The Charms of the Upper Mekong

9 Days Tour

The Charms of the Upper Mekong
We invite you on a 9-day slow journey that merges heritage, adventure and luxury in the culturally rich northern parts of Thailand and Laos. Start with an adventure of a lifetime at Chiang Rai’s Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle, where you have the rare opportunity to interact with elephants in their natural habitat. Experience boutique cruising from Thailand to Laos aboard Heritage Line Anouvong and bask in the serene natural landscapes in the less-travelled stretch of the Mekong River. Conclude your journey in the historic town of Luang Prabang where you will truly experience the slow way of life that have remained unchanged for centuries.

Included

  • Overnight accommodation including daily breakfast, hotels tax and service charges
  • 4 days 3 nights Heritage Line Anouvong (Shared cruise/private cabin)
  • Private transfers and transportation on tour
  • Sightseeing with local English-speaking guides (one guide in each city)
  • Entrance fees and Welcome pack
  • Meals as specified (meals only, no drinks/ water)
  • Cold towels and water on sightseeing days
  • Airport Departure Assistance Service at Luang Prabang Airport

Not Included

  • Other Airport Assistance Service
  • Separate luggage truck
  • Thailand and Laos Visa
  • Other meals where not mentioned in the program
  • Drinks / water at included lunches and dinners
  • All flights and airport taxes
  • Hotel early check in / Late check-out
  • Overweight luggage
  • Personal expenses
  • Travel insurance
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Other services not listed in inclusive column
Have Questions? Email Us

Itinerary

Day 1

Chiang Rai, Thailand

Upon arrival at Chiang Rai Airport, please proceed to the Information Booth (AOT) opposite to the entrance gate of Exhibition Hall (please see attached map for detailed instruction). Here you will find your guide waiting for your holding the Trails of Indochina signboard with your name on it.
Transfer to Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle. Located in the heart of the Golden Triangle on elevated grounds along a hillside, the Camp commands majestic views of the Thai jungle, Burma across the Ruak River and mountains of Laos in the northeast. The Camp is accessible by boat during the day time, and alternatively 5-minute by car. From the moment of your arrival at Chiang Rai, a magical journey begins.
Through a village and across rice fields, ending at the West Post, which is a small dock and sala (covered veranda). There, the Four Seasons Camp Host greets guests, and then escorts them on the second part of their journey.
At the camp pier, guests are welcomed by the Camp Manager, offered refreshments, checked in and introduced to the Camp. Then take a stroll to their tents along a verdant, fern-abundant pathway with dramatic views of the jungle, river, and Burma beyond, just across the river.
Package inclusions:
  • All meals and beverages, including house wines and spirits
  • One 90-minute spa treatment per person, per stay
  • Full access to in-room refrigerated private bar
  • Nightly sundowner at Burma Bar
  • Nightly wine and cheese tasting at the Wine Cellar
  • Internet access in tents and public areas
  • Leisure time and enjoy sundowner at Burma Bar or selections of wine and cheese at the Wine Cellar.
  • Afterwards, enjoy dinner at Nong Yao Restaurant.
Honeymoon benefits:
  • A welcome flower bouquet.
  • One bottle of chilled sparkling wine in the pavilion.
  • Tropical floral bath on arrival night.
  • Flower decoration on turn down of arrival night.
Hotel: Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle, Thailand
(D)
Day 2

Chiang Rai, Thailand

Enjoy breakfast at Nong Yao Restaurant.
Choose from a multitude of activities as below:
Golden Triangle Excursions (approximately 2 hours): Experience a cruise down the majestic Mekong river on-board a traditional longboat to the Golden Triangle where Thailand, Myanmar (Burma) and Laos come together. Once you are through with the Golden Triangle board a Songtaew followed by a Skylab to visit a local market and an ancient temple called “Chedi Luang”.
Spa Experience (90 minutes): Amidst the bamboo forests of the Golden Triangle are two open-air salas featuring double treatment rooms, spa beds and a bathtub/shower area. With their rustic design and use of natural materials, the salas blend in with the environment. Each guest is invited to enjoy a 90 minutes’ treatment of their choice.
Enjoy sundowner at Burma Bar or selections of wine and cheese at the Wine Cellar
Dinner at Nong Yao Restaurant.
Hotel: Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle, Thailand
(B,L,D)
Day 3

