fisherman on the Mekong River at sunrise, Nong Khai province, Laos

Itinerary: Thailand/Laos - Northern Horizons

14 January to 4 February 2019

Despite its complex history and its politics, Thailand is ideal and very safe for those who desire to experience the cultural heart and soul of South East Asia. Whether you want to see elephants in their natural habitat, visit hill tribes, or immersed yourself into the Buddhist spirituality, make Northern Thailand part of your next trip to Asia. And then there is Laos, a ravishing country to explore, awaiting you as you sail down the mighty Mekong River to arrive at arguably one of the world’s most alluring towns, Luang Prabang. Join Northern Horizons and discover these lands with Zen Oriental Journeys.

With our innovative itineraries, our top-notch experts, and a thriving network of resources throughout the countries, we have the privilege of offering you exceptional travel experiences. There is nothing quite like seeing places through the eyes of someone who knows them intimately and cares about them passionately, we take care of the details, so you can relax, enjoy, and immerse yourself in the wonder of the places you are visiting and exploring.

On this Journey you will:

• Discover the glories of Buddhist art and architecture
• Gaze in awe at the World Heritage sites of Thailand and Laos
• Engage with ethical elephant rehabilitation programs and development projects
• Experience a diversity of tribal peoples
• Tuck into delightful foods like khao soi noodles, gaeng hunglay curry, and nam prik noom
• Reflect on the histories of the opium trade, WWII warfare and past conflicts
• See the manufacture of the crafts for which Thailand and Laos are renowned
• Mingle with the bustle of street markets
• Enjoy contemporary artists, traditional music and sacred ceremonies

Our Hotels:

We understand that travel isn't all about a fleeting glimpse of popular mass tourist spots, or staying at luxury hotels, but is also about time, space, privacy and those special destinations and moments that turn your holiday into a truly magical experience. Hotels for Zen Oriental Journeys are chosen for their quality, location, and as much as possible, their heritage ambience and affordability. Hotels for this tour are generally 4-star standard with some amazing jungle and riverside lodges that are more about location and charm than star rating. Hotels indicated are subject to confirmation.

Meals:

Daily Breakfasts in our hotels and other meals are indicated as B (Breakfast) L (Lunch) D (Dinner).

Phra Singh temple, Viharn Lai Kam, Wat Phra Singh, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Proposed Itinerary: (Subject to change)

Day 1: 14 January 2019, Depart Australia

Depart Australia and overnight in Singapore

Day 2: 15 January 2019, Chiang Mai, Arrival

16:50 Arrival at Chiang Mai Airport by Silk Air, flight MI706 from Singapore. Your guide will meet you at the exit of the customs and baggage hall and escort you to your hotel.

Evening: In the evening, visit Chiang Mai’s night bazaar which is only a few minutes’ walk from your hotel and where, at tiny street stalls or in some of the up-market arts, antiques or homewares shops you can shop for bargains.

Accommodation: Ban Thai Village Hotel (Superior Rooms)

Day 3: 16 January 2019, Chiang Mai, B/L

Breakfast at the hotel. Today, you embark onto an intimate visit of Chiang Mai. The centre of town is enclosed by a rectangular canal (moat) and the old city wall with entrances (gates) on each side (North, South, etc.). Within these city walls Chiang Mai has preserved an atmosphere that is calmer and more serene than outside the walls. Start your sightseeing tour at Suan Buak Hat, a lovely park full of flowers which lies just inside the moat. From here, you take a local rickshaw (three-wheeled bicycle taxi) to Wat Pan Tao. Wat Pan Tao is essentially built of teak wood and, although rarely visited, is certainly one of the most charming temples of Chiang Mai. From here, a short walk takes you to Wat Phra Sing – the most revered temple in the old city centre. Lunch at Sirichai Khao Man Gai, a typical local food stall specialising in Hainanese “Khao Man Gai” and Chiang Mai’s famous “Khao Soi”. Next to your lunch place are lots of other food stalls where it will be easy to also find an appropriate Thai dessert to round off your lunch.

