Classic Laos

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Experience the essence of Laos on this short but enlightening trip. Colonial mansions, tree-lined boulevards and gilded Buddhist temples impart a unique timelessness to charming Vientiane. The former royal capital of Luang Prabang never fails to enchant visitors with its abundance of temples, faded French architecture and friendly people. Packed with sights, smells and wonderful cuisine, this taste of Laos is the ideal introduction to a land seemingly lost in time.

Itinerary

Day 1 Vientiane

The fascinating capital of Laos possesses a tropical Asian vibe laced with faded French-colonial charm. Weathered mansions, tree-lined boulevards and old temples impart an atmosphere of timelessness along the Mekong River. Take a private tour to see the thousands of Buddha images at Wat Si Saket and visit Pha That Luang, a symbol of Lao sovereignty.

Day 2 Luang Prabang

Once the heart and soul of the ancient Lao kingdom, Luang Prabang is now a designated World Heritage-listed site. Visit the Royal Palace Museum, an eclectic blend of French and Lao architecture where the royal family's quarters have remained untouched since 1975. See a collection of rare Buddha images made from crystal and gold on display here as well as rare articles of royal regalia including the king's own elephant saddle. Later, climb 328 steps to the Phu Si temple - topped with a glittering golden stupa - and be rewarded with panoramic views of Luang Prabang.

Day 3 Pak Ou Caves

Take a boat trip along the Mekong to the Pak Ou Caves, two sacred limestone caves filled with Buddha images of all styles and sizes. Each year devoted pilgrims and villagers bring more treasures to the caves. Stop in at the silk-weaving village of Ban Phanom on return to Luang Prabang. Cap off a great day with a cool drink on the veranda of the Villa Santi Hotel.

Days 4-5 Luang Prabang

Watch lines of saffron-robed Buddhist monks walk the narrow streets and laneways to receive alms from the faithful. Visit Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang's most magnificent temple or wander the banks of the Mekong.

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