Chiang Rai, Thailand

In the morning, your guide will assist you in transferring from Golden Triangle to Chiang Khong – Lao border (approx. 02 hours).
Once upon arrival, our staff welcomes you at the Thai immigration office in the morning hours. Our team assists you with all immigration procedures on both the Thai and Laotian sides (the process of passing through immigration on both sides can take up to one hour). We take care of your luggage, which you may find later in your room on board. After all formalities, we transfer you to the vessel, which is moored at Huay Xai pier.
Upon check-in, get acquainted with the ship and settle in your room as we start our downstream journey. Our first stop today is Huay Palang village, home of the Khmu minority. The locals’ lifestyle here depends fully on the Mekong as a means of transportation and a primary food source. The village consists of approximately 85 families. Learn about the local art of weaving Bamboo mats, which you can try your hand at it if you like. Local households also produce their own alcohol by distilling rice to make the famous Lao whisky. We are sure you are curious to understand all the steps of the production process.
As the sun sets over the Mekong River, we will hold a Baci Ceremony, held by the village elders in your honor for a traditional Laotian welcome. After dinner, there is a famous Laotian “comedy” movie scheduled in our nightly “on-board cinema”. The movie, called “Chang” (Laotian for “elephant”), was shot not far away from our current location in 1927 and was made by the same producer as the first King Kong movie.
Hotel: Heritage Line Anouvong Cruise
(B,L,D)
Day 4

Pak Beng , Laos

Early birds are welcome to join our daily morning exercise on the terrace deck (Tai Chi or Yoga is offered every day around sunrise hours). There is no better backdrop than the stunning Mekong scenery to do some morning exercises to start the day. As we cruise along in the morning, our local expert hosts a lecture about Asian elephants, particularly the Laotian species, their cultural importance in the past and the current threats which have brought them to the brink of extinction.
After lunchtime, we arrive in the small town of Pakbeng. This riverside settlement is halfway between our embarkation at Huay Xai and Luang Prabang. Many locals also stop here when they travel or transport goods between these two “hubs” on the upper Mekong. We pass by the local market scene and visit a beautiful hill-top temple with amazing views of the gently flowing Mekong below. We then have the chance to expand on the knowledge from our morning lecture when visiting an elephant preservation sanctuary. The elephants here used to work as logging elephants and can live in peace and safety here as they now lack the ability to survive in the wild. The sanctuary is designed under the aspects of ecotourism, and its management looks strongly after sustainable tourism while supporting this threatened species.
Back on board, the journey continues for a few more hours – lay back and enjoy the scenic views as Anouvong proceeds towards its next destination. At a secluded sandbank, the local ethnic Lao, Khmu and Hmong residents welcome us to the tiny village of Kop Aek. Dive into centuries-old traditions and practices as you immerse yourself in a unique Laotian experience. As we remain at the sandbank into early evening, kick back with an aperitif accompanied by a classical dance performance by the local people. After the show we have another highlight in store for our guests – a barbecue dinner on the terrace deck as we take in the sights and soothing sounds of nature.
Hotel: Heritage Line Anouvong Cruise
(B,L,D)
Day 5

Pak Ou Caves, Laos, Laos

After breakfast, our morning lecture provides you with interesting insights and facts about Laotian culture of the diverse tribes living along the upper Mekong. In addition to the lecture, you are welcome to join an authentic Laotian cooking class to learn how to prepare some of the delightful and easy-to make local foods. The rest of the morning is at your disposal as we sail through lush vegetation and gently rolling verdant hills.
In the afternoon, we arrive at another little village named Muang Keo. In this village, you can observe local weavers honoring their timeworn traditional crafts. From Muang Keo, we take a short and easy trek to the famous Pak Ou Caves, located directly on the Mekong’s rocky shore and opposite the mouth of the Ou River. There are two spacious limestone grottoes which house approximately 4,000 sacred Buddhist statues and images ranging from mere centimeters up to 2m (7ft) in height. Once back to the ship we recharge for a little more adventurous action later in the afternoon (optional activity): Take a kayak and discover the peaceful, flowing river on your own and observe life on the shores from a different perspective.
Get refreshed before the evening, where we get to meet Mr. Francis Engelmann, a writer and retired consultant to UNESCO on heritage preservation projects since 1994. Born in Paris in 1947, Mr. Engelmann has lived in Laos for over 20 years and knows its many facets like the back of his hand. In his presentation, Mr. Engelmann shares some of his expertise on the country’s rich cultural heritage, the turbulent history and the day-to-day life of Lao people. Our culinary team is pleased to spoil you on your last evening as our chefs have prepared some delectable dishes for dinner. Have a grand time together with your newly made friends and join our staff to celebrate this wonderful journey and dance the night away. The ship moors this evening near Pak Ou.
Hotel: Heritage Line Anouvong Cruise
(B,L,D)
Day 6