After lunch, visit Wat Suan Dok (roughly translated: temple of flower fields) where a large golden chedi presides over a field of smaller white chedis. Then, drive up Doi Suthep Mountain and visit Wat Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai’s most revered temple on the mountaintop. On your way back to Chiang Mai, you will also visit Sankamphaeng where most of Chiang Mai’s handicrafts come from. Visit various handicraft studios to see the full steps in the production of the famous Thai Silk as well as of the colorful paper umbrellas. Skilled hands form the well-known Celadon Ceramics; other craftsmen transform teakwood with the help of simple tools into elegant furniture with delicate carvings. Also fascinating to watch is the production of lacquerware, even eggshells are used to achieve unusual designs. Accommodation at Ban Thai Village Hotel (Superior Rooms).

Portraits of two men, Gujarat, India

Day 4: 17 January 2019, Chiang Mai, B

Breakfast at the hotel. Day at leisure so that you may explore the old city centre of Chiang Mai on your own. Venture into the small alleys typical of Chiang Mai and visit quaint old temples, soak in the serene atmosphere in the temple yards, browse through the countless boutiques that line the streets or visit the Folk Life Museum located in a beautiful former provincial court house and showcasing Lanna culture.

Optional: This tour is dedicated to learning as much as possible about elephants, to interact with these majestic animals and to have fun. You will be picked up at your hotel in the early morning and transferred to the Thai Elephant Home, roughly a 1 hour drive from Chiang Mai. On arrival at the camp, you will receive your local farmers’ clothes (which unfortunately you may not keep) and a presentation on elephants in Thailand. Then you will meet your elephants which you may not only feed with bananas and sugar cane but may also touch and caress. Your lunch will be a typical “mahout picnic”. The culmination of your day with your elephant is when you walk together to the nearby river where you wash and spend time playing with the elephant. Return to your hotel in the mid-afternoon.

One of the few ethical elephant sanctuaries in Thailand Rating 5 - ?Reviews by a TripAdvisor users

Accommodation at Ban Thai Village Hotel (Superior Rooms).

Elephant having a mud bath, Chiang-Mai, Thailand, Mahout with elephants in forest Chang Village, Surin province, Thailand

Day 5: 18 January 2019, Chiang Mai - Mae Hong Son, B/L

Breakfast at the hotel. Drive from Chiang Mai to Chomthong and up to Doi Inthanon, the highest peak of Thailand with its National Park and beautiful rainforest in which the Ping River originates. Here you can also walk a very beautiful nature trail to admire intact primary forest that is now hard to find in Northern Thailand. Continue to visit Phra Mahathat, Chedi Nophamethanidol and Phra Mahathat Noppholbhumisiri. Then, drive down to Mae Chaem where you will lunch at a local restaurant.

Buddha gold statue on golden background patterns Thailand

After lunch, drive into the mountains again. You will pass several large Hmong villages that straddle the mountain road. Shortly before arriving at Khun Yuam and if time permits, visit Mae Surin National Park and the Mae Surin Waterfall which is quite possibly the nicest waterfall in Northern Thailand. Then, descend to the high plateau of Khun Yuam and visit the small World War II Museum. During the Second World War, the Japanese had occupied Khun Yuam and made this place a strategic outpost. From Khun Yuam proceed to Mae Hong Son and the lovely Fern Resort, set in a small valley of terraced rice fields.

Fern Resort, Thailand

Accommodation: Fern Resort (Deluxe Room).

Day 6: 19 January 2019, Mae Hong Son, B/L

Breakfast at the resort. In the morning, take a boat trip on the Pai River to Ban Nam Pian Din, a village of the Padaung (long neck) women. The Padaung belong to the Kayah or Karenni group in Burma. Over the years, hundreds of Padaung have fled the off-and-on-fighting in northeast Burma and settled on the Thai side of the forested frontier. The Padaung women are known for wearing brass rings around their necks. Return to Mae Hong Son for lunch at a local restaurant.

