Laos Family Adventure Vacation is a 20 day trip that includes both Laos popular travel attractions and less-touristy places. There are such places and sites to discover as Luang Prabang, Elephant Conservation Center, Vang Vieng, Ban Thaheua, Vientiane, Konglor Cave, Thakhek, Savannakhet, Bolaven Plateau, Wat Phou, 4000 Islands, Khone Phaphaeng Waterfall, Pakse, Ubon Ratchathani.
Day 1: Arrival in Luang Prabang.
On arrival at the Luang Prabang airport, you will be met and transferred to check in the hotel (early check-in upon availability). Situated in the centre of northern Laos, Luang Prabang is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its outstanding cultural, historic and architectural values and its harmonious relationship between the natural and built environment. There is no activities planned for today, so you may stroll around for the first impression of this ancient city. Overnight in Luang Prabang.
Day 2: Ancient City – Mekong River – Pak Ou Caves.
After breakfast, you will first visit Royal Palace Museum, which was built in 1904 during the French colonial era for King Sisavang Vong and his family. We then embark on a leisure cruise upstream on the Mekong River, which also gives us a breathtaking view of the tranquil countryside, before reaching the mysterious Pak Ou Caves, two linked caves crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes left by pilgrims. Along the way, we stop at the village of Ban Xanghai, where they make the local rice wine.
On arrival back in the city, we will visit the old Wat Sene and the nearby magnificent Wat Xiengthong a superb piece of Lao temple architecture, which presents a sweeping two-tiered roof and ornate mosaics including a beautiful ‘tree of life ‘glass montage on the rear temple wall. If time permits, we will drive out of the city to visit Ban Xangkhong, the Thai Lue village, which is famous for its arts and crafts. We also visit the nearby village of Ban Xienglek specializing in making the traditional Saa paper. You can either get to the nearby village and join a petanque game with the local team.
Late afternoon, we will make a stop at Wat Prabath to admire the sunset; this is the ideal place to catch the last beauty of the day. The tour ends after a visit to the famous Night Market, where you can find a lovely collection of handmade textiles made by local and hilltribe people surrounding Luang Prabang. Overnight in Luang Prabang.
Day 3: Morning Alms Giving – Buffalo Farm – Kuang Si Waterfall.
Wake up as the sun rises, we will prepare to join the most sacred tradition of Laos, the daily morning alms giving, which dates to the 14th century. More than 200 Buddhist monks depart from various temple to gather their daily meal from the faithful residents sitting quietly on the streets. We then visit the temporary morning market near the former Royal Palace. Just set on the ground, the local people come here to barter their day’s catch from rice, to vegetable, to fish, or chicken.
After breakfast at the hotel, we ascend the 329 steps to the top of Phousi Hill for a panoramic view of the city and the Mekong River. If time permits, we will visit UXO Visitor Center (closed on Saturday, and Sunday), where you can find the documentation about the secret war in Laos. Then, transfer the Buffalo Dairy Farm on the way to Kuang Si waterfalls, which offers the fun and interesting experience for the kids.
We arrive at the beautiful Kuang Si, which is the biggest waterfall in the Luang Prabang area with three tiers leading to a 50-metre drop into spectacular azure pools before flowing downstream. The pools also make great swimming holes and are very popular with both tourists and locals. There is also the chance to walk to the nearby village of Ban Thapene, and explore the hidden waterfalls, which is rarely visited by other tourists. If you wish, take a short visit to the Bear Rescue Center, which houses a couple of dozen animals rescued from the hands of poachers and traffickers.
On the way back to Luang Prabang, we will take a short visit to the Ock Pop Tock Living Craft Center, set serenely close to the Mekong, this beautiful, traditionally styled workshop, where weavers, spinners and batik makers produce top-quality fabrics, offers free tours every half-hour. This is also one of the best spots to admire the sunset in Luang Prabang. Transfer back to your hotel late afternoon. Overnight in Luang Prabang.
Day 4: Rice Experience – Bamboo Weaving Class.
Begin today’s close-up look at daily Laotian life by heading out for a morning at a community-based living rice farm in the idyllic countryside outside Luang Prabang. Surrounded by mountains and rice paddies, you’ll have an opportunity to experience rural life as a Laotian farmer would, trying your hand at various farm activities – or observing them from a traditional Lao rice house balcony, set amidst rice terraces and an organic vegetable farm.
You’ll have time to check out nearby workshops where local bamboo weavers, blacksmiths and sugar cane processors practice their crafts. Then take a tour of the organic garden to learn how natural herbs are used in traditional medicine. The lunch will be served at the sala overlooking the rice field. In the afternoon, we will transfer to the Ock Pop Tock Living Craft Center to join and easy & fun class in a treehouse perched above the Mekong. Learn to weave colorful strips of bamboo into a placemat or a small basket!