Luang Prabang, Laos

The last sunrise aboard paired with a morning activity is the perfect way to commence your final day. After enjoying the sumptuous breakfast buffet, we arrive in central Luang Prabang at 10:00. Our team assists with your check-out and is happy to help with your luggage as you disembark. At the Luang Prabang pier, we bid you farewell and wish you a pleasant journey onward
After disembarking, you will be met by a Trails of Indochina representative carrying the Trails of Indochina signboard with your name and transfer you to your hotel.
The regular check-in time is at 14:00, early check-in is NOT included and subject to availability
Take a short break at the hotel after check-in.
At 17:30, meet your guide at the hotel lobby and depart for the excursion in this evening and enjoy an intimate dining experience which combines gourmet cooking with the sophisticated elegance of the Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao. Begin the evening with an aperitif served in the hotel bar. After, take your seat at your private table for two, nestled in the elegant garden pavilion near the orchid ponds. A 7-course Lao or Western menu will be served, with some part of the meal prepared right in front of you. Throughout the evening, be attended to by a team of dedicated waiters and entertained by a private musician playing traditional Lao music. The flickering glow of 500 candles sets the mood for romance and assures that this will be an unforgettable evening.
Notes:
  • Tour duration: 03 hours
  • Kindly choose between a Lao or Western menu and advise of any dietary requirements in advance
Honeymoon benefit:
  • One complimentary 30-minute back, neck and shoulder massage for 2 persons per stay.
Hotel: Rosewood Luang Prabang
(B,D)
Day 7

Luang Prabang, Laos

Spend a relaxing day with a morning cooking class, followed by an afternoon swim at the picturesque Kuang Si Waterfall.
08:30 meet your guide and drive in the direction of the Kuang Si Waterfall to the organic farm of Mrs. Vandara, a published Lao cookbook author. Begin your cooking class by selecting items from the garden. Under the guidance of Mrs. Vandara, learn which fresh ingredients are added to the dishes and get acquainted with some intriguing and unfamiliar flavors.
Enjoy the dishes you have helped create for lunch. Later, continue to the Kuang Si Waterfall and national park for a leisurely hike or swim. The more adventurous can hike up to the top of the main waterfall. Explore the multiple picture-perfect pools as well as the nearby Asian Bear Rescue Centre (located between the park entrance and waterfall). Transfer back to Luang Prabang in the afternoon.
Notes:
  • Tour duration: 6.5 hours
  • Kindly inform your guide in advance of any dietary requirements
  • It is recommended that guests wear proper walking attire if trekking to the top of the waterfall
Return to your hotel after the tour. The remain of the day is free at leisure with no car and guide accessed.
Hotel: Rosewood Luang Prabang
(B, L)
Day 8

Luang Prabang, Laos

To commemorate Luang Prabang’s 20th anniversary as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the book “A Walk through the Heritage of Luang Prabang” was published highlighting myriad aspects of this unique and charming town. Set out on foot for an off-the-beaten-track walking tour with your local guide and the 20th Anniversary book in hand. The walking tour route has been designed by connoisseurs of Luang Prabang who have been involved for many years in researching, documenting and preserving the town’s traditions and treasures, and starts at the beginning of the town peninsula where the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers meet. Observe Luang Prabang’s distinct architecture and let your guide regale you with stories about the houses you see and the places you pass. During or after the tour, stroll along the main road and stop at the 3 Nagas by MGallery Hotel, bookended by mango trees and vintage cars. The 100-year-old Lao-style building brims with old-world atmosphere and across the road another wing is an architectural gem. One of the houses, the Lamache, was once home to nobility families and later the appointed ice cream supplier to the royal family. Step into the hotels garden and enjoy a ‘Lao Tea Break’ with Lao coffee or herbal tea and traditional snacks or artisan ice cream. Sit down, relax and feel free to ask your guide more questions about Luang Prabang’s heritage and its fascinating buildings.
Notes:
  • Availability: Every day except Sundays
  • Tour duration: 04 hours
  • Includes Lao tea break
  • This tour includes an easy 02 – 03 hours’ walk around the peninsula of Luang Prabang. A vehicle will be at your disposal during the tour if you wish to shorten the walk
  • Also included in this tour is a limited edition “A Walk through the Heritage of Luang Prabang” book in celebration of the 20th UNESCO anniversary of the city
Return to your hotel after the tour. The remainder of the day is free at leisure with no car and guide at disposal.
Hotel: Rosewood Luang Prabang
(B)
Day 9

Luang Prabang, Laos

Enjoy your morning until meeting your guide at hotel lobby and being transferred to the airport for your flight to next destination.
The regular check-out time is at 12:00; late check-out is NOT included and subject to availability
Arrive at the international terminal, the airport representative will complete check-in procedures on your behalf at the Luang Prabang Airport while you relax at the hotel. An hour prior to departure, transfer to the departure terminal where you will be handed your passport, boarding pass and luggage tag(s). Your luggage can be checked through to your final destination if airline policy allows. The airport representative will then escort you to the immigration counter where your picture will be taken. Continue directly to the departure gate while the airport representative waits for immigration to finish with your passport which will then be delivered to you at your gate.
Notes:
Please note your flight tickets, passport and luggage will be collected at least two hours in advance of your flight departure
(B)

Richard and his staff have been instrumental in the successful planning of all of our international family trips over the past several years. With 2 young children, it was essential that the trip itineraries included not only family oriented excursions/logistics...

Oliver Kim, Inverness, IL