Luang Prabang & Nong Khiaw - temples, tribes, peaks, falls, Mekong, Unesco!

Luang Prabang, Laos

Changi Airport

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Luang Prabang: Luang Prabang & Nong Khiaw - temples, trib...

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“The raw beauty and majesty of the mountains are always an inspiration to me. I never cease to be amazed whenever I walk up one. Sometimes sitting and immersing myself in their presence is enough. I live for these opportunities.”

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Highlights

(Above - Image Credit: Khoa Nguyen Dang on Pixabay)
Picture shows a typical misty mountain scene in the early morning atop a high point or peak in Luang Prabang or Nong Khiaw - like on the peak of the 100 Waterfalls trek.

The is the first Luang Prabang Tour in 2020 to take advantage of the CNY holiday. There is a second one scheduled for the March school holidays, from 16 to 21 Mar, specially planned for teachers and school staff who can only travel during school holidays. Please RSVP for the tour dates that is right for you.

The Link for the other tour scheduled for the Chinese New Year holiday is below:

Luang Prabang and Nong Khiaw; 27 Jan - 1 Feb


This tour will proceed with a minimum of 6 persons (cost stated in payment page is per person for a group of 12 persons travelling). Cost per person for a group of 6 to 11 persons travelling is listed below in the Cost heading.

Book this tour now with a deposit of $300
on or before 31 December to get a Free! 1.5-hour traditional massage in the town of Luang Prabang.

*Please note that a Scoot airfare sale is going on with return airfare from $150 for our tour dates.


Laos - background and history
When I started looking at Luang Prabang as a destination of interest, I knew very little about its war history, the natural surroundings of this city-town, and the culture and traditions of the people. I didn't think much of it except that I could imagine it being much like Sapa, which I have heard about from a lot from travellers - it's beautiful rice terraces, misty mountains, and interesting villages and trails leading to them.

However, what struck me most about Luang Prabang, and Laos in general, was not these similarities with Sapa. It was the blatant destruction of the land and the people in the Secret War from 1964 to 1973 that I find horrific. Imagine, a staggering 270 million bombs were dropped on the country during the war in 580,000 bombing missions, which translates to one bombing mission every 8 minutes, every day, for nine years. To me, that is an atrocity, a crime against humanity.

Against this background of the past
This 6-day tour will undoubtedly be an eye-opener. As we travel through Luang Prabang and Nong Khiaw, experiencing the beautiful temples, cascading waterfalls, village trails, tranquil river, misty mountain peaks, scenic countrysides, and awe-inspiring mountain sunrise and river sunsets, we will become aware that the Lao people in Luang Prabang and Nong Khiaw used to live on the fringes of danger as unexploded war ordnance (UXO) lie buried in every part of the town.

Laos as a country are still living the aftermath of a war that ended more that 45 years ago. There are still numerous bomb disposal companies scattered throughout Laos to find and diffuse the 80 million bombs that had dropped and did not detonate. (In the last 45 years after the war ended, 20 million bombs have been found). It has been said that another 200 years is needed to clear all the bombs in the country.
(Click the link below for more fascinating accounts of life in Laos and the effects of the unexploded bombs)

Unexploded bombs in Laos affecting lives of the ordinary people

200 years still needed to clear all bombs in Laos 

The town of Luang Prabang has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because it is "an outstanding example of the fusion of traditional architecture and Lao urban structures with those built by the European colonial authorities in the 19th and 20th centuries. Its unique, remarkably well-preserved townscape illustrates a key stage in the blending of these two distinct cultural traditions".


Highlights:
Against this backdrop, life goes on for the people and much of what Luang Prabang and Nong Khiaw has to offer to visitors, we will in our 6 days see the best and most interesting:
  1. Wat Xieng Thong - one of the most richly decorated temple in Laos with brilliant mosaics, wood carvings, intricate gold gilded motifs, and bronze statues
  2. Kuang Si Waterfalls - listed as a must-see, this mesmerisingly beautiful waterfall lies in a stunning setting that you stroll into on a forest walk. Fairy Tale!
  3. Royal Palace Museum - learn about the rich history of the Lao monarch
  4. Mount Phousi - also a must-see, the most stunning sunset scene on the terraces of the Wat Chom Si temple on top of this peak
  5. Pak Ou Caves - cruise the tranquil Mekong and observe the daily routine of village life by the river to arrive at the entrance of the cave of a thousand Buddhas
  6. Hmong and Khmer hill tribes - visit their villages on our way to Pak Ou and Plain of Jars
  7. Bear rescue centre - learn about the work of this sanctuary in rescuing bears in captivity
  8. Night market and Street Food - get into the hustle and bustle of shopping for crafts, souvenirs, art, interesting tees or tops with local designs, and taste mouth-watering local delicacies, piping hot noodle soups, BBQ meats, and and mouth-watering salads
  9. Alms-giving ceremonly - observe this very interesting ceremony in the early morning when Buddhist monks lined up to receive alms from the people of the village
  10. Morning market - visit the local morning market and be surprised by what is sold as food!
  11. UXO centre - you will be very engaged and moved at the end of your visit here as you discover the war history of Laos as the most heavily bombed country in the world and how, even till today, it still has an impact on the lives of the people.
  12. Rice whiskey making - discover how rice whiskey is made in one of the interesting stops along the Mekong on our way to Pak Ou cave.
  13. 100 Waterfalls guided hike
  14. Pha Deng Peak
  15. Sleeping Woman Viewpoint
  16. Other optional activities: Traditional Laos massage, herbal steam bath, bike rental, rice-farming experience, cooking classes, Tad See waterfall, Green Jungle Park, Wat Mai, butterfly park, and more! (you might have to extend your stay! lol)
Hiking on this tour:
For those of you concerned about hikes during this tour, be assured that they is only the one hike that you might be concerned about - although I have read a review of a 70-year-old lady doing this hike and she said it was not difficult  - the 100 Waterfalls hike in Nong Khiaw. See this video to decide if you are up for this adventure.

