Upon arrival at the airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Please look for the WORLD EXPEDITIONS welcome sign in the arrivals hall. Luang Prabang is perhaps the best-preserved traditional city in Southeast Asia. The tranquility and charm of this town with its splendid natural scenery and cultural sights make it one of the most delightful places to visit in Laos. It enchants with its magnificent location amidst mountain ranges and its historic temples, which gave the city the title of World Heritage Site by UNESCO.Today is free at your leisure to explore the city. There will be a trip briefing in the hotel foyer, please check at hotel reception for timing.
Overnight in Luang Prabang
This morning you will explore the city by Tuk Tuk. The Tuk Tuk (a motorized-rickshaw) was brought to Southeast Asia in 1934 from Japan, and has since then become an icon of the region. The classic Tuk Tuk is a sheet-metal roof covering an open frame which rests on three wheels. They're one of most popular forms of transportation in Laos, Thailand and Cambodia, and this Southeast Asian emblem is the perfect vehicle for an open-air tour of Luang Prabang. We depart from the hotel at 08:30am, get on the Tuk Tuk to the open-air Morning Market in the old town. There are only a few large grocery stores here instead, food is still produced by small farming families and villages and brought to Luang Prabang from the surrounding rural areas. Your guide will explain the common vegetables and fruits that are in season and pick up some snacks for later. A short walk from the market is impressive Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham ("New Monastery"), the fascinating National Museum (Royal Palace) and Hor Phra Bang (a chapel). Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham is one of Luang Prabang's largest and most richly decorated temples and was founded around 1780 by King Anurat of the Luang Prabang Kingdom. After the museum, we travel again by tuk tuk through more of the picturesque town to Wat Visounnalath. Another short tuk tuk ride along the Nam Khan River takes us to Wat Xieng Thong (a Royal temple built by King Setthathirath in 1559). We end the day's tour on top of Mount Phousi with a view of the sacred, gilded stupa as well as a panoramic view of the city. Rising 150 m above the centre of town, Mount Phousi cuts a distinctive figure on the Luang Prabang skyline. The tour will end with a tuk tuk trip back to the hotel.
Overnight in Luang Prabang
Our tour around Luang Prabang combines mountain biking with an easygoing kayaking trip. It brings exactly the right amount of activity into your tropical day in Luang Prabang and takes you to some of the best sites, including golden temples overlooking the city and Henri Mouhot's grave. After biking through the Nam Khan valley and diverse village visits we take a break on the banks of the Nam Khan River. After lunch we take a refreshing plunge at Tad Sae Waterfall then we get into our kayaks to paddle downriver on the Nam Khan back to Luang Prabang.
High water season, August to January:
We'll get you sized up on a mountain bike, have a quick safety briefing, and then we journey along backroads to see Wat Pa Phon Phao, a golden temple with a great view of Luang Prabang. Afterward, we'll continue along the Nam Khan River to the grave of Henri Mouhot, the French explorer who popularized The Angkor Complex in Cambodia. We'll finish the 15 km ride in the Nam Khan valley amid a spectacular vista of mountains, rivers and small villages and then break for lunch at the Tiger Trail Adventure Camp mountain-view terrace or at Tad Sae Waterfall (depending on season and timing). A short boat ride will bring us to Tad Sae Waterfall for a refreshing swim under jungle canopy. That'll be followed by another short ride, to our kayaking center, where we'll conduct a brief kayaking instruction and safety review. Then we begin our adventure down the river. During the rainy season the river is high and moves at a nice pace through lush jungle countryside. It's is 20 km (12.5 mi) of easy to medium kayaking and normally takes 3-4 hours with breaks included. We'll wrap up just under the Luang Prabang city bridge, where we meet our truck for a 10 minute return ride to the city center.
Low water season, February to July:
In the low water season, the itinerary is the same with the following exceptions to give you the best experience possible. We take a slightly different bike route that includes Wat Pa Phon Phao, some unpaved riding with some fun hills, and a river crossing by boat with the bikes. The river is lower and exposes white sand beaches and riverbanks where we can stop for photos and to visit sites including Henri Mouhot's resting site in the jungle, which is a short walk from the river. Kayaking ends just below the local Ban Noun village and is approximately 2 hours (easy to medium) with some small rapids. We return to our vehicle for a 15 minute (approximately) drive to the city centre.
