Experience the Highlights of Laos as you travel to Vientiane and Luang Prabang. Starting in the sleepy riverside capital of Vientiane with its alluring monuments and leafy boulevards, discover the ancient atmospheric temples, the golden spires of Pha That Luang, the bizarre sculptures in Buddha Park and the beautiful textiles of this region. Travel to the enchanting town of Luang Prabang with its stunning colonial architecture, ornate monasteries and colourful markets. Rise early to witness the ancient dawn ritual of saffron robed monks collecting alms, discover the hundreds of Buddha sculptures in Pak Ou Cave, visit the spectacular Kuang Si Waterfall and climb Phou Si hill to watch the sun sink slowly behind the Mekong River.
Our Highlight itineraries cover the key attractions at a relatively quick pace. Enjoy them as they are or extend them to create your perfect holiday. Discuss itinerary options and extensions with our Asia Travel Experts.
Day 1: Vientiane
Meet your guide on arrival, transfer and check-in to your hotel. During the drive your guide will provide an introduction to Vientiane, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day. Enjoy free time for the remainder of the first day.
Set on a sweeping bend of the Mekong River, Vientiane is the tranquil and timeless capital of Laos with a kaleidoscope of architectural styles and influences ranging from traditional Lao to Thai, Chinese, French, Soviet and American. Discover crumbling French mansions, the golden spires of Pha That Luang, ancient atmospheric temples, bizarre sculptures and the Patuxai Monument, the Arc de Triomphe of Laos. From steaming noodle bars to riverside cafes, Vientiane will surprise and delight you with its quaint placid charm.
Vientiane has many great restaurants with Lao, Thai, French, Italian, Mexican and Chinese cuisines available. Ask your guide for personal recommendations.
Itinerary Option: If you’re arriving to Vientiane in the morning, discuss additional day 1 activities with our staff.
Day 2: Vientiane
Accompanied by your guide, drive southeast of the city to the Buddha Park, built in 1958 by Luang Pu, a yogi-priest shaman. The park is a fanciful garden full of Buddhist and Hindu religious sculptures which appear to be centuries old. They include statues of Shiva, Krishna, Buddha and many other deities. Of particular interest is a giant pumpkin shaped concrete monument, with three levels joined by interior stairways. The three levels are said to represent hell, earth and heaven. The cement statues are ornate and many are bizarre in design.
In the afternoon visit the weaving home-studio of Mrs Carol Cassidy, an American textiles expert who arrived in Vientiane in 1989 as part of a United Nations project to promote traditional weaving. Carol was so impressed by the quality and diversity of weaving throughout Laos that she set up the Lao Textiles Studio in Vientiane. Today the studio employs over forty local weavers who create naturally dyed and woven silk pieces reflecting traditional Lao designs. Learn about the weaving techniques or make a purchase at the gift shop to help support the cause.
Day 3: Vientiane
With your guide, discover the essential landmarks and iconic sights that the small and charismatic city of Vientiane has to offer. Vientiane remains a tranquil laid-back town, a world away from the frantic capitals in Asia, and most attractions can be reached on foot. Start at Wat Sisaket, believed to be Vientiane’s oldest surviving temple, left intact after the Siamese invasion of 1828. The interior walls of the cloister are covered in niches containing over 2000 silver and ceramic Buddha images. Next is a visit to Wat Phra Keo, built originally to house the famed Emerald Buddha and now a religious museum that displays a collection of art representing Lao and Khmer artefacts. Continue with a visit to the most popular Wat in town, Wat Si Muang before visiting Patouxay monument, Laos' version of the Arc de Triomphe and its most prominent monument. End your tour at the golden spired Pha That Luang, constructed in the 16th century and regarded as the holiest site in Laos.
Enjoy free time to explore Vientiane for the remainder of the day.
Day 4: Luang Prabang
This morning fly from Vientiane to Luang Prabang and meet your guide on arrival. Your guide will provide an introduction to Luang Prabang.
Nestled in a mountain valley at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers is the enchanting World Heritage town and former royal capital of Luang Prabang. It's a magical and captivating place with stunning colonial architecture, ornate monasteries and colourful markets. Rise early to witness the ancient dawn ritual of saffron robed monks collecting alms, discover the hundreds of Buddha sculptures in Pak Ou Caves, see the spectacular Kuang Si Waterfall and climb Phou Si hill to watch the sun sink slowly behind the Mekong River.
Accompanied by your guide walk around the beautiful ancient town of Luang Prabang taking in all of the sights. Enjoy a leisurely walk to the magnificent stupa of Wat Visoun, one of Luang Prabang’s most historically important temples, built in the 16th century and serving as a small museum for religious artefacts.
