Luang Prabang to Vientiane Extension (5 Days)
We love road journeys. They are by far our favourite way of traveling. We think the world of western China and the countries that border on this region – think Vietnam, Lao, Thailand, Myanmar, for example. On the Road Experiences is all about sharing with like-minded travelers just how beautiful a road journey in these varied lands can be. Now turn the page to find out what we’ve come to love so much…
Itinerary Map …where you will travel…
Yes, it is possible…
Journey of Discovery…
In closing... Any car you like, so long as it is an SUV…
Adventures and discoveries in local cuisines p. 042 What’s included/Best Months to Go...
Day1 Arrive in Laos Preparing for your journey Day2 Luang Prabang to Phonsavanh Along sleepy villages through Laos countryside Day3 In an around Phonsavanh Exploring the Plain of Jars Day4 Phonsavanh to Vang Vieng Tracing back a little, all on nice country roads Day5 Vang Vieng to Vientiane Back to the city life
Yes, it is possible... A driving holiday in this part of the world is indeed possible. We take care of everything. All you need to do is come, drive and enjoy a rare adventure! Luang Prabang to Vientiane is a discovery of one the worldâ€™s unsolved mysteries, the plain of jars. To date, the origin of the jars is unknown, though archaeologists believe that they were originally used between 1,500 and 2,000 years ago. Many researchers have theorized that the jars may have once served as funerals urns or food storage. As local Laotian legend would have it, the jars were created by Khun Cheung, an ancient king of giants who lived in the highlands. It is said that Cheung, after fighting a long and victorious battle, created the jars in order to brew huge amounts of celebratory lao lao rice wine. Setting out from Luang Prabang your will drive past very sleepy villages to some remote parts of Laos and the plain of jars. You continue to drive along scenic mountain roads to Vang Vieng and all the way to the most sleepy capital town of South-East Asia, to Vientiane. Join this spectacular pre-journey and discover why Laos has captured the imagination of explorers â€Ś On the Road Experiences has paved the way for you to cross borders in your own properly insured SUV, so that you can enjoy the romance of a classic overland journey without any of the logistical headaches that typically accompany such journeys...
Welcome in Luang Prabang
Mountain ranges encircle the city in lush greeneryâ€Śâ€?
Sofitel Luang Prabang
Enjoy a PRIVILEGED stay in a CENTRY-OLD colonial mansion enclosing lush botanical gardens...â€?
A TYPICAL road in Laos…”
On the Road in Laos
Road to Phonsavan
The whole day on WINDING mountain roads...â€?
VIEW over Phonsavan…”
The plain of Jars
ROLLING hills and JARS..”
The plain of Jars
BELIEVED to have once stored either human remains or rice wine, thousands of MYSTERIOUS stone JARS lie in ruin...â€?
On the way to Vang Vieng
KARST moutains near Vang Vieng...â€?
Vang Vieng, Laos
Dramatic KARST MOUNTAINS rising from the jungle while the MIGHTY Nam Song River weaves its way below...â€?
ARC de TRIUMPHE, made in Laos…”
Day 1 Preparing for Your Journey UNESCO World Heritage Site, Luang Prabang’s old city is mellow, charming, and full of character. After your arrival will bring you to your hotel. Located in a quiet residential area, but within walking distance to the city center, the hotel is one of the most exquisite places in this ancient city, designed with a style inspired by Lao culture and set in a truly relaxing environment. The afternoon is free for you to explore and wonder around Luang Prabang, which sits at the sacred confluence of the Mekong River and the Nam Khan (Khan River), and has rightfully gained a reputation as one of the most alluring places in Southeast Asia. Nowhere else can lay claim to the city’s old-world romance of 33 gilded Wats, saffron-clad monks, faded Indochinese villas and exquisite cuisine. For a dose of culture, visit the city’s numerous and
renowned Buddhist temples and monasteries. First, see Wat Visun, Laos’s oldest operating temple, and pass by the smaller Wat Aham— the Monastery of the Opened Heart. Then visit the majestic Wat Xieng Thong, one of the most significant monasteries in the country. Finish your sightseeing with a climb up to to Mount Phou Si, from here you have a beautiful view over the whole town.
