Tailor-made Tour 13 days from £4495 per person

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  Places Visited: Vientiane, Pak Lay, Xayabouri Dam, Kuang Si Waterfall, Luang Prabang, Pak Ou Caves, Nam Ou River, Ban Ton, Pak Beng, Chiang Khong (Thailand), Chiang Mai

Enjoy the splendour of Laos on Pandaw's 10 night expedition on the Upper Mekong. Sailing between Vientiane, the old French capital, and Chiang Khong on the Thai-Laos border, you will witness stunning scenery, meet amazingly warm and friendly locals and learn about Laos’ national animal, the majestic elephant. We stop for three nights at the UNESCO World Heritage City of Luang Prabang with its dazzling wood-carved monasteries before heading deep into the mountains, through rapids and gorges on our high-powered little Pandaw vessels.

The Pandaw Cruise Company has seventeen beautifully crafted ships in operation, across India and Southeast Asia, all built themselves. Each ship, hand-finished in brass and teak by traditional craftsmen, is itself an object of great beauty. Whilst luxury and comfort are ever-present, it is the colonial-era character and friendly atmosphere that predominate the ships. All of Pandaw's ships have ultra-shallow drafts and can travel to remote areas, which are unreachable by other passenger-carrying vessels, let alone overland. The RV Laos Pandaw, RV Champa Pandaw and RV Sabaidee Pandaw all operate on this route. 

Holiday Types

Cultural Holidays River Cruising Holidays


Suggested itinerary

Day 1

On arrival into Vientiane you will be met and transferred to your hotel for an overnight stay.

Southeast Asia’s smallest capital, Vientiane, started life as a Khmer trading post on the Mekong and later expanded during the reign of the Lao Kings. Gallic influence, dating from the French Indochina era of the 19th and 20th centuries, is still very much to the fore in the grid of orderly, tree-lined boulevards and backstreets hugging the river, where the peeling stucco facades and weathered shutters of old colonial villas are draped in bougainvillea.

More than a hint of the Arc de Triomphe may be detected in the Patuxai – a monumental archway reminiscent of the one in Paris, but with some splendid Southeast Asian embellishments. Compact enough to explore on foot or by bicycle, the historic heart of the city holds a crop of vibrant Buddhist wats, including the resplendent Haw Pha Kaew, a former royal temple turned museum that now holds a world-class collection of bronze Buddhas and Khmer stone stelae. Further out of town, the gilded Pha That Luang is the preeminent national monument of Laos and symbol of Buddhist devotion.

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Day 2

You will be picked up from your hotel in Vientiane at 8.00am, followed by a local long-tail boat expedition to your Pandaw vessel upstream. Lunch and drinks will be provided on the local boat by your Pandaw chef and bar staff. Embark your Pandaw in the afternoon for a welcome briefing and welcome drinks. Moor overnight at Pak Lay.

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Day 3

Cruise upstream on the Mekong, passing lush jungle scenery and tiny riverside villages. Morning presentation on the Lao language after a short walk at Pha Laeb village. If time permits, we will also enjoy an afternoon walk at Ban Khok Fark.

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Day 4
Xayabouri Dam, Ban Na San

Morning walk at Ban Pak Bor Khummu village before passing through Xayabouri Hydroelectric Dam, taking an inside look of the workings of this somewhat controversial attraction as we navigate the locks. Afternoon visit to Ban Na San village, a Hmong minority village.

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Day 5
Kuang Si Waterfalls, Luang Prabang

In the morning we moor at the village of Ban Mouang Khai and visit the dramatic Kuang Si waterfall. On the way back to the ship, we stop at the Laos Buffalo Farm, a social enterprise utilizing the abundant buffalo in Laos. Arrive in the heart of the temple city of Luang Prabang mid-afternoon where there is a buzzing night market and many great cafes and local restaurants. Traditional Laos Bacci ceremony and dancing on the upper deck during happy hour. Moor overnight in central Luang Prabang.

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Day 6
Luang Prabang

Today explore the various handicrafts of Laos in more detail. Start with Ock Pop Tok, a social enterprise providing sustainable employment and training for the women of local weaving villages. Then head to TAEC (Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre) to understand more about Laos musical instruments. After lunch aboard the ship, sail toward Ban Chan and take part in a pottery demonstration at the local pottery workshop. Finish the day with a sunset cruise on the Mekong alongside Luang Prabang, returning to moor overnight in the centre of town.

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Day 7
Luang Prabang

Early morning walking tour to observe the alms offerings to the hundreds of monks who walk around the city every morning. Continue after breakfast to the morning market before taking tuk-tuks for a city tour of this well-preserved and unique world heritage site with its many Buddhist temples, libraries, and royal palace. The afternoon is free to explore the beauty and unique atmosphere of Luang Prabang.

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Day 8
Pak Ou Caves

Morning at leisure in Luang Prabang before setting sail at midday upstream. Afternoon sightseeing by local boat exploring the unique Pak Ou Caves, a Buddhist sanctuary with spectacular limestone cliff faces. See the production of local Laos whisky at the Whisky village and shop for locally produced handicrafts.

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Day 9
Ban Ton

Day of sailing upstream along the Mekong with a morning walk through Ban Ton village. In the evening, we moor alongside a sandbank for a special riverside barbecue and cocktail party. Light paper lanterns with the crew and enjoy a dance in remote Laos.

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Day 10
Pak Beng

Laos is known as ‘The land of a million elephants’ and today you will visit a rescue sanctuary that is helping to preserve the elephants of Laos and provide sustainable alternative employment for Mahouts who once trained and rode these beautiful creatures. Afternoon walk at Ban Pak Sith Khummu village.

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Day 11
Chiang Khong (Thailand)

Today you sail the final leg of your journey upstream toward Huayxay. Cross over into Thailand via the Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge before rejoining your ship in Chiang Khong. Enjoy a ship tour of your Pandaw vessel and fruit carving demonstration from your Pandaw Chef. Farewell cocktails and Thai traditional dance on board for your last evening.

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Day 12
Chiang Khong, Chiang Mai

Disembark by 8.30 in Chiang Khong and transfer to Chiang Mai for an overnight stay. En route, explore the Golden Triangle including a visit to the opium museum.

Despite its expanding, modern suburbs, the old, moated, low-rise core of Thailand’s second city retains the ambience of a traditional market town. Numerous antique houses survive in the winding back lanes of its old quarter, along with a bumper crop of elegant wats dating from the era when this was the capital of the Lan Na kingdom. One legacy of the old trade with China is Chiang Mai’s bustling night market – among the most atmospheric of its kind anywhere in Asia, and a great source of textiles, jewellery and other handicrafts from across the north.

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Day 13
Chiang Mai, UK

Transfer to the airport to begin your journey home.

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Tailor-made Tour 13 days from £4495 per person

What's included

✓   12 nights accommodation

✓   English-speaking guides

✓   Breakfast Daily

✓   Full board including tipping for crew on the cruise

✓   Daily Excursions

✓   Cultural performances

✓   Entrance fees to sites and monuments listed in tour itinerary



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