Next stop is Wat That Luang, traditionally the cremation site for Lao royalty and housing the ashes of King Sisavang Vong and his brother, interred inside the large stupa, erected in 1910. Wat Mai, beside the Royal Palace, is Luang Prabang’s oldest Pagoda, and one of the city’s most sumptuous monasteries. It is home to Sangharat, the head of Lao Buddhism.
Your walk takes you next to Wat Xieng Thong, a 16th century temple which epitomises the elegance and grace of Luang Prabang architecture and showcases classic Lao style roofs. This temple was one of only two temples spared by the Black Flag army in 1887, and it was then used as the leader’s headquarters during the invasion.
The day ends with a climb to the top of Mount Phousi. The 100 metre (328 feet) hill is crowned by a gilded stupa, That Chomsi, which dominates the old city centre. Enjoy the views of the town across the Mekong and Khan rivers, as well as the surrounding mountains.
In the late afternoon, check-in to your hotel. Luang Prabang has many great cafes and restaurants and also night food stalls which emerge at dusk. Ask your guide for personal recommendations.
Day 5: Luang Prabang
This morning set off with your guide to one of Luang Prabang’s most impressive and picturesque waterfalls, Tat Kuang Si. On the way stop off at Phosy market where you can observe locals trading in fresh produce. Across the street is Ock Pop Tock weaving centre which produces its own naturally dyed Lao silk and cotton textiles.
Kuang Si is a multi-tiered waterfall, the falls beginning in shallow pools on top of a steep hillside, with the various cascades falling into clear turquoise pools. Walk through the National Park to the waterfalls and if you're feeling energetic, climb to their source and go for a swim. After a picnic lunch in the tranquil surroundings of the park, return to Luang Prabang.
After lunch, with your guide, embark on a two hour Mekong River cruise to visit the mysterious and sacred Pak Ou Caves. As you journey by long-tail boat, typical Laotian villages are barely visible behind thick foliage. Wooden canoes attached to bamboo poles bob by the shore while floats mark the location of fishing nets.
The Pak Ou Caves are dramatically located in a limestone rock formation opposite the mouth of the Mekong and Nam Ou rivers. The sanctuaries of Pak Ou consist of two large caves cut into the limestone cliff, revealing hundreds of Buddha effigies of various sizes and styles, from the tiny to the colossal and spanning many centuries.
From the caves continue to Ban Muang Keo village where you can see local weavers and whisky distillers honouring their ancient traditional crafts. Return to Luang Prabang by river.
Day 6: Luang Prabang
Wake before dawn to witness the offering of alms to the hundreds of saffron robed monks who walk barefoot through the streets of Luang Prabang carrying their begging bowls. This early morning ritual of monks leaving their monasteries to accept alms from the Buddhist devotees dates back generations. The ceremony enables the monks to demonstrate their vows of poverty and humility, and for the Lao people to gain spiritual merit by their charity. It is an inspiring sight that you are unlikely to forget. Watch the town as it comes to life before returning to your hotel for breakfast.
You have the opportunity to participate by offering sticky rice balls to the monks. Please let your guide know so that they can organise the offering the day before.
After breakfast accompany your guide to the former Royal Palace, now the National Museum. The palace was built in 1904 and framed by an avenue of Palmyra palms, blending traditional Lao with French styles. The museum houses precious exhibits that used to be possessions of the Laos royal family. The royal family’s former residential quarters have been preserved as they were when the king departed in 1975. The royal palace car collection is displayed in a separate outbuilding.
Wander around the fascinating Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre and learn more about the people of Laos. On display you will find valuable artefacts, traditional clothing and implements from each of the twenty ethnic minority groups that inhabit the Luang Prabang area.
For the remainder of the afternoon, enjoy free time to explore Luang Prabang.
Day 7: Luang Prabang
On your last day enjoy free time until your departure transfer.
Personalise Your Trip
Phone now to discuss options to personalise your itinerary.
Ideas to upgrade or extend your itinerary:
- Vientiane: Visit the Phou Khao Kway National Park (Orchid Park) home to exceptional flora and fauna, including wild elephants and over half of Laos’ wild orchid species.
- Vientiane: Visit Nam Ngum Reservoir including a boat trip and stops at villages and the Vang Xang archaeological site.
- Vientiane: Visit the Houey Hong Vocational Training Centre for Women.
- Luang Prabang: Cruise upriver to Pak Ou caves with the option of extending to an overnight stay at Pakbeng and on to Houeixai, and then transfer to Chiang Rai in Thailand.
- Luang Prabang: Visit a museum to learn about the dangers still facing the people of Laos.
- Luang Prabang: Other options include hill tribe visits, cooking classes, farm visit with traditional agriculture demonstrations, elephant rides and bamboo raft trips, elephant mahout experience, cycling and kayaking trips.