This Unesco World Heritage site offers a spectacular glimpse of long ago, current day, and much of the history in between. Our "Perfect Circle" takes you far beyond this historic city to villages that are rarely seen by mere tourists. You depart Luang Prabang either by a traditional Lao riverboat, overnight in Pak Beng, and return by road the following day (or vice versa) with colorful stops along the way.
For the leg of your trip on the Mekong you will see villages perched on the shore where the inhabitants make their lives from the river; you will likely see some of them net fishing from shore or from boats along the banks. The scenery along the river is ever-changing but always spectacular.
You will overnight at Pak Beng, a majestic lodge perched high on the cliffs above the Mekong. The accommodations are beautiful and the meals are delicious. Enjoy twilight as the birds sing their last songs of the day, and breakfast as the mist clears from the Mekong. You may even hear elephants trumpeting from the dense forest just across the river.
The route by road through the jungle offers much to see. The dense tropical vegetation exhibits rare beauty and there are ethnic minority villages along the way where people live much as they have for centuries (except for television and the Internt). You will visit severral such a villages and meet some of their resourceful and gracious people.
What You Will See
The same stops are made whether the first leg of your journey is by land or water. They include:
Tam Thing Caves. At the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Ou Rivers you visit a cave complex that attracts Buddhist pilgrims from throughout Laos. Inside you will find more than 1,500 Buddha statues left for generations by visitors.
Baw Village. This landlocked hill tribe village where you will get a taste of rural Lao life--boys fishing along the river, a charming monastery, school kids, women seated at looms and village men making the local moonshine from local rice. (Yes, you can take a bottle home with you!)
Pak Beeng is the half-way point between Luang Prabang and the Thai port town of Chiang Khong, so it is the usual overnight stop for passenger ferries and boats carrying freight from Thailand or China. The town has a dusty wild west flavor with local restaurants and bars blaring Western music and a collection of ramshackle wooden buildings. You spend the night here in a lovely teakwood hotel overlooking the river.
Muang Ngeun is a village of traditional wooden architecture dating to the early eighteen century. You visit a wooden wat (temple) that dates to 1736 and another mural-adorned wat that dates to 1816.
Ban Bi Mi is known for traditional cotton growing, spinning and weaving. You will see artisans at work as they craft textile products that are an integral part of traditional Lao rural life.
Hongsa once had Laos' largest collection of elephants. Today, it produces electricity for Thailand. It sits at the edge of a large expanse of virgin forest through which you will pass. You will see breathtaking landscapes, ethnic minority villages, and perhaps some of the endangered animal species that are native to the region.
Sayaboury now has the largest elephant population in Laos. You make a stop here for a traditional home-cooked Lao lunch served overlooking the river.
Kacham Waterfall seems to be untouched and undiscovered except for the locals who enjoy picnicking here. The road between here and Luang Prabang is dotted with small sleepy towns, rice paddies and bamboo houses on stilts, where you may want to stop for a photo opportunity or two.
This program includes all meals. Lunch on the Mekong River leg is an onboard buffet on the boat and dinner your hotel in Pak Beng.