Secrets of Southern Laos

Step off the well-trodden trail on our Secrets of Southern Laos holiday. Sample food, culture and local buzz in Vientiane, then head south to find idyllic landscapes, ancient temples, cascading waterfalls and local coffee farms, where you can soak up a slower pace of life.

At a glance
  • Visit the temples of Vientiane
  • Cruise beneath stalactites in a quarter-mile long cavern
  • Follow an old rail route deep into the forest
  • Sail to the far corners of Si Phan Don
  • Connect with coffee farmers on the Bolaven Plateau
  • Escape from the crowds in mellow Done Daeng
Itinerary
Price & Hotels

Vientiane - 2 nights

Located on the banks of the Mekong River, Vientiane, capital of Laos, is sometimes overshadowed by Luang Prabang’s superstar status, but this unusual, ‘village city’ has a distinctive character all of its own. Though hectic in comparison to the rest of the country, with a population of less than a million, it is actually fairly sedate when compared to other capital cities in Asia! The city has a heady blend of historic and cultural influences: French colonial architecture sits side-by-side with gilded temples, bicycles weave down winding streets and you get to enjoy it all without large tourist crowds.

Day 1 - Arrive Vientiane

On arrival in Laos, you'll be met by your private guide, who will accompany you to your hotel.

Welcome to Selective Asia! This level of personal service (such as private transfers, private tours etc) is what you can expect throughout your trip. A few services (eg boat cruises) will be shared, but we'll always make sure you're aware of these.

Day 2 - City Tour, Tuk Tuk Night Safari & Sin Dat BBQ

Includes:

Spend a day thoroughly exploring the capital. See thousands of miniature Buddha statues at the city’s oldest intact temple, Wat Sisaket; linger in the echoing halls of Wat Phra Keo, the former home of the Emerald Buddha; and climb onto the roof of the Patuxai monument for panoramic city views. Stand in the shade of the golden stupa of That Luang: the holiest place in Laos. Complete your morning with a visit to the excellent COPE exhibition centre, highlighting the Laotian people's continuing struggle with overwhelming amounts of unexploded ordnance left from the Vietnam War era. Your afternoon is at leisure until sunset, when you’ll veer off the beaten track for a tuk-tuk tour of the locals’ favourite night markets and streetfood joints, ending with a Lao-style Sin Dat BBQ.

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Hin Boun & Thakek - 3 nights

This rarely visited region of Laos is home to mountainous panoramas, the impressive stalactite-filled Kong Lor Caves and the atmospheric colonial trading town of Thakek. During your stay, you’ll follow the line of the old, unfinished railway to Vietnam; trek through emerging secondary forest; and visit remote villages.

Day 3 - Drive to Hin Boun

Includes:

Drive to Ban Hin Boun, travelling south along route 13 to the central Lao province of Khammoune. Stops will be made en route at the sacred Prabaht Ponsan Buddhist Temple and the Khoun Kham viewpoint to take in the panorama across the mountainous Khammouane region.

Day 4 - Explore Kong Lor Caves, Drive to Thakek

Includes:

Drive to Kong Lor Village and board a small boat for your journey through the impressive Kong Lor Caves. Cruise the 4.6 miles through the cave, under stalactites and past fascinating limestone formations, into a vast 328 ft cavern, and into the valley beyond. At the far side, explore further on foot, past huts used for tobacco production and into the remote village of Ban Pon Ngam where you will stop for a picnic lunch. Return back through the cave by boat and drive onto Thakek where you will be spending the next two nights. Once a busy port taking goods over the Mekong to Thailand, Thakek’s streets are still peppered with French colonial architecture and the town has the light, adaptable atmosphere associated with the multi-cultural melee of a trading town.

Day 5 - Village visits & Buddha Cave

Includes:

Start out early to follow the old railway track leading out from Thakek, destined to take trains to Vietnam but never finished. Travelling further through green fields and rocky tors, you’ll arrive in Ban Nakhang Xang village to meet the village guide who’ll lead you on your forest trek. As you walk through the trees, your guide will point out important forest products and local food resources. Passing through a cave, you’ll enter a valley with towering cliffs and forest, before the trail heads down to the shoreline of Nong Thao Lake where you can watch the local fishermen at work. Swim under stalactites at Tham Nong Paseum cave, enjoy a traditional Laotian lunch near the famous Buddha cave ( which contains 229 bronze Buddhas believed to be over 300 years old), and return to Thakek in time to enjoy sunset over the Mekong river.

