Laos Central Highlights

Handcrafted Travel
Daily Departure


  • Active Adventure
  • Culture & Heritage
  • Off The Beaten Path
Day 1 – 2 Luang Prabang – Xiengkhouang – Plain of Jars
  • Head to Xieng Khouang for one of the most famous geological sites of Laos – the peculiar Plain of Jars 1 and 2
Day 3 – 5 Xiengkhouang – Vang Vieng
  • Take a five–hour drive to Vang Vieng, visit Khmu village, kayak on the beautiful Nam Song River, discover limestone caves and visit Vang Vieng Elephant Sanctuary.
Day 6 – 7 Vang Vieng – Vientiane
  • Enjoy a four–hour drive to Vientiane, the capital city of Laos.
  • Vientiane city tour: Visit Patuxai Monument, COPE Visitor Centre, some famous temples, Lao National Museum, and Vientiane Central Market.
Day 8 Vientiane – Phou Khaokhuay
  • Transfer 2.5 hours from Vientiane to Ban Hatkhai, one–hour boating on Nam Mang to Houay Xai, and 2 hours trekking to the waterfalls.
Day 9 – 16 Highlights in the Laos central region
  • Venture off–the–beaten–path to destinations of Laos – Phou Khaokhuay, Paksan, Ban Konglor, Ban Thalang, Thakhek, and Xe Bangfai.
  • There will be a variety of activities like trekking, kayaking, and boating.
  • Discover cascading waterfalls, picturesque rivers to magnificent caves, and lovely local villages. Enjoy lunch by the great waterfalls in Hin Namno National Protected Area and cross to the other side of the border to Nakhan Phanom in Thailand.
Day 17 Thakhek – Nakhon Phanom – Departure
  • Take an overland exit to Nakhon Phanom in Thailand, board your one–hour flight to Bangkok, and connect on to your flight home.

Customizable itinerary

In 17 days, travel to all the highlights in the Laos central region. From Luang Prabang, head to Xieng Khouang and Phonsavanh for one of the most famous geological sites of Laos – the peculiar Plain of Jars 1 and 2. In Vang Vieng, enjoy kayaking down the Nam Song River, en-route visit the breathtaking caves in the area. After a full day at the Elephant Sanctuary, explore the highlights in the capital Vientiane. You will venture off-the-beaten-path to destinations of Laos – Phou Khaokhuay, Paksan, Ban Konglor, Ban Thalang, Thakhek and Xe Bangfai. There will be a variety of activities like trekking, kayaking and boating, so that you can fully experience the wonderful landscape. Including, cascading waterfalls, picturesque rivers to magnificent caves and lovely local villages. Wrap up this unforgettable journey as you enjoy lunch by the great waterfalls in Hin Namno National Protected Area and later cross to the other side of the border to Nakhan Phanom in Thailand.

You are picked up at your hotel in Luang Prabang and embark on a six-hour driver over the mountains to Xieng Khouang, and Phonsavanh in central Laos which is best-known for having been heavily bombed during Indochina War. But, of course, it is also famous for the historic Plain of Jars. Along the way, you can make some stops at villages to observe the rural life of local people, including ethnic minorities such as the Hmong people.

Arrival in Phonsavanh, the capital of Xieng Khouang province, and check into your hotel. The remainder of the day is at your leisure.

Overnight in Phonsavanh
Meals: (_/_/D)

After breakfast at the hotel, meet your guide for a drive over the plains to visit the Plain of Jars site 1 before continuing to drive to the Plain of Jars 2. Here you have time to find out more about the still unclear history of the stone Jars which dated back to about 2000 years ago.

After lunch at a local restaurant, drive about 1 hour more to visit Muang Khoun, the old capital of Xieng Khouang where you will see some ruins left over from the war.

Overnight in Phonsavanh
Meals: (B/L/_)

After breakfast, meet your tour guide for a five-hour drive to Vang Vieng, a small town of 25,000 people sits alongside the Nam Song River. Limestone cliffs create a beautiful backdrop for the adventure-tourism oriented town. Vang Vieng is famous for its beautiful landscapes, hiking, and light adventure.

Arrive in Vang Vieng and check into your riverside resort. The rest of your day will be at your leisure. You may have a stroll around the town or take a short hike of 30 minutes to the summit of the Phatang Mountain viewpoint to admire the beautiful scenery of the rice-paddy laden valley and Vang Vieng.