Padaung long neck women, hilltribe, Northern Thailand

In the afternoon, visit the local market and Wat Phra Dhat Doi Kong Moo, which on clear days offers a beautiful view over Mae Hong Son and the surrounding area. Also visit the Burmese style temples Wat Jong Kam and Wat Jong Klang, housing 100-year old glass paintings and woodcarvings from Burma that depict the various lives of the Buddha. There will also be time to stroll around this lovely town as Mae Hong Son is a melting pot of different cultures, blending Thai Yai (Shan), Chinese, Akha, Lisu, Hmong, Muslim and numerous other tribes. Streets are colourful affairs, as people from any one of these cultures ply their wares on street sidewalks.

Day 7: 20 January 2019, Mae Hong Son - Pai, B/L

Breakfast at the resort. In the morning, you can relax at the Resort or enjoy one of the beautiful nature trails, starting and ending at the Fern Resort.

Then, leave your resort and drive to Pai via Soppong. On the way, stop at a Fish Cave popular with local peoples. Then, explore the great “Tham Lod” caves where villagers await with lanterns and bamboo rafts to escort you through the cave. These enigmatic caves were never really known to outsiders until 1984 when a team of Australians started exploring them. Lunch at a local restaurant in Soppong.

Thai family on wooden bridge helping each other to catch fish, Thailand

A Thai woman fishing in a river, Thailand

A Thai woman fishing in a river, Thailand

After lunch, you drive high into the mountains again and make a stop at a Lisu market on top of the “Wind Pass” before the road drops again down into the valley. The lovely little town of Pai is inhabited by Shan people, Haw Chinese and Lisu minority people and invites for a leisurely stroll through the centre.

Accommodation: The Quarter Hotel (Deluxe Room)

Day 8: 21 January 2019, Pai - River Kok, B/L/D

Breakfast at the hotel. Today’s journey takes you across an impressive mountain range and endless curves into the Ping River Valley. Then, drive due North towards the Burmese border. Arriving at Thaton, right on the Burmese border, visit Wat Thatorn from where you can enjoy a stunning view over the gorge-like valley of the Kok River. Lunch at a local restaurant.

After lunch, drive into the nearby hills and reach the village of Ban Lorcha, an Akha hilltribe community centre. This community-based tourism development project promotes sustainable, self-reliant development to improve the quality of life of villagers of this Akha Community, and is a model for tourism in hill tribe villages. Afterwards, continue to Mae Salak to take a long-tail boat down the Kok River, through jungle scenery and past tiny hilltribe villages to the “My Dream” Guest House located on the outskirts of a small Karen village and overlooking the river. The (surprisingly comfortable) guest house is owned and operated by a young Karen man who epitomizes the modern hilltribe man. Speaking several hilltribe languages, wearing the traditional garb and leading a simple life in the midst of nature, Khun (Mr.) Nan also uses e-mail and Google. Although this area is relatively near to Chiang Rai, mass tourism has not yet arrived, and you will find that people of the various minorities (Karen, Lahu, Akha and Hmong) have kept their traditional ways. To conclude the afternoon, discover some of the surroundings of My Dream Guest House, be it a crossing of the Kok River over the nearby bamboo suspension bridge or a stroll through the Karen Village to discover typical village life.

Woman from Karen hill tribe smoking tobacco pipe, Northern Thailand

People from hill tribe, Northern Thailand

Dinner and accommodation at My Dream Guest House (River Front Bungalow). Please note: My Dream can only accommodate limited numbers, so if there is a group of 10 or more, we may use the Maekok Siri Cottage

Day 9: 22 January 2019, Elephants & Hilltribes, B/L

Breakfast at the guest house. Today, the pace of things will be different as you will discover the hilltribe world on foot. Your guide is Khun. Nan, who will be able to “open your eyes” and make you see things and discover aspects of hilltribe life you would not have been able to appreciate without him. You start the day by taking a bamboo raft directly in front of the guest house. Then, glide silently down the Kok River until you reach the hot springs and an elephant camp. You then continue on elephant’s back for another 2 hours and arrive at a Lahu Village where you will enjoy picnic lunch in a local hut.

