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Laos Explorer - 13 days/12 nights

Luang Prabang - Phonsavan - Vientiane - Pakse - Tad Lo - Don Khong - Don Daeng

Starting in the north and moving sourth, this itinerary showcases the far corners of this enchanting country, demonstrating the huge variety of sights and activities Laos has to offer. Starting from the charming UNESCO World Heritage City of Luang Prabang, you will drive through stunning mountain scenery, stopping by hill tribe villages and visiting the famous Plain of Jars. Take a chance to spot wild elephants in the forests of central Laos near the capital city of Vientiane before heading down south to explore the Bolaven Plateau and 4,000 Islands.


Privately-Guided! Whether you are a single person, a couple, or a group, you'll have your own guide and driver throughout your trip. 
Daily Departures! Choose your own dates! This is not a fixed-departure-date tour. Just let us know the dates that work best for you.
Customizable! Need more time? Less time? Want to see or do something that isn't included? Just let us know, and we will arrange it for you.
Click here to read what our clients have told us after they return.

Trip Highlights

  • UNESCO World Heritage City, Luang Prabang
  • The Plain of Jars in Phonsavan
  • City tour of capital city Vientiane
  • Spectacular waterfalls of Tad Lo
  • 5th century ancient Khmer temple of Wat Phu
  • 4,000 Islands


Day 1: Arrive Luang Prabang                
Upon arrival at Luang Prabang International Airport, you will be welcomed by our representative and transferred to your hotel. In the evening you will be transferred to the riverside for a sunset dinner cruise along the Mekong, onboard the Nava Mekong. Overnight in Luang Prabang. (Dinner)

Day 2: Luang Prabang
After breakfast, you will cycle to Ban Hat Hien, a traditional black smith village and Ban Don Kao, a Lao Loum village. The dirt road follows the Mekong River before reaching Ban Xangkhong, a weaving village. Later, visit Wat Xienglek, an old stupa, and cross the bridge over the Nam Khan River.  Climb up to Wat Phonphao, atop a hill offering beautiful views over Luang Prabang and the surrounding countryside. Then cycle back to town for lunch at a local restaurant overlooking the Mekong River. After lunch, visit the magnificent Wat Xiengthong, whose dramatic sweeping roofs represent the classical Luang Prabang style. Stop by the Traditional Arts & Ethnology Center to learn more about the different ethnic minorities in Laos. End the day with a climb up the magical Mount Phousi, with its spectacular panoramic view of Luang Prabang and the mighty Mekong River. Overnight in Luang Prabang. (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 3: Luang Prabang
An optional early morning start at 5.30am to witness and partake in the daily morning ritual of ‘Tak Bat’ or giving alms to the monks. After breakfast, board a private boat for a cruise upstream on the Mekong River. Stop at the village of Ban Muangkeo and trek briefly to reach the mysterious caves of Pak Ou, two caves set in a limestone cliff facing the Mekong River crammed with thousands Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes. Return to Luang Prabang by boat, stopping at Ban Nongxai, an artisans village. After lunch, visit the quaint Royal Palace Museum, which gives a good overview of the local history. Then have tea and private meeting with a monk to learn more about his daily life and duties. Overnight in Luang Prabang. (Breakfast)

Day 4: Luang Prabang to Phonsavan         
Today, drive about 8 hours through spectacular mountainous scenery to Phonsavan. The journey will give you plenty of opportunities for photos and visits to hill tribe villages. Upon arrival, head out to the Plain of Jars, an impressive archaeological site where hundreds of large stone jars are scattered throughout the plateau. This mysterious collection, said to be over 2000 years old, is scattered across the vast surrounding plains. Nobody is sure of their origin, and it makes for a fascinating tour. Overnight in Phonsavan. (Breakfast)

Day 5: Phonsavan
This morning, visit the Mines Action Group (or MAG) office to learn about their important work in clearing land mines and unexploded ordnance in the area. 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.  Afternoon, visit Jar Site 1, the largest site, containing over 300 jars. Return to your hotel by late afternoon. Overnight in Phonsavan. (Breakfast)

Day 6: Phonsavan to Vientiane
After breakfast, visit the Central Market in Phonsavan and the Mulberries Silk Farm, a Lao sericulture company specializing in fair trade silk production.  Then transfer to the airport for an afternoon flight to Vientiane. Upon arrival, you will be met by our representative and transferred to your hotel. Rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight in Vientiane. (Breakfast)

