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The southern region of Laos sees fewer visitors compared to the north, but this area is actually a hidden gem with spectacular landscapes. This ‘Laos Southern Highlights’ is created to show you its splendors. Start from Champasak, discover the beautiful sight of Bolaven Plateau – a famous coffee plantation area in Laos. Visit the ruins of Wat Phou, a striking Hindu temple under the Khmer Empire. Next, trek to meet the people in Ban Khiet Ngong village to gain an insight into their lives and traditions. Wrap up your journey by exploring the wonderful Si Phan Don – or the ‘4000 islands. This archipelago is home to some of the most impressive landscapes in Laos with tiny remote islands, stunning waterfalls, and small tranquil villages.
- Day 1: Arrival in Pakse – Bolaven Plateau
- Day 2: Pakse – Bolaven Plateau
- Day 3: Bolaven Plateau – Champasak – Wat Phou
- Day 4: Champasak – The 4000 Islands – Don Khong Island
- Day 5: Don Khong – Si Phan Don – Waterfalls
- Day 6: Don Khong – Khon Phapeng Falls – Paske – Departure
- This itinerary is a privately guided tour, designed just to show you what is possible.
- We can tailor this trip, it's inclusions and the accommodations, to meet your requirements, budget, and interests.
Arrival in Pakse – Bolaven PlateauDay 1
Saibaidee! Welcome to Pakse, Laos.
Arriving at Pakse Airport or at the border gate of Chongmek, your private guide and driver are waiting to meet you, holding up a welcome signboard with your names on it and take you directly to your hotel in Pakse town. After checking into your hotel room, spend the remainder of the day at your leisure.
Overnight in Pakse
Pakse – Bolaven PlateauDay 2
After breakfast, you will be picked up at your hotel in Pakse and transferred (1 hour) to the beautiful Bolaven Plateau. Upon arrival, embark on an excursion to the agricultural village of Ban Katuu, home to the Katu ethnic minority. The village is within a coffee plantation surrounded by beautiful nature. Here, you will get a glimpse of local coffee production and sample fresh Lao coffee.
After enjoying lunch at the coffee plantation, continue to explore the Bolaven Plateau’s famous features: Tad Fane waterfall. Situated in dense rainforest, this waterfall has twin streams that plunge from an impressive height of 800 feet. Next, you will drive to Tad Yeung waterfall and the surrounding coffee plantation and enjoy a swim in its cool, clear waters.
Toward the end of the day, visit Talat Dao Heung Market near the Japanese Bridge, where you can bargain for coffee and browse colorful stalls of spices, dried fish, fresh fruits, and Lao sweets.
Finish your excursion and transfer to your resort in Bolaven Plateau. After checking into your room, spend the remainder of the day at your leisure.
Overnight in Bolaven Plateau
Bolaven Plateau – Champasak – Wat PhouDay 3
After breakfast, depart Bolaven Plateau, you are driven Champasak to visit Wat Phou, a UNESCO protected temple where you will commence your explorations of the remains of Khmer history in the region.
Upon arrival, you will set out to visit the ruins of Wat Phou, understood to be the most important Hindu sanctuary of the Khmer Empire. Set among the rice fields and waterways common to this part of the country, the spectacular three-level temple is particularly striking. The first temple on the site was built as early as the 5th century, though the current ruins are from the 11th to 13th centuries. Your thorough 2-3 hour visit of the ruins includes a steep climb to holy shrines of worship on the upper level where many sacred Hindu, Buddhist, and Animist elements can be found.
You also visit the Wat Phou Museum exhibition hall on the lower levels to study the rich heritage of Khmer artists and Buddhist sculptures.
After you’re done exploring, transfer to the charming town of Champasak where you will check into your riverside resort. Spend the remainder of the day at your leisure. You can discover French colonial buildings, Buddhist temples, or simply enjoy an evening in the Shadow Puppet Theatre.
Overnight in Champasak
Champasak – The 4000 Islands – Don Khong IslandDay 4
After breakfast and check out of the hotel, you are picked up and driven to the little village of Ban Khiet Ngong. From there you will embark on a medium trek (4 hours) alongside your elephant through paddy fields and wetlands, you will be led inside the jungle that surrounds the area by your mahout and guide. This activity is now an important source of income for the villagers and it helps them to avoid selling the elephants and discourage wildlife hunting.