Karen woman weaving, Northern Thailand

Akha hill tribe, Northern Thailand

Karen man in traditional costumes playing a flute, Northern Thailand

After lunch, a walk of approximately 1 hour brings you to the scenic Huay Mae Sai Waterfall where you can even go for a swim in the cool water if you like. It is near this waterfall where you will change back to your original vehicle in order to continue to the Phu Chaisai Resort & Spa, a most charming and romantic resort sitting atop a forested hill and overlooking the rolling mountains north of Chiang Rai.

Kuang Si Falls or Tat Kuang Si Waterfalls near Lauang Praban, Laos

Accommodation: Phu Chaisai Resort & Spa (Deluxe Mountain Cottage)

Day 10: 23 January 2019, The Land of Opium, B/L

Breakfast at the resort. In the morning, drive up Doi Mae Salong known for Santi Khiri, ‘the Chinese village on top of the mountain’. This village was founded by members of the former Kuo Min Tang Army (KMT) that were left behind in Northern Thailand when Chiang Kai Shek was driven out of mainland China by Mao Tse Tung. While the KMT specialized in the transport and refinery of opium cultivated by the local hilltribe people, they now produce mainly tea, among which great Oolong Tea which you can taste at the 101 Tea Tasting Shop. Then, descend from Doi Mae Salong to a region formerly controlled by Khun Sa, who was at that time on the most wanted list because he had elected to cultivate poppy for the production of opium in order to finance the armed resistance of the Shan minority against the Burmese military

Lunch (typical Yunnanese food) at Ting Ting Restaurant in Thoed Thai

Kantoke, traditionally meal, Chang Mai, Northern Thailand

You will visit the barracks where Khun Sa maintained his army of several thousand soldiers. The small and barely known museum displays photos of Khun Sa, his army, various palaces in Shan State (in Burma) and maps of the border area. They serve as witness to the military confrontation between the Burmese military and the minorities as well as the drug trafficking that has been taking place in this area for a long time.

Return to Phu Chaisai Resort in the mid-afternoon so that you may enjoy the resort and relax or use the lovely spa.

Accommodation: Phu Chaisai Resort & Spa (Deluxe Mountain Cottage)

Day 11: 24 January 2019, Artists of Chiang Rai, B/L

Today’s tour through Chiang Rai introduces you to the work of some of the Thai artists who have made Chiang Rai their home. Just beyond town, you visit Wat Rong Khun, a contemporary purely white temple with startling design. Inside the temple you will find astonishing paintings (they even include George Bush and Keanu Reeves) that “show an escape from the defilements of temptation to reach a supramundane state” – sic: Wikipedia). The artist, Chalermchai Kositpipat also created the mural paintings at the Buddha Prateep Temple in London.

Wat Rong Khun, white temple, Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand

Afterwards, visit “Ban Dam”, sometimes also dubbed the “Buffalo and Black Temple” of world renowned artist Thawan Duchanee. He himself calls it “Ban Dam” (Black House) because the nearly 40 houses there are mostly black – his favourite shade. The cluster of houses accommodates Thawan’s collections of paintings, sculptures, animal bones, skins, horns and silver and gold items. For Thawan, these are models kept for inspiration. Despite the overall black setting, a visit to Ban Dam is a visual feast. The artist’s powerful style combines grotesque and erotic human figures that are a composite of animals or insects and are entwined with the Buddha as a saint.

Lunch at a local restaurant.

