Discover the laid-back delights of Laos, Bangkok and Vientiane

In Thailand discover a country where ancient and modern collide to create the glorious chaos of Bangkok and the cultural heritage of Chiang Mai. In Laos you’ll find a land that holds to the simple traditions that have slipped away elsewhere and where the languid pace of life is eternally contagious. Explore, relax and absorb the distinct atmosphere of these two fascinating countries that sit either side of the massive Mekong River. Food, history, culture, stunning landscapes and endlessly friendly locals await on this journey through two gems of South East Asia.

Start
Bangkok, Thailand
Finish
Vientiane, Laos
Countries
Laos,
Thailand
Themes
Explorer
Code
TLRC
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 16
Carbon offset
254kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Enjoy plenty of time in Laos rather than just travelling through as part of a longer Indochina trip
  • This is a no-fuss, no-hurry holiday. Laos is one of the most relaxed countries around, and the pace of this trip is the same, with plenty of free time to choose your own options in each destination
  • There are many chances to do good while you travel, from the Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre to social enterprise restaurants like Friends International and Makphet
  • Make one of Southeast Asia's classic journeys – a slow-boat trip down the Mekong River
  • Get a good taste of Thailand, with time in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Chiang Khong

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Sa-wat dee! Welcome to Thailand. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. Bangkok has much to offer those with time to explore. You can take a riverboat to Chinatown to sample some world-class street food, visit the Grand Palace, wander down the bustling mecca of Khao San Road or indulge in a Thai massage.
Enjoy free time for optional activities until your overnight train to Chiang Mai (approximately 13 hours). You will travel by 2nd class and your carriage is air-conditioned. Before you go, perhaps take a longtail boat trip down the Chao Phraya River to explore the famous 'khlongs' (canals) of Bangkok. Life along these canals seems a world away from the busy streets of the capital.
Wake up on the train and glimpse the northern scenery as you arrive in Chiang Mai, then transfer to your hotel. Get out and explore this 'Rose of the North', which boasts spectacular temples, delicious food, an enormous night market, a picturesque river-front and excellent shopping. Hiring a bike to get around town is a great activity, as is a cooking class, or venturing to the Doi Suthep temple 15 km out of town. Adventure seekers, ask your leader about white-water rafting.
Take a private minivan to Chiang Khong (approximately 5 hours). Explore this quiet town that sits on the Thai side of the Thai-Lao border. Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Luang are both well worth a visit while you are here. Perhaps rent a bicycle to explore the surrounding countryside and the banks of the Mekong. Your accommodation tonight is a basic guesthouse.
This morning you will complete border formalities at Huay Xai before boarding a private boat with your group to begin your two-day journey down the Mekong River (6–7 hours today). While the boat is basic, the journey is relaxed, a lovely way to experience the slow pace of village life and gorgeous scenery along the river. Dock at the small trading port of Pak Beng in the late afternoon and spend the night in a basic guesthouse.

Notes: Prior to the boat's departure, ask your leader for help purchasing food and drinks for the journey if you need some. It can also be quite cold between November and February, so make sure you have some warm gear packed. Due to dam construction upstream, water levels are not as reliable as in previous years. When the river is at its lowest (February to April), groups may need to take a bus to Pak Beng instead of the boat. This is due to safety reasons and is advised by our local operators.
Board the boat again and cruise downriver at a leisurely pace to Luang Prabang (6–7 hours). Arriving late afternoon, you'll have time to hit the highly recommended night market food stalls, a great place to mingle with the locals and enjoy a meal with fellow travellers. With temples and French colonial villas lining the Mekong under blazing orange skies, you can see why this city has a reputation for exotic beauty.
Join your guide for a walk around the local area, learning more about Lao culture at the temple of Wat Pha Mahathat. Today and tomorrow are then yours to spend as you please. Kuang Si Falls, a spectacular spot to swim, is well worth a visit. Take the time to explore the local market by day, where the textiles made by local women will amaze. You can also make the steep climb up Mount Phousi, the spiritual and geographical heart of the city and a prime location to see the sunset over the Mekong.
Take the bus through dusty villages and winding mountain roads to Vang Vieng (approximately 7 hours). The mountain scenery en route is as impressive as that of your destination. Situated on the Nam Song River, Vang Vieng is surrounded by towering limestone karsts. The standard of accommodation in Vang Vieng is basic but comfortable.
Vang Vieng is known as an adventure town, thanks to its unique and varied surrounding country. Its many local caves are easily accessible and make for great day trips or half-day trips. Notably, Tham Chang, with its beautiful cavern fed by a natural spring, is an interesting swimming hole. Those looking to relax or perhaps learn more about local niche industry can visit the organic mulberry farm just outside town and enjoy a meal there (guided tours of the farm are available).
Take a beautiful local bus ride through roadside villages to Vientiane (approximately 4 hours). Enjoy the slow pace of what is possibly Asia's most laid-back capital city. On a guided walk you will visit the key Buddhist sites Wat Si Saket and Haw Phra Kaew, and continue on to Patuxai (Victory Gate) for unsurpassed views over the city. You will also visit COPE, an Intrepid Foundation-sponsored organisation dedicated to assisting those who have been injured by the multitude of unexploded ordnance across the country.
Today is a free day. Be sure to sample some of the top-quality cuisine on offer here, from French to Laotian and everything in between. Follow dusty tracks along the river to find villages full of friendly children, dogs and chickens. Or perhaps hone your newfound Lao language skills at the morning market, which is in fact open all day and is full of local treasures. A further option is a tuk-tuk journey to Buddha Park.
Your trip ends after breakfast today and you are free to depart at any time.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
6 breakfasts
Transport
Boat, Bus, Overnight sleeper train, Private minibus, Tuk-Tuk
Accommodation
Guesthouse (9 nights), Hotel (3 nights), Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
Included activities
  • Luang Prabang - Walking tour
  • Vientiane - COPE visit
  • Vientiane - Walking tour
  • Vientiane - Wat Sri Saket

Dates

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Important notes

1. A Single Supplement is available on this trip. Please see trip notes for further information.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

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Reviews

Our Laos Traveller - Bangkok to Vientiene trips score an average of 4.83 out of 5 based on 18 reviews in the last year.

Laos Traveller - Bangkok to Vientiene , August 2016

Laos Traveller - Bangkok to Vientiene , July 2016