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Laos Traveller - Bangkok to Vientiane

14 days with Intrepid Travel   Rating: Budget

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Click for Dates and Prices Day 1 Bangkok
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.

Day 2 Bangkok/Overnight Train
Start the morning by jumping on a public ferry to Wat Kalayanamit and enjoy an included walking tour around the fascinating Thonburi area of Bangkok. See the mixture of cultures with Buddhist temples and Catholic Churches as you stroll around the Portuguese influenced Thonburi area. Often a spot away from the tourist trail you will experience untouched local villages living by the waterways and visit quaint local markets that have plenty of interesting snacks waiting for you to try. Finish the walking tour at Amulet market and be lured into a shopping frenzy. Enjoy free time in the afternoon for optional activities, you may want to relax with a Thai massage or visit the mysterious Jim Thompsons House. Board your overnight train this evening 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.

Day 3 Chiang Mai
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, or venturing to the Doi Suthep temple 15 km out of town. There is so much to do in Chiang Mai and you have 2 full free days to do as much or little as you like.

Day 4 Chiang Mai
Adventure seekers, ask your leader about white-water rafting or fly like a bird via the Jungle Flight zipline. Today is a free day and there is many optional activities your leader can help you organise. You could participate in a Thai cooking course or see those amazing Asian Elephants in a visit to the Elephant Nature Park.

Day 5 Chiang Khong
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.

Day 6 Mekong River - Pak Beng
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.

Day 7 Mekong River - Luang Prabang
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.

Day 8 Luang Prabang
Join your guide for a walk around the local area, learning more about Lao culture at the temple of Wat Phra Mahathat. Today and tomorrow are then yours to spend as you please. 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.

Day 9 Luang Prabang
Your leader can help you organise many optional activities today. Kuang Si Falls, a spectacular spot to swim, is well worth a visit. Also at the gate entrance to the waterfalls you will have the chance to stop by the Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre where you can see the wonderful work this center is doing to rescue bears from poachers and provide them with a home. If you want to learn more about the local cuisine you can enjoy a cooking demonstration in the heart of town. Perhaps you want to see Laos gentle giants by visiting Mandalao Elephant Conservation. Here you can choose to do a variety of tours that get you close to these magnificent elephants. Your leader can help you to organise one of these special excursions.

Day 10 Vang Vieng
Take a private mini 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.

Day 11 Vang Vieng
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).

Day 12 Vientiane
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 organisation dedicated to assisting those who have been injured by the multitude of unexploded ordnance across the country.

Day 13 Vientiane
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 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.

Day 14 Vientiane
Your trip ends after breakfast today and you are free to depart at any time.
All This Included
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.
  • Meals - 7 breakfasts
  • Transport - Taxi, Minivan, Overnight train, Songthaew, Boat, Tuk tuk, Private bus, Public bus
  • Bangkok - Thonburi tour
  • Luang Prabang - Pak Ou Caves
  • Luang Prabang - Walking tour
  • Vientiane - COPE visit
  • Vientiane - Walking tour
  • Many travellers just use Laos as a place to journey through on the way to somewhere else. This trip spends time in four different destinations in Laos so you'll have plenty of time to experience the country.
  • You'll also experience a good taste of Thailand with stops in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Chiang Khong.
  • This is a no-fuss, no-hurry holiday. Laos is one of the most relaxed countries we know, and the pace of this trip is the same, with plenty of free time to choose your own options in each destination and make the holiday your own. 
  • Take up some of the many chances on offer to do good while you travel - from visiting the Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre to eating at social enterprise restaurants like Friends International and Makphet.
  • A slow boat down the Mekong River is one of South East Asia's most classic and timeless journeys. We spend 2 days making our way lazily from Thailand to Laos via this vital waterway. 
Guesthouse (7 nights)
Hotel (5 nights)
Overnight train (1 night)
  • Ages: Min 15
  • Group size: Min 1, Max 16
  • As part of our Basix range, this trip has minimal included activities and meals. This means more free time to make your own discoveries and do the things of most interest to you. Travellers who do some research in advance of travel as well as take the chance to chat to their leader about options available will get the most out of their time in each place we visit.
  • Without many inclusions, you will need to bring extra spending money to take part in activities and for lunches and dinners. It's hard to give a guide on how much you will need, as everyone is different. But even if you are on a tight budget, there are are plenty of free or inexpensive activities, such as temple visits, tuk-tuk transport, river and countryside walks and local markets to explore.
  • The unhurried pace of Laos can be frustrating to travellers used to more urgency. It can also mean things don't always go to plan or aren't in a rush to get done! Buses can break down, journeys can take longer than expected, and guesthouse rooms are sometimes not ready on arrival. The key to enjoying Lao's laid-back atmosphere is plenty of patience and going with the flow.
  • It can get colder than you might expect in northern Laos in January, with an average temperature of 16° C, so you'll need some warm clothes if travelling at that time.
  • The roads between Vientiane, Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang offer breathtaking views, but the catch is that there are a lot of twists and turns. Past travellers recommend those those prone to motion sickness to bring some medication with them from home. 
  • A single supplement is available on this trip.
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
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* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.