Yet another treat awaits after lunch: Doy Din Daeng Pottery is surrounded by a tranquil landscape which provides both the inspiration and the natural materials for the work of the artist, Somluk Pantiboon who creates contemporary ceramics in the traditional way. The artist has exhibited his work in several countries. His creations reflect both the simple and complex beauty found in nature. Since the establishment of the studio in 1991, Doy Din Dang has been producing original pieces that are both functional and decorative and adapt themselves to a contemporary lifestyle.

Return to your resort in the mid-afternoon.

Day 12: 25 January 2019, Doi Tung & Golden Triangle, B/L

In the morning, drive up to Doi Tung, and visit the Doi Tung Development project. This natural beauty has been enhanced through the effort and perseverance of the people of Doi Tung in reviving their once deteriorated forests. The now lush forests are their legacy to pass on to their descendants. It is through their work that they accomplished the gracious commands in the memory of Her Royal Highness, the Princess Mother, through the Doi Tung Development Project under Royal Initiative that has returned the mountains to their natural environment.

Then drive up the mountain and visit the Mae Fah Luang Garden, Doi Tung Royal Villa and some ethnic hill-tribe communities nearby. If you wish, visit also the magnificent Arboretum sitting on top of Doi Tung. Then (if the weather and road conditions permit), drive down the other side of Doi Tung on a narrow, steep and hugely scenic mountain road straddling the Thai-Burmese border to Mae Sai, Thailand’s northernmost city. Lunch at a local restaurant overlooking the bridge over the narrow Ruak River which forms the border between Thailand and Burma. The hustle and bustle on both sides of the river are testimony to a thriving black market.

After lunch, proceed towards the Golden Triangle and visit the Hall of Opium. A visit to the Hall of Opium explains the journey through the long history of Opium, its ancient origins and how it spread globally. You learn and understand how this substance has come to be inseparably entwined with the Golden Triangle. The museum provides a well-presented, largely balanced picture of the use and abuse of opium, and its history over five thousand years, how it spread from Europe to Asia and the nineteenth-century Opium Wars between Britain and China. Dioramas, games and audiovisuals are put to imaginative use, notably in the reconstruction of a nineteenth-century Siamese opium den, and, most movingly, in the personal testimonies of former addicts and their families. Then, visit the spot where the borders of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand meet at the confluence of the Ruak and Mekong Rivers. Afterwards, continue to Chiang Saen which is Thailand’s most important harbour on the Mekong River. Visit Wat Phra That Pha-Ngao on top of a hill and from where you can enjoy a magnificent view over all of Chiang Saen and the Mekong River.

Then, continue along one of the most scenic routes in Northern Thailand to Chiang Khong, a quaint little town located on the Mekong River. Chiang Khong is the most important border point with Laos in the North of Thailand and it is from here that travelers cross over into Laos and travel downstream on the Mekong River to Luang Prabang. Chiang Khong boasts many riverside restaurants where you can have a drink and enjoy the views over the river and Laos on the opposite side.

Sunset scene in Luang Prabang, Laos

Twilight at small village in Vang Vieng, Laos

Accommodation: Ibis Styles Chiang Khong Riverfront Hotel

Day 13: 26 January 2019, Chiang Kong - Pak Beng, B/L/D

Breakfast at the hotel. Your day begins with passing Thai Immigration and, crossing the Mekong River over the friendship bridge linking Thailand with Laos. Meet the crew of the Luang Say boat next to the Lao Immigration Office at Houayxai on the Lao side of the river. After immigration procedures for Laos, a short Tuk-Tuk ride then brings you to the pier where you board the Luang Say boat, a typical Lao slow boat that has been modified to provide the most comfortable river trip now available between Houayxay and Luang Prabang. The boat leaves Houayxay pier at 09:00 hrs for a cruise down the Mekong to Pak Beng. En route, a stop is made to observe rural life along the Mekong and discover minorities. Buffet lunch on board.

