Golden Triangle & Laos

Explore the Golden Triangle border area. Encounter the natural beauty of Northern Thailand and Laos while cruising on Mekong river. Visit ethnic villages in Oudomxay and discover the beauty of Luang Prabang. Visit mysterious Plain of Jars and kayak among limestone formations in Vang Vieng.

Tour length: 12 days / 11 nights
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Highlights of this itinerary

  • Visit the border region of Golden Triangle, famous for being a major opium producer in the past
  • Enjoy the ethnic diversity of Northern Thailand and its rich cultural heritage
  • Cruise down Mekong river in Northern Laos
  • Visit the Hmong, Khmu and Akha villages and hang out with friendly locals in Oudomxay province
  • Admire the beauty of Luang Prabang's colonial architecture and enjoy the scenic Kuang Si falls
  • Discover the mysteries of Plain of Jars
  • Kayak on Nam Song river in Vang Vieng among beautiful limestone mountains
  • Stroll through charming Vientiane, capital city of Laos

Day 1: Chiang Rai (-/-/-)

Upon arrival to Chiang Rai airport, meet you guide and driver. Chiang Rai is the capital of the northernmost province in Thailand. Drive to the mountainous area about 1 hour away from the city and visit Mae Fah Luang area, also called "Little Switzerland" area due to picturesque views. Drive to the summit of Doi Tung mountain and explore the Doi Tung royal villa, the residence of the late Princess Srinagarindra, beloved by Thai people until today. Doi Tung Villa still serves as the a residence of the Thai Royal Family. Explore the villa and gardens surrounding it. Descend from the mountain and proceed to the ethinical minorities village where you will encounter traditionally dressed tribes living in Northern Thailand, Myanmar and Laos. Encounter the "Long Neck" Padaung women as well as Akha tribe wearing interesting shiny headcovers. Return to Chiang Rai and explore three famous buildings - White and Blue Temples and the Black House. Visit the famous Wat Rong Kun, also known as the White Temple which stands out with its unconventional style combining contemporary and traditional Thai architecture. Visit the Blue Temple and proceed to the Black House, sometimes referred to as a Black Temple which is actually an art gallery and a museum of a famous Thai sculpturer. 

Day 2: Chiang Rai - Chiang Khong (B/-/D)

Morning drive to the town of Chiang Saen, located at the heart of the Golden Triangle area, at the intersection of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos border. On the way, stop at a tea plantation and enjoy cooling climate of Thailand's highlands. Upon reaching Chiang Saen, visit the local market and proceed to the view point from which you can see Laos. Myanmar and the intersection of three countries borders. Take a cruise on the Mekong and observe daily life on the Myanmar and Laos side of the river. Chiang Saen is one of Thailand's oldest towns, established in 545 AD. There are numerous, well preserved temples and pagodas in the town. Visit to Wat Pra That Phukao and Wat Chedi Luang temples. In the afternoon drive towards Laos border and check in to your resort. Guests have an option to stay in an eco-resosrt run by the local ethinical minority communities. Enjoy visit to the local Hmong and Lahu villages as well as cultural performance during dinner served in the resort.

Day 3: Chiang Khong - Pakbeng (B/L/-)

After breakfast, transfer to nearby border crossing with Laos and cross bridge on the Mekong River and complete the immigration formalities. Upon arriving in Laos, board a boat and cruise down the Mekong River to Pakbeng. Admire a local life on both banks of the river inhabited by various tribes living in a full symbiosis with the river. Stops are made at the villages en route to observe rural life along the Mekong River and discover dwellings of ethnic minority groups.  The boat arrives at Pakbeng before sunset. Overnight in Pakbeng. 

Day 4: Pakbeng - Oudomxay (B/-/-)

This morning, continue your scenic journey by road to Oudomxay. The sceneries along the road are stunning with rice paddies, deep forested jungles, winding roads, lakeside views, palm trees. Visit a local tribal village en route and observe locals at their daily routines dressed in traditional clothing. Continue to Muang Xay and visit Phou That before transfering to the resort for check-in. Enjoy some free time at leisure to relax by the pool. Overnight at Namkat Yorlapa.

Day 5: Oudomxay (B/L/-)

Morning visit at a busy local market filled with exotic local foods and fresh produce. Spend the by visiting various ethnic villages (Akha, Ikos, Khmu & Hmong) by 4WD vehicle high in the hills to observe traditional way of life of local tribes. Enjoy the spectacular views on the way to the villages. Lunch box in one of the villages. Your local guide will intorduce you to their rich culture, religion and tradtions as well as teach you their handcraft methods passed down through generations. The locals are very friendly, enjoy chatting with foreigners and sharing their believes and traditions. Observe local farms, rice paddies and beautiful sceneries while you trek through villages. On the way back, stop in Muang La at Phachao Singkham Temple with its 400 year old Buddha image. Tour traditional salt mining in the nearby hot springs  Overnight at Namkat Yorlapa. 

Day 6: Oudomxay - Luang Prabang (B/-/-)

This morning take a picturesque 4-hour drive to Ban Pak Ou caves, rewarded with amazing views. Most of the villages on the way are inhabited by the Hmong people who are distinctive in the way they dress. Once in Pak Ou, embark on a smll ferry boat and cross the Mekong river to visit Pak Ou Caves. Admire thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues located in two caves carved out of a towering limestone cliff. They vary in size from a few centimeters to the size of a human. Continue your picturesque journey to Luang Prabang. At sunset climb the Phousi Hill to enjoy excellent views of the lush green World Heritage city and the Kane and Mekong River. Then stroll through the lively central night market where the ethnic minorities of the surroundings come daily to trade their goods. Overnight in Luang Prabang.