Your guide will explain the varieties & uses of bamboo in Laos, from baskets to everyday tools. Great for families & kids!! You have ample time to stroll around the center learning more about traditional weaving techniques of Laos. The center is also one of the best places in town to admire the sunset. Overnight in Luang Prabang.
Day 5: Luang Prabang – Elephant conservation Center.
In the morning, our driver will transfer you to the meeting point where we will join the minivan of Elephant Conservation Center for the transfer to Xayabouly (about 90KM). When you have arrived at the pier at Nam Tien Lake, we will transfer you to the center by boat. You might be able to catch a quick glimpse of one of our elephants while our boat docks. You will have some time to install yourself in your private bungalow before lunch is served.
After enjoying a Laotian style meal, your guide will take you for a visit of the Center’s facilities and present our ongoing projects. During the hospital visit our veterinarian and biologist will take you into their world and explain about the projects they are undertaking. Through the visit of the only Elephant Hospital in Laos, you will discover the conservation actions implemented by The Elephant Conservation Center. You will then observe the elephants’ daily bath and learn more about our giant guests’ playful characters. Elephants are surprisingly good swimmers and love water. They also use this time to socialize.
After the elephants have washed themselves, you will meet our mahouts, who will show you how they get on and off the elephant and the commands they use. You will then have the opportunity to interact with the elephants with the mahouts at your side. Get a feel for the elephant’s amazing skin and prickly hair, and experience up close the dexterity of their trunk as you offer them some food. Feel free to take photos standing next to our giants! For those who really want to get a feel of being on top of the elephant, mahout style, you can request to do so later on when bringing the elephants to the forest or socialization area. But this is absolutely not central to the experience we propose and is strictly on the neck, not in a chair on the elephant’s back!
While walking the elephants to their nightly resting ground you will witness the unique bond between the mahout and his elephant. Our experienced mahouts use vocal commands to steer the animals through the thick foliage. As you stroll together with these magnificent creatures into the dense forest of Nam Tien, take a moment! This is the REAL land of elephants! Your guide will give you some interesting information about the biodiversity of our protected forest.
Before dinner, take some time to take in the surroundings from our viewpoint. You can also go for a swim in the lake or visit the museum. During meal time, feel free to ask your unresolved questions to the staff or share one of the Lao style cocktails!
Day 6: Elephant Conservation Center.
On the second day, you will meet up with the elephants in the forest. After spending the night in the jungle, it is time for another bath. Enjoy strolling together with these magnificent animals in their natural habitat. When they have had their fill of water, they are brought to the Socialization Area. This is an area where the elephants can freely interact during a big part of the day, recreating a semi-natural living environment. Here the elephants can enjoy being elephants. Follow the guide around the perimeter to learn more about the group and its dynamics. Take your time on the different platforms to see how a new herd is being formed. This rare opportunity will bring you closer to their natural life, something which is very special about our program and difficult to find anywhere else.
Lunch is served at the Center. Lunch is served at the Center. You will visit our medicinal garden dedicated to elephant care. You can then join our workshop and learn how to create some local handicraft products using bamboo or rattan. While at the workshop, you can observe the elephants having their afternoon bath. You will meet our mahouts or our vet technician again as they will conduct a Target Training Session. All our elephants are being trained using ‘positive reinforcement’ techniques to facilitate any necessary treatments and to reduce the stress that these treatments or routine checks can give to them. We offer you the chance to follow their work from a safe distance.
Day 7: Elephant Conservation Center – Vang Vieng.
On the third day, your guide will explain the ECC’s Sensorial Enrichment Activities. Enrichment is a dynamic process for enhancing animal environments within the context of the animal’s behavioral biology. We are providing cognitive enrichment in the form of hidden food, toys, a mud bath etc. to give elephants mental stimulation and help them avoid boredom. They love it! We invite you to take part in this amazing experience by helping our team prepare the enclosure, cutting and hiding food, creating new games for them… to give elephants some challenging exercises to solve. Once they arrive, you will have the opportunity to observe how elephants find ways to discover what you have hidden! This is a novel and unique way to interact with our elephants, contributing directly to their wellbeing.
Lunch is served at the restaurant. You have some time to relax before our guide and driver come to pick you up and transfer directly to Vang Vieng. You will arrive in Vang Vieng around late afternoon or early evening. Check in your hotel in town. Overnight in Vang Vieng.
Day 8: Vang Vieng Exploration – Ban Thaheua.
The limestone cliffs and valleys surrounding the resort complex of Vang Vieng are home to numerous caves and caverns. The most famous of these caves is Tham Jang, which was used by the local people as a refuge from Chinese invaders 200 years ago. Your tour continues by crossing the Nam Song River for a short drive to Tham Phou Kham (Golden Crab Cave). After passing through a small entrance hole you descend 100 meters into the ground.