Day 7: Vientiane
You have an optional early morning visit to the fascinating market of Thongkhankham to see a wide variety of interesting local foods. Then continue to explore the city by visiting the oldest wat in Vientiane, Wat Sisaket with thousands of miniature Buddha statues, and the former royal temple of Wat Prakeo, which now serves as a museum of arts and antiques.  Then travel up Lane Xang Avenue for a photo opportunity of the imposing Patuxai Monument, which resembles the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The climb to the top offers great views over Vientiane. Continue onwards down Rue Singha 23 to the golden stupa of That Luang. Lunch is taken at Mak Phet Restaurant that provides vocational training to marginalized young people. After, visit the quirky yet impressive Buddha Park, an enchanting collection of Buddhist and Hindu sculptures on the banks of the Mekong River. Upon returning to Vientiane, you have the option of stopping at the Lao Disabled Women’s Centre, which provides valuable training and schooling for disabled women in Laos. The women here are friendly and you chat with them to learn more about their lives.  A spectacular view of the Mekong River at sunset is a perfect way to finish the day. Overnight in Vientiane. (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 8: Vientiane                
Explore the forests of Central Laos by taking a trip to the Phou Khao Khouay National Park. Visit the village of Ban Na, which boasts an impressive observation tower from which you might have a chance to spot herds of wild elephants. Embark on a hike through the forest, stopping for a special lunch on your way to the Tad Xay and Pha Xay waterfalls. Overnight in Vientiane. (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 9: Vientiane to Pakse to Tad Lo
Transfer to the airport for your morning flight to Pakse. On arrival, drive about 3 hours up the Bolaven Plateau, popular for its cooler temperature at 3,300ft above the Mekong Valley. Stop at Houey Ten, a village specializing in knife making before proceeding to a tea plantation and the picturesque Tad Fan Waterfall.  Visit a coffee plantation en route to Tha Teng Market, a colourful ethnic minority food market. Explore a couple of fascinating minority villages, Ban Bong Neua, an Alak village that boasts a sacrificial altar, and Ban Kokphung, a Katu village where they keep coffins under their houses.  You will arrive at the beautiful Tadlo Waterfall in the afternoon, rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight in Tadlo. (Breakfast)

Day 10: Tad Lo to Khong Island 
After breakfast, drive about 3 hours to Champassak and visit Wat Phou, an ancient Khmer religious complex dating back to the 5th Century.  In late afternoon, drive about 2.5 hours and take a 30 minutes ferry crossing to Don Khong, the largest of the Mekong Islands, known locally as ‘Siphandon’, literally ‘4000 Islands’.  Don Khong itself is a great place to relax and take in the traditional Lao rural life. Arrive by early evening and check into your hotel. Overnight in Khong Island. (Breakfast)

Day 11: Khong Island to Don Daeng
After breakfast, board a local private boat for a tour of the 4,000 Islands.  Reach the picturesque island of Don Khone and explore the island by bicycle, tracing the route of an old abandoned railway. Admire old French Colonial buildings and the beautiful Liphi Waterfall. Then return to your boat and head back to the mainland, visiting the spectacular Khone Phapheng Falls, one of the largest and most powerful waterfalls in Southeast Asia.  From here, take a boat onto the Mekong where it is possible to see freshwater dolphins.  Drive back north to the delightful island of Don Daeng. Overnight in Don Daeng. (Breakfast)

Day 12: Don Daeng 
Enjoy a free day to relax by the pool, or hire bicycles to explore the island and its enchanting villages. Overnight in Don Daeng. (Breakfast)

Day 13: Depart from Pakse
After breakfast, it will take about 1 hour driving and ferry crossing to reach Pakse airport for your onward flight. (Breakfast)

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Per Person Rates (based on double-occupancy)
start from: $3,500

Contact Us for advice on hotels and a quote based on your choice.


Please note that peak season supplements for stays over Christmas and New Years may apply.

Rates Include

  • All airport transfers to and from hotel by private car
  • All tours and excursions as outlined in the itinerary
  • In-country flights as outlined in the itinerary
  • All surface transportation as per the itinerary by air-conditioned car with bottled water
  • Hotel accommodation with breakfast including of all taxes and service charge
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary
  • Entrance fees to indicated sites
  • Services of a local English-speaking guide for all visits and excursions

Rates Do Not Include

  • International airfare
  • Visa fees
  • Airport departure taxes
  • Tips
  • Expenses of a personal nature
  • Supplements for stays on Christmas or New Year's Eve and mandatory gala dinners if applicable at hotels on those dates.

To Book This Tour

Please call us toll free at 1-877-362-2793 and let us know that you would like to book this tour. Then follow these instructions:

  1. Download, print, and fill out the Reservation Form for each person.
  2. Fax the form to us at 206-529-4803, or mail it to:

    Red Lantern Journeys
    1000 N. Northlake Way, Suite H
    Seattle, WA 98103

  3. Pay a non-refundable $500 per person deposit and we will initiate your reservations.
  4. Final payment is due 75 days prior to departure.

If your reservation is made less than 75 days prior to departure, the non-refundable deposit will allow us to initiate reservations. Full payment will be due immediately upon confirmation of all hotels and transportation services. If the services quoted cannot be confirmed, alternate accommodation or transportation will be arranged and the price will be adjusted accordingly.


Payments can be made by personal check, bank wire transfer, or credit card. Upon receipt of your deposit, we will initiate your reservations and send you a statement showing your payment. Approximately 4 weeks prior to your departure, we will send you a final confirmation package containing your itinerary and detailed information on the logistics of your trip.
Forms to Download (pdf file)
Reservation Form with Complete Terms and Conditions



Cancellation/Refund Policies


- Cancel more than 60 days prior to departure - forfeit your deposit.

- Cancel between 30 and 60 days prior to departure - forfeit 50% of the tour cost.

- Cancel less than 30 days prior to departure - NO REFUND of tour cost.

- Cancellations must be made in writing and sent via mail, fax, or email to Red Lantern Journeys.

- Refunds will be processed within 30 days of receipt of your written request.

- No refunds are available for unused services or tours during your trip.


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