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Laos – Mekong Symphony

- A Secret Retreats journey -
9 Days / 8 Nights
from 2,800 USD /person

 

ITINERARY BOOK
 


This journey has been personally designed by Jean Paul and Touny,
owners of Muang La Lodge, have selected their favourite spots across Laos for us.


Highlights of the Journey:

  • Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage Centre
  • Rural northern Laos and its hill tribes
  • The mighty Mekong river

Long known as "the country of a million elephants” Laos is undoubtedly one of the most mysterious places in South-East Asia. After decades of being hidden away, Laos has gently opened its borders and visitors can now discover a fascinating place where they have long since perfect the art of ‘slow life’. The 9 days 8 nights “Mekong Symphony” invites you to explore Northern Laos & Luang Prabang through a combination of a luxury getaway in the region’s finest hotels and a unique experience into Laos’ most precious heritage: its warm and friendly people, unspoilt nature and ancient culture.


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Your Journey Day by Day

9 Days / 8 Nights from 2,800 USD /person

based on 4 people traveling together and sharing 2 rooms

 
Day 1 : Vientiane
Welcome at the airport by your local guide. After check-in at Lao Poet Hotel, you have a tour of the capital arranged depending on your arrival time. You tour will included (if time permits): That Luang, the national monument of Laos with it's 45m high golden stupa - Wat Sisaket and other temples - the local markets. We can arrange a reservation for dinner at the Secret Table Amphone (cost not included).
Overnight stay at your hotel.
HOTEL: Lao Poet
Day 2 : Vientiane- Muang-La (B/L/D)
Transfer to Vientinane Airport for your mid-morning flight to Oudomxay. On arrival, you set off for Muang La Lodge where you take a late lunch. Sitting between mountains and a river, The Lodge comprises just 10 rooms and benefits from a nearby thermal spring. A haven of peace and tranquility with a massage pavilion facing the river, a traditional scented sauna and two hot water baths filled with naturally salty water from the spring, the Lodge is without doubt the "Pearl of Northern Laos". You have free time to relax and enjoy The Lodge in the afternoon.
Dinner & overnight stay at Muang La Lodge.
HOTEL: Muang La Lodge
Day 3 : Muang La (B/L/D)
A full day visiting villages of the Khamu, Hmong and Akha peoples – three ethnic groups of northern Laos. The trail you take is superb and offers you an incredible climb to 1,000m above sea level and offers some magnificent views of the stunning mountain scenery. Your first visit is a village of the Khamu people followed by the Hmong village of Ban Pangcor. Your guide will explain the origins of this ethnic group who were native to the high steppes of Tibet. You will learn about their daily life, the importance of their livestock to their life and the care their animals receive. The path to the isolated village offers may impressive views. You take your picnic lunch enjoying the amazing surroundings. After lunch, you visit a completely isolated Akha village; this ethnic group originates from Tibet and Yunnan Province in China. You learn about the daily life of the village and how the villagers still follow customs passed down through the centuries. The route through the village reaches a wonderful viewpoint offering a 360° panorama of the area. You return to the Lodge at the end of the day.

In the evening you take part in a Baci or Welcome Ceremony. In Laos animist beliefs still persist and one part of these beliefs is that people have 32 souls, one in each of the 32 body parts. These souls (or Khouanes) tend to escape and risk being eaten by evil spirits, creating diseases and bad luck. The Baci ceremony recalls these souls to the body. In a room family and friends gather and an altar of flowers is made. From this altar radiate strands of cotton symbolizing ties with the world of souls; cakes, fruits, alcohol, incense sticks, candles, silver are also there to encourage souls to return home. A wise old man who specializes in this ceremony officiates and surrounded by the family and friends he first lights the 4 candles placed at the top of the altar and prays to the gods. In meditation and using ritual formulas, the wise man urges the 32 souls to return to their home and benefit from the offerings. The ceremony ends with wishes being made and the cotton strands are fixed on the wrists of the people present to retain the returned souls. The attendees then celebrate the return of their souls. Dinner & overnight stay at Muang La Lodge.
HOTEL: Muang La Lodge
Day 4 : Muang La (B/L/D)
After breakfast, you walk for around 30 mins. Along the banks of the Nam Pak to the Khamu village of Wang Wanh, where the villagers make sacks from the fibres of the local plants. You will be welcomed by a local family in their rice fields surrounded by the hills and you immerse yourself in the traditional way of life of the villagers. Accompanied by your local guide, you learn all about the life of the villagers and their work in the fields, with their faithful friend - a water buffalo. From choosing the right seeds, planting the seeds, transplanting cuttings to the crucial stage of the harvest; you learn all about the life of the local farmers. After your interesting morning, it's time to relax and enjoy your lunch which is taken in the farm "sala', giving a 360° panorama of the wonderful countryside in the valley. After lunch, you cross the Nam Pak on a bamboo raft to go to the Khamu village of Vieng Kham. The villagers are well-known for their weaving skills creating wonderful silks and sarongs. You continue on to the village of Muang La to visit the local school and the temple of Chiao Pha Kham Sing which houses a sacred staue of Buddha and is now a place of pilgrimage. You return to The Lodge in the middle of the afternoon to relax and reflect on the wonderful memories of your day in the Lao countryside.