Driving Distance & Duration Distance: NA Duration: NA Elevation Highest Daytime: 300m Overnight: 300m Hotel Sofitel, Luang Prabang (*****)
In the evening we will meet in a local restaurant for our pre-departure briefing and a welcome dinner.
Day 2 Through the sleepy countryside of Laos You have two choices how you want to start your day today. Either you enjoy a leisurely morning at the hotel (till 8:30am) or you raise very early (5am) to observe the serene Buddhist ritual of almsgiving, known as Tak Bat. Over 600 years, locals of this UNESCO World Heritage City have been waking up before dawn to prepare for Tak Bat. As the sun rises, locals will take their spot on the sidewalk and wait for the procession of monks to start. Hundreds of monks from the 35 temples of Luang Prabang walk in silence, meditating as they collect their daily alms from devotees. This is the Buddhist practice of making merit, a symbiotic relationship between the monks and alms givers. By feeding the monks the lay people generate good karma and the monks grant merit to the devotees that counts towards their future lives. After the ceremony we will return to the hotel and you can enjoy your breakfast. Then we
welcome you on the Road in Laos! Itâ€™s a long but beautiful first driving day, bringing you to Phonsavan. The countryside is dominated by green hills and pine forests. Villages consist of colourful wooden houses. Cattle raising is one of the main agricultural activities and Hmong cowboys with brown and violet cowboy hats are a common sight. Phonsavan was built in the late 1970s and replaced the old Xiangkhouang (today: Muang Khoun) which had been destroyed during the Second Indochina War. Phonsavanâ€™s most famous attraction is the nearby Plain of Jars, which has been nominated for UNESCO
Driving Distance & Duration Distance: 261 km Duration: 8-9 hours Elevation Highest Daytime: 1400m Overnight: 1100m Hotel Vansana Hotel, Phonsavan (***) World Heritage status. The infrastructure of the town is very basic, so please understand that the hotel is more basic as well for the next 2 nights.
Day 3 Explore the plain of jars Though the caretakers for the Plain of Jars are applying for status as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the area still remains one of the most dangerous archaeological sites in the world. Thousands of unexploded bombs remain from the Secret War of the 1960s, and some of these arms still cause injuries to this day. As such, only Sites 1, 2, 3 and the Quarry are open to visitors, while a number of organizations work to remove explosives and apply for more funding. Any visit to the jar sites takes one past numerous large bomb craters and crater clusters. Further adding to the areaâ€™s mystique, the many varied casings of these American bombs are used extensively to decorate houses and roadsides in nearby of Phonsavan, the provincial capital. Scrap metal is one of the major economic activities here.
We will explore site 1-3 and enjoy the beautiful landscape. It will be an enjoyable leisurely driving day with a local lunch and dinner.
Driving Distance & Duration Distance: 100 km Duration: 4-6 hours Elevation Highest Daytime: 1100m Overnight: 1100m Hotel Vansana Hotel, Phonsavan (***)
Day 4 Back to civilization On our morning drive we have to trace back the road we came from till lunch. But even tough we drive on the same road you might not even notice it as the landscape and the driving is beautiful. After lunch (please donâ€™t expect anything fancy!), you will continue to drive on the Vang Vieng, slowly loosing on altitude.
Vang Vieng is a small town north of Vientiane, on the Nam Song River in Laos. Itâ€™s surrounded by striking limestone mountains and caves. Once sleepy, the town has become a very popular holyday destination. But we manage to stay away from the crowds, in our basic but beautiful boutique hotel overlooking the River. Dinner will be at the hotel restaurant.
Driving Distance & Duration Distance: 240 km Duration: 8 hours Elevation Highest Daytime: 1400m Overnight: 240m Hotel Riverside Boutique Hotel, Vang Vieng (****)
Day 5 On to the capital Today we continue our journey South to Vientiane. Without doubt Vientiane is one of Southeast Asiaâ€™s quietest capital cities. Hugging a wide bend of the Mekong River, it looks more like a rambling collection of villages, dotted with a few grandiose monuments, than the engine room of a nation. On the way we stop for a very local lunch at a dam, then we continue our journey to Vientiane.
