Historical Laos & North Vietnam – 18 Days

This historical tour in Laos & Vietnam is designed for who are seeking for the best reserved memory since the Indochina War in nineteen century. Start your trip with a walking tour in the sleepy town of Luang Prabang, then drive to Xieng Khouang with a plain of Jars, Sam Neua & Vieng Xai – the unforgettable places during Indochina War, cross border to Mai Chau and Dien Bien – a historical relics in the North of Vietnam, Sapa – Hanoi – Ha Long Bay are the 3 last but worthy destination of your trip.

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DETAIL ITINERARY
Day 1: Welcome to Luang Prabang (Meals: N/A)
Upon arrival at Luang Prabang International Airport, a guide and driver of Laos Tours Expert will welcome you and transfer to hotel in town for check in. The rest of day is at your own leisure.
Luang Prabang – the best preserved city in South East Asia is exceptional for both its rich architectural and artistic heritage that reflects the fusion of Lao traditional urban architecture with that of the colonial era. Its remarkably well-preserved townscape reflects the alliance of these two distinct cultural traditions.
Your unforgettable memory is the Bustling Hill Tribe Night Market where sells traditional textiles and handicrafts made by the ethnic local people.
Overnight in your hotel in Luang Prabang town.

Day 2: Alms Giving Procession – Walking tour (Meals: Breakfast)
This morning you are advised to wake up early and participate in the daily early morning ritual of saffron-clad monks with their black Alms-giving bowls being given offerings from the local people, including the ubiquitous sticky rice. Have a simple preparation by your own and show your respect to the monks and our people is highly appreciated.
After breakfast at your hotel, we will walk down the street and start your day at the former king’s palace, which is now a Royal Palace Museum. Many items nicely displayed include rare furniture, traditional costumes and arts, jewelry, ornaments as well as working tools and utensils of the early part of the 20th century. Continuing on to Wat Mai, a temple renowned for its golden bas-reliefs. Then we embark on a tour of this enthralling town to visit Wat Xieng Thong – the Golden City monastery, which dates back to the 16th century and is considered to be the finest in Laos. Furthermore, we visit Wat Visoun which entirely rebuilt after its destruction in 1887 by the invading Black Flags from southern China. In the courtyard of Wat Visoun stands the Watermelon Stupa, which is shaped like the fruit it takes its name from. Visit the nearby Wat Aham before continuing to the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre for insight in to the countries various ethnic groups and traditional crafts.
Later that day, we adjourn to the Phousi Holy Hill to enjoy the marvelous panoramic views of the town at sunset.
Overnight in your hotel in Luang Prabang town.

Day 3: Pak Ou Caves – Kuang Si Waterfall (Meals: Breakfast)
After breakfast we take a stroll on the Phousi Market where you see many local products such as dried buffalo skin, local tea and saltpeter among the chickens, vegetables and hill-tribe weavings.
Then we board a cruise upstream on the Mekong River, which also gives us a beautiful view of the tranquil countryside as well as an interesting visit to the mysterious of Pak Ou Caves. En route, stop over to visit Ban Xang Hai where distillation sticky rice wine can be seen. Gently cruise up the Mekong River to admire the startling collection of gold-lacquered Buddha statues of all shapes and sizes nestled deep in the massive limestone caverns of the Pak Ou Cave. On the return cruise, stop at small villages to see the production of traditional Lao textiles and Sa paper by local artisans.
In the afternoon, enjoy a short drive through the Luang Prabang countryside to Kuang Si Waterfalls. You will have a chance to make the most of beautiful landscapes of rice fields, hills, and small villages. After passing the entrance gate, you will visit the Bear Rescue Center where now cares for 23 bears. Most of the bears arrive at the rescue centre as very young cubs having been confiscated by the Lao Government from illegal poaching and trading. It is likely that they would otherwise have been destined for a life of torture in a “bile farm” outside of Laos.
Continue your steps up to the chain of falls to relax and enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings. Sitting under the shade of big trees and swimming or jumping up and down in the pools can be relaxing and enjoyable. The water tumbles down a large drop and cascades gently in to several cool, clear pools where you can enjoy a refreshing swim.
Overnight in your hotel in Luang Prabang town.

