Highlights of Thailand & Laos

14 Days, from AU $4,039

Golden Triangle, Thailand, Burma & Laos

Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand

Mekong River on the way to Luang Prabang

Rong Khun Temple, Chiang Rai, Thailand

Si Waterfall, Luang Prabang, Laos

Pha That Luang, Vientiane, Laos

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Experience the Highlights of Thailand and Laos as you travel through northern Thailand from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, then cruise along the Mekong to Luang Prabang, and end your tour in Vientiane.

Starting in the bustling capital of Bangkok, drive to Kanchanaburi to learn the history of Hell Fire Pass and the Bridge over the River Kwai. Continue north to Chiang Mai, where temples, night markets, elephants and bamboo rafts await. Venture further north to Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle, the famed border area of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar (Burma), renowned for centuries as the centre of the opium trade. Cruise along the Mekong to the enchanting World Heritage town of Luang Prabang, discovering the hundreds of Buddha sculptures in Pak Ou Caves on route.

Luang Prabang is a 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, see the spectacular Kuang Si Waterfall and climb Phou Si hill to watch the sun sink slowly behind the Mekong River. Then travel to Vientiane, the tranquil and timeless capital of Laos with a kaleidoscope of architectural styles and influences. Discover crumbling French mansions, the golden spires of Pha That Luang, ancient atmospheric temples, bizarre sculptures and Patuxai Monument, the Arc de Triomphe of Laos.

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.

Suggested Itinerary

Day 1: Bangkok

You will meet your guide on arrival, transfer and check-in to your hotel. During the drive your guide will provide an introduction to Bangkok, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day. Enjoy free time for the remainder of the first day.

Situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, Bangkok, also known as the City of Angels, is a vibrant city with many and varied charms. From grand historic buildings to peaceful temples, from exciting markets to ritzy shopping malls and from towering skyscrapers to Chinese shop-houses, Bangkok is cosmopolitan and full of sharp contrasts.

Explore the streets by tuk-tuk, view the city by Skytrain or take to the water and cruise the river and its canals to experience traditional riverside life. Bangkok is never dull. Orange robed monks mingle with shoppers and businessmen, tuk-tuks weave in amongst limousines and fish is unloaded from wooden boats as the river flows through the centre of the city. In the evenings the streets are transformed into bustling markets and outdoor restaurants. The food choices are endless and range from fine dining in stylish contemporary restaurants to snacking with the locals at street hawker stalls.

Bangkok has many great restaurants, night markets and bars. Ask your guide for personal recommendations. It is also possible to unwind from your flight with a traditional Thai massage. Again your guide can advise you of options.

Itinerary Option: If you’re arriving to Bangkok in the morning, discuss additional day 1 activities with our staff.

Day 2: Bangkok

Accompanied by your guide, enjoy a half day tour visiting two of Bangkok’s most notable landmarks, the Grand Palace and Wat Arun. Wander the peaceful grounds of Wat Arun, a Buddhist temple constructed between 1809 and 1851. Once the grand royal temple to King Rama II, Wat Arun, also referred to as the Temple of Dawn, is one of the most striking riverside landmarks of Thailand. The temple is decorated with pieces of porcelain previously used as ballast by boats coming to Bangkok from China.

Continue by boat over the river until you reach Ta Chang Pier and from there stroll to the Grand Palace or Wat Phra Kaeo. One of the most spectacular palaces in Asia, construction was begun in 1782 by King Rama I, after he moved the capital from Thonburi to Bangkok. The palace was the official residence of the Kings of Siam for 150 years and also housed the Royal Court and the administrative seat of government. Within the Grand Palace complex, Wat Phra Kaeo Royal Chapel houses the famous jade Emerald Buddha, the most revered Buddha image in Thailand, dating back to the 14th century. Thai people believe that as long as they remain keepers of the Emerald Buddha, their country will be safe.

After the city tour the remainder of the day is free to further explore Bangkok on your own or perhaps relax with a traditional Thai massage.

