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Laos Unlocked

Group Tour

14 Days From $3,773

Overview

Landlocked and laid-back, Laos has always been considered one of the hidden gems of Southeast Asia. Located in the heart of Indochina, it has somehow managed to avoid the touristic attention received by neighbouring Cambodia and Vietnam, and remains untouched by modern demands. Its beauty lies in the gentle Lao people, century-old heritage, and its lush, pristine landscapes. It's a land of mountains, mists and untamed natural beauty, making it one of the few unspoilt destinations in the region.
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HIGHLIGHTS

At a glance

MEALS

13 x Breakfasts
12 x Lunches
13 x Dinners

TRANSPORT

On this tour we will use minibuses, boats and tuk tuks.

GROUP SIZE

Maximum: 12

CARBON CONTRIBUTIONS

A carbon-offsetting contribution to Eco Act for all bookings

EXPERT TEAM

The full services of a Wild Frontiers Tour Leader with local guides where appropriate

ACCOMMODATION

All accommodation as outlined in the itinerary

ACCOMMODATION

As an overall ethos, wherever possible we aim to use characterful accommodation that enhances the overall travel experience, not just offers a bed for the night. This can obviously vary dramatically from country to country and from trip to trip. On this particular trip we will be staying in a combination of hotels, boutique properties, eco-lodges and riverside bungalows. The accommodation has been carefully selected for charm, character and comfort. Please note that the accommodation mentioned in the itinerary is intended as a guide only and is always subject to availability.

ENTRANCE FEES

All entrance fees for sights mentioned in the itinerary

FITNESS RATING

Low / Moderate

FITNESS RATING

LOW: You should be comfortable walking around towns and cultural sites. May include some optional walks (typically 1-2hrs).

LOW/MODERATE: May be of a long duration and/or involve numerous border-crossings. May include easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-3hrs/day). You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle.

MODERATE: May include several easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-5hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle. Previous experience of similar trips helpful.

MODERATE/HIGH: May involve several days of moderate hiking (up to 3-6 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

VERY HIGH: May involve several days of moderate/strenuous trekking (up to 4-7 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a very fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

Map & Itinerary

Individual departures may vary so please refer to the information in the tour specific links in the Dates and Prices section below

Laos Unlocked
EXPAND ALL ITINERARY DAYS
COLLAPSE ALL ITINERARY DAYS

DAY 1: TOUR STARTS IN LUANG PRABANG

DAY 1: TOUR STARTS IN LUANG PRABANG

The tour begins this afternoon in the beautiful World Heritage town of Luang Prabang. After checking in to our hotel, we’ll take our first wander around the traditional wooden buildings and temples along the sleepy peninsular between the rivers. We will settle down at a local restaurant beside the Mekong River for dinner, soaking up the charm of this wonderful town.

The Sanctuary Hotel or similar
Dinner

DAY 2: IN AND AROUND LUANG PRABANG

DAY 2: IN AND AROUND LUANG PRABANG

After an early breakfast we will visit Luang Prabang’s most historic and enchanting temple, Wat Xieng Thong. We plan to visit the temple in the beautiful early morning light, when it is at its quietist. We then continue on to the spectacular Kuang Si Waterfall, and visit the nearby Bear Rescue Centre. The sanctuary is responsible for protecting and rehabilitating rare Asiatic Black Bears, which have been confiscated from traffickers and poachers. Later this afternoon we’ll visit the quaint Royal Palace Museum, which gives a good overview of the pre-revolutionary Royal past.

The Sanctuary Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 3: IN AND AROUND LUANG PRABANG

DAY 3: IN AND AROUND LUANG PRABANG

This morning there is a pre-breakfast option to witness the early morning sacred ritual of ‘Tak Bat’, or giving alms to the monks. This unique ceremony is still followed by the locals in Luang Prabang (which we will observe from a respectful distance). After breakfast, we transfer 30 minutes out of town and meet friendly farmer Lautlee, who will personally guide you around his family farm. Learn about the typical crops in Laos and how they are traditionally produced. Help the farmer at the organic vegetable gardens and learn hands-on how to process Sticky Rice into typical Lao noodles called “kapoen”. Tasting the fruits of your labour is the best way to finish off this experience. We will also visit the Traditional Arts and Ethnology centre to learn a little about the country’s ethnic diversity. We’ll then have the rest of the afternoon free to explore this much loved destination with the opportunity to ascend Mount Phousi for spectacular views over Luang Prabang and the Mekong River. There’s the option this evening to observe some Buddhist chanting at a local Wat before our final dinner in Luang Prabang.

