Colourful & diverse cultures, beautiful landscapes, elephants & dolphins, Mekong river life, ancient temples and modern history are all brought together as you tour from north to south through Laos into Cambodia, enjoying an astonishing breadth of holiday experiences along the way.
Day 1: Depart on your overnight flight to Luang Prabang
Day 2: On arrival met and private transfer to your hotel for 3 nights in Luang Prabang
Day 3: Up early for Alms procession and city walking tour
Day 4: Full day Elephant tour
Day 5: Flight to Pakse, southern Laos. 1 night Bolaven Plateau on top of an extinct volcano. Afternoon hike to waterfalls and unique landscapes
Day 6: Follow Mekong by car to 4,000 islands stopping at Wat Phou Khmer temple. 2 nights on Don Khong island
Day 7: Boat tour in search of the Irrawaddy dolphin and visit to Khone Phapeng & Li Phi warefalls on Cambodia border
Day 8: Fly to Siem Reap for 3 nights in your choice of hotel
Day 9: Private guided Angkor Temples Highlights tour
Day 10: Morning private guided tour to Tonle Sap Lake with boat ride
Day 11: Fly to Phnom Penh for 2 nights. Private transfer to your choice of hotel
Day 12: Private guided City Tour with Killing Field
Day 13: Private transfer to Sihanoukville for 3 nights (or more) on the beach
Days 14-15: Beach days
Day 16: Fly home overnight
Day 17: Arrive Home.
Day 1: UK Airport / Luang Prabang
Depart on a choice of overnight flights to Luang Prabang via Bangkok or Hanoi. If you’d like to break your journey an add-on in either is easily added.
Day 2: Arrive Luang Prabang
On arrival you’ll be met by your private guide and transferred to the city centre where you check in to your choice of hotel for 3 nights. The rest of the day is free. Don’t miss the superb night market that runs through the centre of town every night.
Day 3: Luang Prabang - Private Guided Almsgiving & City Tour (B / L)
It feels to some that the city is bathed in Buddhism and this feeling is at its most accessible each morning as monks rise early for the silent alms procession. Today rise at dawn to watch this beautiful, understated and authentic tradition with your private guide. On the way back to the hotel they will take you to the Morning Market, a feast of local and somewhat unusual (to us) produce. After a leisurely breakfast join your guide for a private guided Walking tour around this beautiful World Heritage town, visiting a number of Wats (temples), the Royal Palace and central market. Luang Prabang is best experienced by foot (we can arrange a car) and is home to a growing number of niche shops and galleries. The morning finishes with a climb up the 328 steps up Phousi Mountain for superb views of the area. Lunch will be in a local restaurant and then the rest of the afternoon is free.
Extra…Popular additions are a cruise along the Mekong River or a visit to the Kuang Si Waterfalls. Either can be added this afternoon.
Day 4: Luang Prabang - Full day Shangri La Elephant Expedition (B / L)
This morning your guide will transfer you to the meeting point. Your expedition begins with an elephant ride across the river and continues for an approximately 1.5 hours through teak forests, jungle and over hills to reach the protected Huay Sae Valley. Along the way you can stop to see the amazing scenery of the Nam Khan River Valley. After reaching the Huay Sae Valley you leave the elephant and rest at the jungle Sala, enjoying a lunch by a secluded waterfall. Depending on the water levels you can refresh and swim in the natural pools.
This afternoon you’ll walk for 1.5 hours following the Huay Sae River. The adventurous trail crosses bamboo bridges and passes waterfalls, fantastic limestone formations and turquoise blue pools in the dense jungle. Along the educational trail you will learn more about this important ecosystem
When the trail leaves the valley, traditional horses from the Hmong hill tribes are waiting for you to carry your bags up a more demanding uphill section. These strong, little porter-horses accompany you for the last approximately 30 minutes of trekking through fields, plantations and Teak forest. Enjoy stunning views to the mountain ranges while your guide explains local agriculture and farming methods.
Down at the Nam Khan River, a bamboo raft is waiting to take you on a relaxing 1.5 hour ride back to the camp including an optional 30 min stop at the Tad Sae Waterfall. Back at the hotel by 5pm.
Day 5: Fly Luang Prabang / Pakse (Southern Laos) - Bolaven Plateau (B / L)
Early transfer to the airport for the short flight to Pakse, gateway to the south. On arrival you’ll be met by your private guide and transferred to the Tad Fane Resort for 1 night. This is located high on the Bolaven Plateau, formed by an ancient volcano and one of the most scenic spots in the region, full of beautiful landscapes made up of forests, rivers and waterfalls. At an altitude of over 1,000 metres, the scenery is very different to that seen in most of the country and even at the hottest time it rarely rises above 27°C.
