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Laos’ isolation from foreign influence offers travelers an unparalleled glimpse of traditional Southeast Asian life. Laos is the highlight of Southeast Asia from the fertile lowlands of the Mekong River valley to the rugged Annamite highlands. The architectural contrasts between the North and the South allow visitors to learn about the history and foreign influences on the country. Luang Prabang is an excellent place to find locally produced handicrafts and hand-woven textiles.
Upon arrival at Wattay Airport, you will be met and transferred to your centrally located hotel. After a short rest, we begin our orientation walking tour of the Lao capital and finish with a relaxing drink overlooking a Mekong River sunset. Overnight in Vientiane
AM: After breakfast, we embark upon a tour of the major sights of the capital; including the oldest Wat Sisaket which contains thousands of miniature Buddha statues and the former royal temple of Wat Prakeo which previously housed the famous Emerald Buddha Image. We visit Lao national icon, That Luang Stupa, and you will have the opportunity to take pictures of the imposing Patuxay Monument, which is well known as Vientiane’s own Arc de Triumph. From there, we visit the ‘Morning Market’, where one can find an array of antiquities, handmade textiles and gifts.
PM: The rest of the afternoon will be spent visiting the National Museum (closed Tuesdays), which boasts a collection of antique items and tells the history of Laos’s fighters and leaders from the Ancienttimes through to the new revolution period. We then board a short flight to Luang Prabang, which is perhaps the best – preserved traditional city in Southeast Asia. On arrival, we transfer you to your hotel. After a short rest, we will stroll around the Night Market, where you will find a lovely selection of local handmade textiles. We then hike to the top of Mount Phousi for an exploration of the sacred, gilded stupa and beautiful panoramic views of the sun setting over the city and the Mekong River. Overnight in Luang Prabang (B)
After breakfast, we enjoy a short-guided tour of the city’s oldest temple, Wat Visoun and the shrines of Wat Aham and Wat Mai and Wat Sene and the magnificent Wat Xiengthong with its roofs sweeping low, representing the classical architecture of Luang Prabang. We then embark on a boat journey upstream along the Mekong River, which gives us a beautiful view of the tranquil countryside as well as an interesting visit to the mysterious Pak Ou Caves, two linked caves crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes left by pilgrims. En route, we stop at the village of Ban Xanghai, where local rice wine is produced. On our return, we stop at the local villages of Ban Xiengmene and Ban Chan then continue to see the royal temple at Wat Longkhoun. Once back in Luang Prabang city we take a short drive to Ban Phanom, famous for its hand weaving. 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. You can also visit the morning Phosi Market where you canl 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 crafts, and today you will have the opportunity to visit the local village of the Lao ethnic minority groups at Ban Ou, Ban Ou, and Ban Thapene villages. After visiting the villages, we then drive to the beautiful Khouangsi Waterfalls where you may to wish cool in the inviting pools or walk along the forest paths. We return to Luang Prabang by the late evening in time for the sunset at Wat Siphouthabath. Overnight in Luang Prabang (B)
After breakfast, we visit the National Museum (closed Tuesdays) at the former Royal Palace. It displays a collection of artifacts reflecting the richness of Lao culture dating from the days of the early kings right through to the last sovereign. There will also be time for us to look around the Central Market. You will then be transferred to the airport for your flight. (B)
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