MEKONG MOMENTS – LAOS ADVENTURE
16-day Laos Adventure
16-day Laos Adventure
|GROUP SIZE||Maximum 18 people|
|GROUP MINIMUM||1 person (all our trips are guaranteed departures)|
|STARTS / ENDS IN||Vientiane (Laos)|
|START DAY||Saturday at 10:00 AM|
|END DAY||Upon arrival back in Vientiane after lunch, around 4 PM|
|FITNESS LEVEL||Very Active|
15 nights accommodations (combination of heritage hotels, traditional Lao cottages, eco-lodges, colonial-era villas, traditional wood riverside bungalows, charming bed & breakfasts and hillside cabins)
43 meals (16 breakfasts, 15 lunches, 12 dinners)
VegVoyages Adventure Leaders & Local Guides
* Airport pick up is provided only if you arrive a day or two earlier than the tour date. If you would be arriving three days or more early, please arrange for your own airport pick up.
International airfare, airport departure transfer, visa for Laos, personal travel insurance, laundry, gratuities and items of a personal nature.
|START DATE||November 19||November 18|
|END DATE||December 4||December 3|
|START DAY||Saturday @ 10:00 AM||Saturday @ 10:00 AM|
Upon arrival back in Vientiane after lunch, around 4 PM
Upon arrival back in Vientiane after lunch, around 4 PM
Sabaidee. Welcome to Vientiane! The history of this sleepy capital dates back well over 1,000 years and is full of golden years, conquests, takeovers and desertions. After Orientation Meeting, we’ll visit Tat Luang Stupa, the country’s most prominent landmark and a symbol of national identity. We’ll also make a stop at Patuxai Victory Monument. Situated at the end of one of the capital’s grand avenues, the large, square arch is reminiscent of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. However, Patuxai was designed to pay homage to its national culture and traditions. Its exterior embellishments feature both Buddhist religious symbols such as lotus leaves and the stupa-shaped towers, and statues of animist kinnari (half-female and half-bird figures) and nagas (dragons). (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Vientiane – the most laid back and charming capitol in all of Southeast Asia! Viang Chan, as it is properly called, is the biggest and most bustling city in Laos – which, with its welcoming relaxed pace, pleasantly says something. After breakfast, we’ll spend the morning at a very special organization, the Cooperative Orthotic & Prosthetic Enterprise, or COPE, which helps to rehabilitate victims of these weapons of past wars that still claim limbs (and lives) every year by providing them with artificial limbs and training. This visit will help you understand a problem facing not just Laos, but many countries in the world. For lunch we’ll dine at a long time vegetarian restaurant, one of the first in Viantiane. After lunch, we’ll be guests of the Lao Disabled Women’s Development Center where women with disabilities are taught skills to become self-sufficient. We’ll end our first day in Vientiane by visiting Buddha Park. Returning back to our hotel, you will have the evening free to relax and explore the capital at your own pace, we will be in rural areas starting tomorrow. (Breakfast, Lunch)
What an amazing experience. As I did on the journey, I still find myself saying, “wow”, whenever I’m remembering something personally or telling someone details of my trip. I treasure your passing and compassion for the cultures, people, animals and places we witness. Thank you for a incredible experience that I will never forget.