Akha Women picking tea leaves at Chui Fong , Chiang Rai, Thailand

River boat and accommodation in Pak Beng

Arrive Pak Beng before sunset and check-in at Luang Say Lodge.
Dinner on the terrace, overlooking the Mekong River

Accommodation: Luang Say Lodge

Day 14: 27 January 2019, Pak Beng - Luang Prabang, B/L

Breakfast at the lodge. At 08:30 board the boat for the second leg of the cruise. A short stop is made to discover a Hmong minority village along the river before having buffet lunch on board. Continue to Pak-Ou village at the mouth of the Nam Ou River. Here, you will visit Tam Ting, the “Cave of a Thousand Buddhas”. On the way to Luang Prabang, another stop takes place to observe the traditional process of obtaining local rice alcohol. Arrive at Luang Prabang before sunset. Transfer from Luang Prabang pier to our hotel.

Hmong woman, Northern Thailand

Accommodation: Satri House, Luang Prabang

Day 15: 28 January 2019, Luang Prabang, B/L

Optional: For those who do not mind getting up very early in the morning, there is an excellent opportunity to observe the hundreds of monks on their alms rounds: As the day begins to break, monks appear everywhere throughout the old town of Luang Prabang. As they silently walk in single file, the inhabitants of the city come out onto the streets to offer food to the monks.

Monk's with alms bowls at morning time, people put food offerings into a monk's bowl, Luang Prabang, Laos

Breakfast at the hotel. Full day visit of Luang Prabang: Visit Vat Visoun, the site of an impressive stupa, That Makmo. Then walk to the nearby Vat Aham, which is one of the city’s major tutelary shrines. Climb Vat Phousi Hill for an outstanding view over the city. Continue to visit Vat Mai, built in 1796, famous for the five – tiered roof of its wooden hall Typical Lao lunch at Calao Restaurant overlooking the Mekong River.

The That Makmo Stupa at Vat Visoun (aka Wat Wisunalat) Temple, Luang Prabang, Laos

Visit Vat Xieng Thong, considered as the most beautiful temple. The hall of the Vat represents the classic Luang Prabang temple architecture with its roofs that sweep low to the ground. In the compound stand several small chapels housing bronze Buddha images, which were displayed in Paris in 1911. Near the East gate stands the Royal Funeral Chapel. Inside are an impressive 12-meter high funeral chariot and various funeral urns of each of the members of the Royal Family. Sunset at Vat Prabaht Tai located along the Mekong River. At some point during our stay in Luang Prabang, we will have a special baci ceremony, to celebrate a special event, whether a marriage, a homecoming, a welcome, a birth, or one of the annual festivals. In our case to welcome us to Laos. A mother is given a baci after she has recovered form a birth, the sick are given bacis to facilitate a cure, officials are honored by bacis, and novice monks are wished luck with a baci before entering the temple.

The That Makmo Stupa at Vat Visoun (aka Wat Wisunalat) Temple, Luang Prabang, Laos

Wat Phumin or Phu Min Temple, Nan Province, Northern Thailand

Wooden Buddha statues, Luang Prabang, Laos

Day 16: 29 January 2019, Luang Prabang, B

Breakfast at the hotel. In the morning, drive out of Luang Prabang and visit Ban Phanom, a weaving village populated by Thai Lu who originally came from Sipsongpanna in Southern China. Then, return to Luang Prabang and visit the National Museum (former King’s Palace) displaying a collection of personal artefacts of the Royal Family: photos, musical equipment and gifts received from foreign countries. Afterwards stroll through the lively Central Market where the ethnic minorities of the surroundings come daily to trade their goods.

The afternoon is free so that you may discover the old city of Luang Prabang on foot. Browse through the many boutique shops and galleries, stop for a coffee or drink at one of the many bistros as you indulge in the magical charm and timelessness of Luang Prabang.