Today you will have a chance to eat with the village’s residents, enjoying a traditional local meal of papaya salad (som tum), sticky rice, and grilled fish.
After lunch, take a scenic drive to Don Khong, one of the larger permanent islands in the ‘Si Pan Don’. This area in the Mekong is an archipelago of over 4,000 islands where the pendulum of time swings slowly and postcard-worthy views are the rule rather than the exception. This unique cluster of islands is found in a section of the river that’s over eight miles wide (no, that’s not a typo) and is dotted with rapids and waterfalls.
Late afternoon you will arrive and check into the hotel on Don Khong Island. Here you will be able to get a rare glimpse of river life by visiting one of these communities, touring a local school, and meeting village elders.
Overnight on Don Khong Island
Don Khong – Si Phan Don – WaterfallsDay 5
After breakfast, you will embark on a full-day tour to Siphandon. Here the Mekong River is at its widest, stretching up to 12 km during the rainy season. As the waters recede, many small islands emerge, giving the region its name.
On arrival, you will visit the village of Ban Nakasang and then hop on a boat to cruise across to the peaceful island of Done Khone, a small island in Si Phan Don home to rural villages and plantations and where you can spend some time cycling around.
After this, travel on to the impressive Lippi Waterfall, famous for the Irrawaddy freshwater dolphins that swim nearby. Ban Hang Khon is one of the few places on earth it’s possible to spot these endangered mammals. You also view the old locomotive, a railway, and a colonial bridge built by the French in order to avoid navigating the rapids and waterfalls in this section of the Mekong River.
After lunch at a local restaurant, continue with further explorations on the river. By late afternoon, head back to your hotel Don Khong Island in time to watch the sunset.
Overnight on Don Khong Island
Don Khong – Khon Phapeng Falls – Paske – DepartureDay 6
After breakfast and check out, transfer to the famous cascade falls of Khon Phapeng, Southeast Asia’s largest waterfalls, and one of Laos’ most magnificent natural attractions. You can hear the thunderous roar and gaze at the awesome power created by millions of liters of water crashing over rocks.
After lunch in a nearby restaurant return to Paske airport to take a short flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia, or taking an overland exit through Chongmek International checkpoint to Ubon Rathani in Thailand, two and a half hours away. From there, board your one-hour flight to Bangkok and connect on to your flight home or travel on to more adventures, we will help you with the planning.
Inquire this trip
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We are a fully licensed company:
License No: 01-327/2014/TCDL-GPLHQT
This tour is built upon our firsthand knowledge & experience, offering you the best choices available. The price of this trip varies depending on the number of people in your party, dates of departure, and availability of ground services. Please click on REQUEST A FREE QUOTE (above) and supply the required information, enabling us to send you your personalized quote within 24 hours!
Note: Amendments CAN be made to this tour to suit your requirements.
- The scenic green mountainous area of Bolaven Plateau with various watefalls, and plantation
- Explore the ruin of mysterious temple of Wat Phou to learn about the history of southern Laos
- Stroll around exciting 4000-island area and admire the life of the local peaceful village
- The amazing Khone Phapheng waterfalls, one of the biggest waterfalls of the world
- 5 hotel buffet breakfasts.
- 1 dinner and 3 lunches at well-selected restaurants
- Your own private guide and driver for in-depth cultural touring based on your interests
- Firsthand, sophisticated destination knowledge and recommendations from our locally born travel specialists
- Itineraries that are customized according to your interests and preferences
- A seamless travel experience, including all logistics, hand-picked hotels and restaurants, private airport transfers, internal transportation, and entry visa assistance…etc
- Around-the-clock support from your travel designer and concierge before, during and after your trip
Private English speaking guide, accommodation, private tours and transfer, A/C vehicles, some main meals, all entrance fees, tax, and service charge.
What’s Not Included?
Your international flights from and to Laos, the entry visa to Laos, personal expense, tips to guide and driver.
How to Plan a successful Trip to Laos, Step-by-Step
Why to Visit Laos
Where to Go
When to Go
Obtain a Laos Visa
How to book a tour
Packing and Luggage Allowance
Why to Visit Laos
The sleeping beauty of Southeast Asia, the Republic of Laos has been isolated for decades and therefore tourism is still very much in its infancy here. Time seems to slow down in Laos, as even in the capital city, Vientiane, the pace of life is refreshingly unhurried. The government is instigating a green approach to its development, with the intention of keeping Laos’ pristine ecological system as natural as possible. This makes Laos a dream destination for nature and wildlife lovers, who are seeking for the true meaning of getting away from it all.