Overnight in Luang Prabang
The best way to see the beautiful Kuang Si Waterfall is by trekking a lush forest trail that winds through local villages and offers views of Lao mountain landscapes. This three-to-four hour trek brings you to the refreshing turquoise pools at the falls where you'll have time to cool down, swim and enjoy the Kuang Si Waterfall Nature Reserve and Bear Rescue Center. Starting from Luang Prabang, we drive to the nearby valley southeast of Luang Prabang. We arrive at the Long Lao Village where we begin our hiking tour. Before trekking we can explore the life and culture of this village where Khamu and Hmong people live. Also see the work of a Fair Trek project, a beautiful clay-built bungalow used for overnight tours to experience local village life and culture. We continue trekking into the mountainous Lao countryside of Luang Prabang and along the way we will pass orchards, rice fields, and vegetable gardens, before reaching the forested mountains with quite wild jungle scenery and some graded climbs. In the afternoon you will arrive at the crystal clear Kuang Si Waterfall. An exciting forest trail leads you to the end of your trek and your reward - the welcoming and refreshing pools of Kuang Si Waterfall where we will have plenty of time to relax and swim. While in the Kuang Si Waterfall park, you can visit the Kuang Si Bear Rescue Sanctuary. Here you will find great information about Asian sun and moon bears and the Free the Bears protection program. You are welcome to support the project with a donation or by buying a real "Free The Bears" T-Shirt. We'll return late afternoon by vehicle with a stop along the way for a guided tour of an interesting small Hmong Museum built by locals to show their life and culture. Our day concludes in the late afternoon back in Luang Prabang.
Total trekking distance is 9 km (5.5 mi) medium difficulty, slippery when wet.
Overnight in Luang Prabang
This morning we say goodbye to Luang Prabang and have a morning flight to Vientiane. The tour begins at the serene Wat Sisaket one of the most beautiful, and oldest surviving, temples in the capital (Wat Sisaket is an early 19th century Buddhist monastery), before continuing on to the nearby Hor Phra Keo. Acting as a religious museum, the site was the city's former royal temple and displays a unique collection of both Lao and Khmer works of art. Also nearby, is the Presidential Palace. Though it can only be viewed from the outside, the stunning building offers some excellent insight into the colonial history of Vientiane. Next, visit COPE, an association working to help landmine victims. A visit to the center provides in-depth information about the history of the American/Vietnam war, the lasting impact of unexploded ordinances (UXO) in the area, and the efforts underway to clear them. We then continue to the Patuxay monument. Laos' version of the Arc de Triomphe, it is possible to climb the stairs of the monument where breathtaking views over the city await. Our day wraps up at That Luang, the holiest site in Laos. Constructed by King Setthethirath in the 16th century, the temple is one of the city's most iconic with its towering golden spire.
Overnight in Vientiane.
This morning we will fly from Vientiane to Pakse and continue to the ancient Khmer temple complex of Vat Phou Champasak. Vat Phou is considered one of the oldest archaeological sites in Laos. One temple in the site was constructed around the 5th century but most buildings found in the complex are from the 11th to 13th centuries. Like other notable Khmer architecture in Southeast Asia, it was constructed using sandstone, laterite and bricks. Among many of the outstanding carvings there are the Indra, the Hindu god of war, storms, and rainfall, riding a three-headed elephant and Vishnu riding on a garuda, an eagle. After our time at Vat Phou we will drive to Paksong.
After breakfast, we will visit the coffee plantation at Sinouk Coffee Resort, Tad E-Tu Waterfall, Tad Fane Waterfall, the highest in Champasak Province, and the nearby Tad Yuang Waterfall. The views of stumbling water and lush vegetation around the waterfalls are nothing short of spectacular. From here we drive to Tha Ban Nakasang and continue by a long tail boat venturing into the widest reach of the Mekong River, where during the dry season the waters recede and leave behind thousands of islets, giving this area a lovely name "Si Phan Don". Done Khong is the largest island in the South Mekong river region, known as the 4000 islands.
Overnight in Don Khone
After breakfast, we will visit Tad Li Phi Waterfall by Tuk Tuk. The Tuk Tuk will drop you at Green Paradise office on Don Det around 9:30am., where you can enjoy and experience one of the most beautiful and exciting rapids and see Irrawaddy Dolphins. Here we start our paddling trip. The guide will give you first some basic paddle instructions. After that we paddle to the western side of Don Det and then, passing some small Islands, to the north of Don Khone. This takes about 40 minutes, after mastering some minor ones, you will enjoy some exciting grade 2-3 rapids then we will stop at the pier and walk to the Khonpasoi Waterfall (approx. 25 min. walk). We have time to enjoy the area and look around before walking to our kayaking start point and paddling for a further 30 min (approx.) where we will stop and take a slow boat to visit the Mekong Irrawaddy Dolphins area, near the Cambodia border. Next we will stop at the Cambodia border beach. There are beautiful and clean swimming spots as well and we will have a picnic lunch here. This place is not touristy and primarily visited by local fisherman. After lunch we continue paddling downstream for about 40 min. to Veun Kham village. Here a car is waiting to take us to the amazing and impressive Tad Khone Phapheng Waterfall, considered to be the biggest and wildest in southeast Asia. Then we drive to back to Ban Nakasang and enjoy kayaking back to Don Det, where it is a short walk to the hotel.
Overnight in Don Khone
This morning we travel by boat from Don Khone to Tha Ban Nakasang and continue by vehicle to Pakse, where our journey concludes. If you are flying home today you will be transferred to the airport in time for your departure.