Vientiane Holidays

Sample Itinerary - REF SOUTHEAST ASIA 504

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Day 1: Luang Prabang

Welcome to Luang Prabang! On arrival at the airport at Luang Prabang airport, you are met and transferred to hotel. The royal capital of the former Lane Xang Kingdom, Luang Prabang with its gleaming temple roofs, colonial architecture and stunning mountain backdrop retains an unique charm rarely found in all Asia. Here is plenty to see, some of which are the impressive stupa of Wat Visoun, the shrine of Wat Aham and Wat Mai with five tiered roofs. We include these sights in a half day guided tour which ends with a climb to Phousi Hill for a beautiful sunset view of the town and the Mekong River. There are 329 steps leading us on zigzag way past various temples to the sacred, gilded stupa of Wat Phousi at the summit.

Day 2: Luang Prabang

We being our tour of the Luang Prabang is Wat Xieng Thong and we visit the national museum at the former Royal Palace. Later we embark on a boat for a leisurely trip on the Mekong River, stopping en route at Ban Xang Hai to visit the distillation of local rice wine. Upon leaving this village we wave our wave through the stunning mountain landscape to the mysterious Pak Ou Caves. They are crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes, all brought there by devout villagers. After the river trip we drive towards Ban Phanom and visit the hand weaving.

Day 3: Luang Prabang

LUANG PRABANG - XIENG KHOAUNG Today we drive out to drive out to Xieng Khouang, which was devastated by American bombing between 1964 and 1973. These back roads are a great way to explore the real Laos. We see very few other travellers, mostly rural dwellers who are just as interested in finding out about our lives as we are of theirs. The drive is very long , but we can make many stops at our pleasure, to stretch our legs and take some wonderful photographs. On arrival we explore the province's old capital of Muang Khun and the nearby villages.

Day 4: - Vientiane

XIENG KHOAUNG - VIENTIANE The “Plan of Jars” is an impressive archaeological site where hundreds of large stone jars are littered all over the plateau. These huge jars are supposedly over 2,000 years old, but most of archaeologists are still mystified about their purpose. We have time today exploring the site and some nearby villages. They are populated by the Hmong hill tribe people who are very poor but have an interesting local culture and a colorful history. You are then transferred to airport for flight to Vientiane and upon arrival we will transfer you to your hotel for the evening.

Day 5: Vientiane

A full day tour of Vientiane begins with a visit to Wat Sisaket, the oldest temple still standing in Vientiane. The following sight is the former royal temple of Haw Pha Kaew, which previously housed the famous Emerald Buddha Image. We also visit the imposing Patouxai Monument well known as Vientiane’s own Arc de Triomphe before continuing to the great sacred structure and symbol of Laos, That Luang Stupa. Heading out of town we see the Buddha Park, a blend of Buddhist and Hindu sculptures created by mystical monk on parkland located by the Mekong River and the impressive Friendship Bridge which links Laos and Thailand.

Day 6: Vientiane - Khong Island

Today you will be transferred for your flight to Pakse. Upon arrival you will be transferred to the boat landing for a leisurely trip to the former royal capital of Champasak, our base for exploring the ruin of Wat Phu. Upon arrival at Khong Island, we embark on a long tail boat for venturing into the widest reach of the Mekong River from where thousands of islets jut out in dry season, giving this area a lovely name” Si Phan Done ”. Along the way we will anchor at the peaceful island of Ban Khone for a visit to the many relics of French colonial period and the marvelous rushing Liphi falls also called the " Corridor of the Devil".

Day 7: Khong Island - Pakse

Today we head to Tatlo driving past many lush plantations, hills, forests and villages. The deep contrast of lush vegetation and red surface of basaltic soil is incredible all along the way. On arrival at Tatlo we visit the spectacular waterfall of Xeset and the nearby villages, home of the Kato, Alack and Nge hilltribe groups. These ethnic minorities still retain their age old cultural traditions and are recognisably distinct from each other by their dress. We continue our journey through Paksong and Boloven Plateau. A part of our pleasure of travelling in this region is to observe the beautiful countryside and meet local people.

