Laos Community Tour & Cultural Experience

This 6 day Laos community tour takes you to the 2 main cities of Laos: Vientiane & Luang Prabang while offering you opportunities to flee the urban whirl for enlightening excursions such as an Eco-trek focused on orchid preservation and a trip to a community organic farm.Laos is the mixture of ancient cities with plenty of historic sites that can bring you back centuries ago, and the wonderful nature with many temples, waterfalls, caves, rivers, or jungles. This tour will bring you the most famous ancient cities: Vientiane & Luang Prabang with full of historic sites together with the visit to the most beautiful waterfalls, caves and rivers while joining in responsible travel and community service in Laos. This is the perfect mixture to help you build the amazing images of Laos, the images that make your Laos trip valuable and memorable.

Day 1: Vientiane Arrival 

Arrival at Vientiane airport in the morning, you will be met by our guide and transferred to the hotel for check in. Afterward, your tour begins at the serene Wat Sisaket, the only temple left intact after the Siamese (Thai) invasion in 1828. It is one of the most beautiful temples in the capital and its breezy teak covered hallways are filled with thousands of miniature Buddha statues. Continue on to the nearby Wat Phra Keo. Used as a religious museum, Wat Phra Keo displays a collection of Lao and Khmer works of art. Also nearby is the Presidential Palace. Although guests are not allowed inside, it provides a good glimpse into the town’s colonial past as this building formerly served as the French governor’s palace. After lunch, you will visit COPE, an association working to help landmine victims. A visit to the center provides in-depth information about the history of the Vietnam War, the lasting impact of exploded ordinances (UXO) in the area and the efforts underway to clear them. Continue to the Patuxay monument, Laos’ version of the Arc de Triomphe, where you can climb the stairs to the roof for sweeping panoramic views of the city. Next is That Luang, the holiest site in Laos. Constructed by King Setthathirat in the 16th Century, the temple is resplendent as the sun is shines upon its towering golden spire. Dinner and overnight in Vientiane.

Day 3: Vientiane – Luang Prabang

Today, you will take a short flight to Luang Prabang, the capital of Luang Prabang Province in northern Laos, which  lies in a valley at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers. It’s known for its many Buddhist temples, including the gilded Wat Xieng Thong, dating to the 16th century, and Wat Mai, once the residence of the head of Laotian Buddhism. Rest of the day is free at your leisure. Overnight in Luang Prabang.

Day 5: Luang Prabang Farm Tour 

This morning, you will take  a short transfer in to the countrside. 5km outside Luang Prabang, The Living Land is a community enterprise run by local people to support the children of poor farming families with their education and medical needs and is an entirely organic farm in a beautiful rural setting, flanked by rice paddies. The stilted wooden farm buildings house an interactive museum to give an insight in to many aspects of rural life in Laos. Enjoy a guided walk through the organic vegetable farm and learn all manner of trades, from thatched-roof making and basketry to noodle production and extracting the juice from sugarcane. You will experience the life of a farmer and try their hand at various activities, including ploughing the rice fields with one of the resident buffalos. You should expect to get muddy and bring a change of clothes. There are showers and western toilets available. Rice is the most important crop throughout Laos and you will learn about the 13 steps of rice production today. The 14th is eating and that comes at the end with a range of rice-based snacks!

Afterward, you will then be transferred approximately 30 minutes from Luang Prabang to Kuang Si Waterfalls, passing beautiful landscapes of rice fields, hills and small villages along the way. There are also viewpoints overlooking the Mekong River. Upon reaching Kuang Si Waterfall, enjoy a delicious picnic lunch next to the falls. Relax and enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings. The water tumbles down a large drop and cascades gently into several cool, clear pools where guests can enjoy a refreshing swim (please bring your swim suits). For the adventurous travelers, it is possible to walk to the top of the falls via a steep track where stunning views await at the top. You might also like to visit the bear sanctuary which is next to the falls, run by Free The Bears Fund Inc. There are currently 23 Asiatic black bears living in the sanctuary, which has saved them from poaching. The main threat to these bears is poaching due to the use of their bile in Chinese medicine. You can read about the bears’ habits and observe their playful nature, whilst learning about the difficulties they are facing. On the way back to Luang Prabang, a stop will be made at the Kuang Si Butterfly Park to visit the beautiful garden filled of hundreds of Lao butterflies. Transfer back to the hotel late in the afternoon. Stop en route to visit a small village which is home to one of the area’s many ethnic minorities. You will have an opportunity to learn about their traditions and culture, much of which has remained unchanged for centuries. Overnight in Luang Prabang.