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Done Daeng - 3 nights

Done Daeng, right in the heart of the Mekong Delta, is one of the largest and most picturesque islands in this laid-back region. While too far north to technically be part of the Si Phan Don, it is certainly an honorary addition, with the true archipelago atmosphere. Car-free roads wind past rice fields through the islands centre, while ancient temples and sleepy villages dot the coastline. Cycle around the bumpy perimeter path, explore hidden coves and stupas, and head to the shore to wander around the majestic ruins of Wat Phou. Spend your last couple of days soaking up Done Deang’s unique tranquility, before transferring to Paske for your onward flight.

Day 6 - Drive & boat to Done Daeng

Includes:

Drive south towards Si Phan Don (the 4000 Islands.) Stop at Savannakhet to wander through the French Quarter, pause at the sacred That Inhang stupa and tour the Soundra Salt Factory. At Champasak swap your car for a ferry to cross the Mekong to remote Done Deang, where the rest of your day will be at leisure to settle in to the island’s leisurely rhythm.

Day 7 - Relax on Done Daeng

Includes:

Your day will be at leisure to relax and make the most of the hotel's facilities.

Day 8 - Wat Phou, Champasak walking tour

Includes:

Take the boat to the opposite bank of the Mekong to wander in the shade of Wat Phou. This UNESCO-listed, pre-Angkorian ruin is one of South-East Asia's most dramatically situated temple sites with superb views across the Mekong River. When you’ve soaked it all in, head off for a walking tour of Champasak. Learn about the rich history of the town, and its contrasting traditional and colonial-style skyline. Chat to a local potter in their workshop, and gaze at the Sisumang Buddha - a huge image of the Buddha sitting within the remains of a Pre-Angkorian temple. Follow the riverside path past ancient ruins and a French-colonial era church, meeting local villagers at work weaving rice baskets and fish traps, before driving back to your hotel.

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Bolaven Plateau - 1 night

The Bolaven Plateau is a picturesque bubble of intersecting rivers, steep waterfalls and tumbling hills, covered with rich soil that’s ideal for growing coffee, tea and cardamom. Elevated above the surrounding Champasak landscape, the region enjoys cool breezes and shady spots where travellers can take a little time off the road. Explore with a local guide, take a refreshing dip at the foot of a waterfall, and learn about coffee growing as guests of a farming family.

Day 9 - Explore by jeep, overnight in a homestay

Includes:

Return to the mainland to travel north to the Bolaven Plateau, passing banana, tea, cardamom and coffee plantations along the way. Take refreshing break from the southern heat, stop at the stunning twin streams of the Tad Fan waterfalls, and head on to Ban Beng village where you will explore the plateau with a local guide, in a 1960’s-era Army jeep! Swim in the pools at Tad Moan waterfall and arrive at your farming homestay mid-afternoon to meet your hosts, explore the plantation and learn more about the coffee producing process from bean to cup.

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4000 Islands - 2 nights

Si Phan Don, romantically translated as the 4,000 Islands, covers a network of islands woven through the lush Mekong Delta on the Laos-Cambodian border. Most are far too small to be inhabited, forming micro-habitats for birds and wildlife, but the larger islands and riverbank are home to remote rural hamlets with a few restaurants, sandy beaches, ancient ruins and tight-knit communities. Hop between the islands, exploring on foot and by bike, visiting fishing villages and ancient temples where, to excuse a cliche, time does seem to have stood still.

Day 10 - Refresh at Tad Lo waterfalls, drive to Done Khong

Includes:

Wake early and watch the sunrise over the plantation fields, sipping a cup of freshly roasted coffee, before jumping in the jeep to head off across the plateau. Stop at a few villages that most travellers never see, picnic in a picturesque spot and relax at the region’s famous Tad Lo waterfalls. Continue south, passing Pakse to Done Khong, the largest of the 4000 islands, arriving early evening.

