LAO - T 09: NORTHERN MYSTERIES, 8 days (L)                                    

Vientiane - Vang Vieng - Luang Prabang - Xieng Khuang Phonsavanh - Vientiane

 

Day 1     Vientiane

 

Arrival in Vientiane, meeting on arrival at Vientiane airport, direct transfer to the hotel. After refreshment, sightseeing in Vientiane - the capital city and seat of government sits in a bend of the Mekong River amidst fertile alluvial plains. Vientiane (pronounced 'Wieng Chan' by the locals) is a laid-back city with interesting wats and lively markets. Visit Pha That Luang - the Great Sacred Reliquary, Patuxai, Ho Pha Keo, Wat Si Saket, Wat Si Muang and free time for shopping at Talaat Sao.

Overnight in Vientiane

 

PHA THAT LUANG (Great Sacred Reliquary or Great Stupa): built between the 11th and 13th centuries AD, it is the most important national monument in Laos, a symbol of both the Buddhist religion and Lao sovereignty.

 

PATUXAI: a large monument in the style of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the huge arch at the end of Thanon Lan Xang has a stairway that leads to the top levels of the monument, providing a good view of the city.

 

HO PHA KEO: the former royal temple of the Lao monarchy built in 1565 by King Setthathirat and now converted into a museum containing some of the best examples of Buddhist sculptures found in Laos.

 

WAT SI SAKET: constructed in 1818 by King Anouvong in the early Bangkok style, small niches are carved into its interior walls, containing more than 2,000 silver and ceramic Buddha images.

 

WAT SI MUANG: this temple is one of the most popularly used temple grounds in the city, as it contains the city pillar and acts as the home of Vientiane's guardian spirits.

 

TALAAT SAO: the Morning Market - actually open all day sells a wide range of fabrics, jewellery and electronic goods. 

 

Day 2     Vientiane - Vang Vieng 

 

After breakfast at the hotel, traveling by vehicle from Vientiane via Nam Ngum Lake to Vang Vieng (incl. Ban Keun Zoo) drive to the south through the scenic province of Vientiane. The climate is pleasant and the views are nice, with mountains and cliffs along the first part of the journey. Visit Nam Ngum Lake and Ban Keun Zoo.

Overnight in Vang Vieng

 

NAM NGUM LAKE: the beautiful scenery around the Nam Ngum River and its green valley is enhanced by the presence of a vast, spectacular lake. This is a man-made reservoir for a hydroelectric power dam that generates most of the electricity sold to Thailand.

 

BAN KEUN ZOO: a pleasant local zoo with animals from the region.

 

Day 3     Vang Vieng - Luang Prabang 

 

After breakfast, short trekking in the surroundings of Vang Vieng.

From Tham Xang (the Elephant cave) a nice path leads through the rice fields and along an irrigation channel to a Hmong village. From the main road, a vehicle will be waiting for the transfer back to Vang Vieng. By vehicle from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang - Journey north across the Xieng Khuang Plateau passing through Ban Phatang and Muang Kasi.

Overnight in Luang Prabang.

 

Day 4     Luang Prabang 

 

After breakfast at the hotel, sightseeing in Luang Prabang - the ancient capital city of the Lan Xang Kingdom, is famous for its historic temples and beautiful setting surrounded by mountains. In 1995, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit famous Temple, Wat Xieng Thong - the most beautiful monastery in Luang Prabang. Visit Wat Wisunalat, Wat Mai, Wat That Luang and Wat Sean.

Overnight in Luang Prabang  

 

WAT XIENG THONG: built in 1560 and situated on the banks of the Mekong River, it is the most beautiful monastery in Luang Prabang and shows the typical Lao art style with old religious artifacts and some ancient masterpieces of Lao art.

 

WAT WISUNALAT (Vat Visoun): built in 1513 during the reign of Chao Wisunalat, it is the oldest operating temple in Luang Prabang with a collection of gilded wooden Buddhas from the 15th and 16th centuries.

 

WAT MAI: constructed in 1821 during the reign of King Manthatourath, it was once the residence of Phra Sangkharaj (the Patriarch of the Buddhist clergy).

 

WAT THAT LUANG: the ashes of King Sisavang Vong are interred inside the large central stupa, which was erected in 1910. The inside of the huge sim dating back to 1820 contains a few Luang Prabang Buddhas and other artifacts.

 

WAT SAEN: Thai style wat built in 1718 and restored in 1957. The abbot Ajannn Khamjan who was ordained here in 1940 is one of the most revered monks in Luang Prabang and perhaps in all of Laos.

 

Day 5     Luang Prabang 

 

After breakfast at the hotel, excursion by boat from Luang Prabang to the Pak Ou Caves, visit Ban Xang Hai - the village that make local rice whisky and Ban Thing Hong before transfer back to Luang Prabang. Afternoon continue sightseeing to National Museum and enjoy excellent view of the town over Phu Si Hill.

Overnight in Luang Prabang

 

PAK OU CAVES: this are two caves (Tham Thing lower cave and Tham Phum) located in the steep rock cliff at the confluence of the Mekong River and Ou River. They are full of Buddha images of varying styles, ages and sizes.

 

BAN XANG HAI: located near the Pak Ou Caves, this village was once a 'Jar-Maker Village' and nowadays the community fills the jars (which come from elsewhere) with láo-láo, the local rice whisky. Sightseeing in Luang Prabang

 

NATIONAL MUSEUM: located on the banks of the Mekong River, it was constructed as Royal Palace between 1904 and 1909 and today houses the Royal throne of the Lan Xang Kingdom and many other pieces of regalia and religious treasures.

 

MOUNT PHU SI: the temples on the upper slopes of the 100m-high. Phu Si was constructed recently, but it is likely that previously there were other temples on this important hill. From the top there is an excellent view of the town.

 

Day 6     Luang Prabang - Xieng Khuang - Phonsavanh 

 

After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to the airport for flight from Luang Prabang to Xieng Khuang. Arrival Xieng Khuang, greeting by local guide and transfer to the hotel before sightseeing Plain of Jars, one of the most intriguing sights in Laos and Muang Khoun.

Overnight in Phonsavanh.

 

PLAIN OF JARS: large area extending around Phonsavanh from the southwest to the northeast where huge jars (up to 1000kg each) of unknown origin are scattered about in at least a dozen groupings. It is one of the most intriguing sights in Laos.

 

MUANG KHOUN: The ancient capital that was founded by Chao Noi Muang and was a stronghold for the Xieng Khuang royal family was destroyed during the Indochina War. The town was rebuilt after 1975 with rows of wooden Lao houses and a market area. It has an impressive location as mountains surround it.

 

Day 7     Xieng Khuang - Vientiane

 

After breakfast in the morning, visit local market - lively open-air local market before transfer to the airport for flight from Xieng Khuang to Vientiane. 

Afternoon at leisure

Overnight in Vientiane

 

Day 8     Vientiane

 

After breakfast at the hotel, free at leisure before transfer to the airport for departure.

 

 

End of Services    **Note: Itinerary subject to change due to flight schedules.

 

 

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