THE GOLDEN TRIANGLE & THE MEKONG RIVER

The scenic waterways of Thailand and Laos are the ultimate backdrop for a luxury adventure. Explore the legendary Golden Triangle and cruise the Mekong River, marveling at the spectacular nature and mingling with locals whose charm is infectious and enjoy top service and stunning hotels.

Trip Highlights

luang prabang

Explore the history and nature of The Golden Triangle
Explore the Golden Triangle using the Anantara as a base, a luxury hotel that embraces its exotic surroundings.

Cruise The Mekong River

Cruise the Mekong and Chao Praya Rivers, enjoying beautiful scenery and learning about local life on the water’s edge.

Immerse yourself into the local history and culture
Take insightful tours to learn about the past and explore rural villages to get in touch with fascinating culture.

Day to day program

Day 1: Arrive Bangkok
Arrive in Bangkok and transfer to hotel, and then free at leisure. Overnight at Millennium Hilton

Distance and journey time:
Bangkok Airport – Bangkok Hotel (36.7 km): 51 min

Day 2: Bangkok (B/L)
After an early start to the morning, head to Wat Pho just in time to experience monks performing an early-morning ritual of chanting (chanting starts at 09:00). After this uplifting and often private experience, visit the temple grounds and the famous 45-metre reclining Buddha. From there, continue to the Grand Palace, Thailand’s most important landmark, and be awed by the grandeur and majesty of the building and its throne halls. Then marvel at the mysterious Emerald Buddha, the most revered Buddha image in Thailand.

Later, cross the Chao Phraya River to sample the spices and flavours of Thai cuisine at Supatra River House. In the afternoon, drive out to Prasat Museum, for a special glimpse into a private collection of priceless Thai art and antiquities. (Note: Prasat Museum only accepts visits by appointment, and it is closed on Mondays.) Overnight at Millennium Hilton

Day 3: Bangkok (B/L)
Depart from the hotel in Bangkok and drive directly to Bang Pa-In, the summer palace built by King Rama IV. There, see the contrasting palace buildings and surrounding temples inspired by European, Chinese and Thai designs. Also visit Wat Niwet Thammaprawat, the gothic-inspired temple on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. After the visit, board the Thanatharee Rice Barge, and enjoy a private lunch cruise on the Chao Phraya River. En route enjoy beautiful views of Wat Phanan Choeng, the Elephant Kraal Pavilion and local lifestyle on the riverside.

As the boat comes to a stop, arrive in Ayutthaya. This ancient town is surrounded by rivers and a canal, and was a flourishing capital of Thailand from 1350 until it was sacked by the Burmese in 1767. The remains of the temples and ruins of this great city are a World Heritage Site. Disembark at Aor Bor Jor pier and visit the most important of the ruined temples in Ayutthaya Historical Park: Wat Yai Chaimongkol, Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Viharn Phra Mongkol Bopit and Wat Chai Wattanaram. After soaking up the uniquely scenic historical ambiance of Ayutthaya, return to Bangkok by car. Overnight at Millennium Hilton

Distance and journey time:
Bangkok – Ayutthaya (89.9 kn): 1.37 hr

Day 4: Bangkok – Chiang Rai – Golden Triangle (B/D)
Breakfast at the hotel. Leave Thailand's central plains behind, and journey north to Thailand's Golden Triangle. Upon arrival in Chiang Rai, meet with the guide and transfer to the hotel for the evening. After settling in to the comforts of the surroundings, have an opportunity to delve into the secret history of the region with a visit to the Hall of Opium. (Note: The Hall of Opium is closed on Mondays.) Dinner at the hotel. Overnight at Anantara Golden Triangle

Distance and journey time:
Bangkok Hotel – Bangkok Airport (36.7 km): 51 min
Chiang Rai Airport – Anantara Golden Triangle (68.1 km): 1.10 hr

Day 5: Golden Triangle (B/L/D)
Breakfast at your hotel, and choice of
• Spa Treatment
• Elephant and Mahout Training
• Three Country Tour
• Cooking Class

Lunch and dinner are served at the hotel. Overnight at Anantara Golden Triangle

Day 6: Golden Triangle (B/L/D)
Breakfast at the hotel. In the morning, depart for Mae Sai, a trading town at the northern tip of Thailand that is an entry point into Myanmar. Cross the border for a samlor ride through the village of Tachilek. Here, enjoy lunch at a local Burmese restaurant, then admire crafts at the market. Next, enjoy spectacular views from Doi Tung, the former home of the King of Thailand's mother, then stop at the Royal Handicraft Center to observe the production of mulberry paper, pottery, and weaving. Dinner at the hotel. Overnight at Anantara Golden Triangle

