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Mekong Delight

Laos is one of Asia’s most unvisited, unchanged countries. This once – powerful kingdom known as Lane Xang (Million Elephants) was founded in the 14th century with the help of the Khmers, and it went on to become one of the largest kingdoms in Southeast Asia until its demise in the late 19th century. Bisected and bordered by the Mekong River, omnipresent symbol of Indochina.

Itinerary

Day 1.  Chiangrai

Arrive in Chiangrai airport. Our guide will pick you up at the airport, then we go to the hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight in Chiangrai.

Day 2.   Chiangrai – HoueiSay – Pakbeng (B/L)

This morning you have an early transfer from the hotel to Chiang Khong, the exit point from Thailand. After passing through immigration, you cross the Mekong River to HoueiSay in Laos where your guide will be waiting for you at the immigration point. After completing border formalities, you board the LuangSay Cruise ready for the trip downwards the river. Serene, timeless. Laos is one of Asia’s most unvisited, unchanged countries. This once-powerful kingdom known as Lane Xang (Million Elephants) was founded in the 14th century with the help of the Khmers, and it went on to become one of the largest kingdoms in Southeast Asia until its demise in the late 19th century. Bisected and bordered by the Mekong River, omnipresent symbol of Indochina. Laos today is an amalgam of cultural influences; Theravada Buddhism, animism, France, and the socialist ideal. It is a peaceful place, and the legendary hospitality, resilience and friendliness of the Lao people is much in evidence. Laos is Old Asia preserved. As you journey downriver you will stop at some tribal villages such as the Hmong, Yao and Khmu. Overnight in LuangSay Lodge.

Day 3: Pakbeng – Luang Prabang (B/L)

Breakfast. As you sail down river, you’ll pass the areas of unspoilt forest with little villages along the river banks and may see one odd elephant or two with his mahout. Then you visit a fishing village and a rice wine making village and you can taste some of the beverage known as Lao wine. You also visit the Pak-Ou caves with their thousands of Buddha statues. You arrive in Luang Prabang around sunset and transfer to your hotel. This evening. You can take a stroll around this enchanting little town, overnight in Luang Prabang.

Day 4: Luang Prabang – City Tours (B/L)

Breakfast, we are exploring this charming city of UNESCO world heritage site, The Luang Prabang is a small, dream – like town on the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers, in a beautiful mountain setting. From 1353 until 1545 it was the capital of Lane Xang before power was transferred to Vientiane. Despite the move Luang Prabang remained the seat of monarchical power, and when the kingdom broke up in 1694, one of the deceased king’s grandsons established a rival kingdom to those in Vientiane and Champassak. Though weakened, the Luang Prabang royalty endured until 1975, when after the reign of 63 kings it was formally dissolved. You spend the day exploring the temples and sites which is called one of the last Shangri-La’s of Southeast Asia. You will visit Wat Xiang Thong, the most important Buddhist monastery in the country, Wat Visoun, Wat Khili and Wat Mai. Later, visit the former Royal Palace, now a National Museum where you will find ornate, gilded and brocaded reception rooms, as well as Buddha and Atacular artifacts including the Prabang, a large holy image, which was given in the 14th century by the Khmers to King Fa Ngum. At sunset climb the nearby temple-topped hill of Phousi where you will have a lovely view out over the town and the river. From there, we explore Street Night Market, where you can find some lovely collections and handmade textile by local and hill tribe people surrounding Luang Prabang. Overnight in Luang Prabang.

Day 5:  Luang Prabang – Tat Khuangsi Waterfall (B/L)

This morning you may want to get up early and participate in the daily early morning ritual of saffron – clad monks with their black Alms-giving bowls to get offerings from the local people, including the ubiquitous sticky rice.  Breakfast, we excurse Khouangsi waterfall. On the way, you will visit the morning Phosi 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 crafts, and today you will visit local village of Lao ethnic minority groups at Ban Ouay and Ban Thapene and the weaving village of Ban Phanom. If we have enough time, you may also wish to drive to the beautiful Khouangsi Waterfall where you can splash around in the pools or walk along the forest paths, overnight in Luang Prabang.

Day 6: Luang Prabang – Vang Vieng – Vientiane (B/L)

After a leisurely breakfast, you begin the drive southwards  to Vientiane.On the way, drop off visiting minority villages along 13th north route, via Vang Vieng where  natural resources remain unspoiled and enjoying the view of mountains and beautiful landscapes. After a short stop, we are heading out to Vientiane, the capital city of Laos, built by the French on the site of Wieng Chan, the 16th century capital of Lane Xang. Wieng Chan was already bristling by the time Europe was emerging from obscurity, and today is a small bustling city that retains an air of Its French colonial past. Overnight in Vientiane.

Day 7:   Vientiane – City Tours (B/L)

Breakfast. This morning you begin your sightseeing by paying a visit to the market. The market is a wildly colorful and olfactory delight – amid baskets piled with rice, eggs, and tea, ducks, pigs and fish both alive and dead, are food stalls selling noodles, soup, and ‘food to go’ wrapped in banana leaves, existing cheek by jowl with sellers of jasmine, orchids, and marigolds – the latter being woven into garlands for temple offerings. From there you begin a Walking Tour of the city’s old Wats beginning with the venerable Wat Sisaket with its many wall niches holding small Buddhas, Wat Prakeo – a former royal temple, the major Wats of Wat Mixai, Wat Ong Tu, Wat Hai Sok and Wat In Paeng, ending with some French colonial houses. In the afternoon, you pay a visit to the studio of Carol Cassidy, an American who has done much to advance the Laos weaving tradition. Later this afternoon you visit Pha That Luang, a national symbol of Lao sovereignty and a Buddhist shrine, overnight in Vientiane.