Day 4: Luang Prabang – Xieng Khouang (Meals: Breakfast)
Today we take the road overland through beautiful natural scenery to Xieng Khouang, which was devastated by American bombing between 1964-1973. This is long drive (approximately 7 – 8 hours) with spectacular view of Lao rain forest and the mountain ranges. Along the way we will stop for photo opportunities and visit various hill tribe villages. Upon arrival, check in your hotel and relax.
Overnight in your hotel in Phonsavan.

Day 5: Xieng Khouang – Plain of Jars (Meals: Breakfast)
After breakfast at hotel, we drive over the dirt road to explore the mysterious archeological wonderland: the Plain of Jars. Explore Site 1 of the ancient and mysterious Plain of Jars: an enchanting archeological site, where hundreds of large stone jars lie scattered about the plateau. Then we discover site 2 and site 3 in the different location and the journey to reach them offers glimpse of some typical Hmong local villages. Spend a short time to visit Russian Tank before having lunch on your own.
In the afternoon, enjoy a drive of 1 hour to Muang Khoun. Muang Khoun is one area in the old provincial capital that has not been destroyed by the American bombings during the secret war. Muang Khoun is home to a unique sitting giant Buddha as well of some old pagodas that remain in ruins. The foundation and columns of Wat Pia Wat are still standing and close to this site, there is also an old 30m stupa constructed in the Lan Xang/Lanna period. Drive back to your hotel in the late afternoon.
Overnight in your hotel in Phonsavan.

Day 6: Xieng Khouang – Sam Neua (Meals: Breakfast)
After breakfast, we drive along isolated mountain areas and today’s destination is the Sam Neua. If time permits, we may stop at scraps villages, recycle factory (America bomb, Russian tank) and Tham piew Cave where 373 people were kill during Indochina War. Lunch at local restaurant in Nam Neun and we arrive to Sam Nuea in the late afternoon, the remainder of your day is at leisure – Sam Neua is compact enough to wander around in an hour or so, and there are some interesting markets and restaurants to check out.
Overnight in your guest house in Sam Neua.

Day 7: Sam Neua – Vieng Xai Caves (Meals: Breakfast)
Early get up to visit Sam Neua market, then we drive toward Vietnam border. Landscape is very scenic. We arrive in Vieng Xay, visit Khayson Phonvihan Cave, Red Pine Shouthanokvong Cave, Nouhak Cave. We stop for lunch at Thavyxay restaurant.
After lunch visit Soldier Cave, Friendship Hospital Cave.
Vieng Xay was named literally Hidden Cave City. The caves are birth place of Laos PDR. They have been recently open to public that allows people to discover the secret of one of the most important historical sites in Laos.
Overnight in your guest house in Sam Neua.

Day 8: Sam Neua – Cross border to Na Meo – Mai Chau (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch)
Say goodbye to Laos friendly people in Vieng Xay, we will pass the Na Meo border to Viet Nam. After finishing the immigration process, we will continue a drive to Son La. This gorgeous stretch of road is lined with stunning scenery. You will make frequent photo stops en route and visit the minority villages of the H’mong and Black Thai peoples. Stop for lunch at a local restaurant between Mai Chau and Son La, before visiting a tea plantation on Moc Chau plateau – Vietnam’s premier tea-growing region.
Overnight in local house in Mai Chau.