Day 3: Bangkok to Kanchanaburi

After breakfast, leave Bangkok and head to Kanchanaburi province. The provincial capital of Kanchanaburi is set in a lush landscape on the banks of the river and framed by limestone hills.

On arrival, visit the infamous Bridge over the River Kwai and the Death Railway, built by Allied Prisoners Of War (POWs) under brutal Japanese occupation. Continue to the Second World War Cemetery, the final resting place of nearly 7,000 Australian, British and Dutch POWs who lost their lives during their incarceration and forced labour. Afterwards visit the Thai-Burma Railway Museum to gain an insight into their daily hardship experienced by the POWs.

After lunch take a historic one hour train ride through the thick jungle on the infamous Death Railway where you will be driven to your riverside hotel with a twist. If there is any sunlight left in your day, consider swimming or depending which hotel you select, hiring a canoe.

Itinerary Option: Your itinerary can be altered to include the Buddhist Monk Tiger Temple and/or the Floating Markets. Discuss options with our staff.

Day 4: Kanchanaburi to Chiang Mai

This morning sees us visiting Hellfire Pass, also known as Konyu Cutting, a railway cutting on the former “Death Railway” built by Allied Prisoners of War (POWs) during the Second World War. The Australian built complex consists of a memorial site located within Hellfire Pass, a Memorial Walking Trail and a museum. The museum exhibits artefacts and relates the story of the Thai-Burma Railway and the hardships and suffering endured by those men who were forced to work in such extremely harsh conditions.

Later we head to the airport north of Bangkok for your flight to Chiang Mai where you meet your guide on arrival. During the drive your guide will provide an introduction to Chiang Mai, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day. Enjoy free time for the remainder of the day.

Located in the north of the country, Chiang Mai is the ancient walled provincial capital. It has been an important Buddhist centre since the 14th century and is home to over 300 temples. Surrounded by mountains it offers spectacular scenery for trekking on foot and by elephant, with opportunities to raft on jungle rivers and meet the colourful hill tribe minorities that inhabit the area. Many visitors come to Chiang Mai to attend meditation retreats, massage classes or yoga lessons. For those interested in handicrafts there are centres which specialise in silverwork, wood carving, pottery making and weaving. The renowned Night Bazaar comes alive in the evenings, a great place to sample the distinctive northern Thai cuisine.

With an abundance of restaurants and bars as well as the Night Bazaar, Chiang Mai has plenty to see and do. Ask your guide for personal recommendations.

Day 5: Chiang Mai

Start today’s trip with a transfer to Wat Suan Dok, just outside the ancient city walls of Chiang Mai. The temple was built in the 14th century by King Keu Na of Lanna to accommodate important priests visiting from Sukhothai, as well as a place for local monks to shelter from the rain. There is a 48 metre (157 feet) high Sri Lankan style bell shaped chedi or pagoda and an open sided prayer hall. Continue to Wat Chedi Luang where the Emerald Buddha was once enshrined. This impressive temple was built between the 14th and 15th centuries and nowadays houses a replica of Thailand’s most important Buddha relic.

Wat Phra Singh, with its impressive prayer hall, is the next stop, perhaps the largest and most interesting of the temples in Chiang Mai. Built over 600 years ago, it was carefully restored in 2006 and now houses a very sacred 1,500 year old Buddha image. The prayer hall has an intricately carved front and there is a small library built on a high stone base with beautiful carvings. End the trip with a visit to Wat Phrathat on Doi Suthep Mountain, which was founded in 1383 AD, and which is probably Chiang Mai’s most well known temple. Built as a Buddhist monastery in 1383, it is still a working monastery today. Funds raised by donations support the monks and the maintenance of the temple buildings. The temple is crowned by an elaborate golden chedi and is reached by climbing the 309 steps of the Naga Serpent Staircase or by taking a cable car for a small surcharge. The climb to the top is rewarded with a superb panoramic view over the city. Return to the car park for the transfer back to Chiang Mai.