Tracy Scott (Washington, USA)
Bidding adieu to the city, we set out on the road to Ban Nam Song. Nestled on the edge of the Song River, we’ll be staying in bungalows overlooking the water and limestone cliffs that fill the horizon. After lunch, we’ll board kayaks and explore the surrounding countryside set amongst some truly stunning scenery. As the sun sets over the jagged peaks, we’ll gather around the campfire for our introduction to Hmong culture. The Hmong, a separate ethnic group, have their own culture, heritage, food, language and traditions. Primarily farmers from the hills, the Hmong trace their origins to China and have settled throughout Vietnam, Thailand and Laos. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Our journey north today takes us on one of the most scenic roads in the country as we make our way through central Laos with stunning views of lush peaks, verdant valleys and ethnic hill tribe villages. Arriving in Xieng Khouang, we’ll be staying just outside of the provincial capitol in hillside cabins. It’s hard to believe that this tranquil valley was completely ravaged by bombs just over thirty years ago with the majority of the villages being destroyed. After freshening up, we’ll sit down around the fire for snacks and a delicious vegan dinner of local delicacies while learning about the rich, and at times tragic, history of Xieng Khouang and the mysterious Plain of Jars. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
After a traditional breakfast overlooking the valley, we’re off to visit the mysterious Plain of Jars where you’ll also see huge craters still remaining from the US bombing raids decades ago. What make the Plain of Jars interesting are the thousands of large stone-carved “jars” that dot the countryside. No one knows for sure, but most scientists agree that the mysterious “jars” were used by a now unknown Mon-Khmer race around 2,000 or more years ago. Today, we’ll also be guests of a local Hmong family, where, as their guests – we’ll learn about their local customs, traditions and way of life. Returning to our cabins, we’ll have time to freshen up before dinner. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
I should let you know how absolutely, positively friggin fantastic the Laos trip was. I had an absolutely wonderful time. Sometimes it is hard, when one is not use to the heat or the crowds or the smells to appreciate what one is seeing, but when you get home and have a chance to reflect on the fantastic places, sights, and sounds you realize what a great time/trip you had. The Lao food was fabulous. The beautiful greens, fresh noodles and exotic mushrooms were a real treat. The attention to detail in looking after trip participants was exceptional. I would recommend VegVoyages to anyone interested in travel who really wants to get to know the history, culture and peoples of the countries visited. Thanks for the absolutely, positively friggin fantastic holiday.
Jackie Bell (Yellowknife, Canada)
Today we set out for the enchanting UNESCO World Heritage city of Luang Prabang. The former seat of the Laotian royal family before the revolution, Luang Prabang is a delightful, storybook-like town of winding lanes, old French architecture, cozy cafés, ornate temples and local markets. Our home for the next three days will be at a lovely inn designed in classic Lao-French fusion architecture in the heart of the old town. After arriving in this historical city, you’ll have the evening free to rest, relax and go out at your own time. (Breakfast, Lunch)
We’ll start the morning with yoga, then it’s time for our cooking class where we’ll be introduced at the town’s wet market to ingredients used for dishes indigenous to the area and under the guidance of one of Luang Prabang’s best chefs, learn how to make a delicious vegan lunch of local delicacies! After enjoying the delicious lunch that we made, we’ll explore enchanting Luang Prabang by foot. In the late afternoon, you’ll have the evening free to explore on your own and take in city at your own pace – whether it is exploring the town’s narrow-winding lanes or visiting its colorful night bazaar, or simply relaxing in one of the city’s cozy café. (Breakfast, Lunch)
In the morning, we’ll head just outside of town to the very special Free the Bears Rescue Center. Definitely one of the highlights of our visit to Luang Prabang, at the sanctuary we’ll learn about the center and their very lovely guests – rescued Asiatic Black Bears. These beautiful bears once roamed the jungles of Laos and most of Southeast Asia, however due to exploitation and deforestation their populations in the wild are now seriously threatened. After helping out at the center, we’ll take a short walk through the forest to the Kuang Si Falls where we’ll have a delicious vegan picnic and time to cool off in the crystal clear turquoise pools at their base. Upon returning to town, you’ll have time to freshen up before we meet for our dinner party! (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Today we’ll catch our domestic flight to the other side of Laos. Arriving at the Pakse, we’ll cross the Mekong River and hop aboard our boat and head down the mighty Mekong to the one-buffalo town of Champassak. With its laid back pace, quiet temples and decaying colonial-era buildings, it’s hard to believe that at one time this was the royal capital of an influential kingdom. It’s also hard to believe that just a short distance away are the incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site ruins of Wat Phou – an ancient Khmer temple complex built by a powerful civilization that ruled centuries ago. As the sun sets over Champassak, we’ll learn the art of making Lao noodles before enjoying a feast of tasty local dishes for dinner. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Fifteen minutes outside the sleepy old capital lies Wat Phou – a striking ancient pre-Angkor Khmer Hindu temple complex and one of the oldest Hindu temples in Southeast Asia. Wat Phou, which means “mountain temple or monastery”, was built using the Hindu philosophy of harmony between man and nature. Many of the structures you’ll see today were built by Suryavarman II, the Khmer Emperor responsible for Angkor Wat. In the morning, we’ll explore these incredible ruins, then set out further down the Mekong River to the 9th century remains of Wat Tomo. Returning to our villas, you’ll have time to freshen up before we meet for a fusion dinner, complete with, yes, vegan pizza. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Our hearts are still bursting with gratitude for all that you did for us and shared with us. As someone who writes for a living, I’ve been having trouble finding the right words to do Lao and all our experiences justice. When people ask about our trip, I find myself rambling on and on, because I want to convert to them how much we did and how special it was, but the words seems to fall short. You are exceptional, compassionate, thoughtful human beings and we sing your praises every chance we get.
