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The Mekong River is a sleepy, undeveloped river waiting to be explored. It is Southeast Asia’s longest river and is perfect for leaving your busy life behind to immerse yourself in the beautiful and exotic riverscape. On this mythical journey, you will hear many legends about the river, which is hollowed out of massive limestone cliffs along both sides of its river; we make a stop at Pakou to admire the fascinating gilded Buddha cave on the bank of the Mekong River.
This morning you will have an early morning transfer from Chiang Rai to Chiang Khong, the exit point from Thailand on the banks of the Mekong. After passing through immigration, you will cross the Mekong River to HoueiSay in Laos where your Lao guide will be waiting for you at the immigration point. After completing border formalities, you board a ready traditional boat for the trip down the Mekong River. The scenery along this part of the Mekong is arguably at its most beautiful. As your journey downriver you will stop at some tribal minority villages such as the Hmong, Yao, and Khmu. Upon arrival in Pakbeng, we visit the local market; experience the daily lifestyle of colorful hill tribe traders who exchanges their goods. Overnight in Pakbeng (B)
As you sail downriver as a second leg, you will pass areas of un-spoilt forest with little villages along the riverbanks and perhaps the odd elephant or two with his mahout. You will also visit a fishing village and a rice winemaking village and perhaps even taste some of the infamous beverage known as Lao Rice wine. You also visit the Pak-Ou caves, where thousands of Buddha statues are stored. You arrive in Luang Prabang around sunset and transfer to your hotel. We then have time tol visit Wat Xiang Thong, the most important Buddhist monastery in the country. Overnight in Luang Prabang (B)
An optional early start gives you the fantastic opportunity to participate in the daily morning rituals of saffron-clad monks collecting offerings of Alms (often in the form of sticky rice) from the faithful residents. This tradition is very unique in Laos, being the only Buddhist nation still preserving the ritual.
AM: We explore, Wat Visoun, Wat Khili, and Wat Mai. Later, visit the former Royal Palace, now a National Museum (closed Tuesdays) where you will find ornate, gilded, and brocaded reception rooms, as well as artifacts including the Prabang, a large holy image, which was given in the 14th century by the Khmers to King Fa Ngum. At sunset, we climb the nearby temple-topped hill of Mount Phousi where you’ll catch a lovely view over the town and the Mekong River.
PM: We travel out of the town this afternoon and visit the most beautiful waterfall in Luang Prabang. On the way, we visit Phousi Market, where you will see such diverse offerings as dried buffalo skin, local tea, and saltpeter among the chickens, vegetables, and hill-tribe weavings. Laos is also known for its traditional handicrafts, and today we will visit the villages of Ban Ouray and Ban Thapene and the weaving village of Ban Phanom which are populated by Lao ethnic minority groups. We spend time at the beautiful Khouangsi Waterfall where you Take a dip in the inviting pools or walk along the forest paths. We return to Luang Prabang city by late afternoon and visit the Night Market, where you can find the lovely selection of handmade textiles from local and hill tribe people surrounding Luang Prabang. Overnight in Luang Prabang (B)
A prominent Luang Prabang silver smith’s, the Fine Arts School, and the Central Market are of interest to many people and we can visit these sights before bidding farewell to Luang Prabang and catching your flight to Vientiane. Upon arrival, we see the major temples including the oldest Wat Sisaket, a temple of thousands of miniature Buddha statues, and the former royal temple of Wat Prakeo, which previously housed the famous Emerald Buddha Image. We also visit Lao national icon, That Luang Stupa, and we stop to take some pictures of the imposing Patuxay Monument, which is Vientiane’s own Arc de Triumph. We enjoy our final evening by watching the sunset by the Mekong Riverside and taking in the city atmosphere at night. Overnight in Vientiane (B)
After breakfast, we visit the Morning Market (if time permits) tour ends after your transfer to the airport for departure (B)
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