Distance and journey time:
Anantara Golden Triangle – Mae Sai District (26.2 km): 32 min
Mae Sai District – Doi Tung (22.7 km): 31 min
Doi Tung – Anantara Golden Triangle (48.9 km): 1.03 hr

Day 7: Golden Triangle - Chiang Khong - Houay Xay – Pakbeng (B/L/D)
Breakfast at the hotel. After an early-morning wake up, pass through unforgettable scenery along the Mekong River en route to the border town of Chiang Khong. After completing immigration formalities, climb on board a boat for a journey into the jungles of Northern Laos. Upon reaching the Lao border of Houay Xay, be greeted by a representative from the Luang Say Cruises and escorted to a shared cruise boat. The cruise takes three days to reach Luang Prabang, with overnight stops made in Pakbeng and at the Kamu Lodge.

En route a stop is made to visit and admire the authentic rural life of hill tribe settlements. Enjoy a delicious buffet lunch onboard the boat while continuing the cruise cruise along the scenic Mekong River. Late in the afternoon, reach the town of Pakbeng. Halfway between Houei Xay and Luang Prabang, Pakbeng is a necessary stop for slow boats. The small town is lined with wooden houses along a steep street on the hillside and is quite dynamic. Depending on the water speed, it may be possible to reach Pakbeng in time to watch the sun set over the river from the balcony of the boat’s room. Overnight at Luang Say Lodge

Distance and journey time:
Anantara Golden Triangle – Chiang Khong (82.4 km): 1.36 hr
Houay Xay – Pakbeng by boat (150 km): 6 hours

Day 8: Pakbeng – Kamu Lodge (B/L/D)
In the morning, enjoy breakfast at the hotel before continuing the river cruise downstream to the Kamu Eco-lodge.

Optional activity:
For early-risers, there is an opportunity to visit the morning market where nearby villagers and hill tribes come to buy and exchange the goods.

Arrive at Kamu Ecolodge for lunch time. Kamu Lodge features 20 private canvas tents. Faithful to local style, each one is protected from the elements by a thatch roof. This allows the Lodges’ grounds to harmoniously blend with surrounding nature. The tents are decorated with bamboo and wooden furniture. They each feature private attached bathroom and toilets with solar-powered hot water and electricity.

In the afternoon, choose to participate in a variety of different activities and be rewarded with a very original Lao experience:
• Rice planting and harvesting in surrounding rice fields
• Gold panning (January to June) in the Mekong. Anything finds are free to keep!
• Traditional fishing techniques in the Mekong.
• Local village visit and encounters

Dinner and overnight at the Lodge

Distance and journey time:
Pakbeng – Kamu Lodge by boat: 4 hours

Day 9: Kamu Lodge – Pak Ou – Luang Prabang (B/L)
Enjoy breakfast in the cool morning air and spend the morning as at leisure. Relax or visit the nearby local village with the guide. (check-out time: 10:30). After lunch at the Lodge, the boat departs around 14:00 for a cruise down to Luang Prabang, arriving around 17:00. Along the way, visit Pak Ou Caves. Located two hours upstream of Luang Prabang, Pak Ou Caves has thousands of gold-lacquered Buddha statues crammed into two caves carved out of a towering limestone cliff. They range in size from a few centimetres to the size of a human. The caves are also a popular destination for local pilgrimags, making it a great cultural stop as well.

Arrive in Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage city. Here, be welcomed by the guide and receive a private transfer to the hotel for check-in. The rest of the day is free at leisure. Overnight at Maison Dalabua

Distance and journey time:
Kamu Lodge – Luang Prabang by boat: 3 hours

Day 10: Luang Prabang – Half Day City Tour – Kuang Si (B/L)
For early risers, there is a very special dawn visit to watch monks collecting the alms. As the sun begins to rise, long lines of orange-robed monks leave their pagodas and walk barefoot down the streets collecting offerings from Luang Prabang residents. It is a beautiful, serene ceremony that highlights the spiritualism of the Laos people. Return to the hotel for breakfast. Today after breakfast, meet with the guide at the hotel and take a half-day guided tour of Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The tour begins at the former Royal Palace, now the National Museum. Here, explore the history of Laos. Then continue on foot to Wat Mai, a temple renowned for its golden bas-relief, and Wat Sensoukarahm, which features a beautiful dazzling golden façade. Finish the tour at Wat Xieng Thong, the most revered temple in Luang Prabang. Located at the end of the peninsula, close to the Mekong, this temple was built in 1560 by King Setthathirat and is decorated with ornate carvings and mosaics. Enjoy lunch at Tamarind Restaurant