After check in to our hotel we have some time to wander around the town and in the evening we meet for dinner at a local restaurant.
Driving Distance & Duration Distance: 160 km Duration: 5 hours Elevation Highest Daytime: 240m Overnight: 170m Hotel Settha Palace Hotel, Vientiane (****)
Choice of Cars
We include in the package price an SUV we procure from Avis or Hertz or another reputable car rental company. Most of the SUVs are Toyotas, but on occasion Mitsubishis or other brands may also make an appearance. For some itineraries, we are able to offer you an option to upgrade your car to the new models from Audi. We wish the car rental markets of Southeast Asia would be more developed and we could give you more choice, but this is not so: since we want to provide well-maintained and well-insured cars, the choice is rather limited. But SUVs are in fact the right choice for driving journeys in this part of the world because they are spacious enough to accommodate a lot of luggage, photography equipment, and
good-and-bad-weather gear. Also, they reinforce the feeling of adventure, exploration and discovery…which is, in the end, the mood of journeys in this region, no matter how comfortable or even luxurious the night’s hotel may be. What’s more, they offer sufficient clearance when required and thus add a sense of safety and all-round ability. (4-wheel drive capability is hardly needed in China these days since all roads are either very well-paved or, with good gravel, offer solid support.) And so SUVs from reputable brands are our car of choice!
ANY car, as long as it is an SUV”
Adventures and Discoveries in Local Cuisines
While this itinerary is not one of our â€˜Foodieâ€™-themed journeys, we do believe that each one of our journeys should introduce you not only to hidden gems of cultural and scenic beauty, but that sampling local cuisines is also a must. Wherever you travel with us, we will order, with very few exceptions, dishes fresh and on location with an emphasis on local produce. It is not uncommon for our guides to venture into the kitchen to pick this, that or the other vegetable and to ask the cook to prepare them in the finest possible way. (On occasion we do preorder a meal: this will normally be the case only for special occasions!)
Wine and beer is always included in our meals for you to enjoy. (When we travel into high-altitude, we suggest moderation!) Finally, if you have special dietary requirements are particularly interested in the culinary aspect of one of our journeys, please let us know. For private journeys, we can, of course, tailor the meal experience to your taste (and budget).
What’s Included / Best Months to Go... Generally speaking, our journey packages and prices are all-inclusive. Once you’ve paid and you arrive at the starting point, you really won’t have to take out your wallet again. • Cars – a modern SUV is provided for all driving days, expertly maintained and serviced by Avis Laos, and covered by the best insurance available. • International Journey Host, Guide and Support Vehicle – you will be accompanied by a registered Laos tour guide, an On the Road Experiences host and a fully equipped lead car with a local support driver. In Laos, we might also have 1 government minder in the lead car. • Routes – A well-researched itinerary and carefully crafted journey experience. You will receive a detailed route book before your departure. We will also supply each car with a pre-programmed GPS and printed maps. (The GPS maps are not yet ideal in Laos though.) • Driving License – All arrangements, fees and permits for driving in Laos are included • Fuel & Tolls – we provide petrol for the car throughout the journey and pay all tolls
• Airport Transfers – all airport transfers are included • Permits and logistics –all entry, border crossing and road permits are included. • Hotels – the best available or five-star accommodation is included in each overnight stop • Meals – breakfast (a choice of Western and
• Other Essentials – we provide each car with walky-talkies • Travel Insurance – including 24-hour medical assistance, evacuation and repatriation emergency service • Tips & Entrance Fees – basic tips and entrance fees for jointly attended activities are included • Activities, Meals, Transport during ‘free times’ as indicated in this Journey Dossier
What’s Not Included
Local is provided), and lunch and dinner are included on all driving days, as are drinks. Meals on non-driving days as specified above. Prepare for a culinary adventure!
The only items not included in our prices are flights to and from Luang Prabang, your visas, and personal purchases (e.g., gifts, souvenirs).
• Goodies – you will enjoy an On the Road HomeAway-from-Home Kit containing wet towels, anti-bacterial gel and basic toiletries, and a daily picnic basket containing fresh fruit, fruit juice, water, and a mixture of sweets and nibbles p45
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