The Sanctuary Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 4: LUANG PRABANG - PHONSAVAN

DAY 4: LUANG PRABANG - PHONSAVAN

Our journey into the heart of Laos begins today as we twist our way through the mountains to Xieng Khuang Province and the famous Plain of Jars, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our journey into the heart of Laos begins today as the road follows a spectacular twisty mountain route. We plan to stop at several ethnic villages which offer great views of the surrounding mountains and the opportunity to meet the Hmong or Khmu people and learn more about rural life. Arriving in Phou Khoun we stop for lunch before reaching our highest altitude of the day at 1500m above sea level. Before arriving at our hotel we plan to visit the largest of the Plain of Jars sites, known locally as Thong Haihin. Here over 330 mysterious conglomerate and sandstone jars lie scattered in clusters on a plain overlooking the surrounding countryside.

Vansana XKH Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 5: IN PHONSAVAN

DAY 5: IN PHONSAVAN

Taking a full day in and around Phonsavan, we’ll visit the offices of the Mines Action Group (MAG) and UXO Lao to learn about the devastating damage caused by cluster bombs and other ordnance in this region. This sobering visit highlights these organisations’ difficult work, clearing unexploded ordnance and supporting families affected by UXO accidents. We then drive out to more of the picturesque Plain of Jars sites, visiting site 3 with over 150 jars located on a scenic hill top. There is the option of an hour or so panoramic walk along the ridge towards site 2, where two further collections of jars are nestled in the woods. (Non-walkers can also access this jar site from the road). Later In the afternoon, there will also be the chance to visit Mark Steadman’s Lone Buffalo project, an English Centre and Youth Development Programme that helps young people in the community (see the FACTS section).

Vansana XKH Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 6: PHONSAVAN - XIENGKHUANG – MUANG KHOUN – HIN BOUN

DAY 6: PHONSAVAN - XIENGKHUANG – MUANG KHOUN – HIN BOUN

Departing Phonsavan early this morning, we begin our drive through lesser travelled central Laos. Stopping at the former provincial capital town of Muang Khoun, flattened during the Secret War, we visit Wat Phiawat, a ruined temple containing a huge sitting Buddha. We then head up into the mountains offering impressive views over the surrounding countryside. As the landscape changes we encounter remote villages nestled between striking limestone karsts, before reaching Ban Tha Bak where villagers use old war plane fuel tanks from the Vietnam War as boats. We eventually reach Hin Boun area by early evening, where we relax at our simple riverside lodge.

Sala Hin Boun or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 7: HIN BOUN - KONG LOR CAVE AND THAKEK

DAY 7: HIN BOUN - KONG LOR CAVE AND THAKEK

A short drive this morning takes us to Kong Lor village where we board small local narrow boats to explore the spectacular Kong Lor Cave - undoubtedly a highlight of the trip. The cave was first explored in the 1990’s and it was only recently that the paved road started to bring visitors to explore the area. We navigate our way through the cave, which is over 7km long and includes a spectacular cavern over 100m high, as well as a breath-taking stalagmite gallery which we explore on foot. On the other side of the cave we take a short walk past some tobacco drying huts to the remote village of Ban Pon Ngam. Returning through the cave by boat, we have lunch in the village before driving on to Thakek, where we stay just set back from the Mekong with its views over to Thailand.

Inthira Thakek Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 8: IN AND AROUND THAKEK

DAY 8: IN AND AROUND THAKEK

Departing Thakek early we follow the old French railway track that was destined for Vietnam but was never finished. Arriving in Ban Nakhang Xang we meet our village guide who will escort us today on our trek into the forest on foot. Our walk takes us through forest, striking valleys and hidden caves, before following the shoreline of Nong Thao Lake where we may see local fishermen at work. At Tham Nong Paseum there's the opportunity for swimmers to explore the recently discovered 400m cave resplendent with stalactites and stalagmites. After a traditional Lao lunch of Mekong fish, sticky rice and spicy papaya, we’ll continue to Tham Pa Fa or Buddha cave, which was rediscovered in April 2004. The cave contains 229 bronze Buddhas that are said to be over 300 years old. We will return to Thakek mid-afternoon for some freetime beside the Mekong River. NB. Those not wishing to undertake this moderate trek, which requires a good level of fitness, can instead enjoy a leisurely day in Thakek with its French colonial charms.

Inthira Thakek Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 9: THAKEK – SAVANNAKHET – TAD LO

DAY 9: THAKEK – SAVANNAKHET – TAD LO

Travelling south by road, we reach Savannakhet mid-morning where we visit the sacred That Inhang stupa and the Soundra Salt Factory. We’ll then spend a little time wandering around the charmingly sleepy town before continuing by road to Tad Lo after lunch. We will arrive at our lodge early evening, enjoying dinner on the banks of the Sexet river, relaxing amid the stunning natural surroundings and nearby waterfall.