Afterwards, transfer through the Luang Prabang countryside to Kuang Si Waterfalls (32km southwest of the city). Along the way, drive through beautiful landscapes of rice fields, hills, and small villages. There are also viewpoints overlooking the Mekong River. Stop en-route to visit a small village which is home to one of the area’s many ethnic minorities. Here, have an opportunity to learn about their traditions and culture, much of which has remained unchanged for centuries. Upon reaching Kuang Si Waterfall, relax and enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings. The water tumbles down a large drop and cascades gently into several cool, clear pools where one can enjoy a refreshing swim. For the adventurous, it is possible to walk to the top of the falls via a steep track where stunning views await at the top. Afterwards, if time permits, visit the nearby bear sanctuary before returning to Luang Prabang. Overnight at Maison Dalabua

Distance and journey time:
Luang Prabang – Kuang Si waterfalls (32 km): 45 min

Day 11: Luang Prabang – Xieng Khouang (B/L)
Departing from Luang Prabang, the journey today heads to the mysterious Plain of Jars. Depart early in the morning for the drive to Xieng Khouang. The scenic journey takes around six hours, during which time the landscape varies from mountainous to soft hills and grasslands. En route, pass through several ethnic villages perched on the side of steep hills. Stop for a picnic lunch.

In the afternoon, reach Xieng Khouang, locally referred to as Phonsavan. The town situated in central Laos and is the closest town to the mysterious Plain of Jars. During the American bombings of the 1970s, Xieng Khouang was almost entirely destroyed and, subsequently, had to be completely rebuilt in a location 30 km away. After checking into the local hotel, enjoy a city tour and visit the MAG centre in the town. MAG is a humanitarian organization clearing the remnants of conflict for the benefit of local communities worldwide. Lao PDR is the most heavily bombed nation in the world (per capita). Free entry, open daily from 08:00 – 20:00. Overnight at Vansana Hotel

Distance and journey time:
Luang Prabang – Xieng Khouang (306 km): 6-7 hours

Day 12: Xieng Khouang (B/L)
In the morning, journey through Phonsavan and the Plain of Jars. The Plain of Jars is a huge archaeological complex littered with mysterious 2,00-year-old stone jars sized from 70cm up to 3 or 4 metres. Their true origin remains a mystery. It seems that they were carved into boulders. Several researches lead by the French archaeologist Madeleine Colani in the 30’s suggested that they could be old graves, but to this day they remain an enigma.

Throughout the day, visit three sites and also discover some local villages to observe local village life. Site 1, close to the town, is settled at Thong Hai Hin and is the biggest site. Site 2 is at Hai Hin on Phou Salator, “Phou” in Lao means “Mountain”. End the tour at site 3 in Hai Hin Lat Khai. Site 3 is the most impressive, with over 150 jars. Close to this site, visit Ban Xiengdi where there is a small monastery with Buddha images. On the way back, pass areas that were important battlefields during the American secret war. Bomb craters from this time are still visible today.

Attention: The Plain of Jars was been heavily bombed during the war. It’s important to to respect all signs and stay along the defined trails due to the potential for unexploded and ordinances. Lunch at a local restaurant in Phonsavan.

In the afternoon, enjoy a half-day trip to Muang Khoun. Muang Khoun is one area in the old provincial capital that has not been destroyed by the American bombings during the secret war. Muang Khoun is home to a unique sitting giant Buddha as well of some old pagodas that remain in ruins. The foundation and columns of Wat Pia Wat are still standing and close to this site, there is also an old 30-metre-tall stupa constructed in the Lan Xang/Lanna Period. Then return to Xieng Khuang. Overnight at Vansana Hotel

Distance and journey time:
Phonsavan – Plain of Jars (16 km): 20/30 min
Phonsavan – Muang Khoun (40 km): 45 min

Day 13: Xieng Khouang – Vientiane – City Tour (B)
After browsing at the morning market and finishing off some sightseeing, be transferred to the airport for a flight to the capital of Laos. Welcome to the capital of Laos, a relaxed city of leafy boulevards and gracious French architecture. On arrival, be met for a private transfer to the hotel.
After lunch (not included), be picked up by the guide and driver and enjoy a half-day guided tour to discover the hidden charms of Vientiane, whose name means ‘the city of sandalwood’. Vientiane is one of the quietest capital cities in the world, far away from the hustle and bustle of other Asian capitals.

The tour begins at the serene Wat Sisaket, the only temple left intact after the Siamese (Thai) invasion in 1828. It is one of the most beautiful temples in the capital, and its breezy teak-covered hallways are filled with thousands of miniature Buddha statues. Continue on to the nearby Wat Phra Keo. Used as a religious museum, Wat Phra Keo displays a collection of both Lao and Khmer works of art. Also nearby is the Presidential Palace. Although visitors aren’t allowed to visit inside, it is a good glimpse into the town’s colonial past as this building formerly served as the French governor’s palace.