The remainder of the day is free to further explore Chiang Mai on your own.

Day 6: Chiang Mai

Today the focus is on elephants, Thailand’s most loved animal. Travel north of Chiang Mai to the Chiang Dao Elephant Training Camp, passing through the spectacular mountainous scenery that surrounds Chiang Mai. Arrive at the camp and watch the elephants taking their morning bath in a mountain stream, before seeing a demonstration which shows how elephants work in the jungle nearby and the kinds of tasks they undertake. Next it is time to enjoy a one hour elephant ride through the jungle that surrounds the camp, followed by lunch.

In the afternoon climb aboard the bamboo raft trip and float down the river taking in the tranquillity and beauty of the area. Set foot again on the mainland and transfer back to Chiang Mai.

Itinerary Option: Optionally upgrade to a visit to the Elephant Conservation project for the day where you spend time learning about the elephants, including bathing and feeding them.

Day 7: Chiang Rai

Today you travel from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai and visit the famous Golden Triangle where the borders of Thailand, Myanmar (Burma) and Laos meet.

Setting off early with your guide, you drive through beautiful scenery stopping at the Hot Springs of Mekajan where you can relax in the healing waters. Later you arrive at the top of a hill with magnificent views across the Golden Triangle, once the heart of the opium trade. At this point, the mighty Mekong River joins with the Ruak River and forms the "triangle" with Thailand, Laos and Myanmar (Burma).

After lunch at a local restaurant continue to Chiang Rai, paying a visit to the border town of Mae Sai and visiting Akha and Yao hill tribe villages along the way. Witness the lifestyles of these ethnic groups that make a living from the land in the same manner they've done for millennia. Mae Sai is the northernmost point of Thailand and the perfect spot to observe the trade between the tribes people and others that occurs on the border. Mae Sai is one of few official land crossings between Thailand and Burma and is therefore an important trade hub. Many Burmese come over daily from Thakhilek to work or do business before returning to Burma at dusk. Burmese lacquer ware, gems, jade and other goods from Laos and Burma are sold in shops along the main street. Arrive in Chiang Rai in the late afternoon and check into your hotel and enjoy some free time.

Day 8: Chiang Rai to Pakbeng

This morning you drive from Chiang Rai to Houei Say on the Thailand-Laos border and board your Mekong river barge at Houei Say pier. Cruise down the Mekong River to Pakbeng. The boat has plenty of open air seating as well as a bar, toilet facilities and a galley.

The Mekong River is the artery of life in Laos – it is a trading route, a source of food and water and a social centre for the settlements along its route. As you cruise downstream you will pass small villages of various ethnic groups along the river, ancient Buddhist temples and you will see activities such as farming, fishing, weaving, gold mining, whiskey distilling, and teak logging.

The cruise to Pakbeng takes between seven and eight hours and a stop is made along the way to enable you to observe rural life along the Mekong, and to visit one of the minority ethnic groups. A buffet lunch is served on board the boat and you arrive at Pakbeng before sunset where you check-in to your jungle lodge accommodation with its spectacular views of the surrounding jungle and the Mekong River. Dinner is served on the terrace overlooking the Mekong.

Itinerary Note: The river trip and stay in Pakbeng is relatively adventurous with comfortable, albeit basic, accommodation. Days 8 and 9 do not including a guide while on the river or in Pakbeng. Some customers prefer to fly from Chiang Rai to Luang Prabang.

Day 9: Pakbeng - Pak Ou - Luang Prabang

Rise early to explore the Pakbeng market where villagers from the surrounding minority villages come to exchange their goods. After breakfast at the hotel, reboard the boat for the second leg of the cruise. A short stop is made at a H’mong village to learn about their way of life, and a buffet lunch is again served on board the boat.

Continue to Pak Ou village at the mouth of the Nam Ou River to visit Tam Ting (“Cave of a thousand Buddhas”). 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.