Check-in, enjoy lunch and then your private guide will rejoin you for an afternoon tour that involves a leisurely 3 hour hike exploring the plateau. This hike goes through a local village, coffee plantations, over a hanging bridge and on to the plains. Huge boulders, epiphytes and wild orchids abound. Large pine trees grow here, giving it a wholly different character of landscape. One of the prime draws is Tad Fane Waterfall whose twin streams dramatically cascade into a 200m deep gorge. Evening free and as you will be relatively high up you may need a jumper or light jacket in the evening.
Southern Laos is one of the most beautiful and least developed parts of the country, where the Mekong River breaks down into a myriad of arms and channels that surround tiny islands, sandbars and islets to create a water world, home to rare flora and fauna including the freshwater dolphin. During the rainy season this section of the Mekong fills out to a breadth of 14km, the river’s widest reach along its 4350km journey from the Tibetan Plateau to the South China Sea.
Day 6: Bolaven Plateau to Si Phan Don with visit to Wat Phu and Phou Asa (B / L)
After breakfast come back down to river level and continue south to Si Phan Don, where the Mekong splits to create an archipelago of thousands of sandbars and where it gets its more familiar name of 4000 Islands. En route you’ll have the chance to visit the Khmer Temple complex of Wat Phou. This represents the easternmost border of the Khmer empire. Climb to the top and you get a great view of the Mekong River snaking south. You’ll also visit an elephant camp and get the chance to watch the mahouts in action before climbing aboard for a ride to the top of Phou Asa, home to a series of mysterious ruins and a great view across the wetlands. Continue on to the island on Don Khong by car and boat. Check in to the Sensothxeune Hotel for 2 nights and enjoy dinner overlooking the Mekong and watch the twinkling lights of fishing boats as they float by.
Day 7: Si Phan Don - 4,000 Islands Boat Tour (B / L)
Today your guide will collect you for a day exploring the southern border. Start with a boat ride to the largest waterfalls in Asia on Cambodia’s border. Khone Phapeng & Li Phi Falls were the major obstacles which thwarted the French in their efforts to open the Mekong River to navigation. Here also live some 50-100 Irrawaddy dolphins. If you’re lucky you'll them. Lunch will be at a local restaurant. This afternoon walk along the small gauge railway and Colonial Bridge that were built by the French to circumnavigate the falls and open up the region. Back at the hotel late afternoon.
Day 8: Si Phan Don (B) - Fly Pakse / Siem Reap
Morning airport transfer and short flight to Siem Reap. On arrival met by your private guide and transferred to the town centre where you check in to your choice of hotel for 3 nights. This evening you might like to visit the circus that performs nightly in the centre of town. We can arrange tickets.
Day 9: Siem Reap - Private Guided Angkor Temples Highlights Tour (B / L)
This morning your private guide will pick you up for a private guided tour of the iconic Angkor Archaeological Park. Start off at Angkor Thom, the last great capital of the Khmer Empire. Highlights include the magnificent Bayon, one of the most recognisable sites because of the 54 towers adorned with 216 enigmatically smiling stone faces, the Terrace of Elephants, a giant viewing stand for public ceremonies and the Terrace of Leper Kings, whose walls boast beautifully carved nagas, demons and other mythological beings. In the low morning sun the carvings really stand out and as you stand on the Terrace of Elephants you get a great view across a parkland scene interspersed with giant trees protected in the National Park.
Then move onto the temple of Ta Phrom, jungle covered and pretty much left as originally found by European explorers to create a mystical atmosphere.
Back to Siem Reap (15 minutes away) for lunch and a rest in the hot midday. This afternoon return to explore Angkor Wat, the most famous and best preserved of all the Angkor temples. You’ll have time for a thorough exploration before climbing to the top of Pre Rup temple to watch the sunsetover the jungle. Back to the hotel by early evening.
Extra…The great thing about having your own specialist guide is that the itinerary can be tailored to you and be adapted on the ground to take advantage of local knowledge and keep ahead of the crowds. Angkor represents the universe in miniature and you could spend weeks touring round the thousand or so temples, so on this tour we focus on the highlights, but we can easily extend your stay.