Besides being a land where no one is in a hurry, Laos is also a land of Buddhist traditions where you will find saffron-robed teens peek curiously out from wats (temples). And while earning the title of being the world’s most heavily bombed country hardly seems like a ringing endorsement, a visit to Luang Prabang’s World Heritage temples soothes the soul. Explore Vientiane, the world’s smallest capital, as it moves at the same serene pace as the Mekong river floating by its shores.
Where to Go
Most popular sites of Laos
• Luang Prabang – a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995, best known for its high concentration of Buddhist temples and serene location on the banks of Mekong
• The Mekong River – runs from the north-west to the most southern tip of Laos, forming a natural border with Thailand; cruising on the river provides a great opportunity to see some of the more remote areas of the country which are often inaccessible by road
• Plain of Jars – see the dotted landscape of Laos with hundreds of mysterious and centuries-old stone jars
When to Go
The best time to visit Laos is between November and March. During this time the country experiences the least amount of rainfall without becoming too hot.
Laos has two distinct seasons – wet and dry.
The dry season runs from November to April. November to February is cooler while March and April are blisteringly hot, with April being the hottest month.
The wet season runs from May to October, though it may start a little early in a couple of Laos’ Northern provinces. August is the wettest month.
Obtain a Laos Visa
Visas can be obtained prior to arrival from Lao embassies and consulates abroad, through a tour company recognized by the Lao PDR, or on arrival at the international checkpoint.
Visas must be used within three months of being issued, but the validity of the visa starts from the day of entry into Laos. Tourist & business visas last for 30 days, and can be extended twice for 30 days each time, ideally through travel agencies.
The Lao criteria for visa photos are 5 cm high x 4 cm wide (but half a centimeter off within these sizes is acceptable), on a plain or light-colored background eg white or light cream. FYI, for those wishing to obtain a Lao passport, the passport photo criteria is the same as above, but the size is 6 cm high x 4 cm wide.
Notes: On entering Laos, ensure that you receive an entry stamp in your passport, as the fine for not having one is high.
Visa on Arrival (VOA)
Where to get a VOA
- Wattay International Airport in Vientiane
- Luang Prabang International Airport in Luang Prabang
- Pakse Internatioanl Airport in Champasack
- Savannakhet International Airport in Savannakhet
China – Laos
- Mohan, Yunnan – Botene, Luang Namtha
Thailand – Laos
- Chiangkhong, Chiang Rai – Houixay, Bokeo
- Nakaxeng, Loei – Kaenthao, Sayabouly
- Houi Koln, Nan – Nam Ngeun, Sayabouly
- Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge I, Nongkhay – Vientiane
- Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge II, Moukdahan – Savannakhet
- Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge III, Nakorn Phanom – Khammouane
- Chongmek, Ubol Ratchathani – Vangtao, Champasack
Vietnam – Laos
- Nameo, Thanh Hoa – Banleui, Huaphanh
- Namkan, Nge An – Namkan, Xieng Khouang
- Keoneua, Ha Tinh – Nampao (Lak Sao), Bolikhamxay
- Laobao, Quang Tri – Dansavanh, Savannakhet
Cambodia – Laos
- Dong Calor, Cambodia – Veun Kham, Champasack
Unfortunately, citizens of the following countries are ineligible for a VOA and will have to apply at their nearest Lao embassy/consulate, unless they are on official visits and hold a guarantee from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lao PDR:
Middle East – Turkey, Syria
South Asia – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka
Africa – Algeria, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Jordan, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Suriname, Swaziland, Tonga, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Pacific – Nauru
How to book a tour
Booking your holiday with Indochina Pioneer cannot be easier! Follow our 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Browse our website www.indochinapioneer.com for tours, cruises and other destination information.
Should you find something that matches your interest, fill in the REQUEST A FREE QUOTE forms. Can’t find something that fits your needs? Then fill the BUILD YOUR OWN TRIP or CONTACT US form and click SUBMIT.
Then sit back! One of our travel experts will get back to you shortly with our customized package and most favorable offer!
