•  Laos Experiences

    Laos Experiences

    Laos is the hidden gem of the region and, after years of unrest and uncertainty, is slowly emerging like a chrysalis from its cocoon - revealing its stunning beauty. It’s a country overflowing with spectacular sights, glorious scenery, mouth-watering food and truly delightful people.
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Secrets of Laos

  • Itinerary
  • Cost
  • Experiences
  • Highlights
Bangkok Luang Prabang Baci Ceremony Mekong River Cruise Pak Ou Caves  Elephant Trek Vientiane Hue Bolaven Plateau-Tad Lo Waterfalls Champasak  Wat Phou 4000 Islands (Si Phan Don) Pakse  Bangkok

Day 1. To Bangkok
Morning depart from London Heathrow with direct Thai airways flight to Bangkok.

Day 2. Luang Prabang via Bangkok
Arrive Bangkok and onward connection with Lao Airways to Luang Prabang. Barci welcome ceremony with music and dance. Remainder of day at leisure. Four nights at Satri House.

Day 3. Luang Prabang
Dawn visit to observe the long lines of orangerobed Monks leaving their Pagodas to receive offerings of food from the residents of Luang Prabang. It’s a unique experience. After breakfast, city tour includes the former Royal Palace, now the National Museum, Wat Mai, a Temple renowned for its golden bas-reliefs. Next see Wat Xieng Thong, perhaps the most photographed Temple in Luang Prabang, and the unique Wat Visoun, 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; shaped like the fruit it takes its name from. After lunch visit the excellent Arts and Ethnology Centre giving further insight into the ethnic mix and culture of Laos. Also visit the weaving and textile villages of Ban Xangkhong and Ban Xienglek before returning to the Old Town to climb Mount Phousi and enjoy the stunning views across Luang Prabang as the sun sets.

Day 4. Luang Prabang - Cooking Class and Pak Ou Caves
Another opportunity, if wished, to see the procession of Monks receiving their food as dawn rises. After breakfast explore Lao cooking, with a masterclass under the expert instruction of a chef from the Roots and Leaves Restaurant. The class starts with a visit to the fresh produce market. After the demonstration, lunch is an opportunity to ‘enjoy’ your morning's efforts! (Please note: there will be other guests joining you at the cooking school). An afternoon departure by boat up the Mekong River to the Pak Ou caves, housing thousands of Buddha statues, hidden from the looting Chinese Haw in times gone by. The statues range from a few centimetres to the size of a human.

Day 5. Luang Prabang – Day walking excursion with Elephant and Bamboo Raft rides
Walk in the footsteps of French explorer Dr. P. Neiss, who once surveyed the local tribes around Luang Prabang. First visit the Elephant village for a brief introduction into the great work they do there. Talk with the veterinarian in the hospital and feed the gentle giants. Later take an elephant ride through an interesting countryside to a delightful waterfall and stop for a traditional Lao lunch. After a short 1.5km trek arrive at the Nam Khan River – board a charming bamboo raft complete with pillows and mats and elegantly sip tea or coffee. It takes 30-60 minutes depending upon the current to reach the jetty.

Day 6. Luang Prabang - To Vientiane
At leisure until midday flight to Vientiane. Two nights at Settha Palace.

Day 7. Vientiane Market and City Tour
Early morning visit to the fascinating local market of Thongkhankham, where a bewildering array of foods and produce are on offer. After breakfast city tour to include: Wat Sisaket, the only Temple to be left intact after the Siamese invasion in 1828. It’s arguably the most beautiful Temple in Vientiane and houses thousands of miniature Buddha statues within its walls. Next is Wat Phra Keo, now a religious museum, with many Lao and Khmer works of art on display. Also see the Patuxai monument - also called Anousavari – climb the steps to the roof for fabulous views; visit That Luang, the holiest place in Laos, and Wat Simuang, the most popular and venerated Temple in Vientiane. Stop at Talat Sao, the morning market, for souvenirs – look out for silk and silver jewellery. After lunch visit the quirky Buddha Park, an enchanting collection of Buddhist and Hindu sculptures situated on a Mekong Riverside meadow outside of the city centre. The statues were created by a mysterious Monk to spread his philosophy on life and revealing his ideas about the universe.

