear in mind that you are travelling in a remote area.
- Please have an open mind and come with an adventurous spirit!
- You will continue your private slow boat journey down the Mekong River, gaining more insights into local rural life along the way.
- Just before arriving at Luang Prabang you will stop at Pak Ou (meaning ‘mouth of the Ou River’), where the famous Tam Ting Cave houses thousands of Buddha images of various shapes and sizes, all brought there by devoted villagers.
- You will also stop at the village of Ban Sang Hai, where they make the potent local rice-wine.
- Your travel time will vary greatly, depending on the water levels, but you will hopefully arrive in Luang Prabang in the early evening.
- This beautiful town, with its gleaming temple roofs, fading French architecture and stunning mountain backdrop, has been claimed by UNESCO to be ‘the best preserved city in South East Asia’.
- In the morning you will have the option to rise early to view the procession of monks on their daily outing collecting alms, a practice that dates back centuries.
- The people of the town wait out the front of their houses with food for the monks to collect and take back to the temple.
- It is done early, as the monks cannot eat anything after midday. By giving food to a monk you ‘het bon’ or make merit, which should augur well for your next life.
- Following breakfast you will visit the major temples, including the magnificent Wat Xieng Thong, which nestles at the meeting of the Mekong and the Nam Khan Rivers, and Wat Wisunalat, which is the oldest temple in the city.
- After the tour you will have the chance to walk around the local shops, which are known for hand weaving and other interesting artifacts. You will have the chance to try your hand at bargaining here.
- You will visit the National Museum at the former Royal Palace next, an interesting structure that dates from the early years of the 20th Century and combines traditional Lao architecture with French colonial influence.
- The collection of treasures and artifacts reflects the richness of Lao culture, dating from the days of the early kings right through to the last sovereign, who was deposed in 1975.
- In the afternoon you will embark on another highlight of the stay - a 29 kilometres journey south of town to visit the beautiful Kuang Si Waterfalls.
- In the evening back in Luang Prabang you will be free to make further discoveries including walking around the popular Night Bazaar.
- Another great optional activity is to sample a traditional Lao massage and herbal sauna.
- In the mid-morning you will harness your spirit of adventure and travel on a private bus to remote Xieng Khuang Province, an area that was devastated by American bombing between 1964 and 1973.
- The high altitude means that the weather will be relatively cool. You will visit the province’s old capital of Muang Khun that was largely destroyed in the bombing raids, as well as the nearby villages, home to the Hmong hill tribe who have an interesting local culture and colourful history.
- The Hmong people wear distinctive costumes and live at high altitudes. You will spend the night in a basic hotel in the small town of Phonsavan, which is the province’s current capital.
- In the morning you will visit the Plain of Jars, an archaeological site where hundreds of large stone jars are littered all over the plateau.
- It is said that these jars are over 2000 years old, but there is no reliable way of dating them and archaeologists are still mystified as to their original purpose (opinions vary from burial urns to rice whisky vats).
- You will then be transferred to the airport to catch a flight to Vientiane - the capital of Laos.
- A city tour will acquaint you with the major sights of the capital.
- You will visit the imposing Patuxai monument (also known as the Anousavari, which translates as ‘Victory’ in Lao), which is Vientiane's version of the Arc de Triomphe and dominates the city's main thoroughfare.
- It was also nicknamed the ‘Vertical Runway’, which refers to the fact that it was built in the 1960s with funds that the US Government had given to the Lao Government for the expressed purpose of extending the runway at the airport!
- Wat Si Saket is the oldest temple in the city, and Wat Prakeo, the former royal temple, previously housed the famous Emerald Buddha image before the Siamese took it in the late 18th Century.
- You will visit both temples and the most famous structure in Laos, the That Luang stupa.
- A drink in a riverside bar watching the glorious sunset over the Mekong River is the perfect way to finish the day.
- Your ends after breakfast.
- A transfer to the airport is not included; however, your tour leader will be on hand to advise you as to the options available.
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.
Discovery tours are all about exploring & experiencing the world with like-minded people, dipping your toe beneath the usual tourist surface & discovering the real essence of a region. They are genuinely innovative, exciting & imaginative tours that offer that little bit more to travellers.
- Enjoy a destination in depth and comfort
- Tourist class hotels and family homestays
- Both private and local transport
- A number of included activities and meals throughout
- Fully trained and experienced leader.
Our Plus tours allow you to immerse yourself within a destination or culture whilst travelling and sleeping in comfort. They are packed with highlights to ensure you get the most out of your valuable time away yet are also slower paced allowing you time to savour the culture, traditions and sights of your destination – the perfect balance.
On some trips we’ll push you out of your comfort zone to ensure an authentic experience, on other trips you will stay in amazing places where there is no ‘roughing it’ involved. There is plenty of choice so you can select a trip with as much activity or as little as you wish. Our small groups ensure a more intimate experience and that the impact on the local environment and community is kept to a minimum. Extra Comfort tours offer rich and rewarding adventures and are stress-free, safe and, most importantly, fun!
- Innovative itineraries offering authentic travel encounters
- A mix of active adventure, culture, wildlife, sightseeing and relaxation
- Well appointed, quality hotels in central locations
- Arrival transfers, transport (mostly private) and accommodation included
- Many meals and adventure activities also included
- Fully trained and experienced local leaders
This tour is operated by our partners Peregrine Adventures
- The services of expert English-speaking local tour leaders in both countries, and local guides at some sites
- Local flights: Bangkok to Chiang Rai and Phonsavan to Vientiane
- Sightseeing (including entrance fees where relevant): Bangkok - the Grand Palace, Temple of the Emerald Buddha and Temple of the Reclining Buddha; thousands of Buddha images in Tam Ting Cave; Ban Sang Hai village; Luang Prabang - the procession of monks, Wat Xieng Thong, Wat Wisunalat and the National Museum at the former Royal Palace; Kuang Si Waterfalls; Muang Khun; Plain of Jars; Vientiane - Patuxai Monument, Wat Si Saket, Wat Prakeo and That Luang Stupa.- ‘Slow’ boat cruises down the Mekong River to Pakbeng village and to Luang Prabang
- A night in a simple hostel in Pakbeng village - home to tribal Thais, and a night in a basic hotel in Phonsavan - home to the Hmong hill tribe
- Free time to explore Luang Prabang.- Arrival transfer.
International flights, airport departure taxes, departure transfer, visas, insurance, other meals, any optional tours and activities during free time, tips and items of a personal nature.
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.