Day 9: Mai Chau trekking (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch)
Today can be as active or as laid-back as you choose, with the option of staying close to the lodge and enjoying some short walks in the rice paddies, exploring the nearby villages or simply relaxing on the terrace appealing to many.
For those that wish to make a little more of their day, there are other Thái villages within an hours’ drive of Mai Chau where you can walk through the village, speak with locals and enjoy a picnic lunch at a local home.
In the afternoon return to Mai Chau where the remainder of your day is at leisure.
Overnight in local house in Mai Chau.

Day 10: Mai Chau – Dien Bien (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch)
Start your day with a simple breakfast with your host family. Then take a short drive through the surrounding countryside, before setting off on a long and nice drive to the tea plantations and plateau of Moc Chau. We then travel from Son La, all the way to Dien Bien Phu on the newly upgraded highway No.6. This gorgeous stretch of road is lined with stunning scenery. We will make frequent photo stops en route and visit the minority villages of the H’mong and Black Thai peoples. Then  visiting a tea plantation on Moc Chau plateau – Vietnam’s premier tea-growing region.  In the afternoon we continue along winding mountain roads through North Vietnam’s stunning countryside. Drive pass the impressive Pha Din pass – a highlight of the day. Pha Din sits 1,000 meter or 3,280 feet above the sea level. According to local legend, “Pha Din” means the connection between Heaven and Earth.
Overnight in your hotel in Dien Bien.

Day 11: Visit Historical Relics – Dien Bien Phu (Meals: Breakfast)
Nestled in a heart shaped basin near the border with Laos, lies Dien Bien Phu. The famous historical battleground, where the Vietnamese successfully defeated the French, marking the end of French colonial occupation.
Start the day early with a visit to the local market where you will meet charming Thai tribes in their traditional costume purchasing their farm products.
The next is military base and historical site of the First Indochina War. We drive 30 minutes out of city to the base of The Command of Dien Bien Phu Campaign (Muong Phang) – Located in a primitive forest in Muong Phang commune to the commanding bunker of General Commander-in-chief Vo Nguyen Giap and Hoang Van Thai.
Upon return, we will visit Dien Bien Phu Museum – Built at 1984 on the occasion of the year 30th after Dien Bien Phu Victory before visiting A1 Hill – The most important camp of the French and Bunker of the French General De Castries.
Overnight in your hotel in Dien Bien.

Day 12: Dien Bien – Lai Chau – Phong Tho (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch)
After breakfast at your hotel, proceed to Lai Chau along a bumpy road, passing a series of ethnic villages of Kho Mu (Xa), Huoi Chan, and Bung Giat. Continue to Phong Tho on scenic roads, crossing the junctions of Da and Na rivers by the way of the Chinese-built Hang Tom suspension bridge. From here, the road weaves its way northwards through the picturesque and steadily more spectacular Na River valley, past more ethnic villages of White Thai, Kho Mu and later Red and White H’mong minorities. Arrive in Phong Tho and spend rest of the day to cycle around the village.
Overnight in your hotel in Phong Tho.

Day 13: Phong Tho – Sapa (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch)
This morning, we leave Phong Tho for Sapa. The road is a bit bumpy at times, but the rough route is quickly compensated by the magnificent scenery: yawning valleys, winding rivers, and canonical mountains – a photographer’s dream. The drive to Sapa takes you up Tram Son – the highest pass in Vietnam – and views of the Fansipan Peak, known as “the roof of Indochina”.  Stop en route to visit Heaven’s Gate and the Silver Waterfall. You arrive in Sapa in the afternoon. Nestled in a sweeping valley near the Chinese border, Sapa is Northwest Vietnam’s premier travel destination. Built in 1922 as a French colonial hill station, this quaint town is now a trekker’s paradise, offering hiking routes through terraced rice fields and enchanting hill tribe villages. Enjoy a free afternoon to explore the colorful town on your own.
Overnight in your hotel in Sapa.