Day 7: Luang Prabang (B/-/-)

Begin your day with a visit to the National Museum that used to be the Royal Palace, displaying a collection of personal artifacts of the Royal Family, as well as the “Prabang” sacred golden statue that gave the name to the town. Contiunie sightseeing with visits to Vat Mai, the former royal temple, Heritage House, being a perfect example of Luang Prabang traditional building made of wood on poles, and Vat Xieng Thong, one of the most emblematic temples in Laos. In the afternoon, cross the river by boat to discover a local daily life on the opposite side of Luang Prabang. After disembarking, walk through an open market and climb over a hundred steps to Vat Chompet from where you can enjoy a panoramic view over the surrounding area. Visit famous Long Khun & Tam Xieng Mene temples. Continue your walk and cross the Mekong to visit a sleepy Ban Chan village specialized in producing pottery and observe local life of its inhabitants. Overnight in Luang Prabang.

Day 8: Luang Prabang (B/-/-)

Wake up early to witness alms giving ceremony. Monks carrying their bowls, wander through town blessing locals who give them offerings (mostly sticky rice). Return to the hotel for breakfast. Visit an open-air food market that is held daily in the streets nearby the former Royal Palace. Then take an excursion by road to Kuang Si waterfalls where turquoise waters cascade over limestone formations. The abundance of water forms a magnificent display of nature. Below the Kuang Si are large turquoise ponds perfect for swimming and cooling off under the waterfall. Pass stupendous landscapes, teak forest and to visit a centre where the endangered black Asiatic bears found a safe shelter. In the afternoon transfer to the airport for international departure flight. 

Day 9: Luang Prabang - Plain of Jars (B/-/-)

After breakfast, embark on a 6-7 hours journey to the mysterious Plain of Jars in the secluded Xieng Khouang Province. On the way, pass ethinic villages and scenic mountain ranges offering spectacular view of Laos. Xieng Khouang played an important role during the Vietnam War. It is one of the most bombed areas in the world. About 4 billion pounds of bombs have been dropped by Americans on Laos, up to a third of this number never exploded making archeological exploartion a difficult task. The remnants of the unexploaded ordances can be seen throught the province however, the archeological sites are safe for tourists to visit. Upon reaching Phonsavan, the capital of Xieng Khoung Province, proceed to the the Site 1 of the Plan of Jars and enjoy the sunset there.

Day 10: Plain of Jars - Vang Vieng (B/-/-)

In the morning visit Plain of Jars Archeological Sites 2 and 3. Little is known about the origins of the jars and the reason for their large number in the region. The scientists estimate their age to approximately 2,000 years, some believe the jars were used for burial purposes while others suggest they were used for rice and wine storage. Most of the jars were carved out of sandstone, others of granite, conglomerate or calcified coral. Archeologists are certain Plain of Jars is one of Southeast Asia's most important archeological sites - but it is one with more questions than answers. Next, proceed to the 'spoon village' Napia, where locals produce spoon using aluminium from unexploaded bombs. In the afternoon, drive to Vang Vieng - a picturesque town on the banks of Nam Song river. Take a sunset boat cruise on the river and enjoy beautiful landscape consisting of limestone formations.

Day 11: Vang Vieng (B/-/-)

Begin your day with a visit to Tham Chang cave, one of the most impressive caves in the area. Next, embark on a 4 hour kayaking trip downstream Nam Song river surrunded by breathtaking limestone formations reminescent of South China! On the way you will have a chance to explore numerous caves and take a dip into crystal-clear water. In the afternoon visit one of numerous Blue Lagoons with turquoise waters. Overnight in Vang Vieng.

Day 12: Vang Vieng - Vientiane (B/-/-)

Depart from Vang Vieng in the morning, the drive to Vientiane, laotian capital takes approximately 4 hours. Begin your tour of Vientiane with a visit to Patuxai, a war monument in the city centre commemorating independence fighters. It is also called Patuxai Arch due to its similarity to the Triumphal Arch in Paris. Next, proceed to Vientiane's most important temples: Wat Sisaket with 2,000 ceramic and silver Buddha images. Visit Ho Phra Keo, the most impressive temple in Vientiane that used to host the prominent Emrald Buddha statue. The Buddha image has subsequently been taken by Thai invaders and is currently on display in Bangkok. Finally, visit the That Luang stupa considered to be the most important monument and symbol of Laos. Transfer to the airport for your international departure flight.

OUR SERVICES INCLUDE:

  • 11-night accommodation in double rooms
  • Daily breakfasts at hotels
  • 2 x box lunch (on the boat to Pakbeng and during ethnic villages excursion in Oudomxay)
  • English-speaking station guides every day
  • All transfers and excursions are with private air-conditioned vehicle
  • Private motorized boats for cruise in Golden Triangle
  • Cruise on the Mekong river to Pakbeng
  • Ferries in Ban Pak Ou and Luang Prabang
  • 4WD vehicles excursion to ethnic villages in Oudomxay
  • Kayaks with an instructor in Vang Vieng
  • Daily mineral water and refreshing towels
  • Government taxes and service charges

OUR SERVICES DO NOT INCLUDE:

  • International flight tickets to/from Yangon
  • Meals other than mentioned (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
  • Visa arrangements for Myanmar and Laos
  • Fuel surcharge for domestic flights if applicable
  • Visits not mentioned in the program
  • Camera fee wherever applicable
  • Drinks and personal expenses
  • Tips and porters at the hotels
  • Personal medical insurance (highly recommend to get one)
  • Any other items not mentioned
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