Overnight in Vang Vieng
Meals: (B/_/_)

After breakfast, you are driven to Pha Tang around 18 km north of Vang Vieng. After an introduction to the basics of kayaking, you will set off down the beautiful Nam Song River which offers various small but fun rapids along the way to your first stop at Tham Xang Cave. Here you will walk up to the massive theater like cave while hearing about the local history about the area!

After emerging from the cave, continue to paddle to a picnic spot on the riverside where you enjoy your box lunch.

After lunch, continue to paddle down the river until you reach the next stop at the Organic Farm where mulberry tea and a variety of different fruit wines are produced.

Keep going further you will arrive at Tham None Cave, one of the largest caves in Vang Vieng! It served as a bomb shelter for local villagers during the Second Indochina War. However, today it is home to a bat family and the ‘Magic Stone of Vang Vieng’. The final leg of the journey will be a gentle paddle downstream to Vang Vieng where you will arrive just in time to catch the sunset.

Approximately: 4 hour-kayaking and 1.5-hour caving/walking.

Overnight in Vang Vieng
Meals: (B/L/_)

After breakfast, take a short drive (around 1.5 hours) to the outside of Vang Vieng through rural landscapes, agricultural areas, and forested hills to Vang Vieng Elephant Sanctuary.

Upon arrival, meet your guide and walk for 10-15 minutes to the Centre of the Sanctuary. Change into traditional Lao clothing and followed by an introductory lesson about elephant anatomy, history, and behavior. Soon after that, meet the elephants, feed, interact and play with the elephants in their natural home as you learn about their behavior and history. Take your time and have many photos with the elephants as you want.

Enjoy fresh fruit and traditional Lao food for lunch at the Sanctuary.

You will learn how to make herbal medicine balls, feed the Elephants, and then walk with the elephants to the lake. Bathe and brush the elephants. Take your chance to join the elephants for a therapeutic mud spa. Swim in the lake and take photos with them.

Walk the Elephant back to the Sanctuary. Change clothes and say goodbye to those friendly giants. The amazing time to enjoy the sunset before leaving the Sanctuary for your return drive to your hotel in Vang Vieng.

Overnight in Vang Vieng
Meals: (B/L/_)

After breakfast, enjoy a four-hour drive on the National Road No. 13 heading south through beautiful landscapes and mountains to Vientiane, the capital city of Laos. On the way, stop at the Hmong Market to observe the daily lives of the locals. Around midday, arrive and check into your hotel in Vientiane. Take a short rest afterward.

Embark a short sightseeing tour of Vientiane. Begin with a visit to Patuxai Monument, also called Anousavari, and enjoy a panoramic view over the city from the top. It is Vientiane’s own Arc de Triomphe that is located at the top of Lan Xang Avenue, the Champs Elysees of the Lao capital.

Next, pay a visit to COPE Visitor Centre, a non-profit organization in Laos which provides prosthetic limbs, mobility assistance and rehabilitation for Lao people who can’t afford it. The war is still heavily present in Laos, the country that experienced the most bombings by the Vietnam War. Still today, a good deal of those unexploded ordnances (UXOs) explode as people work their fields and children play in the countryside. Laos is actively fighting the use of these cluster bombs and the COPE centre will depict and inform visitors on these issues. Your visit to COPE Visitor Centre will open your minds and your hearts.

Finish the tour and get back to your hotel where the balance of the day is at your leisure.

Overnight in Vientiane
Meals: (B/_/_)

The capital city of Laos, Vientiane, still feels like a sleepy city with relaxed charm, tree-lined boulevards, fascinating temples, and colorful markets. This city conjures up exotic images, with the curious mix of Lao, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, French influences.

After breakfast, your guide and driver will pick you up for the further exploration of this charming city. Start with Vat Sisaket, the only temple left intact after the Siamese invasion in 1828. It shelters hundreds of statues of Buddha within its walls.

Continue with Wat Prakeo, now used as a religious museum where you can see Lao and Khmer works of art. It used to host the “Emerald Buddha” that is now on display at Bangkok’s Royal Palace.

Continue to visit the iconic Pha That Luang, a gleaming golden stupa which is perhaps the most important national monument in Laos.