VIDEO: The 100 Waterfalls Trek

The other hikes during this tour, ranges from short walks in caves and to waterfalls, to steep but very short hikes, in the town of Luang Prabang and Nong Khiaw

- Kuang Si Falls
- Mount Phousi
- Pak Ou Caves
- Pha Deng Peak
- Sleeping Woman Viewpoint
- Pha Tok Caves


Duration of Land Tour: 6 day


Period of Land Tour: Mon 27 Jan -  Sat 1 Feb 2020

Cost:
$ 699 per person (for a group of 19 - 20 pax)

Group of 6 - 7: $869 per person
Group of 8 - 9: $816 per person
Group of 10 - 12: $785 per person
Group of 13 - 15: $750 per person
Group of 16 - 18: $726 per person

Deposit:
$300 by 5 Jan 2020

Early confirmation with $300 deposit paid on or before 31 Dec will receive a 1.5h traditonal massage in Luang Prabang.

Your deposit will be refunded if tour cannot proceed due to insuffcinet group numbers. Minimum number required to travel is 6 persons.

Full Payment:
12 Jan 2020

Airfare:
Scoot Air is the recommeded airline
Depart SIN 27 Jan 09:05, Arrive SIN 1 Feb 18:00.
As of 5 Dec 2019, an airfare sale is going on.
The return airfare is $150 for no checked baggage OR $210 with checked baggage.
Seat selection and meals extra.

Wat Xieng Thong

(Photo credit: Image by 41330 from Pixabay) Wat Xieng Thong is one of the most important of Lao monasteries and remains a significant monument to the spirit of religion, royalty and traditional art in Luang Prabang. Lao culture and the lives of the people are greatly centred on Buddhism and especially in this little city of Luang Prabang, you will begin to see and experience the serenity of the people, the traquility of life by the River Mekong, and the vastness of the mountains, valleys and streams, as a reflection of this philosophy and tradition. In Wat Xieng Thong, you will be amazed with the intricate and fine craftsmanship that goes to creating this beautiful temple, which was once the site for the coronation of the Laotian Kings.

Kuang Si Waterfalls

(Image by Sharon Ang from Pixabay) This waterfall, near Luang Prabang, is simply breathtaking, stunning, and a pure delight to see. It flows from the limestone-rich jungle and cascades into three pools of emerald green. It is a must-see for anyone visiting Luang Prabang!

Mekong River cruise to Pak Ou (Cave of a Thousand Buddhas)

(Image by Richard Mcall from Pixabay) Enjoy a tranquil ride on a slow boat up the Mekong River. Relax and take in the serenity of the river, the villages that pass, and the day-to=day activities of the villagers. We will visit Pak Ou Caves and see the thousands of retired Buddha statues, see how rice whiskey is made in one of the local villages, and visit a traditional village to learn of their customs and life by the river. Catch the beautiful sunset if we arrive back late in the evening after our cruise.

Alms-giving Ceremony

(Image by Poswiecie on Pixabay) An interesting morning ritual in the town of Luang Prabang that has become a tourist attraction. Monks would lined up very early in the morning and walked past a row of people ready to hand out offerings to them.

Street Food in Night Markets of Luang Prabang

(Image by Sharon Ang on Pixabay) Get to taste all the various types of street food in the town of Luang Prabang during this exciting 6-day tour!

Hmong and Khmu hill tribes

(Image by Sharon Ang from Pixabay) Step into and visit these villages of the Hmong and Khmer tribes. Learn about their culture and traditions and their daily life in the hills.

Itinerary

Day1: (27 Jan)
Arrive Luang Prabang
11:00AM Pick up from the Airport
After checking-in to our hotel, we will take a 40-minute drive to the famous Kuang Si Waterfall. The jungle around the waterfall remains lush and beautiful year-round. The waterfall cycles between placid, turquoise waters during the dry season to impressive roaring falls during the rainy season. Either way, you’re in for a refreshing and beautiful nature experience. Integrated into the landscape is an Asiatic Bear Sanctuary where you can see these beautiful creatures up close and support efforts to care for the animals in the area.