Day 8. To Pakse, Bolaven Plateau, Tad Lo Waterfalls
Morning transfer to the airport for flight to Pakse. On arrival start the journey east across the Bolaven Plateau, passing by many plantations producing coffee, tea, cardamom and bananas. The area is also famous for its many waterfalls; the most beautiful is Tad Fan. During high waters, the scene is spectacular with twin waterfalls plummeting into the deep gorge below. Visit the ethnic minority group villages of Alak, Nge and Katu. Take a sunset swim in the waterfall. Overnight at Tad Lo Lodge.

Day 9. To Don Daeng via Paxuam Waterfall and Wat Phou
After breakfast head out of the plateau, stopping first at the attractive Paxuam Waterfall, then onto Champassak and Wat Phou, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its ruins were once part of a Temple built some time before Angkor Wat in Siem Reap - between 7th -11th C - and contain some of the most Ancient Khmer architectures. In the afternoon boat trip across the Mekong to the island of Don Daeng. Two nights at the La Folie Lodge.

Day 10. Boat trip to Don Khone
After an early morning breakfast, return to the mainland and drive to Ban Hatsaikhone, and board a boat for a tour of the 4000 Islands. Reach picturesque Don Khone by lunchtime. Later explore the island by bicycle to see old French Colonial buildings and the lovely Liphi waterfall. Or continue by boat to see to seek out the endangered Irrawaddy dolphins. Return to the mainland, visiting Khone Phapheng, considered, by volume, to be the largest waterfall in South East Asia. Late afternoon return to Don Daeng.

Day 11. To London via Pakse and Bangkok
Transfer to Pakse airport to board Lao Airlines flight to Bangkok connecting onwards with Thai Airways to London.

The Cost From

Per Person on a Double/ Twin share basis                      £3,100.00

Single room supplement                                                  £595.00

 

Cost Includes:

  • International & internal flights in economy class.

  • Accommodation in a double/twin sharing room with en-suite facilities.

  • Daily breakfast throughout. Lunch at cookery class on Day 4 and Picnic lunch on Day 5.

  • Services of English speaking guide during sightseeing.

  • Transfers as per the itinerary by air-conditioned car.

  • Excursions, sightseeing and entrance fees as per the itinerary.

  • Full ATOL Bonding.

 

Cost does not include:

  • Visa Fee.

  • Any optional Excursions.

  • Any expenses of a personal nature.

  • Travel Insurance.

 

Mahout for a day
Nothing quite compares with working with elephants: spending the day with them, washing, scrubbing, feeding and being as one under the watchful eye of the Mahout.

  • Partake in a traditional Baci ceremony to welcome you to the charming town of Luang Prabang. Guardian spirits will be bound to your wrist in the shape of 32 strings to protect you on your journey.
  • Join the morning alms giving ‘Tak Bat’ to saffron clad monks in Luang Prabang
  • Learn the language of the mahout to control these animals as you move through the beautiful Lao countryside. Help to give the elephants a bath in the Nam Khan River.
  • Have a dip in one of the spectacular waterfalls of the Bolaven Plateau   

Meet our Scholars and Trip Leaders

Leaders Banners

 

SarahShawS A R A H   S H A W

Tour lecturer Sarah Shaw is a Faculty Member at the Oriental Institute at Oxford University, and an Honorary Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies. One of her key research interests is Indian and Asian influences on British nineteenthcentury writers, of whom Kipling is surely the most famous. Throughout the tour she will give a series of short lectures about Kipling and his work, as well as carefully chosen poetry and short story readings.

 

VibhaJoshiParkinD R . V I B H A   J O S H I   P A R K I N

Dr Vibha Joshi Parkin is  professorial Research Fellow at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Tuebingen University and Research Associate at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford from where she also obtained her doctorate. Working with the Nagas since 1 985, Dr Vibha Joshi Parkin has conducted extensive fieldwork on their religion and material cultures and will impart her intimate knowledge of the tribes. Her research interests focus on two inter-related themes, traditional religion, conversion to Christianity, healers and  healing practices and ethnographic museum collections, history of colonial collecting (especially textiles), cultural history of the Naga peoples and their self-presentation. She is the author of research monograph, A Matter of Belief: Christian Conversion and Healing in North East India (Berghahn, 2012), co-author of, The Land of the Nagas (Mapin, 2004), co-curator of the international exhibition on the Naga at the Basel Museum of World Cultures  and co-editor of the book, Naga: A Forgotten Mountain Region Rediscovered (2008).She has authored several articles based on her research among Naga in edited books and journals.