After lunch at a local restaurant, you will uncover other important sites including Buddhist monasteries of Wat Ong Tue and Wat Haysoke. Next, visit Lao National Museum, the charming French Colonial Architecture building, and Wat Si Muang, a Khmer temple with a fascinating legend that still holds great significance among the Laotian community.

End your day at the Vientiane Central Market of Talat Sao and Talat Kouadin, where major goods are traded, including fresh food, household, textiles, gold, and silver. You may even see ancient souvenirs on display.

The rest of the day will be at your leisure. You may take a stroll along the Mekong Riverside, have a cold beer Lao while enjoying the cooling weather at sunset.

Overnight in Vientiane
Meals: (B/L/_)

After breakfast, you will be transferred to Ban Hatkhai, where a long-tail boat awaits to take you upstream on the Nam Mang, before continuing along with one of its tributaries, Houay Xai. End of the boat trip, embark on a 2 hour-trek passing through an evergreen canopy as you gain height. A picnic lunch will be served on the way.

After lunch, continue your trek. You will arrive at the magnificent pair of waterfalls Tad Xay and Pha Xay, particularly beautiful during and after the rainy season. You have some free time at Tad Xay which has a pool recommended for bathing. From there, a truck will take you to Phou Khaokhuay, where the night is spent at the house of a local family.

Summary: 2.5-hour transfer, 1-hour boating & 2-hour trekking

Overnight in Phou Khaokhuay
Meals: (B/L/_)

After an early breakfast, transfer to the Tad Leuk, a local tourist attraction amidst the mixed deciduous forest. A permanent exhibit at the Visitors’ Center gives you some good information on the flora and fauna of the national park. The Tad Leuk Nature Trail points out some interesting botanic details. After that, you will embark on a trek to Tad Leuk Waterfall.

After lunch at Tad Leuk, continue trekking following a path along the Nam Leuk to the Tad Sang (Elephant Waterfall) waterfall, another idyllic place for bathing and relaxation. Along the way, a large number of orchids can be seen, especially in the wet season.  From here, you will hop on the minivan and take the direct transfer to Paksan where you will spend the night.

Summary: 3-hour transfer & 3-hour trekking

Overnight in Paksan
Meals: (B/L/_)

After breakfast, take a short transfer to Thang Beng, where you leave the highway and enter the Phou Hin Poun NPA (National Protected Area). The scenery will become much more spectacular, featuring limestone karsts, forests, and verdant rice paddies. Driving through the towering mountains of Khammouane to the Lao Loum village of Ban Na Hin where you will enjoy lunch and relax for a while.

Transfer to a nearby Nam Sanam waterfall and spend time swimming, relaxing, and enjoying sightseeing around the area. After that, commence a soft trek through old-growth forest back to Ban Nahin. From there, hop on the car again to continue the transfer to the Sainamhai Resort, where you will spend the night

Overnight in Sainamhai Resort
Meals: (B/L/_)

After breakfast, you will depart Sainamhai Resort and transfer to Laos’s most famous Kong Lor Caves. Life jackets and head torches will be provided before a short walk to the main entrance of the cave.

Upon entering the cave, you will board a long-tail boat for a journey through the length of this spectacular cave, along an underground section of the Hin Boun River. It will be 7.5km before you can see daylight again! The river flows all-year-round and reveals vast formations of stalactites and stalagmites, which can be explored partly on foot whilst inside the cave. In places, the cave is up to 90 meters wide and 100 meters high.  The cave is still used by local villagers as an access route to the region beyond (it is far quicker than climbing over the mountains through which this cave cuts!).

Once out on the other side, stop for refreshments and walk to the local villages, enjoying the scenery, and observing a simple way of life. Enjoy a picnic lunch at one of the villages.

Return by boat, traveling ‘downstream’ through the cave to Ban Kong Lor where you will have a stroll through the villages surrounding Ban Kong Lor. The soft light of the late afternoon is arguably the most photogenic and you should meet lots of villagers as they walk home from the fields, markets, and schools.  There are various options for walking routes, so again, it is best to discuss with our guide how far you wish to go.

Finish the tour and transfer to your hotel in Ban Kong Lor.

