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09D/08N - Laos In-Depth
Vientiane, Vang Vieng, Phonsavan, Luang Prabang
Unforgettable: This program offers a deeper exploration of Laos, with overland journeys through mountain passes, lush valleys, and local villages. Begin the adventure in Vientiane, the modern-day capital city and economic center of the country. The city still retains a relaxed charm, and features tree-lined boulevards, interesting temples, and colorful markets. Heading north we reach Vang Vieng, attractive with backpackers due it's good number of hotels, guesthouses, restaurants, and bars; it provides an excellent base from which to explore the natural wonders of the area. Continuing the journey in a northeasterly direction we arrive at Phonsavan, gateway to the amazing Plain of Jars. The mysterious Jars date back to a time before recorded history, and although theories exist, their origin and exact purpose are still a source of speculation. We finish with a drive to Luang Prabang, certainly a highlight of any visit to Laos. A quiet, lulling peacefulness permeates the city, from the beautiful temples to the warm smiles of the friendly residents. Each morning a long procession of saffron-robed monks take alms from the locals along the main street, while provisions for the day, some quite exotic in nature, are purchased at the morning market. The visit includes a fun boat ride on the Mekong River to see the Pak Ou Caves, and back in town there are charming shops to explore, and excellent restaurants and cafes to relax in and unwind.
Day 01: Vientiane
Arrive at Vientiane Wattay Airport and transfer to sedan to your hotel in Vientiane. Time permitting visit Wat Xieng Khuan (Buddha Park), an open-air museum featuring a collection of whimsical but compelling statues of Buddhist and Hindu gods.

Day 02: Vientiane

Tour the capital city of Laos today. Highlights include That Luang, the gleaming golden stupa which is perhaps the country's most important national monument; Ho Pha Keo, a former royal temple with beautiful examples of Buddhist sculpture, and Wat Si Saket, Vientiane's oldest surviving monastery built in Thai-style. Also see Patuxai, a monumental arch inspired by the Arc de Triomphe; it is nicknamed the "vertical runway" because the money the U.S. gave to Laos to build the city airport was used to build this monument instead. Finish the day at Talaat Sao Market, the best place to buy traditional Lao fabrics. (breakfast).

Day 03: Vang Vieng
Depart Vientiane, heading north to the scenic province. Explore the countryside en route, stopping at the hillside village of Ban Kuen, famous for it's boat races and salt extraction site, Nam Ngum Lake for a boat ride, and Thalat Fish Market. Later arrive in Vang Vieng. (breakfast).

Day 04: Phonsava

Situated on the Nam Song River, Vang Vieng is known for it's natural beauty in the limestone caves and and caverns that populate the area. Lying between Vientiane and Luang Prabang, the town itself developed as a haven for backpackers, and a good number of restaurants, bars, and internet cafes can be found. The main attraction is Tham Pha Thao Cave, or locally called "Elephant Cave," it lies about 7 miles north of town and contain stalactites, images of Buddha, and a footprint of Buddha. Afterwards continue to Phonsavan, stopping at some local village along the way. (breakfast).

Day 05: Phonsavan
The mysterious Plain of Jars is the sight to visit in Phonsavan. Today we'll spend the day exploring these ancient jars, undoubtedly one of Southeast Asia's most important sites dating back before history was recorded. The jars vary is size, generally 3 to 9 feet high, and weigh six tons each. The exact purpose of the jars is not truly understood, although recent theories center around burial rituals. Of course, there are colorful local legends as well. Later in the day visit Muang Khoun, formerly the royal seat of the Phuan Kingdom. Visit Wat Phia That, dating back to 1322, the much revered image of Buddha has survived a history of invasions and wars. (breakfast).

Day 06: Luang Prabang

After a visit to the morning market, depart by road for Luang Prabang. The journey passes through high mountain roads, deep valleys, and forested mountains, and provides beautiful views of the Lao countryside. Stops along the way include Wat Ban Phong Temple, picturesque Nong Tang Lake, and Than Pa Buddha Cave. (breakfast).

Day 07: Luang Prabang

Touring today begins with visits to some of Luang Prabang's most important temples; Wat Visoun, the oldest operating temple in Luang Prabang with a collection of gilded wooden Buddhas from the 15th and 16th centuries, Wat Aham, known for it's two large banyan trees, and Wat Xieng Thong, the crown jewel of all monasteries and temples in the city. From there, stroll down the main street, and time permitting stop at some of the many temples that line it's sides. Continue to the National Museum (Royal Palace), a turn-of-the century royal residence which has been preserved as it was when the royal family lived there, and to Wat Mai, constructed in 1821, it is Luang Prabang's largest and perhaps most photographed temple due to it's rich decoration. Finish the day at Mount Phousi for a beautiful sunset view over the temples and rivers. (breakfast).

Day 08: Luang Prabang

Embark on a boat excursion up the Mekong River to the steep limestone cliffs overlooking the Mekong and Nam Ou rivers, home to the Pak Ou Caves. These extraordinary caves are filled with Buddha images of every style and material imaginable. On the return journey stop at Ban Xang Hai Village, a local village famous for the production of lao lao, the local rice wine whisky. From here visit the village of Ban Xang Khong, a traditional village known for making saa paper products depicting local lao scenes; it is made from the bark of mulberry trees. (breakfast).

Day 09: Depart Luang Prabang

Following breakfast at hotel. Transfer to Luang Prabang Airport. (breakfast included).

The trip recommended above have been carefully designed to provide a unique experience in the destination, promote cultural understanding and exchange, flow smoothly from place to place, allow time for relaxation and exploration on your own, provide maximum value, and very importantly to be enjoyable. Itineraries can be modified to suit your tastes, timeframe, budget, and special interests. Our deluxe Laos tours are carefully designed to provide a unique experience in the destination, promote cultural understanding and exchange, flow smoothly from place to place, allow time for relaxation and exploration on your own, provide maximum value, and very importantly to be enjoyable. The itinerary can be modified to suit your tastes, time frame, budget, and special interests. Please feel free to contact at sales@luxuryprivatetravel.com for the best price of this trip.
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