Day 11 - Island hopping by boat & bike

Includes:

Cycle right across Done Khong to the island’s southern tip, where you’ll catch a ferry to the peaceful island of Don Phi Man to cycle around the quintessentially Lao fishing village. A short ferry hop over the Mekong takes you to Don Sang Pai to visit an ancient Buddhist temple and learn about the local religion and beliefs. Continue to the neighbouring island of Don Loppadi to see the residents weaving their signature bamboo baskets and much-used fishing nets. Ride across the island to enjoy a home cooked lunch as guests of a local family, then continue to cruise through the region’s waters, passing Don Som and several small uninhabited islands, arriving back at Done Khong in the late afternoon.

Day 12 - Boat to the mainland, depart Pakse

Includes:

Transfer by boat and car to Pakse airport for your onward flight.

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We only provide privately guided holidays - meaning that you will not be expected to share guides or transport for the duration of your visit. You can also start on any day you choose.

Please click on the hotel category buttons below to view hotel details. These are recommended properties only - we have many alternative options for you to choose from if you would prefer. You can mix hotel categories throughout your holiday.

Hotel class Price per person (based on total # travelling)
2 persons 3 - 4 5 - 6
Standard £1,956US$2,562 £1,447US$1,896 £1,313US$1,720

Bloom Boutique Hotel and Cafe

Conveniently located in the bustling Setthathirath Road area of Vientiane, close to intriguing temples and trendy cafes, the Bloom Boutique Hotel offers simple, high quality accommodation... See more

Spring River Resort

Spring River Resort enjoys a location beside the Hinboun River, tucked away amongst mountains and trees, just two kilometres from the Kong Lor caves. It’s a wonderfully peaceful and picturesque setting... See more

Inthira Thakek

The Inthira Thakhek is a modest, friendly hotel with a homely ambiance right in the centre of Thakek. Just a few minutes walk from the banks of the River Mekong and the local market… See more

La Folie

Located on Done Daeng Island, on the banks of the Mekong River, you would be forgiven for thinking you had just pitched up on a Thai island not a land-locked country... See more

Pon Arena Hotel

With rooms overlooking either the nearby Mekong River or the mountains behind the hotel, the Pon Arena is a pleasant place to relax and is particularly convenient for exploring the Si Phon Don region. See more
Superior £2,060US$2,698 £1,550US$2,031 £1,417US$1,856

Ansara Hotel

Ansara is a new boutique hotel located in the heart of Vientiane, just a short walk from the Mekong River and yet close to many of the city's main restaurants and places of interest… See more

Spring River Resort

Spring River Resort enjoys a location beside the Hinboun River, tucked away amongst mountains and trees, just two kilometres from the Kong Lor caves. It’s a wonderfully peaceful and picturesque setting... See more

Le Bouton D'Or

This rather grand looking, colonial style boutique hotel enjoys a central Thakek location on the banks of the Mekong River... See more

La Folie

Located on Done Daeng Island, on the banks of the Mekong River, you would be forgiven for thinking you had just pitched up on a Thai island not a land-locked country... See more

Pon Arena Hotel

With rooms overlooking either the nearby Mekong River or the mountains behind the hotel, the Pon Arena is a pleasant place to relax and is particularly convenient for exploring the Si Phon Don region. See more

Solo travellers are always welcome - please contact us for a tailored quote.

These prices are shown in GBPUSD.
Selective Asia is a UK-registered company, but our client-base spans the globe, so we bank in both GBP and USD and can therefore provide a fixed price in either currency.
We also have payment facilities in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the EU, and can typically offer better-than-bank exchange rates on the date of payment in these currencies (against a booking priced in GBP).