Tip: There is the chance to paddle the small traditional boat to explore the blue lagoon near Spring River Resort. You have the option to paddle the boat by yourselves or with the help of a villager

Overnight in Ban Kong Lor
Meals: (B/L/_)

After breakfast, say goodbye to the lovely village and depart for Ban Thalang. After one-hour driving, you will arrive in Ban Thabak, where you enjoy a 2-hour boat ride along the Nam Theun River. The boat is made from the old aircraft oil tank, and suitable for up to 3 people per boat.

During the boat trip, enjoy the tranquil landscape of the along the bank of the river. Make a stop at one or two local villages if you wish to see deeper into the local life.

Finish the boat trip and transfer to Ban Nam Yen, to cool off and take a dip at the natural swimming pool. You will also make a short stop at Tham Mangkon (Dragon caves) before transferring directly to the beautiful village of Tha Lang in Nakai District. The rest of the afternoon is free for your own exploration.  You can choose to stroll along the river to admire the sunset or go fishing on the lake, which is created by the Nam Theun 2 Hydropower Dam

Overnight in Tha Lang at a local Guesthouse 
Meals: (B/L/_)

Wake up early, you will prepare for your own breakfast with the help of Sabaidee Guesthouse owner. After that, depart for Thakhek, the capital town of Khammouane Province. Along the way, you will make a short stop to visit Nam Theun 2 Visitor Center, where you can have some information about this Hydropower project.

Continue driving to the village of Ban Nakhang Xang, to meet the village guide, who leads you the trek through secondary forest, while the guide points out forest products that provide the local people with significant food resources. The trail passes through a cave that exits into a striking valley surrounded by towering cliffs and forest.

The picnic lunch will be served at Tham Hip, which offers a great panoramic view over the area.

Continue the trail, following the shoreline of Nong Thao Lake, where you can see local fishermen at work.  Later you will arrive at Tham Nong Paseum Cave where you can swim into the 400-meter-long cavern and explore its dramatic stalactites and stalagmites. You will then continue walking and climbing a bamboo stairway to the Buddha Cave, which was rediscovered in April 2004. The cave contains 229 bronze Buddhas that are said to be over 300 years old.

Finish the tour and drive to Thakhek for the night.

Overnight in Thakhek
Meals: (B/L/_)

Depart Thathek and take a 4-hour drive on an unpaved road through a landscape of limestone mountains. Stop for lunch at the boat landing at Pak Thung.

After lunch, get on a local motorboat for the 2-hour trip passing forested karsts on the Xe Bang Fai River. Later you will arrive in the village of Ban Tham Namlort in Xe Bangfai and settle into the village homestay. Then you are free to take a walk to explore the village.

Tonight you will enjoy dinner with a local family who is your host for the night.

Summary: 4-hour transfer, 2-hour long tail boat

Overnight at a local homestay in Xe Bangfai
Meals: (B/L/_)

After breakfast, paddle in your inflatable kayaks steadily upstream through 5 rapids to the Xe Bangfai Cave. Paddle into the cave, where you will have time to explore the cave and see the amazing stalactites and stalagmites. Continue to addle on through the cave for 11 Km to the other side of the cave for a picnic lunch.

Continue to kayak. You will arrive and settle in your camp on the beach at the mouth of the cave. Spend time to relax and chill out.

Summary: 7 hours kayaking

Overnight at camp in tents
Meals: (B/L/D)

Rising early to enjoy breakfast. After that paddle your kayak for 500 meters to where a tractor will take you for 1 hour to the starting point. You will trek for 2 hours through an easy old forest filled with birds to a very large waterfall in the Hin Namno National Protected Area. Picnic lunch is served at the waterfall.

Walk back to the trailhead where the pick-up will be waiting to take you back to Thakhek for your last night of the journey.

Summary: 15-minute kayaking, 1-hour tractor, 4-hour trekking, 4-hour transfer

Overnight in Thakhek 
Meals: (B/L/_)

After an early breakfast and check out you will be transferred to Laos-Thai border taking an overland exit to Nakhon Phanom in Thailand, one 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.

Meals: (B/_/_)

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Useful Information

This sample itinerary was created by our travel experts as inspiration for your next trip. Ready for your customization. You pick to suit your budget, desires, and cultural experiences. The price of this trip will vary, depending on the number of people in your party, dates of departure, and the availability of ground services. Please click on REQUEST A FREE QUOTE (above) and give us the necessary information to enable us to send you a FREE personalized quote within 48 hours if not sooner!