You have ample time to visit Blue Lagoon, which is a great spot to relax and cool off before transferring directly to Ban Thaheua, which locates at the north side of Nam Ngum Lake, the “sea of Laos”. Upon arrival, check in your lakeview bungalow. Overnight in Ban Thaheua.
Day 9: Nam Ngum Lake Boat Trip & Pinic Lunch.
After breakfast, we will have a 4-hour cruising around the Nam Ngum Lake to explore some islets, and local fishing villages. You will pass by local coal fire ovens before visiting a traditional farm, where you can enjoy some swim by one of the sandy islands. From there, we head back towards Tha Heua Village where our guide will give you an explanation of the dried fish preservation method.
Arriving at Ban Houay Phanom, enjoy some in house coffee / tea before joining a demonstration of weaving techniques. The picnic lunch will be served at one of the picturesque islands along the way before heading back to the resort. The afternoon is free for your own exploration around the resort or nearby area. You can either relax or enjoy the floating swimming pool of the resort. Overnight in Ban Thaheua.
Day 10: Ban Thaheua – Vientiane.
You are free in the morning. There is an option of kayaking around the lake or cycling to the nearby village admiring the local life. Check with our guide and resort for further information.
In the afternoon, transfer to Vientiane, the capital of Laos PDR. Upon arrival, check in your hotel. Overnight in Vientiane.
Day 11: Vientiane Exploration – Buddha Park.
In the morning, we will first visit Wat Si Muang, which is very famous for its supernatural power. After that drive to Buddha Park which takes around 45 minutes away. Also known as Xieng Khuan, this unusual park is filled with over 200 Buddhist and Hindu statues. We then visit Lao Disable Women Development Center, which assist disable women to cope with their disability and advocate for their rights. Spend time watching the video and learn about the effort to earn their daily living. You can support them by buying some small handicrafts at the shop.
Start the afternoon with a visit to That Luang, the holiest site in Laos. Constructed by King Setthathirat in the 16th century, the temple is resplendent as the sun is shines upon its towering golden spire. Then, enjoy a panoramic view over the city as you climb the stairs to the top of Patuxai, Vientiane’s own “Arc de Triomphe”. Continue down Lane Xang Avenue the serene Wat Sisaket, the only temple left intact after the Siamese (Thai) invasion in 1828.
Continue on to the nearby Wat Phra Keo. Used as a religious museum, Wat Phra Keo displays a collection of both Lao and Khmer works of art. End your tour of the capital along the banks of the Mekong River as the sun begins to set. Stroll along the river, stop to enjoy a cold drink, or sample a snack from one of the many local food stalls. Overnight in Vientiane.
Day 12: Vientiane – Ban Konglor.
This morning you will be met by your driver and guide in Vientiane, to begin the journey south along route 13. This first leg of the journey takes around 3 hours and it is interesting to have a quick stop at Wat Prabath Phonsane (‘Temple of the footprint of Buddha’). You will then leave the highway and enter the Phou Hin Poun NPA (National Protected Area). The scenery will become much more spectacular, featuring limestone karsts, forests and rice paddies. From leaving the highway to reaching your destination will take approximately 2 hours.
Once you arrive in the small town of Ban Kong Lor the rest of the day is at leisure to admire the views. You might like to take a walk through the surrounding villages. There is also an option for water activities such as kayaking or swimming the lagoon opposite to the Spring River Resort. Overnight in Ban Kong Lor.
Day 13: Konglor Caves Exploration – Thakhek.
For early risers we recommend a walk at around 06:30 to explore the villages as they wake up and prepare for the day. Discuss this with your guide. After breakfast, start your exploration of Kong Lor cave. You will be given life jackets and head torches before a short walk around to the main entrance of the cave. Upon entering the cave, you will board a long tail boat which will take you through the length of this spectacular cave along an underground section of the Hin Boun River – a length of 7.5km before you see daylight again!
The river flows all year and reveals vast formations of stalactites and stalagmites, which you will explore partly on foot whilst inside the cave. In places the cave is up to 90m wide and 100m high.
The cave is still used by local villagers as an access route to the region beyond. It is far quicker than climbing over the mountains which this cave cuts through! Once out on the other side you can stop for refreshments and walk to local villages, enjoying the scenery and observing a simple way of life (discuss with your guide how far you would like to walk).
Return by boat, travelling ‘downstream’ through the cave, to Ban Kong Lor. In the afternoon, take the 4-hour transfer to Thakhek, so you will hopefully arrive in time for a stroll along the Mekong at sunset. Thakhek is a very sleepy town with some very attractive colonial buildings. Enjoy a relaxing evening. Overnight in Thakhek.
