Explore Exotic Laos and Thailand with Cathy Scott
October 31, 2023 - November 13, 2023
Join Cathy on an unforgettable adventure through Laos and Thailand! Offering a beautiful medley of rich cultural history and exciting outdoor adventure, these two beautiful countries are full of endless wonders for us to explore. Admire the cascading waterfalls and stunning mountain scenery of Laos, and discover Thailand's opulent temples, historic ruins, and white sand beaches. You will be staying in beautiful and authentic boutique accommodations throughout the tour, with private transportation and an array of unique and memorable experiences. Experience the traditional ways of life of the friendly locals, immerse yourself in the fascinating culture, and indulge in world-famous cuisine. Marvel at the pristine panoramic landscape and visit charming remote villages on a 3-night cruise down the Mekong River. Enjoy a once in a lifetime interaction with rescued elephants in an ethically run elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai. Awaken your senses during a half-day authentic Thai cooking class in Bangkok.
Finish off your trip with an optional extension to the picturesque beach island of Phuket, where you can soak up the sunshine and experience the ultimate relaxation of a full-body Thai aromatherapy massage.
Price per person: $5,299.00 USD based on two sharing.
Single supplement: $1,799.00 USD
Optional Add-On to Phuket: $775.00 USD per person based on two sharing.
Single supplement: $275.00 USD
Your Package Includes:
- Accommodation and Meals as per itinerary
- Private Transfers and Sightseeing as per itinerary
- Entrance Fees to Museums and Monuments mentioned in the itinerary
- Handmade Silk Scarf, Naturally Dyed in a Hands-On Workshop
- 3 Night Anouvong River Cruise
- Half-Day Thai Cooking Class
- Interactive Elephant Sanctuary Experience
- Flights from Chiang Mai to Bangkok
Tuesday, Oct 31: Arrive Luang Prabang
Welcome to Laos! We will be greeted at the airport and transferred to our boutique hotel based in the historic district of Luang Prabang.
Wednesday, Nov 1: Luang Prabang
After breakfast, we will head out on a walking tour to explore the UNESCO-protected Luang Prabang - a beautiful mix of ancient gilded temples, saffron-clad monks, faded Indochinese villas and peaceful river scenery. We will end the tour by climbing up to the top of Mount Phousi to admire the panoramic views across the Mekong and Khan rivers as well as the stunning mountain range. The remainder of the afternoon and evening will be at your leisure. (B)
Thursday, Nov 2: Luang Prabang
This morning we will discover the rich sights and sounds of the morning market lining the quiet streets near the Royal Palace. We will have the opportunity to browse and shop as well as indulge in some delicious tastings from the local food vendors. In the afternoon, we will visit a traditional village to learn the ancient techniques of pottery making in a behind the scenes tour, with the opportunity to get hands-on with the clay. We will be guided by a skilled pottery maker with over 400 years of experience passed down through their family.
Later in the day we will have the opportunity to partake in a hands-on workshop, creating patterns and colours on a handwoven silk scarf, using natural dyes prepared by a master dyer with plants from their own garden. Each person will get to keep their silk scarf to take home as a souvenir. (B)
Friday, Nov 3: Luang Prabang – Ban Khok Kham
After breakfast, we will be transferred to the pier for our overnight cruise to Huay Xai. Enjoy an on-board presentation about and Luang Prabang’s rich cultural heritage and fascinating history. We will have the opportunity to embark on an adventurous kayak tour of the Nam Ou River. We will then explore the famous Pak Ou Caves, containing limestone grottoes which house approximately 4,000 sacred Buddhist statues and images. Afterwards, a small trek leading into the jungle will take us to a nearby village where we will meet a local “medicine man”. We will also get to observe local weavers and whisky distillers honoring their timeworn traditional crafts. In the evening on a nearby, peaceful sandbank, our chefs will prepare a barbeque dinner, while local villagers entertain us with classic traditional dance and music performances. (B,L,D)
Saturday, Nov 4: Ban Khok Kham – Ban Kok Aek
Early birds are welcome to join a daily morning exercise class of Yoga or Tai Chi on the terrace deck. As we cruise along in the morning, our local expert hosts a lecture with interesting insights and facts about Laotian culture of the diverse tribes living along the upper Mekong. We will also get to stop and explore a very rural and charming village inhabited by the Khmu people.