The Royal Palace, Luang Prabang, Laos

woman weaving with traditional Tai Lue pattern local cotton on a loom, Poung Jong village, Nam Bak district, Luang Phabang, Laos

Evening: why not enjoy dinner at L’Elephant Restaurant, arguably Luang Prabang’s most famous French restaurant serving delicious “grand-mother” French cuisine. (not included)

Aerial view of Luang Prabang at sunset, Laos

Day 17: 30 January 2019, Luang Prabang - Phonesavanh, B/L

Breakfast at the hotel. Leave Luang Prabang early for an overland journey up into spectacularly beautiful mountain scenery and on to one of the great mysteries of Laos – the Plain of Jars. The journey will take approximately 6 hours and through several Hmong minority villages perched high on the mountain side. Lunch is taken at one such village, at Phou Khoune near the top of the entire mountain range.

After lunch, begin your descent into the Plain of Jars. On the way, you will also visit the Buddha cave at Muang Sui. Arrive at Phonesavanh, the new capital city of Xieng Khouang Province, and proceed directly to your hotel. If time permits, venture out to begin exploring the town and its market where ethnic minorities (Thai Dam, Hmong and Phuan) from the surrounding villages come to sell their produce.

Terraced rice field during rainy season, Y Ty, Lao Cai province, Vietnam

Accommodation: L’Auberge de la Plaine des Jarres

Day 18: 31 January 2019, The Plain of Jars, B/L/D

Breakfast at the hotel. The Northern province of Xieng Khouang was heavily bombed during the Vietnam War and, particularly from a plane, one can notice how much of the province is still pockmarked with impressive bomb craters. The original capital, Xieng Khouang, was almost totally destroyed, so the capital was moved to Phonesavanh. Near Phonesavanh is the mysterious Plain of Jars, which is soon to be listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. Today, visit the Plain of Jars (site 1 which features 250 jars weighing from 600 kg to one ton and site 2 with 90 jars), a large area extending around Phonesavanh where several hundred huge jars of unknown origin are scattered about in over a dozen groupings. Several theories have been advanced as to the functions of the jars (burial urns, wine fermenters, rice storage), but there is no evidence confirming one theory over the other. However, in the 1930s, French archaeologists found ashes, stone axes, bronze ornaments and ceramics, which may have been offerings to the dead. When the Plain of Jars is listed by UNESCO and cleared from remaining UXOs, further archaeological investigation may bring a clue to all the unanswered questions regarding the most enigmatic site in Laos. Lunch at a local restaurant.

UNESCO Plain of Jars, Phonsavan, Laos

In the afternoon, continue to Muang Khoune, the former capital of Xieng Khouang Province, which was destroyed by heavy bombing and visit its ancient temples.
Dinner at “Craters” Restaurant.

Day 19: 1 February 2019, Xieng Khouang - Vientiane, B/L

Breakfast at the hotel. Morning visit of Phonsavan’s market and, if you wish, another visit to the ‘Jars’. Lunch at a local restaurant. Afterwards, transfer directly to Xieng Khouang Airport.

Departure by Lao Airlines, 13:30 flight QV402 to Vientiane. 13:50 arrival at Vientiane Wattay Airport and transfer to your hotel.

Rest of the afternoon at leisure.

Accommodation: Settha Palace Hotel (Deluxe Room)

Day 20: 2 February 2019, Vientiane, B/L

Breakfast at the hotel. Start your sightseeing of Vientiane with a visit to Talat Sao, the morning market. Afterwards, continue to one of the most photographed attractions of Vientiane which is Patousay – the victory gate also known as Anousavari which is reminiscent of the Arc of Triumph in Paris. Then, visit That Luang Stupa. King Setthathirath built this great sacred stupa in 1566. Its central structure is 45 meters tall and echoes the curving lines of an elongated lotus. The original stupa was said to contain relics of Lord Buddha. Visit Vat Sisaket, the oldest original temple in Vientiane. Built in 1818, Vat Sisaket is the sole survivor of an invasion in 1828. Vat Sisaket features remarkable frescoes and 6,840 Buddha images. Lunch at a local restaurant.