Day 14: Sapa trekking – Night train to Hanoi (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch)
Enjoy an entire day trekking through Sapa’s breathtaking countryside. After breakfast at the hotel, begin your adventure, trekking down to the Muong Hoa Valley, continue on one of Vietnam’s most beautiful trekking routes. Walk through pine forests, terraced rice paddies and traditional Hmong villages. Along the way you will visit a village school and have a picnic lunch along the river’s edge. After lunch, trek through the Zay village. You conclude your journey at Ta Van Bridge, where your driver will take you back to Sapa. Enjoy the evening free at your leisure.
Overnight on train (4 soft beths cabin).

Day 15: Hanoi – Halong Bay – Overnight on Cruise (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Arrive Hanoi Railway Station in the early morning, our guide and driver will transfer you to hotel nearby for breakfast and take a rest before drive to Halong Bay – designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and boasting scenery made famous by the French film “Indochine”.  Wondrous Halong Bay is truly one of Vietnam’s most amazing scenic sights.  We embark on a boat to explore some of the many beautiful islands and grottos.  Sailing past the evocatively shaped islets and dramatic caves of Ha Long bay can be a magical experience. Along the way we will anchor for a leisurely swim in a secluded cove and an enjoyable visit to one of the many hidden grottoes beneath towering cliffs.
Overnight on cruise.

Day 16: Halong Bay – Hanoi (Meals: Brunch)
We will wake up in the morning to the calming sound of the waves breaking on the nearby islands. Enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning and relax. Sitting on the upper deck and enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the rocky islands rising from the crystal-clear waters of the Bay.  The peace here is absolute; we can hear only birds singing, cicadas chirping and the gentle lapping of the waves against our boat, the perfect soundtrack to accompany the fresh air and gentle breeze.
Later, we will then explore Sung Sot (Amazing) cave and then swim and relax at Ti Top beach. The boat will then start cruising back and brunch buffet will be served.  After arriving back at harbor by 12:00 noon, we will drive back to Hanoi.
We arrive in Hanoi around 16:00, check in the hotel and relax.
Overnight in your hotel in Hanoi.

Day 17: Hanoi City Sightseeing (Meals: Breakfast)
Take a full- day Hanoi City Tour – Vietnam’s artistic and intellectual capital. We will visit Hanoi’ s main cultural attractions, including the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, his House on Stilts, the One Pillar Pagoda, the Ethnology Museum and the Temple of Literature, Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple.
We will also exploring the fascinating Hanoi Old Quarter and it’s hundreds of specialty shops selling silk clothing, lacquer ware, embroidered linens, furniture, bamboo, cooking utensils, ceremonial objects and more.  Enjoy people-watching at one of many stylish cafes or shop for impressive modern art in some of the city’s many galleries.  It’s also a great place to discover on foot with numerous photo opportunities.
At the end of Hanoi city tour, you can enjoy the famous traditional water puppet show in Thang Long Theatre where you will have a chance to experience an overview of daily life in Vietnam’s rural areas in dramatic form.
Overnight in your hotel in Hanoi.

Day 18: Hanoi – Departure (Meals: Breakfast)
You are free to walk around Hanoi Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem lake to see the local daily life and taste amazing street food on earth before being transferred to the airport to catch your departure flight back home.

Price per person
Group Size 2 persons 4 persons 6 persons
Land Tour $US 2,820 $US 1,966 $US 1,600

Travelling Alone or More?
Price available on request.

Service Included:
– Private transport by good quality van with A/C, all transfer in/out
– Private long tailed boat trip on Mekong River to Pak Ou Caves
– Accommodation in Double or Twin room with daily breakfast at selected hotels
– Meals as mentioned in the tour programme, admission fees to tour sites
– Local English speaking guide
– 1 bottle of water per person per day, Government tax, service charge.

Service Excluded:
– International & Domestic airfare and other not mention up above.
– Personal expenses (such as laundry, telephone, drinks, etc.)
– Travel insurance, Laos & Vietnam Entry Visa fee
– Banking transfer fee/Bank commission charge
– Early check-in and late check-out at hotels