After lunch we will arrive at the secluded tiny village of Kok Aek where we will spend the night. We will get to know the local villagers who have committed themselves to the organic growth of vegetables, fruits, and herbs in carefully maintained plots of land along the riverside. We will have the opportunity to sample the local specialty of kai paen, which is made of dried freshwater “seaweed” topped with sesame and vegetables – a very unique and wholesome treat! After dinner, you may like to join the cinema under the stars on the open terrace deck, before enjoying a peaceful night’s sleep mid-river in the middle of nowhere. (B,L,D)
Sunday, Nov 5: Kok Aek – Pakbeng – Pak Ngui
After breakfast and on our way to Pakbeng, our local expert guide will host a lecture about the Laotian elephants and their cultural importance in the past and their current situation which has brought them to the brink of extinction. An interesting preparation for this afternoon where we will meet these fascinating animals in person.
In the early afternoon, we arrive in the small town of Pakbeng, which contains the country’s most sustainably managed elephant sanctuary. If we arrive early enough, we may still see elephants freely walking along the shoreline to take a morning bath. To expand our knowledge from the morning lecture about these majestic animals, we will then visit the conservation sanctuary, followed by an exploration of the town of Pakbeng. In the evening, we will continue cruising along the river and will be spoiled with a lovely gala and farewell dinner in al-fresco style on the terrace deck. (B,L,D)
Monday, Nov 6: Pak Ngui – Huay Xai
This morning we can enjoy a long and relaxed brunch as we voyage along and towards the Thai-Lao border. Kick back and enjoy these last quiet sailing hours as slowly the river scenery begins to become more narrow and mountainous. We will have the option to partake in a Lao cooking class to learn how to prepare some of the tasty and easy-to-make snacks and local dishes.
The rest of the cruising time until we reach Huay Xai is at your own leisure. Upon arrival and check-out, we will be transferred to the Lao-Thao border. Once we have successfully crossed immigration into Thailand, we will be transferred to Chiang Mai, where we will check into our beautiful boutique hotel located within the old city walls of the charming downtown district. This evening is spent at your own leisure. (B)
Tuesday, Nov 7: Chiang Mai
This morning after breakfast, our tour guide will meet us at the hotel and take us on a tour of the beautiful city of Chiang Mai. We will visit Wat Chedi Luang, a historic temple that once housed the Emerald Buddha, now held in Bangkok’s Wat Phra Kaew. We will continue to Wat Suan Dok, built in the 14th century by King Keu Na of Lanna to accommodate important priests visiting from Sukhothai. Drive to Doi Suthep Mountain, enjoying the spectacular views of Northern Thailand as we head past mountains and forests, towards Wat Phra That, one of Northern Thailand’s most sacred temples. Founded in 1383 AD, the temple is reached by climbing 309 steps (or tram for a small surcharge). Enjoy the superb panoramic view of the city before returning to our hotel.
After the moon comes up, we will cruise along the streets of Chiang Mai via the city’s iconic local truck, Rod Daeng, to visit some of the local’s favourite places to eat and drink at night. We will taste a variety of savoury street food items, including local Pad Thai, Thai-style sausage, and some bugs if you dare! Between the snacks, we will visit old-town landmarks and temples for a different perspective compared to the busy daytime scene. (B,D)
Wednesday, Nov 8: Chiang Mai
This morning, our guide will pick us up from the hotel and drive us out into the countryside to the Baan Hongnual School, where we will discover the secrets of Thai cuisine during a half-day cooking class. This program includes an introduction to Thai ingredients as well as the preparation and cooking of traditional Thai food, such as soups, salads, curries, satay, and desserts. We will learn how to stir-fry, steam, and serve food in the traditional Thai way. After we enjoy our prepared four-dish course for lunch, we will be transferred back to our hotel where the rest of the day can be spent at your leisure. (B,L)
Thursday, Nov 9: Patara Elephant Sanctuary
Today we will embark on a leisurely drive out to the Patara Elephant Sanctuary. Their program will teach us how to approach an elephant, discern the elephant’s temperament, feed it, and check its health. We will also learn how to take care of our own elephant, bathe it, and brush it in the river. This once-in-a-lifetime experience will allow us to learn how to care for these elephants as if they were our own. We will also have a special chance to observe the elephants interacting with their families in their natural environment.