Reliable and comfortable trekking shoes required!
HOTEL: Muang La Lodge
Day 5 : Muang La – Pakbeng (B/L/D)
Discover the rural life of Pak La village which surrounds the Lodge. Your walk gives you a chance to admire the panoramic views of the Nam Pak River, the beautiful rice terraces and extraordinary salt mines. You discover how the Khamu people live in harmony with their natural surroundings whilst using the resources of the forest and the river. Muang La Lodge is dominated by the temple of "Chiao Pha Kham Sing" which houses a sacred Buddha. According to the custodians of the temple, the statue simply “appeared” there over one hundred years ago and so the temple is now a sacred place of pilgrimage. You take lunch at the Lodge and in the afternoon, you leave for Pakbeng. After around 4h30 (including comfort breaks) you reach Pakbeng which sits on the banks of the Mekong.
Dinner & overnight stay at Luang Say Lodge.
HOTEL: Luang Say Lodge
Day 6 : Pakbeng-Luang Prabang (B/L/-)
After an early breakfast (7am), you start your descent of the mighty River Mekong. On the way to Luang Prabang, you make several stops to meet the different people who live on the banks of this famous river. You take lunch on-board the boat. In the afternoon, you reach the confluence of the Mekong and the Nam Ou; this is where you find the famous Pakhou Caves: Tham Ting & Tham Phoum. You stop to visit the caves which are carved into the hillside and contain hundreds of statues of Buddha, in all shapes & sizes, put in this sacred place by the local people for many centuries. You continue your descent of the Mekong arriving in Luang Prabang at the end of the afternoon.
Transfer to your hotel.
Dinner is not included. We will make recommendations for dining out, unless you prefer to stay “home” and enjoy the cuisine from Satri House.
Overnight stay at your hotel.
HOTEL: Satri House
Day 7 : Luang Prabang (B/-/D)
The Alms Ceremony is a spiritual activity demanding respect. We ask that you follow the instructions of your guide. Ethnicity Museum is closed on Mondays & National Museum is closed on Tuesdays.

At first light (before breakfast) you witness the daily Alms Ceremony as the local monks pass through the old part of the city receiving donations of rice from the local people. It's an amazing sight. After breakfast, you set off to explore one of the local markets followed by the Ethnicity Museum. Your tour continues with Wat May, Wat Manorom - reportedly built in 1375 by King Sam Sen Thai and Wat That Louang - once the crematorium for high dignitaries & the old royal family. Lunch (not included).
After lunch, you visit the National Museum housed in the ancient Royal Palace before continuing on to Wat Xieng Thong which is considered by many to be the most beautiful temple in the city. As you pass from temple to temple, you will see the local people going about their daily lives. Your next stop is Wat Aphay which according to legend was once called Wat Hay Padek (which translates as the Monastery of Padek; a strong fish paste used in Lao cuisine). As you near the end of your tour, you visit Wat Phraphoutthabat - the Monastery of Buddha's Footprint, Wat That and the last two remaining examples of Xieng Khouang architecture - Wat Sieng Mouane & Wat Choum Khong.
Dinner at Le Calao Restaurant, a member of Secret Tables, and overnight stay at your hotel.
HOTEL: Satri House
Day 8 : Luang Prabang & Kuang Si (B/L/-)
Morning dedicated to the discovery of elephants at eco-responsible camp Mandalao. At 8:30, you leave Luang Prabang for the village of Xieng Lom. You are invited to have a coffee or tea and to get an introduction to elephant behavior and new training techniques, especially with baby elephants. The guide will also explain how we, as human beings, should interact with the baby and his mother that you will soon meet. You cross the Nam Khan River and go to meet the elephants. During this first meeting you are invited to interact with the animals and feed them, one of the best ways to ensure an immediate friendship. Before leaving for a walk in the forest, place to bathe. This fun experience involves using special materials found in the jungle to rub and rinse elephants before starting the hike. After crossing a beautiful stretch of traditional Laos landscapes, you will arrive in the jungle crossed by the Huay Nok River. As you walk beside the elephants and cross the streams, your guide will continue to explain ways to better understand and communicate with these animals. At the end of the morning, your walk in the forest ends. It's time to say goodbye to your new friends. Before that, you give them a last set of treats and give them one last hug. Walk to camp through rice fields and teak plantations. Once arrived at the camp, a delicious Lao meal, made from organic products grown on site, awaits you.

After lunch, return to Luang Prabang, which you reach in the early afternoon. You leave the peninsula for the waterfalls at Kuang Si. This natural beauty spot is a favourite place with the local people. Couples & families come to relax or take a picnic during the hot season.
Dinner at leisure and overnight at your hotel.
HOTEL: Satri House
Day 9 : Luang Prabang – Departure (B)
Free time to browse around the peninsula before your transfer to Luang Prabang Airport (20 minutes by car from the centre of town).

Your Accommodation on this Asia Travel Itinerary


Laos – Mekong Symphony

9 Days / 8 Nights
from 2,800 USD /person

based on 4 people traveling together and sharing 2 rooms

 


The total price includes:

  • Accommodation based on two people sharing.
  • All meals specified in the programme (B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner)
  • All transfers as specified, in private car or air-conditioned van.
  • All excursions as specified in the programme.
  • All entry fees.
  • A guide service for all excursions.

The total price does not include:

  • Domestic & International flights (domestic flights will be quoted at the moment of reservation).
  • All meals not specified in the programme.
  • All services not specified in the programme.
  • Fees for Lao visas ($30 - $40) USD per person (depending on nationality) plus one passport photo.
  • All insurances including cancellation insurance/ travel insurance/ repatriation or lost luggage insurances.
  • All tips.


This Secret Journey was designed in cooperation with Jean Paul and Asia Safaris (License N°391 29/07/2004)

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