9 days

Journey Down the Laos Mekong

Journey Down the Laos Mekong

Huay Xai - old Yunnanese caravan disembarkation point

Mekong slow boat cruise

The monks of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Luang Prabang

The mysterious Plain of Jars

Bangkok's Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha

Kuang Si Waterfalls

The Buddha images of Tam Ting Cave

The reclining golden Buddha of Wat Po


Trip rating
  • Follow the Mekong River and uncover the secrets of Laos. From the bustle of Bangkok, we find a quieter South East Asia in the north of Thailand and an even more tranquil one still when we cross into Laos. The regal temples, with spires pointing towards the heavens, extols the glories of Theravada Buddhism. The mysterious Plain of Jars exemplifies the remoteness of some of Laos' key attractions. Meanwhile the Mekong River threads its way through the country, supporting communities that include its laid-back capital, Vientiane, which still maintains an ambiance that borrows from both ancient Lao traditions and colonial French influences.



    From 1st May 2016 this trip will include an additional night in Luang Prabang, replacing the night in Phonsavan. We will also be dpearting from Bangkok earlier to maximise our time in Chiang Rai and include a visit to the White Temple as well as flying from Luang Prabang to Vientiane rather than travelling by road.

    Why we love it


    Day 1 - Bangkok

    • Arrive in Bangkok where you are transferred to the comfortable and centrally located Nouvo City Hotel.
    • A pre-trip briefing is held in the evening, to meet the other members of your group and discuss the trip itinerary. Please check for a Welcome Notice on the Peregrine noticeboard located near the hotel lifts which will provide your tour leader's name and the exact time and location of your Welcome Meeting.
    • Until this meeting we encourage you to get out and discover the delights that Bangkok has to offer, including trying some of Thailand’s famous cuisine. After the group meeting in the evening we may adjourn to a nearby restaurant and enjoy a meal together (this is optional and at your own expense).
    • The rest of the evening is free - perhaps a quiet drink or a visit to the bustling night markets of Bangkok.
    Nouvo City Hotel or similar

    Day 2 - Bangkok - Chiang Rai

    • You will enjoy a city tour of Bangkok. You will visit the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), a must for first-time travellers to Bangkok.
    • You will also visit Wat Pho, home of the famous Reclining Buddha. (When visiting temples and palaces in Thailand, please dress conservatively in order to respect the local culture).
    • You will then transfer to the airport and fly up to the northern city of Chiang Rai.
    Wiang Inn Hotel or similar

    Day 3 - Huay Xai - Pakbeng

    • Today is a very early start, you will we need to leave Chiang Rai before dawn to travel approximately 2 hours to Chiang Khong.
    • After completing border formalities we take a songthaew across the Mekong River to Huay Xai our first stop in Laos.
    • For centuries Huay Xai was a disembarkation point for Yunnanese caravans led by the Chinese Muslims on their way to Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai, in ancient Siam. Today it is a hustling ferry town on the banks of the Mekong River.
    • You will transfer to the boat pier, where you will board a slow boat for the trip down the Mekong River.
    • The pace is very relaxed - a perfect way to observe the local lifestyle close up. Our private slow boat has plenty of room to stretch your legs,toilet on board, comfortable seats and dining tables to sit around and play cards, swap travel stories or enjoy a good book. The scenery is stunning, the pace is slow and it's the perfect way to relax into the slower pace of Laos.
    • You will arrive in the evening in Pakbeng; a colourful village situated at the junction of the Mekong River and the smaller Beng River, hence the town’s name ‘Pak’ meaning ‘mouth’ in Lao.
    • Hmong and tribal Thais are frequently seen on the main street of Pakbeng, and small vendors along the street sell local textiles and handicrafts. You will spend the night in a basic hotel.
    • Please be warned that the accommodation standard is very basic, but also bear in mind that you are travelling in a remote area.
    • Please have an open mind and come with an adventurous spirit!
    Phetsokxai Hotel or similiar

    Day 4 - Luang Prabang

    • You will continue your private slow boat journey down the Mekong River, gaining more insights into local rural life along the way.
    • Just before arriving at Luang Prabang you will stop at Pak Ou (meaning ‘mouth of the Ou River’), where the famous Tam Ting Cave houses thousands of Buddha images of various shapes and sizes, all brought there by devoted villagers.
    • You will also stop at the village of Ban Sang Hai, where they make the potent local rice-wine.
    • Your travel time will vary greatly, depending on the water levels, but you will hopefully arrive in Luang Prabang in the early evening.
    • This beautiful town, with its gleaming temple roofs, fading French architecture and stunning mountain backdrop, has been claimed by UNESCO to be ‘the best preserved city in South East Asia’.
    New Daraphet Villa or similar