Visit COPE, an association working to help landmine victims. A visit to the center provides in-depth information about the history of the American/Vietnam war and the lasting impact of unexploded ordinances (UXO) in the area and the efforts underway to clear them. Continue to the Patuxay monument, Laos’ version of the Arc de Triomphe, where you can climb the stairs to the roof for sweeping panoramic views of the city. Next, your tour takes you to That Luang, the holiest site in Laos. Constructed by King Setthathirat in the 16th century, the temple is resplendent as the sun is shines upon its towering golden spire. Overnight at Sabaidee@Lao

Distance and journey time:
Vientiane Airport – Vientiane (4 km): 15 min

Day 14: Vientiane – Buddha Park - Bangkok (B)
In the morning, be driven to Buddha Park. The drive takes around 45 minutes, along a road which serves as an important link between the Lao capital and Thailand. On the way, stop and take photos of the Friendship Bridge which was built by the Australian government in 1994 and links Laos and Thailand.

Arrive at Buddha Park and enjoy a stroll around the park. Also known as Xieng Khuan, this unusual park is filled with over 200 Buddhist and Hindu statues. The quiet and tranquil setting along the Mekong River is a contrast to the slightly eccentric sculptures which were built in 1958 by a Laos shaman. The concrete sculptures are bizarre but intriguing, sitting majestically in the peaceful park. After visiting Buddha Park, start the drive back to Vientiane. En route, stop at Mai Savanh to explore the traditional textiles of the Lao people. This shop specializes in high quality silk products and involves several families in their process, from the northern province of Luang Nam Tha Province and the southern provinces of Attapeu and Sekong. (Note: Mai Savanh is closed on Saturday & Sunday)

Another stop will be made at the Lao Disabled Women Development Center. This center aims to bring knowledge and skills to disabled women so that they can become self-sufficient, productive members of the community. The center focuses its efforts on helping people with disabilities gain independence and self-confidence. A visit to the center provides you with the opportunity to talk to these women and to observe their skill at creating handicrafts such as handmade paper. (Note: Subject to change without prior notice from the suppliers). You will return to the city around lunch time and can be dropped off at the airport to catch a flight to your next destination.

Distance and journey time:
Vientiane – Buddha Park (24 km): 45 min
Vientiane – Vientiane Airport (4 km): 15 min

Price in USD from 01 may 2017 - 31 oct 2017
Pr person in double room                    4570,-
Single supplement                                 1325,-

Price in USD from 31 oct 2017 to 30 apr 2018
Pr person in double room                    5135-
Single supplement                                 1685,-

Our Services Include:

  • Accommodation in selected hotels in half-twin/double room with daily breakfast.
  • Meals as mentioned in the itinerary (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner).
  • Tours and transfers by private air-conditioned vehicles.
  • English speaking local guide
  • All entrance fees as indicated in itinerary.
  • Tips for driver and hotel porters (Thailand part only)
  • Bus to Laos border (Thailand part only)

Our Services do not Include:

  • International and domestic flights
  • Meals other than mentioned above.
  • Camera/video entrance fees.
  • Personal expenses
  • Travel insurance, tips, visa
  • Other services not clearly indicated in the package inclusions above.

Important notes:
• Reservations during peak times (Christmas, New Year, Vietnamese Lunar New Year, National Holidays) may be subject to peak season surcharges and surcharges for compulsory Gala dinners on 24th and 31st december.
• Rooms at hotels are available only from 1400 on arrival day till 1200 on departure date. A supplement will be added if early check-in or late check-out is desired.
• Please note that all the above services & package tours have not been booked yet, they are proposed for your information only. We will not begin any reservation before we receive your confirmation.
• If one or some proposed service(s) is (are) not available at the time of booking, we will try to arrange similar service(s) in order to avoid as many important changes as possible.
• The itinerary may at times be altered by our guides due to local conditions, the skill of participants and other unexpected circumstances. Our priority is always the experience and safety of our clients.
• The cruise will only operate with a minimum of 4pax
• In High Season: Cruise down Houay Xay / Luang Prabang departs every Monday, Thursday and Friday. Depart as well on Sunday with another boat (Pak Ou 1)
• In Low Season: Cruise down Houay Xay / Luang Prabang departs every Monday and Friday
• No operation (dry dock) in June 2017
• Please prepare your overnight bag for changing during overnight at Luang Say lodge and leave big luggage on the boat's storage which the crew will take care all of them without any problem.

Accommodation

Hilton Millennium Bangkok

Hilton Millennium Bangkok

Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp

Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp

Luang Say Lodge

Luang Say Lodge

Kamu Lodge

Kamu Lodge

Maison Dalabua

Maison Dalabua

Vansana Hotel Plain of jars

Vansana Plain Of Jars Hotel

Sabaidee@Lao

Sabaidee@Lao

Email: Contact@insighttoasia.com
Phone: +66 856869402
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