The Essence of Laos

Discover the Best of Laos

Laos, a Southeast Asian gem boasting lush mountains, serene temples, and the mighty Mekong River. Its rich culture, friendly locals, French colonial architecture, and UNESCO-listed Luang Prabang make it a captivating and tranquil destination.

Begin in the quaint riverside town of Pakbeng. Nestled along the banks of the Mekong River, Pakbeng offers a serene introduction to the country’s natural beauty. From Pakbeng, journey to the enchanting Luang Prabang. Delve into the town’s rich cultural tapestry as you witness the sacred alms-giving ceremony, a deeply spiritual ritual where saffron-clad monks collect offerings from devotees. Explore ancient temples like Wat Xieng Thong and ascend Mount Phousi for panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes.

Continue your odyssey to the picturesque village of Nong Khiaw, nestled amidst dramatic limestone cliffs along the Nam Ou River. Here, embark on a leisurely river cruise, soaking in the serenity of the surrounding landscapes adorned with lush forests and traditional Laotian villages.

Conclude your journey in Pakse, with a visit to the tranquil Four Thousand Islands, a scenic archipelago in the Mekong River. Explore the peaceful island existence, cycling through picturesque villages, and be captivated by the magnificent Khone Phapheng Falls, the grandest waterfall in Southeast Asia.


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KEY FACTS
PEAK TIME

October - April

PRICE

From £5,300 $13,900 pp excl. flights

IDEAL LENGTH

12 Days

FLIGHT TIME

15 hours from London
27 hours from NYC

CURRENCY

Lao Kip

LANGUAGE

Lao

Where you'll go

Pakbeng

Luang Prabang

Nong Khiaw

Pakse

When to go

  • J
  • F
  • M
  • A
  • M
  • J
  • J
  • A
  • S
  • O
  • N
  • D
Best time to visit
Good time to visit
Average time to visit

Lao New Year, known as “Pi Mai,” is celebrated in April with water festivals where people splash water on each other to wash away the previous year’s misfortunes.

The itinerary highlights

Nam Ou River Cruise

Set off from Nong Khiaw on a traditional boat, cruising up the Nam Ou River to Muang Ngoi. En route, pause at one (or more) of the ethnic minority villages dotting this stretch of river. Explore Muang Ngoi Neu waterfall, indulging in lunch and a refreshing swim. Return downstream, savouring scenic views and capturing the sunset’s beauty over the river. It’s a day of cultural immersion, natural wonders, and tranquil moments along Laos’s picturesque waterways.

Early Morning Alms Giving

Experience the alms-giving ceremony in Luang Prabang as saffron-clad monks walk the streets at dawn accepting offerings of rice and food as a symbol of respect and generosity. Witness this deeply spiritual tradition, guided by a serene atmosphere and the rhythmic sound of bare feet on the pavement. It’s a timeless ritual that offers a glimpse into Laos’s rich cultural heritage and the devotion of its people.

Baci Ceremony

Partake in a Baci ceremony, a revered Laotian tradition predating Buddhism. These ceremonies, integral to Lao culture, commemorate significant life events like marriages, homecomings, or farewells. Rooted in ancient beliefs, they realign the ‘kwan’ (soul) with the body’s 32 organs. A village elder will encircle your wrist with white cotton thread, invoking blessings for peace and prosperity. Delight in regional Laotian delicacies following this heartfelt traditional welcome.

MandaLao Elephant Sanctuary

Upon arrival at MandaLao Elephant Sanctuary, your guide begins with insights into the sanctuary and a detailed overview of elephant behaviour. MandaLao’s elephants, aged four to over 60 years, have predominantly served in logging camps and low-welfare tourist sites. With new regulations curbing logging activities in Laos and heightened concerns for elephant welfare, MandaLao ensures these magnificent creatures lead a dignified and harmonious life amidst nature. Embark on a trek alongside the elephants, traversing traditional Laos gardens, jungle trails, and streams.

Hike to Pha Daeng Viewpoint

Embark on a scenic hike to Pha Daeng viewpoint from Nong Khiaw. The trail winds through lush forests and gradual inclines, culminating at the highest accessible point. From here, above the clouds, marvel at stunning 360-degree panoramas, capturing the picturesque villages and meandering river below. The three-hour trek promises not only breathtaking views but also a rewarding adventure amidst the natural beauty of Laos.

Four Thousand Islands

Head south to Ban Hatsaikhoune, where a private boat awaits for your journey through the ‘Si Phan Don’ or 4000 Islands. This riverine archipelago comprises a dynamic collection of Mekong River islands, appearing and disappearing with the changing seasons. By lunchtime, arrive at the scenic Don Khone Island. Spend the afternoon exploring its colonial remnants by bicycle, tuk-tuk, or foot, tracing the abandoned railway route and admiring French colonial architecture, culminating at the beautiful Liphi Waterfall. On your return, marvel at the majestic Khone Phapheng Falls, one of Southeast Asia’s largest waterfalls, before reaching your hotel in time to witness the sunset’s final glow.

The itinerary highlights

Accommodation

Where to stay

Nothing but the best. On this suggested Laos itinerary these are our handpicked, tried-and-tested choices.

Pakbeng Lodge

Pakbeng Lodge, nestled along the Mekong River, offers a tranquil escape amid lush landscapes.

Each room features an en-suite bathroom and a cosy veranda, perfect for soaking in the serene river vistas. The lodge features traditional Lao architecture with comfortable accommodations and an on-site restaurant which serves delicious Lao and international cuisine. Nearby, you can enjoy guided nature walks, visit local villages, and explore the vibrant surroundings.

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Satri House, Luang Prabang

This stunning boutique hotel offers a unique blend of traditional Lao style and French colonial architecture, beautifully adorned with intricate woodwork, lush gardens and charming courtyards.

Its prime location in Luang Prabang allows guests to explore the city's cultural landmarks, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and vibrant local markets, before returning to Satri House’s elegant accommodations, a tranquil spa and a refreshing swimming pool.

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The River Resort, Pakse

The River Resort in Pakse is set along the scenic banks of the Mekong River. Surrounded by lush gardens and verdant landscapes, the resort features elegant villas and suites with private terraces offering stunning river views.

The on-site restaurant serves exquisite Lao and international cuisine, emphasizing fresh, local ingredients. We love The River Resort for its serene ambiance, attentive service, and proximity to attractions like the Bolaven Plateau and Wat Phou,

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Maison de Nong Khiaw, Nong Khiaw

Resort Maison de Nong Khiaw is simple yet charming. Eleven rooms sit on an incline overlooking the river and a towering limestone rock-face, and come equipped with balconies that allow for a spectacular view of the natural surroundings.

Elsewhere is a pool, a steam bath and the opportunity for philanthropic engagement with the local community.

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