Tad Lo Lodge or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 10: TAD LO - BOLAVEN PLATEAU - TAD LO

DAY 10: TAD LO - BOLAVEN PLATEAU - TAD LO

We start our day with a stop at the top of Tad Soung (‘Tall’) waterfall for a panorama of the Bolaven Plateau that we plan to explore today. We will visit a tea plantation for tasting and then take an (optional) easy hour walk through tea and coffee plantations to Tad Fan waterfall. Tad Fan is an impressive twin waterfall that thunders over 100 metres down into the valley. We will have lunch with a view of the falls before continuing to a local coffee roaster to learn a little about the Lao coffee story. Jing Jhai Coffee claim to be the world’s first 100% philanthropic coffee company, investing all their profits in education and water projects in the villages who produce their beans. We return to our lodge later this afternoon where you can swim in the waterfall, wander up to a local ethnic Ngae village - or relax.

Tad Lo Lodge or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 11: TAD LO – 4000 ISLANDS - KHONE ISLAND

DAY 11: TAD LO – 4000 ISLANDS - KHONE ISLAND

Today we journey south into the area known as ‘Siphandon’, which literally translates as ‘4000 Islands, one of the most beautiful parts of the country. We board a private boat at Ban Haitsakhone to explore some of the quieter islands, usually out of reach of other tourists. After enjoying lunch cooked by a local family beside the Mekong, we will explore a remote island at a gentle pace by bicycle (optional). We’ll then cruise close to the Cambodian border to Don Khone Island, in time to watch the sunset over the Mekong river from the old French bridge. Tonight, we stay in comfortable chalets beside the famous river.

Sala Done Khone or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 12: KHONE ISLAND – KHONE PHAPENG – WAT PHOU - CHAMPASAK

DAY 12: KHONE ISLAND – KHONE PHAPENG – WAT PHOU - CHAMPASAK

Today we use local transport to explore more of the 4000 islands. We follow the route of an old abandoned French railway for 4 kilometres through beautiful rice fields to the southern tip of Khone island, where Cambodia sits on the far bank of the river. We take a boat out to a deep Mekong pool known locally as Boong Pa Gooang, in the hope of sighting rare freshwater dolphins. Later this morning we will visit the beautiful Liphi Waterfall, where local fisherman perch impossibly between jagged rocks to lay out their fishing nets. After returning to the mainland by boat, we re-join our vehicle and continue south the spectacular Khone Phapheng Falls, one of the largest and most powerful waterfalls in Southeast Asia. After lunch at the falls we head north to Champassak, stopping en route at the wood carving village of Ban Nong Bouang. We will arrive at our riverside resort early evening.

The River Resort or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 13: IN AND AROUND CHAMPASAK

DAY 13: IN AND AROUND CHAMPASAK

Today we have the opportunity to enjoy sunrise over the Mekong from the UNESCO World Heritage site of Wat Phou, the temple mountain – before the site officially opens. This dramatically sited Khmer temple is one of the highlights of any trip to Laos. After sunrise we will explore this religious complex, parts of which date back to the 5th Century, before returning to our lodge for breakfast. The rest of day is left free to maybe explore the delightful riverside town of Champasak, with its handful of colonial mansions, typical Chinese shop fronts and pretty wooden houses. Alternatively you can cross to the nearby picturesque island of Don Daeng to explore by bicycle or on foot, or simply relax on the banks of the Mekong.

The River Resort or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 14: TOUR ENDS IN CHAMPASAK

DAY 14: TOUR ENDS IN CHAMPASAK

The tour ends with breakfast at the hotel. Those on the suggested group flights will receive a complimentary transfer to the airport.

Breakfast

ACCOMMODATION USED ON THIS TOUR

Simple

No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Superior

No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Superior

No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Accommodation displayed here should be taken as a guide only. *Please refer to the Detailed Itinerary of your individual departure for more information.

PRIVATE HOLIDAYS: DATES DON’T FIT?

All group tours can be taken on a private basis.

REVIEWS OF THIS TRIP

Additional Details

Responsible Travel

Responsible travel and sustainable tourism are fundamental ideas that Wild Frontiers has been committed to since our birth. It is our strong belief that these words should not be simply ‘tagged on’ to itineraries and websites but should be at the very core of each trip, and our adventures are therefore designed with the local people, culture and eco-system in mind. We believe that a successful trip not only delivers a unique and unsurpassable journey for our clients, but that it also benefits the peoples whose lands we are privileged to visit. For more information, please see our responsible travel page.