Day 8: Pakse - Yangon

Early this morning, you are transferred to the airport to take a flight to Bangkok and onward to Yangon. Upon arrival at Mingaladon airport, you are met and transferred to hotel. Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon has been the capital city only since 1885 although some settlements in this site date back about 2,500 years. This colorful metropolis features an intriguing mix of the scenes from a bygone era and the modern tempo of bustling streets punctuated by serene temples and impressive colonial edifices.

Day 9: Yangon - Mandalay

After catching a short flight to Mandalay we will pick you up and drive straight to the jetty for a boat trip on the mighty Irrawaddy River. We then head back to the city and tour Mahamuni Pagoda, the fabulous Kuthodaw Pagoda often called “ the world's largest book “ and the wooden monastery of Shwenandaw Kyaung. This structure is still standing over centuries, despite of all vicissitudes of the city. We include these sights in a half day city tour which also gives us a chance to ascend Mandalay hill for a beautiful sunset view of the surrounding areas.

Day 10: Mandalay

Today we visit the ancient city of Amarapura. Then enjoy the great serenity of U Bein wooden Bridge, visit Mahar Myat Muni Buddha Image the most ancient Buddha image castled in bronze in Myanmar and head your way to the handicraft workshops such as bronze sculpture, gold leaf beating and marble stone carving. Then drive to Innwa ( Ava ), a historical capital founded by King Thado Minbya in 1364. Extended visit will be made to Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery which is a fine example of Myanmar masonry art and architecture, Mainu Brick Monastery and old watch tower. Lastly we continue to picturesque Sagaing Hills.

Day 11: Mandalay - Bagan

After your morning flight to Bagan we will pick you up and take you on your tour. Sightseeing tour with a visit to Nyaung-U local market, the golden pagoda of Shwezigon pagoda, which is Pagan's most important reliquary shrine. This afternoon visit Manuha Temple with gigantic Buddha images, Nanpaya, Ananda temple. Making a photo stop at the tallest temple measuring 61 meters Thatbuinnyu known as ": temple of omniscience" and dating from 1091. Next, visit Dhamayangyi and Mingalarzedi. At the sunset time and climb to the top of Shwesandaw stupa to enjoy magnificent views over Pagan's temples and the Ayeyarwady River.

Day 12: Bagan

Enjoy a half day tour of Bagan, seeing some temples scattered around the tranquil village of Minnanthu. The following sight is Kyat Kan Cave Monastery, a famous meditation retreat in Bagan. Heading out of the town, we make our way to the imposing Mount Popa. This extinct volcano boasts the region’s highest peak, but the main attraction in this place is the smaller one, Popa Taungkalar, dedicated to the local legendary "nat" spirits. After a scenic drive, we arrive at this site and ascend the Popa Taungkalar for a beautiful panoramic view over the surrounding areas. There are 777 steps which wind around the outcrop, leading to the gilded stupa and monastery at the summit.

Day 13: Bagan - Inle Lake

After a short flight to Heho this morning enjoy two hour drive into the Shan Plateau, passing through the picturesque countryside and the rolling hills towards Pindaya. This magnificent cave in a tranquil setting of limestone outcrops and scenic lakes, houses thousand Buddha images of various shapes and sizes, all brought there by devoted pilgrims. On arrival in Pandaya we enjoy a walk exploring this sacred cave and seeing the traditional production of Shan paper and parasols at a nearby village. The journey continues on to Inle Lake, a famous wonder of Myanmar.

Day 14: Inle Lake

Today we board our boat for a leisurely trip on the lake which also gives us a chance to visit some gardens and catch a glimpse of the local Intha fishmen famous for their rowing technique. These people power their narrow boats by twisting their legs around their oars, a remarkable feat of agility and control. • Along the way, we anchor to visit the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the Jumping Cat Monastery with a beautiful collection of antique Buddha statues and the rotating rural market. This colourful congregation is held in different villages every five days, and attracts numerous ethnic minorities who converge from the surrounding villages to trade their goods.

Day 15: Inle Lake

Sadly your last day with us with your departure airport transfer to Heho airport.

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