An Exploration of SE Asia’s Best Kept Secret!
Our trip in Laos is a journey of discovery along the mighty Mekong River and its tributaries. Join us on a unique adventure, exploring some truly hidden places in a country that’s still off the radar of mainstream tourism. As we travel throughout this tranquil, unhurried land, we find everything an adventurer could wish for: lush rugged mountains, astonishing biodiversity, a wealth of ethnic cultures and a deeply rooted history epitomized by romantic Luang Prabang, where saffron robed monks move silently past ancient gleaming temples and evocative French colonial mansions.
Beginning in the very south in our Laos tour, we paddle into a calm reach of the Mekong River to watch the rare river dolphins surface around us. We cycle through rice paddies, visit an astonishing Angkor temple complex and chill out riverside in Champasak, where time has stood still. On the lush Bolaven Plateau we go deep into the countryside to meet an organic farmer who proudly tours us around his coffee plantation, then take a jeep to a stunning waterfall.
Our tour of Laos continues to the northern highlands where we immerse ourselves in the history and beauty of Luang Prabang, a famous UNESCO World Heritage site. Our base is a gorgeous boutique hotel in a restored colonial building right in the heart of old Luang Prabang. It is a perfect place to sit and watch this charming world go by, but our days here are packed with activity! We take a boat ride up the Mekong to a mysterious cave; visit ethnic minority villages; meet local weavers and experts on Laos textiles; spend a morning with rice famers and get some truly hands on experience in rice growing! At dawn we respectfully watch monks filing barefoot from a monastery; we wander through a lively local market, and in a family home we take part in an ancient and moving animistic ceremony. As a grand finale we trek with elephants who have been rescued from the logging industry and now live in a sanctuary that is howdah free; then after lunch in a lush forest we float in kayaks down the Nam Khan River to Luang Prabang.
Come discover Laos, before everyone else does!
This spectacular trip in Laos is a journey of discovery through a tranquil, unhurried country that’s still off the radar of mainstream tourism. Here you will find lush rugged mountains, the mighty Mekong River and its tributaries, astonishing biodiversity, a wealth of ethnic cultures and a fascinating mix of Buddhist and French colonial heritage.
Meet your guide at the airport and settle into your boutique hotel in this sleepy town. Have a pre-dinner drink at a rooftop bar, in watching the setting sun bathe the Mekong River and surrounding hills in gold.
Head up to the cool heights of the Bolaven Plateau to get the skinny from a local coffee farmer on how to grow the best beans. Take a jeep to the far reaches of the plateau to visit some ethnic minority villages.
Jump on a funky riverboat and head down the Mekong River to one of the fabled and laid-back Four Thousand Islands.
Take a leisurely cycle across rice fields and then paddle quiet reaches of the Mekong River listening for the breath of the rare river dolphins.
Boat back to the mainland and transfer Champasak, where a go-slow life is the rule of the day! Settle into your lovely riverside lodge, explore its grounds and learn about its eco friendliness and community work. Or simply watch the world go by on the Mekong!
Cycle along a red dirt road through friendly villages, then wander through an ancient Angkor temple complex carved into a hillside amid massive trees.
Fly north to Luang Prabang, and soak in the ambiance of its Buddhist and French colonial architecture. Take part in a moving animistic ceremony, and after dinner shop for ethnic treasures in the bustling Night Market.
Rise early to the beating of gongs and watch hundreds of saffron-robed monks file out from their temples to receive alms. Meet experts on Laos textiles and visit a cooperative to learn all about silk production.
Hop onto a long riverboat and cruise up the rushing Mekong River to visit a revered cave. After lunch afloat return to Luang Prabang for a walking tour of its ancient Royal City.
Trek through lush countryside alongside a rescued elephant, or ride on its neck. Have lunch by the stunning Tad Sae waterfalls then float by kayak downriver to Luang Prabang, stopping to visit the grave of the French explorer Henri Mouhot.
Head to an organic farm for a fun and hands-on experience in planting, harvesting and processing rice! In the afternoon, have some free time to shop and wander in Luang Prabang, visit Big Brother Mouse (an NGO working on literacy projects), or discuss another option with your guide, such as a visit to the famous Kuang Sy waterfalls.
Say goodbye to your guide and travel companions and return home or continue with your onward journey.
Please note: this itinerary serves as an example of trip highlights and is subject to change.
Email us for a detailed itinerary.
Email us for a detailed itinerary.
We think of our itineraries as melodies: they have a beginning and an end, a certain arc, dramatic highlights and a few surprises. We like to improvise, to adapt to the mood of our guests or to circumstances that arise — an invitation to a traditional wedding, say, or a local ethnic festival…
Crafting beautiful, harmonious trips with delightful twists is our trade mark and passion.
What we will be discovering in Laos?