Lone Buffalo English School

In Laos the Wild Frontiers Foundation supports Lone Buffalo, a community education venture in Phonsavan, which is helping to improve opportunities for young people in rural farming communities through quality, structured English study and football coaching. Within the most heavily bomb-contaminated province in the world, the school also teaches students about UXO, unexploded ordnance awareness, which is literally lifesaving. The Wild Frontiers Foundation started working with Lone Buffalo on its classroom sponsorship programme in 2014, offering free English lessons for a class of 15 to 25 young people annually.

On this tour Wild Frontiers’ clients will have the opportunity to visit the school and meet the current class of pupils and their teacher.

 Girls’ Football Coaching

Since 2016 we have also helped Lone Buffalo promote gender equality, self-confidence and wellbeing through a girls’ football coaching programme. The programme, which has been developed under the guidance of FIFA trained local coaches, aims to encourage social integration and develop understanding between different ethnicities. The girls who have undergone the coaching programme give back by leading the weekly football training, for both boys and girls, at Lone Buffalo. Individual success has led to one of the girls being invited to train with the Laos Women’s Football Team, while two others were selected to represent the Xieng Khouang Province at the 2020 National Games.

 

Getting There

If you would like us to send you a quote for the suggested tour flights or on any alternative flight that may suit you better, please let us know, noting that for our US clients, we will most likely refer you to one of our preferred partners. For this trip our suggested flights from the UK (subject to change) are shown below.

If you wish to arrange your own flights you are completely free to do so and in this case we can arrange any transfers or supplementary accommodation that you may require. However please note that if you are planning on making your own flight arrangements, we recommend that you first check with us to see if the trip is guaranteed. We then suggest that you purchase flights that are flexible and ideally refundable as due to the nature of adventure travel, itineraries and destination accessibility can change at any time. For more information, please refer to our booking conditions.
 

Flight Code Departing Arriving
TG 911 London Heathrow (LHR) 11:50 Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) 06:15
TG 2576 Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) 08:45 Luang Prabang Apt (LPQ) 10:20
TG 2029 Ubon Ratchathnai (UBP) 19:40 Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) 20:45
TG 910 Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) 00:15 London Heathrow (LHR) 06:20

Visas

Visas are necessary for many of the destinations we travel to and while we aim to provide you with the most up-to-date information, requirements frequently change and as such for the latest advice we advise that you check with the relevant embassies or contact our recommended visa agency, Travcour www.travcour.com 

For this tour UK passport holders currently require a visa for Laos, but this is obtained on arrival as there is no Lao Embassy in the UK.

Non-UK passport holders or non-UK residents should contact the relevant embassies for individual requirements.

Further details will be sent out to you on booking, however ensuring that correct and valid visas are obtained remains the sole responsibility of the client.

Extensions

If you have more time available, why not arrive early to adjust to a new time zone or just to get a feel for the country before your tour starts? Or alternatively you might choose to allow a few extra days after the tour to relax or to undertake some further exploration.

The choice is completely yours and we can usually arrange anything from simply additional accommodation and transfers to full tailor-made itineraries.

Below is just a small sample of what you could do. Please contact the office for more details and to discuss your individual requirements.

Cambodia

Why not extend your trip by crossing the border to neighbouring Cambodia and visiting Phnom Penh and the famous temple complex of Angkor Wat?  Further afield there’s the option of make a side trip to Vietnam or Myanmar (Burma). The choice is endless!

Governmental Travel Advice

Many governments issue advice which highlights potential hazards their citizens might experience when travelling abroad. We strongly suggest you refer to your country’s particular advisory site before booking and contact us if you have any queries or concerns. Click to follow links to the advice of the British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) or the US State Department.

Non-UK citizens should consult the travel advice of their respective governments.

Warning

The FCDO sometimes advises against certain parts of this itinerary.

Wild Frontiers has many years’ experience of running trips which contravene FCDO advice but these decisions that are never taken lightly and are always taken in conjunction with our local partners after extensive consultation. As part of the booking process, you will need to sign a disclaimer to confirm you have read the advice, that you are still happy to travel and that you will obtain travel insurance which is not invalidated by the FCDO advice.

On this tour the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advises against all but essential travel to Xaisomboun province, due to armed clashes and attacks on infrastructure by anti-government groups, reported as recently as July 2020. This will be relevant for Day 6 of the itinerary where we drive through the province en route to Hin Boun. Please note that this information is subject to change.

For more information, please see the Insurance section or contact us. Non-UK clients should be sure to check the travel advice of their own governments as well as the small print of their insurance policies. Should you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Key Information

CLIMATE

This is a great time to visit Laos for those who are seeking to avoid extreme heat. Daytime temperatures should be in the comfortable 20-25C and conditions should be fairly dry, although nights can get cool. Being at the end of monsoon season you can expect some showers.