Itinerary additions

  • Whilst in the south of Laos you are within easy striking distance of Cambodia. You can either cross by land at the Don Kralor border, giving you access to the little-visited region of Ratanakiri, with its wealth of travel interests; alternatively fly from Pakse directly to Siem Reap, and explore the majestic Angkor Temples.
  • Just because Laos is landlocked doesn’t mean that you can’t spend a few days on the beach. In most instances you will fly to Laos via Bangkok, ensuring easy access to many of Thailand’s world famous beach resorts without the need to pay for extra flights.
At Selective Asia we specialise in creating unique, tailor-made experiences. The holiday itineraries provided on this website are intended to help you visualise what is achievable in your destinations of choice, over a given period of time and at an intended budget.
Whilst many clients are happy with one of our recommended itineraries in the current form (and at the price quoted), there are those that wish to personalise their holiday in some way, whether it be a change of hotel, an additional destination or even start from scratch. This is when our tailor-made specialists come into their own; with many years of experience both living and working in the region they are ideally equipped to advise on alternatives and to facilitate any necessary changes.

The important stuff

Please note: During high season periods (such as Christmas and New Year) hotels often levy a surcharge and these are not included in the above prices. Your consultant will be happy to advise you of these.

Inclusive:

  • English speaking, local guide
  • All accommodation listed
  • Land transportation by private air-conditioned vehicles
  • Any domestic flights listed (unless marked otherwise)
  • All admission fees at attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
  • All meals listed
  • International flight reconfirmation.

Exclusive:

  • Flights to/from Asia. We are an ATOL bonded operator and can arrange flights for all our clients, regardless of whether you are departing from the UK or from almost any other worldwide destination.
  • Entry visas
  • International airport departure taxes
  • Any meals not listed in the itinerary
  • Drinks, other than water on activity days
  • Personal expenses (laundry, telephone, drinks, tip...)
  • Travel insurance
  • All other services not listed in 'inclusive'

Please note

All prices are correct at the time of publishing. They are liable to change and can only be confirmed upon submitting an enquiry.

 

Extras

Flights

We will arrange all internal flights used within our holiday itineraries. We can also arrange discounted flights from all UK airports to Asia and we are a fully bonded ATOL operator. If you would like a quote for your international flights then please complete the required section on the enquiry form.

Visa

You will require a visa to enter Laos. Your consultant will be happy to advise you on visa requirements.

Passport

Please ensure that you have a valid passport with at least 6 months validity remaining after your return date. You will also need at least one blank page for each of the countries you are visiting.

Insurance

You will require a comprehensive travel insurance that covers you for medical costs associated with hospitalisation, emergency travel and repatriation back to your home country. We offer our customers a specially discounted insurance policy, ideally suited to the needs that a trip such as this creates. Tick the insurance box in the enquiry form and we will send you a quote to suit your needs.

Vaccinations and Malaria Prevention

You will undoubtedly require vaccinations for your visit to Asia. Please consult your doctor or a vaccination clinic for the most up-to-date advice. They will also be able to advise you of the most suitable anti-malarial medication if required. It is important that you do this well in advance of your departure date.

Booking Procedure

Only once you are completely happy with any holiday itinerary we create for you will we ask for a payment. In order that we can secure availability for your booking we would typically require a deposit of 20%.

Travelling Responsibly

We care about the places and the communities that you will travel through. It is important to us that we travel as responsibly as possible throughout Asia and that we are giving something back to the regions and the people that make these journeys so special. Full details on our approach to responsible travel can be found on a dedicated section of this website.

Make it yours!

Call us on 01273 670 001

Get in touch

Lionel – Indochina tailor-made specialist

’This predominantly crowd-free corner of Laos has been on the backpacker radar for years, and whilst there has been a scattering of recently opened boutique lodges the region is untainted by tourist development, offering a truly authentic Laos experience. Go now, before everyone cottons on!’

LionelIndochina tailor-made specialist

Speak to Lionel on 01273 670 001

Make it yours!

Call us on 01273 670 001

Get in touch

Our tailor-made service costs you no extra

This itinerary is designed to work straight off the peg, but we'll happily tailor it until it's a perfect fit for you, to ensure we’re making the absolute best of your time and funds. All you need to do is ask...

Your own private guides & drivers

You'll typically have your own private guides & drivers throughout your trip. When you will be sharing a service (eg a boat cruise) with others, we'll always let you know.