Day 14: Thakhek – Savannakhet – Fandee Island.
After a leisurely breakfast, your guide will meet you around 09:30 to continue your journey south. The drive to Savannakhet takes approximately 1.5 hours. Along the way, make a stop at the beautiful 16th Century temple of That Ing Hang, which is among the most revered temples in Laos and many Buddhists will travel here during December for the annual ‘Boun Phathat’ ceremony.
Continue in to Savannakhet. The city is most famous as the birthplace of the father of the Lao People’s Democratic Repulic (Lao PDR), Kaysone Phomvihane, who was born here in 1920.
Take a short tour of the architectural highlights, which include various French villas and the striking St. Teresa Catholic Church. Visit the small but very interesting Dinosaur Museum. Dinosaur remains are being found nearby which are between 150,000,000 – 250,000,000 years old. In the afternoon, hit the road again for the drive further south, which takes approximately 3.5 hours.
We will take a left turn at Muang Khong Sedone to Bolaven Plateau on the way to Salavan. We will arrive at the final destination today at Fandee Island on Bolaven Plateau, where we will spend the night. Overnight on a treehouse at Fandee Island.
Day 15: Fandee Island – Paksong.
You are free in the morning for your own exploration of Fandee Island with plenty of activities on spot at the Fandee Waterpark or Fandee adventure park. The activities range from ziplining, swimming, or flying bridge. In the afternoon, we will transfer to Paksong, where we will spend the night at Sinouk Coffee Resort.
Day 16: Paksong – Wat Phou – Khong Island.
After breakfast, we departure for Champasak. Along the way, we will have chance to enjoy the scenery around Tad Fan waterfall, which is spectacular with twin waterfalls plummeting into a deep gorge surrounded by flourishing vegetation. We will also see the cultivation of rich coffee, tea, cardamom, bananas, and other crops that are grown in the area. Arriving in Champasak, visit Wat Phou, an ancient Khmer religious complex dating back to the 5th Century.
Recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, Wat Phou is a spectacular pre-Angkorian temple that sits amidst the rice fields and waterways of southern Laos, which was built by the rulers of the Khmer empire before the construction of Angkor Wat. The temple served as the most important economic and political centre of the region and still is one of the Lao people’s most revered temples. After your visit, we continue in to Champassak to see samples of French colonial architecture before driving to Done Khong where you have the rest of the day to relax or to explore the island. Overnight in Done Khong Island.
Day 17: Khong Island – 4000 Islands – Khone Island.
After breakfast, embark on a 1.5 hour long tail boat for 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 Done”. Upon arrival, explore the local peaceful villages of Ban Khone, where you will see an array of relics from the French colonial era and retrace the old colonial past, including old French colonial buildings and the remnants of the first Lao railway with its locomotive.
We continue to discover the 4000 islands area by tuktuk and visit the marvelous Liphi waterfall, also called the “Corridor of the Devil” one of the most beautiful waterfalls marking Lao border with Cambodia. Free for the rest of the day for your own exploration of the island. We recommend you take a bike for a ride around the island to see the local life and admire the sunset along the Mekong riverbank. Overnight in Khone Island.
Day 18: Khone Island – Khone Phaphaeng Waterfall – Pakse.
After breakfast, return to the mainland at the fishing village of Ban Nakasang and drive further south to visit Khone Phapheng, which is considered the largest waterfall by volume in Southeast Asia. Khone Phapheng is an impressive spot near the Lao-Cambodian border, set within an area which is teeming with wildlife, making this area one of the most breathtaking destinations in Laos.
Afterwards we drive back to Pakse. Founded by the French in 1905 as an administrative post, the capital of Champasak Province is a relatively new town at the confluence of the Mekong and Se Don rivers.
Arriving in Pakse, we will check in NKM Homestay, which is owned by a French specialist, Mr. Nicholas and his family. The rest of the day is your own free time to talk with Mr. Nicholas to learn more about Laos, which will give you plenty of inside information about Laos. There is a library that you can refer to with plenty of documents made by Mr. Nicholas himself. You can also spend time preparing the dinner with Mr. Nicholas’ wife before sharing the dinner together. Overnight at NKM Homestay.
Day 19: Hidden Pakse Exploration.
You are free today to stroll around the town for your own exploration. One of the best ways is to join a tour of inside the hidden Pakse guided by Mr. Nicholas. He will bring you to the hidden routes and spots of Pakse that are rarely visited by other tourist but guarantee the unforgettable memory for your trip so southern Laos. Overnight at NKM Homestay.
Day 20: Pakse – Ubon Ratchathani – Departure.
After breakfast, we will transfer directly to Ubon Ratchathani (Thailand) via Chongmek Border to take the flight to Bangkok and connect to your departure flight back home.