IS THIS TRIP FOR ME?

It may sound obvious but Wild Frontiers tours are not always for everyone and it is important to us that the tour you choose is the most suitable. All our tours have a fitness rating as a guideline but you should check the day-by-day itinerary carefully. In certain instances we may ask you to complete a travel questionnaire before confirming your booking in order to ensure your suitability. Should you have any concerns about your ability to partake in any aspect of the tour then please contact the office.

KEY ASPECTS TO CONSIDER

Anyone in a reasonable state of health, with an open mind and a sense of adventure should be perfectly able to cope with this tour, as many of the activities are optional. However, please note that the trek on day 8 is classed as moderate and a reasonable level of fitness is required. Alternative arrangements can be made for those not wishing to participate.

THE NATURE OF ADVENTURE TRAVEL

We feel that it’s worth pointing out that while we will always strive to stick as close to the stated itinerary as possible, it may be necessary from time to time to make changes to our itineraries or services (due to weather, political and religious influences etc.) and this can happen with little or no notice. This unpredictability can be one of the most exciting aspects of adventure travel and for many of our clients often leads to unexpected highlights as the tour-leader necessarily adapts the tour to the changing conditions. However we are aware that this lack of assuredness may not suit everyone. As such, with the greatest respect, if you are someone who needs to know that everything will happen exactly as planned, we would kindly suggest that perhaps our tours are not for you. Adventure travel can be infectious and once you’ve caught the bug, it is likely to never leave you, but especially if this is your first such tour we would strongly urge you to give us a call if you have any concerns whatsoever about your suitability for this trip.

TRAVELLING SOLO AND SINGLE SUPPLEMENTS

As a company approximately 70% of our clients are solo travellers, so it’s very unlikely you’ll be alone!

Our prices are typically based on twin-share accommodation but single supplements are not compulsory for any Wild Frontiers tour. If you prefer not to pay a single supplement we’ll pair you with someone else of the same sex for you to share with throughout the trip.
On this trip, if you do opt to pay for a single supplement then please note that it will cover you for all nights of the tour. 

Please note that paying a single supplement entitles you to lone occupancy of a single room. In many cases these rooms will be of the same size as a double/twin room, but in some cases they may be smaller.
 

INSURANCE

Insurance that provides cover for emergency repatriation in case of a medical emergency is compulsory for all tours. You should be aware that due to some of the geographical areas visited and some of the activities included on certain of our trips some standard insurance policies may not always provide adequate cover. As such we strongly recommend that you purchase a policy that adequately covers your trip. If you choose to purchase the Wild Frontiers bespoke policy through Travel & General (currently available to UK residents only) then please note for this trip the minimum required level of cover will be the Standard policy.

The insurers have confirmed that the Standard policy is sufficient for this trip even though some parts of the trip contravene FCO advice. If you have alternative insurance, you should check with your insurer that your cover is adequate. Please see the Insurance section for more details.

General Information

TOUR PRICE

All our tours are priced on a land-only basis, giving you maximum flexibility when deciding how to get to and from your tour.

DEPOSIT

A £200 (or equivalent) deposit is required to confirm your booking.

PROTECTION FOR YOUR MONEY

For further details please see our travelling with peace of mind page

WILD MILES

This tour will earn you 11326 Wild Miles

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

We believe in a completely transparent approach to pricing with no hidden extras. As such, please note that the following are not included in the cost of the tour.

Visas & Travel Insurance: Visas will always be tour/nationality dependent but travel insurance is mandatory
Tips: Always optional but some guidance will be given in the pre-departure information documents
International Flights: Please ask us for an obligation-free quote for flights which originate in the UK
Airport Transfers: We include complimentary transfers if arriving/departing on the suggested group flights
Beverages & any costs of a personal nature: This will include items such as laundry and souvenirs

WILD FRONTIERS COMMUNITY

If you’re still not sure if this trip is right or just want to see get some different perspectives, then why not have a look at the wide variety of resources we have on our website? Browse our community section to read our blogs, watch videos and find out about our events. 

WHY WILD FRONTIERS?

We are frequently asked what makes Wild Frontiers different from other tour operators. Visit our Why Wild Frontiers page to find out.

INSPIRATION

TED DANSON ON MEANINGFUL TRIP TO SOUTHEAST ASIA

Ted talks about taking a very meaningful trip to Southeast Asia with his wife Mary Steenburgen, learning about different cultures, being doused with water by monks and what it was like not being reco…