 

david tolleyportrait AD A V I D   T O L L E Y - VISITING ARTIST AND TUTOR IN FINE ART AT THE RUSKIN SCHOOL OF ART

David Tolley is a Visiting Artist at The Ruskin School of Art where he specialises in Photography and Film. He has exhibited in Germany, Australia, Greece (Athens), USA (New York), and the U.K. (London and Oxford), and will be showing work in Poland (Warsaw) and Germany (Berlin) in 2016. He studied English Language & Literature at the University of Oxford (1997).

 

 

Heather Kelly

H E A T H E R   K E L L Y

I am a botanist by training, with a PhD in plant physiology and a broader interest in plant ecology. In recent years my focus has been on teaching rather than research and I have taught interdisciplinary science with the UK's Open University, as well as whole organism biology at Durham University. Teaching at both universities has included running field trips on which students learned about assessing biodiversity, the impact of environmental factors on plant growth and processes such as succession. I am really keen to encourage people to look at how organisms interact with their environment, particularly at a time when we can see that environment changing. I would like to do this in Kasmir and Ladakh by looking at how the vegetation changes with factors such as altitude and rainfall and also at how primary succession allows the colonisation of bare ground. The Himalayas, with their natural beauty and the fact that so many British garden plants have their origins here, make an ideal location for this. 

Read my blog

John Macgillivray1

J O H N    M A C G I L L I V R A Y

Currently I am a part time science tutor at the Open University with over 20 years experience of teaching undergraduate, general science modules. This has including a senior tutor role at OU Residential Schools, leading geology/ecology field trips and similar independently led field trips. I have previously worked in the UK Meteorological Office and National Engineering Laboratory (UK). I hold a first class honours degree in Earth science and a degree equivalent in Physics. Recently I have carried out published research work with Professor Ray MacDonald (Lancaster University/ University of Warsaw) and Professor B. Bagiński (University of Warsaw) on the Tertiary dyke systems of Southern Scotland and NE England, adding to previous jointly published research work I have carried out.

 

 Bobs PictureR O B E R T (BOB)   C O O K

Retired as a Warrant Officer from the British Army after 34 years. His family has a long almost unbroken line of military service dating back alhmost 170 years.

Since retirement from the army Bob has operated a busy Bed & Breakfast in York, U.K. together with his wife. Amongst other interests, Bob is the volunteer curator of the 2nd Infantry Division Kohima Museum Trust also located in York. It was in this role that Bob first visited the battlefields of Kohima in 2008 and has since been back another 8 times leading military and civilian groups to explain and explore the many different aspects of what is probably the most important unknown battle of WW2. During his visits to Kohima, Bob’s knowledge and understanding of the Battle has steadily increased as has his liking for the friendly Naga Hill people of Nagaland in North East India.

In addition to being the curator, Bob is also a Trustee of the Kohima Educational Trust which aims to repay the debt of gratitude owed by the British veterans to the Naga Hill people for their unstinting aid and assistance against the Japanese Imperial Army. One of the ways of repaying this debt of gratitude is by sponsoring the education of the Naga children aged 14 – 16.

Bob is also the deputy chairman of the Burma Campaign Society which aims to improve and enhance the reconciliation between Japan and the U.K. In this role he has also visited Japan in company with a British army veteran of the battle to visit and pay respects to Japanese veterans of the Burma campaign and to visit the grave of Lieutenant General Kotoku Sato who commanded the 31st Japanese Division at Kohima.

Click here to view Bob Cook’s interview with Kohima Museum, York’s Curator

 

Dannys Picture

D R    D A N N Y    C L A R K-L O W E S

Is a geologist, educated at Cambridge and London universities, who has given industry training courses on geology at locations throughout the world, as well as publishing scientific papers and books. He is also a mountaineer who has climbed in the Swiss Alps and in the Himalaya. He will lead this tour to Nepal which will look at aspects of the geology and geography of the spectacular Himalaya, and will help participants achieve an understanding of how mountain belts and their associated rock types are created through plate movements.