Day 8: Vientiane – Hanoi (B/L)

On arrival at Noi Bai Airport, you are welcome and transferred to hotel. Ha Noi , Vietnam’s capital, is a stylish and gracious city that retains a unique old world charm and some Asia’s most striking colonial architecture. (If have time) we enjoy a short cycle ride around the old quarter streets. Overnight in Ha Noi.

Day 9: Ha Noi – Halong (B/L)

After breakfast, we start our city tour with a visit to Ho Chi Minh Complex, including the mausoleum of the beloved leader Ho Chi Minh, the President Palace, Ho Chi Minh’s house on stilts and the One Pillar Pagoda, origin of which date back to the foundation of Hanoi. We then continue our trip to the Temple of Literature, well known as Vietnam’s first university and the History Museum, which displays an excellent collection of artifacts illustrating the Vietnamese history. After a visit to the peaceful lake of Hoan Kiem with its sacred temple, we make our way to Halong Bay, stopping at pottery village. Overnight in Ha Long.

Day 10: Ha Long – Hanoi (B/L)

Today, we embark on a boat cruising around Halong Bay, truly one of Vietnam’s most impressive scenic sights. A five -hour cruise provides a fantastic view of the magnificent bay, dotted with some 3,000 – limestone islands rising amazingly from the clear and emerald water. Along the way, we will anchor for a leisurely swim in a secluded cove and an enjoyable visit to one of many beautiful caves. A seafood lunch on board is some of excitement of the trip. We then return to Ha Noi, arriving in time to watch an evening performance of Ha Noi’s famous water puppetry artists. Overnight in Hanoi.

Day 11: Hanoi – Danang – Hoian (B/L)

An early afternoon flight to Danang. The sightseeing tour of central Vietnam begins with Hoi An Town, which was originally a Cham seaport but has been influenced down centuries by a myriad of traders from various cultures. The tranquility and charm of the town with its low tiled houses and assembly halls scattered along the small streets make it one of the most delightful places to visit in Vietnam. After checking into hotel, we will have time strolling around the town to explore the lively Central Market and visit the famous Japanese Covered Bridges, the Pottery Museum, many temples and pagodas of Chinese appearance. Overnight in Hoi An.

Day 12:  Hoi An – Hue (B/L)

Heading out of town, we drive northwards to Hue, Vietnam’s imperial capital from 1802 to 1945. Along the way, we make stopover at the sensational Marble Mountains before arriving in Danang City for a visit to the Cham Museum, home to Vietnam’s largest collection of Cham treasures. We then follow the road hugging the central coast before crossing over the scenic Hai Van Pass and dropping down to the fishing villages of Lang Co. On arrival in Hue, we enjoy a cruise on the Perfume River, stopping at bustling Dong Ba Market and the beautiful Thien Mu Pagoda, and then visit the Imperial City and the Forbidden Purple City. This royal residence was all but destroyed during the 1968 Tet Offensive. Overnight in Hue. (Breakfast included)

Day 13: Hue – Ho Chi Minh (B)

The royal mausoleum of Emperor Tu Duc is also visited, this morning before we board a flight south. Ho Chi Minh City, still called Saigon by many locals, is crowded with bikes and motorbikes, excited by numerous shopping area and sidewalk cafés. A half-day sightseeing tour takes us in the Reunification Palace, which was the former residence of the President of South Vietnam until end of April 1975, and some French colonial structures including the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Old Saigon Post Office. After seeing the Jade Emperor Pagoda and the War Remnant, we continue our trip on to the bustling Ben Thanh Market where anything and everything is for sale. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 14: Ho Chi Minh – Mekong Delta – Ho Chi Minh

Heading out of town, we travel by road to My Tho Province. On arrival, we embark on a boat navigating around the small canals in the Mekong Delta, which is a great way to observe the local lifestyles close – up. We pass through the lush green vegetation before arriving at an orchard where there are some opportunities to visit the various fascinating local industries. After feasting on a huge lunch followed with seasonal fruits, we return to Ho Chi Minh, stopping off along the way to see the beautiful Ving Trang Pagoda and the Cho Lon, Saigon’s Chinatown, which is crammed8 with fascinating temples and mysterious, narrow lanes.  Overnight in Ho Chi Minh.

Day 15: Ho Chi Minh – Departure (B)

There is a free time to relax or further explore Ho Chi Minh. The tour ends after your transfer to Tan San Nhat Airport for departure.


Tour includes

- Transportation in private air-conditioned buses
- Domestic air ticket with airport tax
- Accommodation in  2 star hotel with twin sharing
- Boat trip as stated in above sights
- Join boat cruise Luang Say and Halong Bay
- English or French speaking guide
- Admission fee to indicated sights
- Domestic government tax and service charge
- Luggage handling

Tour excludes

- Visa stamping fee on arrival US$30.00/pax
- Airport departure tax US$10.00/pax
- Air tickets from Laos to Vietnam
- Travel Insurance in all kinds
- Meals:(lunch or dinner, quoted separately)
- Tip, drinks, personal expenses and others not stated.