Day2: (28 Jan)
Meals: BF
Early morning start (5.30am) to witness the daily morning ritual of ‘Tak
Bat’ or giving alms to the monks. This is a unique ritual still followed by
the locals in Luang Prabang. We can also visit the local fresh market to
see how the locals shop, before returning to your hotel for breakfast.
Pick up again at 8:30AM
Visit the quaint Royal Palace Museum, which gives a good overview of
the local history. We then begin our temple tour taking in some the cities
most beautiful structures, including the country’s most historic and
enchanting temple Wat Xiengthong, with its roof sweeping low to the
ground, representing the classical Luang Prabang style, as well as the
unique Wat Mai,
The boat trip takes us on the Mekong River. The Cruise Tour
on the Mekong River gives us a chance to explore the tranquil countryside and the river life. We will stop at the village of Ban Xang Hai where they make potent rice wine and handmade weaving items . After the two-hour cruise upstream we arrive at Pak Ou where the famous Tam Ting Cave houses thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes, all brought there by devoted villages. Along the way, we will climb Mt Phousi, which offers a spectacular sunset and a panoramic view over Luang Prabang and the Mekong River

Day3: (29 Jan)
Meals: BF
Luang Prabang - Nong Khiaw
Start early on 3h transportation to Nong Khiaw. Arrive NK hopefully between noon to 1pm. Explore city of Nong Khiaw
Some attractions in Nong Khiaw: Pha Tok Caves, Pha Kuang Caves, and local Hmong and Khmu villages. Hikes: Phadeng Peak, Sleeping Woman Viewpoint.

Day4: (30 Jan)
Meals: BF
100 Waterfalls Hike

Day5: (31 Jan)
Meals: BF
After breakfast, transfer back to Luang Prabang,
Upon arrival to Luang Prabang, check-in to hotel and free time on your own for rest of the day.

Day6: (1 Feb)
Meals: BF
Around 10am, transfer to airport for flight back to Singapore

Reviews

  • Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil. 21 days 5 countries 17 flights. 6 adventurers and one & only one Daniel Goh Of course, my wife and I were attracted by Machu Picchu, Igauzu falls, Christ the Redeemer.. these are the key places that attracted us to South America. At the... Read more Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil. 21 days 5 countries 17 flights. 6 adventurers and one & only one Daniel Goh Of course, my wife and I were attracted by Machu Picchu, Igauzu falls, Christ the Redeemer.. these are the key places that attracted us to South America. At the end of the tour,. I think we got more than what we bargained for.. perhaps that is the beauty of small private tour group. We can have options. The amazing Bolivia salt flat Uyuni with so many untold secrets.. Felt truly blessed to have visited this place. Oh.. we missed out the Inca hiking activity when we booked the tour and realised it only at subsequent tour briefing. It was tough, but feel great overcoming the challenge with 8 hours hike. We have fun together as a group tackling this task. We squeezed a lot more much waking time. During the tour. Evident in total of more than 17 flights just to shorten travelling time. We have food (both good & bad), interesting experience, and great fun as a group of six adventurers and one Daniel Goh. Especially with our exchange rate. I think most of us will find it very hard to have a similar holiday trip for a long time to come. It is really one of its kind with good memories to last for a pretty long time. As least for me, I feel very blessed to have my bucket list with South America fulfilled in 2019 in such fun, such fashion and such great companions started off as total strangers and we can be crazy as children in play. Jimmy Yip & Cecily Sum Read less

  • Definitely a worthwhile experience doing this walk and glad was done at night though was quite hard trying to keep awake at certain times. Pace was good and Daniel was very helpful and encouraging. Highly recommend for anyone who wants to do the trail with this group!

  • The camaraderie and mood was unbelievable and softened the toughness of the hike. Enjoyed it so much that I am looking to do it again, albeit only by night.

  • Felt like a Natgeo hiking trip. Get to see plenty of wildlife, northern light, beautiful lakes & breath-taking hikes (crypt lake trail is a big bonus). Just bask in mother's nature arms. To be honest, felt more like a road trip with great friends, and the itinerary is pretty flexible. Thanks Daniel ... Read more Felt like a Natgeo hiking trip. Get to see plenty of wildlife, northern light, beautiful lakes & breath-taking hikes (crypt lake trail is a big bonus). Just bask in mother's nature arms. To be honest, felt more like a road trip with great friends, and the itinerary is pretty flexible. Thanks Daniel for organizing this trip, overall a memorable experience. Looking forward to the next adventure... Read less

  • Loved this trip. Excellent planning by Daniel. The flexibility of the itinerary throughout almost felt like a road trip on your own minus the hassles of doing tedious homework! Daniel made sure everyone was taken care of. Not easy considering that there were members who had slightly different itiner... Read more Loved this trip. Excellent planning by Daniel. The flexibility of the itinerary throughout almost felt like a road trip on your own minus the hassles of doing tedious homework! Daniel made sure everyone was taken care of. Not easy considering that there were members who had slightly different itineraries from each other. Thumbs up to Daniel. Read less