|DAY||SUMMARY OF ACTIVITY||LOCATION|
|1||Arrival – Half day city tour, including Wat Sisaket, Wat Prakeo and Patuxay||Vientiane|
|2||Drive through stunning scenery to Nam Ngum Lake and Vang Vieng||Vang Vieng|
|3||Cycling around Nam Song and Vang Vieng discovering caves and underground lakes||Vang Vieng|
|4||Drive through stunning scenery to Luang Prabang. Afternoon tour of the UNESCO Heritage town||Luang Prabang|
|5||Cycling the villages around Luang Prabang – Boat ride and waterfalls||Luang Prabang|
|6||Elephant sanctuary, Tad See waterfalls and kayaking on the Mekong||Luang Prabang|
|7||Free time in the town until departure|
Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Your half day city tour begins with the oldest temple, Wat Sisaket, with thousands of miniature Buddha statues, and the former royal temple of Wat Prakeo, which previously housed the famous Emerald Buddha Image.
En route to Lao’s national precious heritage, the famous and sacred structure of That Luang Stupa, you will have the opportunity to take some pictures of the imposing Patuxay Monument, which is well known as Vientiane’s own Arc de Triumph.
The final visit of the day will be the excellent COPE exhibition centre, highlighting a much overlooked aspect of Laos and a major problem many of the local people face on a day to day basis in the form of unexploded ordnance as a result of heavy bombing campaigns during the Vietnam War era.
THE SCENIC ROUTE TO VANG VIENG
This morning we travel by the picturesque back roads to Vang Vieng. En route we stop at Ban Keun, which is famous for its salt mine. Here you can learn about the daily working life of the local people.
We then continue to Nam Ngum, a picturesque lake created by damming the Nam Ngum River. Following lunch overlooking the lake, we continue north, stopping at Tha Heua, a small village that specializes in dried fish, which you will see hanging in front of the houses.
We then reach Vang Vieng by mid afternoon, where we have time to visit the picturesque Tham Jang cave, that offers stunning views of over the Nam Song River and surrounding karst scenery. The rest of the day is at your leisure.
CAVES AND UNDERGROUND LAKES CYCLE TOUR
After crossing Nam Song River on a bamboo bridge, we start the day with the exploration of one of the most unusual caves in the area: Tham Poukham, the highly auspicious and venerated “Cave of the Golden Crab”.
The mountain bike tour covers approximately of 26 km behind the karst range of the Nam Song and Vang Vieng. After reaching the far side of the ridge, a steep hike leads to the main Tham Poukham Cave. It’s hidden corridors are filled with an endless array of stalagmites and stalactites, besides underground lakes, deep wells and up to 80m high chimneys.
Continuing westwards, the trail gets increasingly rough. We follow the narrow valley of the Houay San stream until the Pha Deng, namely “red cliff”, comes into sight to your right. Depending on the season, the bikes have to be carried across short distances (muddy patches).
The village of Phonxay is the first on the banks of the Nam Khouang. The road continues south as a dirt track in good condition running parallel to the Nam Khouang. At the crossroads in Ban Nathong Tai, the road to the Nam Song Bridge is met again.
Back in Vang Vieng, a sunset drink by the river marks the end of a great cycling adventure.
This morning we wind our way through the mountains to Luang Prabang making numerous stops at viewpoints and villages along the way. This town with its gleaming temple roofs, fading colonial architecture and stunning mountain backdrop has been claimed by UNESCO to be “the best preserved traditional city in South East Asia”. We arrive in Luang Prabang by mid afternoon.
A cycling and boat tour takes in the rarely visited villages, temples and a waterfall all located across the Mekong River from Luang Prabang.
ANCIENT TEMPLES AND WATERFALLS
After breakfast we’ll meet at your hotel and transfer to the boat pier. Here you board your private boat for a short cruise to the ancient Royal temple of Wat Long Khoun, that was formerly used by past Kings and Queens for meditation purposes. We then cycle for approximately 30 minutes to the village of Xienmene, where you can pause to explore the quiet village, including a visit to the local school.
We then continue by bicycle along quiet unpaved roads to the unknown but beautiful Hoy Khua Waterfall. En route, we make a short stop at a Khmu village.
After enjoying a picnic lunch overlooking the waterfall, we cycle to the riverside village of Ban Pak Leuang and board our boat, following the Mekong upstream to the village of Ban Chan, famous for its pottery making. Here we will meet the locals and learn about their daily lifestyle. Following this visit we continue by private boat to Luang Prabang, arriving back in the town at approximately 4pm.
ELEPHANT VILLAGE AND KAYAKING
After we pick you up from your hotel (8:15AM) you will proceed to the Nam Khan valley about 15 km out of town. The rugged mountains in front of you and the green lush countryside is the setting for the Elephant Village. Here we find time to relax and the right place for great activities.
You will be introduced to our protected Asian elephants in the project area and go out for a scenic ride. Enjoy the new perspective and the wonderful nature on this 1 hr. ride through the Nam Khan River and forest. Afterwards a boat will take you to the amazing cascades and pools of the Tad Sae waterfalls. (Waterfall may be limited between February & August.)
Lunch break on mountain view terrace of the Elephant Village. Lunch will be served at the Elephant Village with views over the river and into the surrounding landscapes and mountains.
After a short instruction you will experience the life along the Nam Khan river. It will be a soft 4 hr. kayaking back into town with a few small rapids (depending on season). Even for inexperienced paddlers, this is an option to get into it. Village stops along the way are included as well as a pick-up service at the arrival point in Luang Prabang.
Depending on your departing flight you may have time at leisure, to relax or wander the delightful streets or early market before your transfer to the airport for departure.
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