Patuxai Arch, Vientiane, Laos

That Luang Stupa, Vientiane, Laos

Vat Sisaket, Vientiane, Laos

In the afternoon, visit Hoprakeo, once the royal temple of Lao monarchy. Built in 1565, Ho Phra Keo has been used as a museum since 1970 and contains some of the finest Buddhist sculptures and artefacts in the country. The main structure originally housed the famous Emerald Buddha that now resides in Bangkok’s Wat Phra Keo.

Day 21: 3 February 2019, Vientiane, Departure, B

Breakfast at the hotel. A few hours free this morning to get that last minute purchase or relax at the hotel.

Transfer to Vientiane Wattay International Airport

Departure from Vientiane at 13:50 by Silk Air, flight MI787 to Singapore.

Laos women in traditional costume, Laos

Day 22: 4 February 2019

Arrive in Adelaide at 0905 or other capital cities this morning.

Pricing:

Indicative price per person twin share (Land only): AUD 6403.00
Single Supplement: AUD 1982.00
Airfare: TBA

COST INCLUSIONS:

• All sightseeing, tour and transfer services by private air-conditioned minivans (in Thailand) and by minivan or medium-sized bus (in Laos) with English speaking local guides
• Luang Say Cruise (2 days) from Houaixay to Luang Prabang with overnight at the Luang Say Lodge in Pak Beng
• Accommodation as per hotels and room types specified in the itinerary
• Boat transportation as specified in the itinerary
• Bamboo raft and elephant ride as described in the itinerary
• Meals as specified in the itinerary
• All entrance fees to sights specified in the itinerary
• Domestic flight in Laos: Xiengkhouang – Vientiane
• Service charge, room tax and baggage handling

COST EXCLUSIONS:

• International flights from and to Australia
• Services that are not mentioned in the itinerary
• Visa fee for Laos (USD 30.- net per person, to be paid on the spot upon entry into Laos at Haouyxai)
• Meals not specified in the itinerary
• Expenditure of a personal nature, such as tips, telephone charges, laundry, minibar, etc.
• Travel insurance (cover against all cancellation costs, medical expenses, including repatriation, in the event of accident or illness)

Sharon Evans
Owner / Manager
helloworld Marion Westfield Mall Level 2
Westfield Marion
Oaklands Park SA 5046
Telephone: (08) 8358 1949
E-mail: Sharon

Prices may fluctuate due to changes in charges, taxes and currency. Prices and flights are correct at time of preparing this program and are subject to availability at time of booking. Special conditions and seasonal surcharges to airfares and package prices may apply depending on date of travel. Flight times are subject to change by the airline. Please visit http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/or ring 1300 139 281 for information on current Government traveladvice.

CANCELLATION POLICY:

On International Flight tickets

• Please refer to your conditions of ticketing

On land package cost

• Between 64-31 Days: 65 % of land cost
• Between 30-16 Days: 75 % of land cost
• Between 15-04 Days: 90 % of land cost
• Within 3 days-No show: 100% of land cost

For further information, don’t hesitate to contact Zen Oriental Journeys by emailing Lee Grafton or ring 0401 123 347

FULLY BOOKED - SOLD OUT - WAIT LIST ONLY

Bookings will be processed in order of receipt. Any bookings after this date will be accepted subject to visa processing, flight availability, land content and room availability. Such booking must be paid in full after confirmation of your acceptance in the tour. Special conditions and additional charges to airfares and package prices may apply depending on date of booking.

Costs associated with the Asia In-Country Study Tours can be tax deductible. Educators may be able to claim their study tour expenses under a number of tax deduction categories which include: self-education expenses; excursions, school trips and camps if these trips have an educational benefit and are related to the curriculum or extra-curriculum activities of the school; acquisition of teaching aids used for curriculum development and teaching programs. Participants must contact their tax advisor or visit the Australian Tax Office website to confirm eligibility.

 
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