In the afternoon, we will visit San Kamphaeng District, the heart of silk and cotton production, to observe the fascinating process of making and weaving these beautiful fabrics. We continue on to Bor Sang, where delicate Thai paper umbrellas are produced and hand-painted. We will then visit Thai Celadon, where ceramics are produced following the Sawankhalok pottery method dating back hundreds of years. Here we can explore another small village where we can observe the intricate work of both lacquerware and silverware craftsmen before being returned to our hotel for an evening of leisure. (B)
Friday, Nov 10: Chiang Mai – Bangkok
After checking out of the hotel, we will be driven to the airport for our flight to Bangkok. Upon arrival, we will be transferred to our boutique lifestyle hotel located in the heart of Bangkok’s Chinatown, a culturally dynamic district featuring exotic markets and a mind-boggling array of street food. Today can be spent at your leisure, either relaxing in the 7-story garden atrium, enjoying the rooftop bar overlooking Bangkok’s stunning skyline, or exploring the city. (B)
Saturday, Nov 11: Bangkok & Chao Phraya River Cruise
After breakfast this morning, our guide will drive us to Wat Pho, one of the oldest temples in Bangkok. Wat Pho houses the famous 148ft Reclining Buddha as well as the original school of traditional Thai massage. From here, we will continue to the spectacular Grand Palace. The vast 233-acre grounds encompass more than 100 buildings, including the Royal Residence and Throne Halls, government offices, and the renowned Wat Phra Kaew, home to the most revered Buddha image in Thailand, the Emerald Buddha. Next, we will take a local ferry to Wat Arun, once the grand royal temple of King Rama II.
This afternoon, we will board the Manohra Luxury Cruise and enjoy a fantastic culinary experience while learning more about the Chao Phraya River that feeds the city’s numerous canals, earning Bangkok its nickname of “Venice of the East”. We will enjoy a Royal Thai dinner as we cruise along the river, while the changing panorama reveals fantastic treasures from the rich past of the country and its new face of modern architectural wonders. (B,D)
Sunday, Nov 12: Bangkok
Today we will visit Suan Pakkad Palace, the former residence of the Royal Highnesses Prince and Princess Chumbhot of Nagara Svarga. The highlight of this museum is the 300-year-old lacquered pavilion decorated with 17th-century gold leaf murals and fine woodcarvings. Visit the Thai-style house of Jim Thompson, the legendary American businessman who came to Thailand at the end of World War II and helped revive the Thai silk industry. His house is now a museum filled with fascinating Asian antiques and historical memorabilia. Jim Thompson’s mysterious disappearance in Malaysia’s Cameron Highlands only adds to the intrigue surrounding one of the most famous Americans to have lived in Asia.
This evening we will head into Chinatown for a chance to truly become a Thai food insider. Enjoy a behind-the-scenes adventure indulging in the local sights and flavours of this foodie neighbourhood. This is a great opportunity to see the local cooks at work and hear their stories through our guide. Sample delicious treats from some of Bangkok’s favourite street vendors, local eateries and restaurants nearby before returning to our hotel. (B,D)
Monday, Nov 13 (End of Itinerary):
This morning we will be transferred to the Bangkok airport for our flights home, or to continue on to Phuket on an optional tour extension. (B)
Optional Add-On to Phuket
Monday, Nov 13: Bangkok – Phuket
This morning we will be transferred to the airport for our flight to Phuket. Upon arrival, we will be taken to our beautiful resort in sunny Phuket, located just a short walk away from Patong Beach, the island’s liveliest oceanside district and one of Thailand’s top holiday destinations. Today can be spent at your leisure, lounging in the gorgeous swimming pools and enjoying the swim-up pool bar, or savouring the island’s best Thai and local cuisine and drinks. (B)
Tuesday, Nov 14: Phuket
This morning, a luxurious and personalized experience awaits us at a private villa, equipped with traditional wellness facilities and managed by specially handpicked therapists from an elite class of the Suuko Academy. Immerse yourself in a cultural custom that reflects the luxurious legacy of Thai Heritage and experience a massage designed to synchronize acupressure with aroma therapy. Let your strains and stresses fade away with this two-hour session and walk out feeling reenergized. Spend the rest of the day at your leisure. (B)
Wednesday, Nov 15: Phuket
The entirety of today is at your leisure. This is a great opportunity to pick up any last-minute souvenirs and treasures at the nearby boutiques and open-air markets. Or simply enjoy Patong’s fantastic restaurants and electric nightlife. (B)
Thursday, Nov 16: Depart Phuket (End of Itinerary)
Today we will have to say goodbye to the beautiful island of Phuket as we are transferred back to the airport for our flights home. (B)