    Day 5 - Luang Prabang

    • In the morning you will have the option to rise early to view the procession of monks on their daily outing collecting alms, a practice that dates back centuries.
    • The people of the town wait out the front of their houses with food for the monks to collect and take back to the temple.
    • It is done early, as the monks cannot eat anything after midday. By giving food to a monk you ‘het bon’ or make merit, which should augur well for your next life.
    • Following breakfast you will visit the major temples, including the magnificent Wat Xieng Thong, which nestles at the meeting of the Mekong and the Nam Khan Rivers, and Wat Visunnala, which is the oldest temple in the city.
    • After the tour you will have the chance to walk around the local shops, which are known for hand weaving and other interesting artifacts. You will have the chance to try your hand at bargaining here.
    • You will visit the National Museum at the former Royal Palace next, an interesting structure that dates from the early years of the 20th Century and combines traditional Lao architecture with French colonial influence.
    • The collection of treasures and artifacts reflects the richness of Lao culture, dating from the days of the early kings right through to the last sovereign, who was deposed in 1975.
    • In the afternoon you will embark on another highlight of the stay - a 29 kilometre journey south of town to visit the beautiful Kuang Si Waterfalls.
    • In the evening back in Luang Prabang you will be free to make further discoveries including walking around the popular Night Bazaar.
    • Another great optional activity is to sample a traditional Lao massage and herbal sauna.
    New Daraphet Villa or similar

    Day 6 - Phonsavan

    • In the mid-morning you will harness your spirit of adventure and travel on a private bus to remote Xieng Khuang Province, an area that was devastated by American bombing between 1964 and 1973.
    • The high altitude means that the weather will be relatively cool. You will visit the province’s old capital of Muang Khun that was largely destroyed in the bombing raids, as well as the nearby villages, home to the Hmong hill tribe who have an interesting local culture and colourful history.
    • The Hmong people wear distinctive costumes and live at high altitudes. You will spend the night in a basic hotel in the small town of Phonsavan, which is the province’s current capital.
    Anoulack Ken Lao Hotel or similar

    Day 7 - Phonsavan - Vientiane

    • In the morning you will visit the Plain of Jars, an archaeological site where hundreds of large stone jars are littered all over the plateau.
    • It is said that these jars are over 2000 years old, but there is no reliable way of dating them and archaeologists are still mystified as to their original purpose (opinions vary from burial urns to rice whisky vats).
    • You will then be transferred to the airport to catch a flight to Vientiane - the capital of Laos.
    City Inn or similar

    Day 8 - Vientiane

    • A city tour will acquaint you with the major sights of the capital.
    • You will visit the imposing Patuxai monument (also known as the Anousavari, which translates as ‘Victory’ in Lao), which is Vientiane's version of the Arc de Triomphe and dominates the city's main thoroughfare.
    • It was also nicknamed the ‘Vertical Runway’, which refers to the fact that it was built in the 1960s with funds that the US Government had given to the Lao Government for the expressed purpose of extending the runway at the airport!
    • Wat Si Saket is the oldest temple in the city, and Wat Prakeo, the former royal temple, previously housed the famous Emerald Buddha image before the Siamese took it in the late 18th Century.
    • You will visit both temples and the most famous structure in Laos, the That Luang stupa.
    • We enjoy an included dinner at the Makphet Restaurant in Vientiane. This restaurant is run by Peuan Mit an organisation founded by Friends-International in Vientiane in 2004, in partnership with the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare to address the needs of street children and young people in Laos. We are happy to support this organisation and the food is amazing!
    City Inn or similar
    Breakfast | Dinner

    Day 9 - Vientiane

    • Your ends after breakfast.
    • A transfer to the airport is not included; however, your tour leader will be on hand to advise you as to the options available.
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • Peregrine tour leader, arrival transfer, transport, internal flights, sightseeing, tipping and entrance fees.

    Not Included

    • International long-haul flights
    • Airport departure taxes
    • Departure transfer
    • Visas
    • Insurance
    • Other meals
    • Any optional tours and activities during free time
    • Tips and items of a personal nature
  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

    At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.

    Journey Down the Laos Mekong

    Baldassare - Australia, 1 Jan, 1970
    Overall Rating

    Enjoyable touring destinations. All tour leaders had expert knowledge of touring destinations, gave good food recommendations at restaurants, they had plenty of enthusiasm and happy personalities. Duration of time spent in each country, city, or town in the tour was adequate.

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PAJD
Start City: Bangkok, Thailand
End City: Vientiane, Laos
Style: Small Group

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