In a hurry? Don’t like filling forms? Then call +84 982 116 630 (Mr. Lam) or +84 983 145 799 (Mr. Quyen). We’re available 24/7 and would be more than happy to talk! Certainly, your request will be carefully noted and a nicely crafted package with a pleasant price will follow!
Step 2: Reviewing/ Customizing our offer!
It’s your holiday so everything should be exactly what you want! We encourage your careful review of what we offer, letting us know what changes you would like to make. We’ll be more than happy to fine-tune the tour to fit best your interests, budget and time! This step may require several emails/call exchanges until perfect!
Step 3: Confirming/Paying/ Packing for the trip!
Once you’re satisfied with the customized tour, please let us know and Indochina Pioneer will need a few working hours to place reservations for all of the tour services. As soon as the availability and reservations of the services are confirmed, we will request a deposit. Please refer our Payment Guide for more details.
Once your deposit is received by Indochina Pioneer, we will send you the service voucher which confirms all the services of the tour and provides ground contact details and a guide for the final payment schedule.
And then you start counting down the day for your most fabulous trip!
Booking Amendment & Cancellations:
Booking Amendment: Flexibility is our strongest point. You can amend your booking even after it is made. Just contact your salesperson or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your booking number. Our reservations team is glad to amend your booking with your preferable alternatives. Please kindly note that you will be responsible for any change of the final price caused by your amendment requests.
Travel smart with Indochina Pioneer!
Packing and Luggage Allowance
Packing Checklist – Be sure to check them all 😉
- Travel documents (passport, visas, travel insurance certificate, air tickets, tour voucher)
- Money (cash, credit card, debit card, traveler’s cheques and money pouch)
- Day pack for your personal needs during the day
- Camera and extra memory cards and batteries
- Cell phone and cell phone charger
- Laptop charger (if you are bringing your laptop)
- Travel plug/international adapter
- Medication (including a doctor’s letter if you are carrying a large amount of medication)
- Prescription glasses / contacts and if necessary, contact lens solution
Best to bring along
- First aid kit
- Insect repellent
- Refillable water bottle with filter
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Comfortable clothing, either light or heavy options, depending on the season you are travelling
- Clothes suitable for visiting temples (long pants / skirts, long sleeved tops)
- Waterproof jacket / raincoat / umbrella
- Hat & sunglasses
- Bathing suit
- Ear plugs & eye mask
- Sleep sheet for home stays / trains
- Lightweight travel towel
- Local language phrasebook
Reviews on Our Service
We had a wonderful 7-day trip last July; Kata was awesome to work with. So professional, reliable and helpful!
"Lifetime of Memories"
Lam did an amazing job putting together an itinerary based on phone/text conversations. We told him the where and what and he did the rest. The accommodations were beyond expectation, the guides were unbelievably friendly, and the places we were taken were spectacular. Having guides and drivers is worth every penny. So much time and money would have been wasted had we tried to accomplish this ourselves.
We got to experience so much more because of our guides local knowledge. Lastly, how great it was not to worry about how we were getting to the next adventure. Had we not used Indochina Pioneer I truly believe I wouldn’t have as many astonishing memories.
"Amazing 30 Day Journey with Indochina Pioneer"
If you are looking for a private tour of SE Asia, look no further than Indochina Pioneer. I recently returned from a 30-day private tour of Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand all arranged by Indochina Pioneer and could not have been happier with everything they arranged for me. They are top-notch from working directly with you on planning your trip, arranging visas, having individuals at the airports to meet and walk you through everything when entering the countries, having amazing tour guides and drivers as well as organizing everything for you on the ground and being there to help you all along the way if you have any questions or problems. My tour was amazing with not only the normal tourist sights, but many off the beaten track sights and with your own guides, you learn so much more from these individuals who actually live in the places you will visit. I can’t recommend this tour agency enough. If you are looking to travel to any of the locations Indochina Pioneer has tours, you must book through them, you will not be disappointed.
"Excellent from the very beginning"
We had 21 days on a private tour and every detail was perfectly arranged. Perhaps, the Spanish speaking skills of guides can ve improved, but overall they were very helpful and committed with their job. I want to highlight the performance of Juan (Hanoi), Miguel (Hoi An), Chao (Ho Chi Minh City) and La (Luang Prabang, Laos).
Hotels were as we asked and the timing for the visits was very good.
I recommend this travel agency!