Day 10: Siem Reap (B) - Tonle Sap Lake Stilted Villages Tour
This morning you’ll be collected by your guide and transferred 45 minutes through the Cambodia countryside to Tonle Sap Lake where you board a longtail boat to explore the lake and visit Kompong Phluk, an isolated community of three villages built on stilts. These scenic villages are flooded for around half the year and you will board a local boat, rowed by a villager, to explore the local community. You will also be taken through the flooded mangrove forests that are the main building block of this valuable ecosystem that supports a variety of wildlife. Back in Siem Reap in time for a late lunch.
Day 11: Fly Siem Reap (B) / Phnom Penh
Morning airport transfer and short flight to Phnom Penh. On arrival you’ll be met by your private guide and transferred to the city centre where you check in to your choice of hotel for 2 nights. The rest of the day is free.
Phnom Penh is a traditional Far East city, full of energy and still tatty around the edges. A great place to start in the early evening is to take a tuk tuk to the riverside promenade. As you walk along the Mekong look across to the French colonial buildings that are interspersed with the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda and National Museum. Evening is the time everyone congregates along the wide promenade with impromptu aerobics, football matches and time to catch up with friends. There are plenty of restaurants and bars along the way.
Day 12: Phnom Penh - Private City Tour with Killing Field (B / L)
After breakfast your guide will pick you up for a half day city tour of the fascinating Khmer Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda. After lunch in a local restaurant you visit the sobering and poignant Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a testament to Cambodia’s bloody past. Then you can explore the colourful stalls of the vast Central Market. The tour ends at the Choeung Ek Killing Fields just outside the city. This is now a Buddhist memorial park that has been constructed around the mass graves of the thousands of victims. Dozens of mass graves are visible above ground, several which have not yet been excavated. The field is marked by a Buddhist stupa that has glass walls and is filled with over 5,000 skulls. You’ll be back at the hotel by the late afternoon.
Day 13: Phnom Penh (B) - Transfer to Sihanoukville Beach
This morning your private driver will transfer you by car (3 hours) to Sihanoukville, Cambodia’s premier beach resort for 3 nights (or more) on the beach in your choice of hotel.
Extra…If you’d prefer a more laid back seaside resort then we’d recommend Kep, famed as a Khmer retreat whose offers an atmospheric stay by the sea, with authentically renovated hotels lining the shore and nestling in the hills to create a special feel. Except for a crab market and some simple restaurants there is little else here, but this is what adds to its allure. There’s no beach but you can visit outlying islands.
Days 14-15: Sihanoukville (B) - Beach Days
2 full days to relax on the beach, lie round the pool, take a dive excursion around the outlying islands or explore Ream National Park.
Day 16: Sihanoukville (B) - Phnom Penh / UK Airport
A final morning to enjoy your beach side setting before your private transfer back up to Phnom Penh in time for your overnight flight home that arrives the following morning.
Each featured itinerary is really a starting point from which to create your ideal holiday.
We can include as much or as little as you like, mix and match hotels, excursions and experiences, add extra nights and change the destinations you'd like to visit.
The common thread is that each is a privately guided holiday, allowing you to travel where and when you want, with your own private transport and dedicated guide.
- Return scheduled international flights (optional if you would like to arrange your own)
- English speaking, local guide & driver
- Choice of hotel accommodation
- Transport in private air-conditioned vehicles
- Domestic flights detailed in itinerary
- Admission fees to all attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
- All meals as detailed (B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner)
- Entry visas International airport departure taxes if payable locally
- Optional Tours / Excursions
- Any meals not listed in the itinerary
- Personal expenses
- Tips for Guides / Drivers (discretionary)
- Travel insurance
- Any camera or video fees charged at sites
The hotels below are there as examples, designed to act as a starting point from which to create your holiday. There are plenty of alternatives to choose from and when we quote we will include other suggestions so we get to understand your likes and dislikes. Quite often clients mix and match hotel categories throughout their holiday.
Hotels in Luang Prabang
A beautiful and unique place to stay, you won't want to leave!
Hotels in Bolaven Plateau
Formed by an ancient volcano, Bolaven Plateau is one of the most scenic spots in Laos
Hotels in Don Khong (Si Phan Don)
Beautiful island south of laos
Hotels in Siem Reap
As the main gateway to the temples of Angkor, Siem Reap offers a great range of hotel accommodation.
Hotels in Phnom Penh
Authentic in character but with great choice of top quality accommodation
Hotels in Sihanoukville
The perfect spot for realxing on a stunning beach or getting active with a range of watersports