In a nutshell, a country that is still mostly way below the tourist radar, with a rich diversity of fascinating cultures, pristine forests, the mighty Mekong River, and a refreshingly slow pace of life– even in the capital city, Vientiane. Our trip takes you to the renowned highlights of Laos, like the gorgeous UNESCO Heritage town of Luang Prabang , and way beyond them, to hidden places that very few people ever visit. It’s a unique itinerary that no other company is offering. Discover it before everyone else does!
Where does the trip start and end?
We start in Pakse, in the south of Laos, and end in the magical royal city of Luang Prabang in the north.
How do I get to Pakse, and home from Luang Prabang?
You can fly to directly to Pakse from Bangkok, Thailand or from Siem Reap, Cambodia. If you are already in Laos, you can fly there from Vientiane, or, if you are feeling very adventurous, take the overnight sleeper bus! Returning from Luang Prabang, there are direct flights to Hanoi, Vietnam, Bangkok, Thailand and Siem Reap, Cambodia.
What are the physical activities on the trip and what level of fitness do I need?
A reasonable level of fitness is required. We will be doing some gentle paddling on the Mekong, going on fantastic hikes that we will pace to the needs of the group, cycling on flat terrain, and, as a possible option, riding on the neck of an elephant.
What is Lao food like?
Hugely diverse! The French colonized Laos, so during the trip you’ll enjoy great baguettes and pastries and good coffee, as well as some truly fine dining and good wines. You’ll also sample traditional Lao food – a variation on Thai and Vietnamese cuisine – spiced to your liking. And in some places we visit you can also find good Western food.
I’m a vegetarian, is that a problem?
Not at all, but please let us know in advance, and advise us on what you can’t eat.
Do I need a visa?
You will be issued with a visa on arrival at the airport. The cost is US$35 for US and European citizens and US$42 for Canadian citizens, payable in US cash only. Please make sure you have two passport photos with you. (If you forget, you will simply charged extra.)
Do I need any special insurance?
Medical insurance, including emergency evacuation, is mandatory on all our trips. We also strongly advise you to purchase trip cancellation insurance.
Do I need vaccinations?
Your routine vaccinations (tetanus/diphtheria, polio, etc.) must be up to date. Another general precaution for travelers anywhere in the world is a hepatitis A and possibly a typhoid vaccination.
What about malarial medication?
The areas we visit are fairly low risk for malaria. However, as there is presence of dengue fever (transmitted by mosquitoes) in Laos, it is advisable to opt for transmission protection (long sleeves/trousers, and regular applications of DEET insect repellent). Sensible precautions should ensure you do not get bitten. If you do decide to opt for malarial medication, we advise you to use Docxycline, however you should consult your local travel clinic or physician.
What does the trip price cover?
Airport transfers on the first and last days of the trip, all cultural tour guiding and entrance fees, all accommodation and meals.
What does the trip price not cover?
International and domestic flights, airport transfers not on the first or last days of the trip, alcoholic drinks, personal insurance and gratuities.
How can I access cash when I’m on the trip?
ATMs are readily available in Pakse, Vientiane and Luang Prabang.
What clothes and equipment will I need?
When you sign up for the trip, we will provide you with a comprehensive clothes and equipment list.
I’m travelling alone, is that a problem?
Absolutely not. We have many guests who travel with us on their own. They appreciate the camaraderie of our Hidden Places groups , and usually go home with new-found friends.
+ Add On Excursions
Siem Reap/Angkor Wat:
No journey to SE Asia is complete without a visit to the mystical Angkor temples around Siem Reap, Cambodia. Watch the sun rise over the stunning towers of Angkor Wat; sit in the roots of a giant tree to gaze at the peaceful four side faces of Bayon temple; marvel at the intricate carvings in Banteay Srei and hike through cool forest to the astounding riverbed carvings in Kbal Spean. As our knowledgeable guide brings history alive, you will be spellbound and moved by this incomparable UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Suggested length: 3 to 5 days
- Please let us know your preferences and we will put an amazing excursion together for you.
From US $4250 per person (depending on group size)
Domestic Flight: US $255 per person
Single Supplement: US $1590
Private: Nov to Mar
Gentle hiking and kayaking; biking on flat ground; river boat cruising; elephant-friendly riding or trekking; cultural tours; village visits
11 nights hotels and lodges
Pakse, Laos / Luang Prabang, Laos
Thank you for another great adventure into one of your hidden places!
You are true professionals in what you do. I already am looking forward to our next Hidden Places adventure.
Wonderful always, magical at times, unforgettable forever. You continue to amaze us.
"Thank you for a superb trip. It beat all of my expectations with such a variety of activities and places to see."
Words cannot express my heartfelt appreciation for our Discover Laos journey… I began our trip hoping to rediscover my soul and thanks to you both I not only rediscovered it, but replenished it with peace and joy.
Maria, Dag, people like you are the gems of the earth. To be able to put together such an interesting agenda… and marry all participants into the friendliest of groups is fantastic.
Best selling author Maria Coffey and photographer/veterinarian Dag Goering. Travel with us and fall off the map!