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Check-in at London Heathrow for your flight to Thailand’s capital, Bangkok. Upon arrival, you’ll connect with an onward flight to Chiang Rai, arriving in the morning. You will be met and transferred to your enchanting resort set amidst acres of tropical jungle. Just an hour from the airport, this is the perfect stopover before continuing your journey into Laos.
Adventure seekers will find plenty of opportunities for trekking, biking and elephant safaris in the surrounding hills. You could also take a Thai cooking class or enjoy a 90-minute beauty and relaxation treatment at the spa.
Stay: Two nights in a Deluxe Three Countries View Room at Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort – full board
After an early breakfast, you’ll be transferred to the Houei Sai Pier to board your cruise to Luang Prabang. As you drift along, you’ll be able to observe traditional rural life along the Mekong River. You’ll arrive in the small Laotian village of Pakbeng by sunset, disembarking to spend one night at a rustic wooden lodge on the banks of the Mekong.
Stay: One night in a Bungalow at Luang Say Lodge – full board
The following morning you’ll head back on board and continue your journey to Luang Prabang, stopping en route at Ban Baw village to see how traditional rice alcohol is made. After a buffet lunch on board, you’ll make another stop near the mouth of the Nam Ou river. Here you’ll be able to visit the Pak Ou Caves which are known for their incredible collection of Buddha images. You’ll arrive at the pier in Luang Prabang by sunset and be transferred to your hotel.
The former royal capital, Luang Prabang is considered the jewel of Indochina. Located at the confluence of the Mekong and Khan Rivers, the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its rich cultural heritage, natural beauty and atmospheric temples.
Hire a bicycle and explore the dozens of temples and religious sites in the old quarter, stopping for lunch at one of the restaurants perched along the banks of the Mekong. Highlights include the beautiful Wat Xieng Thong and 16th century Wat Visoun – the oldest temple in the city. Make time, too, for the UXO Laos Visitor Centre and National Museum (former Royal Palace). In the evening, you can wander the bustling H’mong Night Market and climb the 328 steps of Mount Phousi to enjoy a beautiful sunset over the temples and hillsides. The following day, you can witness a traditional alms giving ceremony before taking an excursion to the beautiful Kuang Si Waterfalls.
Stay: Three nights in a Garden Suite at the Sofitel Luang Prabang – bed and breakfast
Today, after breakfast, you’ll be transferred to the airport to board your flight to the Laotian city of Pakse. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to the pier for a 20-minute boat ride to your lodge on Don Daeng Island. Immersed in natural beauty, you will find yourself perfectly based for exploring the delights of southern Laos, including the ruined Khmer Hindu temple complex of Wat Phou. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this wondrous archaeological treasure dates all the way back to the 10th century, predating Cambodia’s iconic Angkor Wat.
The following day you’ll drive through the beautiful surrounding countryside to Si Phan Don, a stunning riverine archipelago made up of 4,000 islets. A region of endless photo opportunities, you’ll explore the area by boat and take in a number of impressive waterfalls. You’ll also be able to visit the local villages of Ban Khone to admire their old French colonial buildings.
Stay: Three nights in a Superior River View Room at La Folie Lodge – bed and breakfast
Now it’s time to cross the border and experience the world’s largest religious monument. Catch a flight to Siem Reap in Cambodia, gateway to the incredible temple complex of Angkor Wat, a cornucopia of ornate temples, huge statues, decorative carvings and enigmatic stone heads. Stupendous sites like the 12th century Bayon – a richly decorated temple with 54 towers – the pyramidal Baphuon temple and the Terrace of the Elephants greet you as you’re guided around the vast complex.
Rise early to explore the overgrown temple of Ta Prohm that seems to be locked in an eternal struggle with the natural jungle. Just behind the temple, you’ll find the Sra Srong village where you’ll be able to observe villagers palm weaving and making wooden carvings.
Later in the day, you’ll discover a different aspect of Cambodia with a trip to the floating village of Mechrey on Tonle Sap Lake – the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia. As you slowly cruise along the canals past traditional stilt houses and floating schools, you’ll be able to witness the charms of everyday life. Afterwards, you’ll transfer back to Siem Reap, stopping en route to visit the small but magnificent Banteay Srei. Built in the 10th Century and dedicated to Shiva, the pink sandstone temple features beautiful examples of Khmer classical art.
Stay: Three nights in a Deluxe Room at the Jaya House River Park – bed and breakfast
Enjoy Day 14 at your leisure. In the evening, you’ll be transferred to the airport for your flight back to London via Bangkok.
We would like to thank your team for all the wonderful journeys we have had in the past. Anything organised by Ultimate Travel has worked like clockwork.- JE, Burma