 

joan

J O A N   P O L L O C K

I am a botanist by training, with a PhD in plant physiology and a broader interest in plant ecology. In recent years my focus has been on teaching rather than research and I have taught interdisciplinary science with the UK's Open University, as well as whole organism biology at Durham University. Teaching at both universities has included running field trips on which students learned about assessing biodiversity, the impact of environmental factors on plant growth and processes such as succession. I am really keen to encourage people to look at how organisms interact with their environment, particularly at a time when we can see that environment changing. I would like to do this in Kasmir and Ladakh by looking at how the vegetation changes with factors such as altitude and rainfall and also at how primary succession allows the colonisation of bare ground. The Himalayas, with their natural beauty and the fact that so many British garden plants have their origins here, make an ideal location for this.

 

NaturePhotography TourLeaders Baines R I C H A R D    B A I N E S – ORNITHOLOGIST / ECOLOGIST

Richard is an experienced ornithologist/ecologist who has been studying and working as a Nature Guide and in Wildlife Conservation for 30 years. From recording UK migrant birds as a volunteer for Flamborough Bird Observatory to monitoring Siberian migrants in China; he has become highly experienced in bird identification and ecology. He was born in North Yorkshire and lived here for most of his life. He has worked extensively with the North York Moors National Park (NYMNP) including a project in 2014 surveying a large area of open moorland for breeding waders such as Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria). He has travelled extensively especially in Asia, recently spending 3 months birding in Thailand. He returned from Gujarat in December 2015 with a great passion for Indian birds and of course the food! He is currently studying part time for his MSc in Environmental Conservation. Richard is very keen on always increasing his knowledge on the ecology of birds and other wildlife. His greatest asset is his knowledge and enthusiasm, he loves passing on his experience of wildlife to a wide range of ages and abilities.

 

NaturePhotography TourLeaders Race

S T E V E    R A C E – WILDLIFE  PHOTOGRAPHER

Steve is an award-winning wildlife photographer based in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. He has been a keen naturalist and birder for over 30 years, lived on the Yorkshire Coast all of his life and believes there is no better place for variety of habitats and amazing wildlife. Inspired by the natural world around him Steve captures incredible wildlife images. In 2013 he was “Commended” in the “Wildlife Photographe¬¬r of the Year Awards” and “British Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards” in which in 2015 he was “Highly Commended”. His work has been published in national and regional media and magazines, leaflets, websites and publications. Steve has also been featured on BBC Countryfile, Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch and regional television programmes. He also runs regular exhibitions, workshops, and delivers talks and lectures. Steve has worked for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds as Education Officer at Bempton Cliffs, East Yorkshire and taken part in numerous projects for the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, National Trust and other conservation organisations.

 

Pravin DangeraP R A V I N    D A N G E R A

Born in the textile cradle of India, Gujarat, Pravin has been an expert guide to travellers in India since 1996. A speaker of several languages and trained by Gujarat Tourism, his expertise lies in textile and village tours. His long standing experience as a textile tours escort has enabled him to develop close relations with local craft and village communities in Gujarat. He has led textile lovers from the UK, USA, Australia and several other countries across textile hubs in India.

 

Mike scott

M I K E   S C O T T

I grew up in a Royal Navy family, first in the Far East, and then near Portsmouth. Having considered, and rejected, following my parents into the Navy I took a degree at Brunel University where I developed my love of History. I also learned that I loved teaching and great passion in education – outdoor learning. I have long believed that it is important to bring History to life in the original environment. My career in education finally led me to a school where I was responsible for co–ordination of all co-curricular activities. However, life in that environment means you miss out on many things. Hence, I chose to leave and did so at just the right time. A range of opportunities presented themselves. I very proudly received my Guild of Battlefield Guides badge in February 2009. I am happy to be one of a grand company of brothers, with a wealth of experience. Being a Badged Guide amongst this group of men and women is a unique honor and a privilege.

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