Amy Leventhal (San Francisco, USA)
After breakfast, we depart for Savannakhet. “Savan”, as the locals call it, with its worn colonial shop houses, an almost deserted town square anchored by an aging Catholic church, numerous temples – both Taoist and Buddhist alike, and a five-centuries-old wat, is a laid-back old Mekong trading outpost that has a relaxing charm to it ringing of a bygone-era. Upon arrival, we’ll have lunch at the first vegetarian restaurant in the town. Right before the sun is setting on the Mekong River, we’ll enjoy sundowners on the banks of the mighty Mekong River. As the colors of the day turn to night, we’ll join our friend’s family at their home for local folk music, dance and a yummy home-cooked Lao vegan dinner. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
This morning we’ll visit a bustling traditional wet market where we’ll learn about the local bazaar scene as well as the fresh herbs and veggies used in traditional Lao dishes. From the market, we’ll take a stroll through the old town learning about its glorious past history, visiting its beautiful temples, church and the old town square. After settling down for lunch at a local vegetarian cafe, you’ll have the evening free to explore Savan at your own leisure. (Breakfast, Lunch)
Saying goodbye to Savan and heading north to the Mekong town of Thakek. On our way, we venture out off the main road and stop at an auspicious Buddha Cave that sits amongst stunning limestone cliffs containing 229 bronze Buddhas said to be over 300 years old. In the afternoon, we’ll be guests at a local school where we will have the chance to practice our Lao and they, practice their english. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
In the morning, we get back on the road less traveled for a breathtakingly scenic journey to our home for the next two days in the National Biodiversity Conservation Area of Phou Hin Poun – a protected semi-evergreen forest area studded with limestone karsts and incredible caves. Here, we’ll be staying just outside the small village of Ban Phou Ngeng in traditional wooden chalets near the Hinboun River. On arrival, we’ll hike into the countryside exploring the surrounding villages and dense jungle learning about the local way of life and flora including the medicinal plants the forest has offered people for centuries before returning to our riverside chalets for dinner. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
We’ll be on the river most of the day, as we set out upstream to visit the spectacular Kong Lor Cave. Spectacular is putting it lightly, as the Kong Lor Cave is seven and half kilometers long. Hopping aboard local boats, we’ll navigate the Hinboun River where thick jungles meet limestone cliffs and small villages. Our journey up river doesn’t end at the mouth of the cave, as we’ll actually travel through the cave not by foot – but by boat. In the evening, we’ll join in a local game while enjoying cold beers and fresh lime juice. Dinner tonight will be on the banks of the Nam Hinboun. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Your Adventure ends upon arrival back in the capital and after a late lunch at around 4 PM. If your flight is on the same day, please arrange to have it at the late the evening in case any delay of our arrival back in the city. Thank you very much for joining Mekong Moment – a VegVoyages Laos adventure! (Breakfast, Lunch)
Just finished my third with VegVoyages – Laos (Mekong Moments in the land of a million elephants). There truly is no company better than VegVoyages for group travel. All their trips have been amazing. The service you receive from the owners of the company (at least one is on the trip with you), the sights you see which take you off the beaten path and include things you would never see are just a small part of why their trips are so amazing. The food is phenomenal. It’s vegan and even non-vegans love it.
Karen Robb (Oregon, USA)