Sightseeing Highlights

  • Explore Plain of Jars under the history of the stone Jars which dated back to about 2000 years ago
  • Join kayaking on the beautiful Nam Song River, experiencing the authentic lives, and its untouched nature along the way
  • Visit historical Tham Xang Cave and the Organic Farm where mulberry tea and a variety of different fruit wines are produced
  • Elephant Sanctuary tour, interact with Elephant, and learning the efforts to re-enforce our friends back to nature
  • Visit various temple and museum in the laid-back capital of Vientiane
  • Discovery the untouched nature along Nam Ou River, Mekong River, and the caves of Tham Konglor
  • Trekking to the hidden villages in the mountainous area of central Laos

Dining Experience

  • 16 hotel buffet breakfasts.
  • 2 dinners and 13 lunches at well-selected restaurants

Travel Highlights

  • 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

What’s Included?

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.

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Reviews on Our Service

We are committed to giving our customers unforgettable experiences in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and beyond, not just something staged for tourists. Read reviews written by our customers about their experiences in Indochina after they have returned home. These include the ratings and comments on attractions, guides, activities, hotels and food.

Incredible Vietnam experience with Tony

Asia Pioneer Travel planned every detail or our 16-day trip across Vietnam, Lao, and Bangkok. Our tour guide in Hanoi, Tony, crafted the perfect few days for us to experience Hanoi, both culturally and historically. He was very flexible since we are a group of six women with different dietary needs who sometimes wanted different experiences. He did it all with a big smile on his face and a happy personality, so proud of his beautiful country. He also made some phone calls for us about clothes we had made in Hoi An and took our laundry to be cleaned at a local service. We are so grateful that he could show us Hanoi!
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Darla R - Waldenbuch, Germany 
Apr 8, 2023


If a traveler was looking for a tour group that was knowledgeable, energetic, patient, flexible and kind, then this is the company. I cannot speak high enough about all of our tour guides we had in each city. Bang Bang was relaxed, friendly and so adaptable to everything we asked of him. Tony, May be the happiest and energetic guide out there. Each city we visited in Vietnam was only improved because the positive influence our guides bestowed on our experience. I am so honored and grateful to have known these people. You cannot go wrong with booking this tour group. Lizbeth
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Lizbeth K - Australia
Apr 5, 2023

Great company, great service

Excellent customer service from Elly Do and Asia Pioneer Travel from start to finish. Elly took the time to come to meet us in our hotel in Hanoi and it was lovely to meet her. We changed our itinerary a couple of times before booking and Elly was always happy to discuss and accommodate. All the guides we had and all of the hotels were great. When you only have a couple of days in each city it was great to have a guide and a driver to whisk you through the traffic. Thanks Elly!
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HelsDavies4 - Canada
Apr 5, 2023

Amazing People and Great Service

We have always been very interested in Vietnam and Cambodia, recently retired, we decided the time was right to make this trip. Living in Canada and booking a trip to SE Asia can be a little difficult given the 15-hour time change. We worked with Mr. Lam of Asia Pioneer travel and we had no issues. In fact, we wondered if he ever slept as it didn’t seem to matter when we sent a question or request, the response was immediate. He kept in touch with us throughout our travels ensuring that everything was as we had hoped. They exceeded our expectations in all areas. The communication, knowledge, flexibility, and caring attitude was incredible.

We travelled for 7 weeks so the tour that we structured gave us a great mix of guided and free time. We were able to see the normal tourist sites, as well as spend some in-depth time in the villages and communities. This gave us a much greater insight into life in Vietnam and Cambodia. All I can say is that they are amazing and incredible people!

Our guides were great. Our drivers were safe and looked after us very well. I would not recommend anyone try driving on thier own if you are coming from a country where people obey the traffic laws. We learned over time that is is actully very organized chaos!

If you are looking for a great agency, we can assure you that Asia Pioneer cares about you and will look after you with every detail!
Thank you to Mr. Lam and the entire staff.

Maria & Tom – BC, Canada

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Maria and Tom - West Kelowna, Canada 
Mar 31, 2023

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