Day 2: Vientiane – Orchid Trek 

The Orchid Trek is a genuine and authentic ecotourism trek close to Vientiane. This tour is led by the villagers of Ban Hatkhai village and aims to improve their well-being and increase their income. At the same time, the Orchid Trek offers a tool for environmental and cultural awareness as well as encouraging orchid preservation and conservation by involving several stakeholders:
+ The villagers: acting as the tour guides and providing services such as activities and food.
+ The travelers: not only spectators but also participants, interacting with the locals and the environment.
For each tour, part of the money goes directly to the villagers and the village development fund. Additionally, part of the money helps maintain the walking trails and keep the forest clean. Travelers will be guided by local guides with an orchid expert accompanying the group. Leave Vientiane early in the morning for a 1.5-hour drive to the starting point. The Orchid Trek will lead you through Phou Khao Kway National Park, one of the closest national parks to Vientiane. The terrain is filled with waterfalls, rugged mountains, gorges and sandstone cliffs. The park is home to more than 50% of the wild orchid species of Laos and a variety of different plants. Likewise, Phou Khao Kway is home to a diverse animal population, including wild elephants. Start walking from Pha Xay, where guests will enjoy a beautiful view of the waterfalls. Trek through the varied landscape of bamboo forests, evergreen forests, rain forest and open air fields, immersed in the park’s natural beauty. Along the way you may see some orchids and spot indigenous wildlife. The guide will know the best spots for wild orchid growth and you will be amazed at the vibrant colors and shapes of these elusive flowers. Stop for a picnic lunch on a river bank. Soak up the tranquility of the area and keep an eye out for the beautiful butterfly species that flutter about. Resume the walk, continuing toward Tad Xay waterfall. The water cascades down seven levels and is a great place for swimming or a rest before ending the trek and transferring back to Vientiane. En route guests can stop at the interesting Dong Mak Kai Market, which sells a range of interesting foods, including ant eggs and insects for the very brave! Return to your hotel in Vientiane for your overnight stay.

Day 4: Luang Prabang City Tour by Electric Bike 

For early risers, there is a very special dawn visit to watch the monks collecting alms. As the sun begins to rise, long lines of orange-robed monks leave their pagodas and walk barefoot down the streets collecting offerings from Luang Prabang residents. It is a beautiful, serene ceremony that highlights the spiritualism of the Laos.
Today you will take a short transfer by tuk-tuk to the electric-powered bike station. After a short briefing to explain the use of the bike, it will be time to start this discovery of “responsible Luang Prabang”… in a quiet way! These electric bikes are an emissions-free mode of transportation and allow the user to either pedal the bike by their own power or coast along using the bike’s battery-powered, rechargeable motor (which lasts for approximately 3km). Start at the former Royal Palace, now the National Museum, where you will be able to explore the history of Laos. Continue to Wat Mai, a temple renowned for its golden bas-relief. Visit Wat Visoun, the holiest temple in the city, which was entirely rebuilt in 1887 after being destroyed by the invading Black Flags from southern China. In the courtyard of Wat Visoun stands the Watermelon Stupa, which is shaped like the fruit from which it takes its name. Continue past Wat Aham, which was first built in the 1500s, and on to Wat That where the ashes of King Sisavang Vong are kept inside the large central stupa. Ride along the Nam Khan River to visit Wat Xieng Thong, the most revered temple in Luang Prabang. Located at the end of the peninsula, close to the Mekong, this temple was built in 1560 by King Setthathirat and is decorated with ornate carvings and mosaics. After lunch at a local restaurant, you will leave the town behind and ride to the Phosy Market, where they can join the locals and support vendors by buying fresh products and fruit. The guide will be on hand to encourage guests to taste some of the exotic flavors of the local fruits, helping to identify new items not found in the grocery store back home. Continue the ride to Ock Pop Tock. This non-profit organization seeks to preserve traditional weaving techniques –  a trade that was once an important source of income for many Lao families but is slowly fading out as modern technology has evolved. A short tour introduces the process of silk weaving from the initial stages of creating the dyes to the final process of loom weaving. Proceed to ride along the Mekong back into town for the final stop of the day. The Traditional Arts & Ethnology Center is dedicated to exploring the rich diversity of Laos’ ethnic minorities. Traditional costumes, tools and artifacts are on display alongside in-depth descriptions and written histories. It is a great opportunity to gain insight into the Lao people. Return to the bike station to drop off the electric bikes and transfer back to the hotel by tuk-tuk. Rest of the day is free at your own pace. Overnight in Luang Prabang.

Day 6: Luang Prabang Departure 

Free at leisure till transferring to airport for your onward flight. End of service.