From Luang Prabang to Vietnam

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Overview

Do you fancy a great, unconventional road trip? Let's travel then from the mystic Luang Prabang through the genuine Plain of Jars and Vieng Xai till the border with Vietnam. A trip for those who either don't enjoy much flying or prefer overland journeys. This is definitely a great chance to gain a deeper and gradual insight about the destinations and the contrasts between them.

Phonsavan offers a wide range of nature encounters easily accessible off the beaten path, being the Plain of Jars its most remarkable site, indeed, it has been listed to become a potential UNESCO World Heritage Site after that a laborious cleaning ordnance plan has been carried out. Some fairly rough roads with unbeatable panoramas will be awaiting us on our way to the charming Vieng Xai, whose stunning backdrop of limestone karsts, scenic countryside and ambience which definitely reward further exploration. And since you have arrived here, where few travellers can make it, how about crossing the land border to Vietnam? Handspan's teams in both countries will be pleased to assist you on this matchless road trip plenty of contrasts!

Highlights

  • The mysterious Plain of Jars, a trip back in time, a soul-stirring setting and an authentic combination of ancient and contemporary History. 
  • Journeys through pure and breathtaking natural sceneries.
  • Exciting exploration trip: megalithic archaeological landscapes, caves, war remnants, different ethnic Laotian cultures, local markets, traditional crafts, Buddhist temples and philosophy. 
  • The chance to connect the northern hills of Laos and Vietnam. 
Luang Prabang – Phonsavan

Day 1 Luang Prabang – Phonsavan

Meals: not included | Accommodation: Vansana Plain of Jars, Deluxe room (Xieng Khoung)

We start early this morning, around 8am for the drive to Xiengkhuang, famous for the ‘Plain of Jars’.  The road follows a twisty mountain route, and we make our first stop at Ban Houi Hia, which offers great views of the surrounding mountains.  

We then continue Ban Kiu Kharm Pom, a Khmu village to explore, before arriving in Phou Khoun for lunch. We continue on the road into Xiengkhuang province, reaching our highest altitude of the day 1500m above sea level, just after Phou Khoun.  We have time to make a stop at Ban Sonboun, a Hmong village.  Our final stops of the day are a reminder that this region played a major part during the Vietnam War – as we visit a hidden Buddha Cave, that served as an army hospital during the war   and our final stop of the day, is an optional stop to visit an old Russian tank.  We arrive at your hotel by early evening.
 

Plain of Jars

Day 2 Plain of Jars

Meals: breakfast | Accommodation: Vansana Plain of Jars, Deluxe Room (Xieng Khoung)

This morning we visit the Mines Action Group (or MAG) office to learn about the important work they do in clearing land mines and unexploded ordnance in the area.  We then drive out to the picturesque Jar Site 2, and begin a 1 hour trek along the ridge to Jar Site 3, consisting over around 150 jars located on top of a hill, offering great views.  

In the afternoon we visit Jar Site 1, the largest site, containing over 300 jars, before returning to your hotel by late afternoon. Unlike ancient Greece or the First Emperor of China that date from around the same time, very little is known about the civilisation that built the Plain of Jars, which has turned out into a combination of ancient and contemporary History, especially since the area suffered heavy bombardments by the Americans during the Vietnam War. It is striking to see how the locals have found very imaginative ways to sometimes use the war remnants as part of their daily lifes. 
 

Phonsavan – Sam Neua     

Day 3 Phonsavan – Sam Neua     

Meals: breakfast | Accommodation: Xayphasouk Hotel – Standard Room (Sam Neua)

We begin our long drive today starting early this morning along some fairly rough roads, but the journey is broken up with stops at Hmong and Khmu villages, as well as time to admire the breathtaking scenery with a series of photo stops. Following lunch we visit Hintang. Here we can see the mysterious menhirs (standing stones).  No one is quite sure who built them or why, perhaps burial sites or markers of some sort.  We also stop at Ban Sa Levy, a Tai Phong weaving village.  We arrive in Sam Neua early evening.

 

Sam Neua – Vieng Xai 

Day 4 Sam Neua – Vieng Xai 

Meals: breakfast | Accommodation: NaXay Guest House, Standard Room (Vieng Xai)

We begin the day with an optional short walk around Sam Neua town, including a visit to a weaving house showroom, this area is highly regarded for its weaving products, particularly the traditional Lao skirt or ‘Sin’. We also take a walk along the river to visit the local wet market.  We then set off on the short 45 minutes drive to Vieng Xai Caves. This is where the Pathet Lao leaders lived during the “Secret War’.  

We start our fascinating audio tour, that includes a visit to the Kaysone Phomvihane  (the leader of the Lao communist movement) Cave, and the Prince Soupanouvong  (the ‘Red Prince’) Cave.  We finish with the Artillery Cave that offers stunning views, over the surrounding countryside.  In the afternoon, we take an easy walk to some of the lesser visited caves, an opportunity to take in the beautiful limestone karst scenery.  We then transfer to your hotel for your free time at leisure

 

Vieng Xai – Na Meo Border

Day 5 Vieng Xai – Na Meo Border

Meals: breakfast | Accommodation: not included

We leave Vieng xai early this morning and head east towards the Vietnam border, passing though some Black Tai villages as well as some nice scenic views.  We reach the border by around 10.30am where your tour in Laos ends.

Price per person based on group tour

Group Size 2 pax 3-4 pax
Price per person USD 880 USD 565

 

* Prices valid until Sept. 2019.

*Would you like to adapt the itinerary, accommodation or any activity as per your needs and preferences? Then just get in touch with us with your comments at info@handspan.com (we are specialists designing tailor-made trips!) 

* Special prices for groups of more than 4 people and the possibility to extend the tour with Northern Vietnam, by contacting us at info@handspan.com. 

*A private trip for a solo traveler is also available with a surcharge.

Included

  • Accommodation as detailed on the program
  • Transportation in private vehicle with experienced driver 
  • Accommodation in shared double room
  • English speaking guide
  • Admission fee to indicated sights
  • Meals: daily breakfast at hotel, lunch/dinner where stated only 
  • Gov’t tax 

Not included

  • International flights and visas
  • Personal travel Insurance
  • Child or adult in triple sharing room
  • Drinks, gratuities and personal expenses 
  • Supplements on peak season
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