Continuing to Luang Prabang a brief stop is made to observe the traditional process of manufacturing local rice alcohol. The boat arrives in Luang Prabang late afternoon.

Meet your guide on arrival, transfer and check-in to your hotel. Your guide will provide an introduction to Luang Prabang, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day. Enjoy free time for the remainder of the first day.

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.

Luang Prabang has many great cafes and restaurants and also night food stalls which emerge at dusk. Ask your guide for personal recommendations.

Day 10: 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 accompanied by your guide to the Royal Palace, now the National Museum. The former Royal 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.

Then explore the main Buddhist temples of Luang Prabang including Wat Visoun, the most historically important temple, built in the 16th century and serving as a small museum for religious artefacts. Visit 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 Xieng Thong is a 16th century temple that epitomises the elegance and grace of Luang Prabang architecture and showcases classic Lao style roofs. This temple was one of only two temples that were spared by the Black Flag army in 1887, and it was then used as the leader’s headquarters during the invasion. Wat Mai, beside the Royal Palace, is Luang Prabang’s oldest Pagoda, and one of the city’s most sumptuous monasteries.

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.

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 wonderful views of the town, across the Mekong and Khan rivers, as well as the surrounding mountains. Watch the sun sink slowly behind the Mekong River before strolling back to your hotel.

Day 11: 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.

Enjoy free time for the remainder of the day.

Day 12: Vientiane

This morning fly from Luang Prabang to Vientiane and meet your guide on arrival. During the drive your guide will provide an introduction to Vientiane.

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.

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.

Your guide will accompany you to your hotel, assist with check-in and make arrangements for the following day.

Vientiane has many great restaurants with Lao, Thai, French, Italian, Mexican and Chinese cuisines available. Ask your guide for personal recommendations.

Day 13: 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 14: Vientiane

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:

  • Bangkok: Visit the ruins of Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Siam.
  • Bangkok: Other options include cooking classes, street food tour, meditation class, Thai kick boxing show, cycling, hiking & rickshaw outskirts tour, visits to specific museums, and Vimanmek Mansion and Jim Thompson’s house.
  • Chiang Mai: Attend a group Thai cooking class.
  • Chiang Mai: Enjoy a traditional Khan Toke evening meal with Northern Thailand cultural dancers providing entertainment.
  • Chiang Mai: Visit Doi Inthanon National Park with Thailand's highest mountain, beautiful scenery and wildlife.
  • Chiang Mai: Other options include visiting a tiger zoo where you can get up close with the tigers, a guided shopping tour, ancient ruins of the Wieng Kum Kam city and surrounds, and a tour of Chiang Mai's handicraft villages.
  • Chiang Rai: Visit the different hill tribes of the Golden Triangle area on a full day excursion.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Travel Styles

All Get About Asia trips have been designed to make sure you have an unforgettable travel experience. We have developed several trip styles to cater for our diverse range of travellers. Read what your ideal Get About Asia experience might look like here.

Standard:from AU $4,039
Superior:from AU $4,830
Deluxe:from AU $5,972

All GetAboutAsia prices are based on twin share and depend on availability and season. All our itineraries can be customised including international flights and extra nights. For questions or further information, Enquire Now!

Important Information


Hotels each night of the itinerary (excluding your departure day). All GetAboutAsia accommodation is handpicked by us. Upgrades are available for this itinerary.

  • All breakfasts at your hotel each morning.
  • All airport transfers.
  • All internal airfares and transport on tour.
  • All itinerary attractions including fees or permits.
  • Professional tour guides for all airport pickups, day tours and activities.
  • Lunch and dinner as indicated on trip notes. We do not include lunch or dinner where it is practical for you to make your own choices, as we find that GetAboutAsia customers prefer the freedom of eating what they want, which is one the of joys of travelling.

This trip package includes 2 internal flight (Bangkok - Chiang Mai and Luang Prabang - Vientiane) which retail at about 200AUD per flight.

Price Dependent:

Availability of accommodation and season.

Trip Information

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