Gilded Temples and Traditional Buddhist Culture of Laos


Savor the delights of Laos, with its gilded temples, French-Indochinese architecture, and traditional Buddhist culture. Our extension visits the enchanting town of Luang Prabang, the heart and soul of the old Lao kingdom, a place to enjoy tranquil rural rhythms and a dramatic setting on the Mekong.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1
Luang Prabang

Arrive in Luang Prabang, Laos’ ancient royal capital, where you will be met and escorted to your hotel. Located on the Mekong River and encircled by mountains, Luang Prabang is a delightful and regal town, now preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area is known for its outstanding handloom weavings, and the local market is a venue for the Hmong hilltribe communities, with their unique cross-stitch and applique work. In the afternoon, visit the spectacular, three-tiered Kuangsi waterfall, set in lush green surroundings about 20 miles south of town. En route, visit the Hmong village of Ban Na Oune to see how traditional hilltribe people live. Hmong villagers still practice ancient animistic rituals including animal sacrifices, and dress in traditional colorful handmade clothing and silver jewelry. We will also visit Ban Tha Pane, a village of the Khmu minority group. Return to the hotel for overnight...meals on your own

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Day 2
Shangri Lao Explorer Camp / Pak Ou Caves

Set on the banks of the Nam Khan River is the Shangri Lao Explorer Camp, where you’ll have time to explore along narrow jungle paths in a tranquil river valley setting, or simply relax at the camp. Options here include a visit to the beautiful Tad Sae waterfall. After a rest at the waterfall and some time to enjoy the scenery, you can head down to the river and board a luxurious bamboo raft that will bring you back to camp. A typical Lao-style lunch is served on board. (Please note: your activities at the Shangri Lao Explorer Camp may not be private, like the rest of your extension, and you may join other non-Wilderness Travel participants on the camp excursions).

Back in Luang Prabang, board a local boat for a scenic trip up the Mekong River to Pak Ou Caves, a Buddhist pilgrimage site located above the river. Over the last five centuries, processions of worshipers from kings to peasants have brought Buddha images to the caves, and it is a fascinating site to visit. Afterward, visit Ban Muang Keo village and observe local weavers and whisky distillers honoring their timeworn traditional crafts before returning to Luang Prabang by car. The remainder of the day is at leisure Overnight at hotel in Luang Prabang...BL

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Day 3
Old Luang Prabang

Enjoy a morning walking tour through the atmospheric lanes of old Luang Prabang. Pay a visit to the Royal Palace, now a national museum housing the heirlooms of the royal family (open from 8:30 am-11:30 am and from 1:30 pm-3:30 pm daily except on Tuesdays). You'll also walk to the magnificent stupa of Wat Visoun and continue to Wat That Luang (monastery of the big stupas) and Wat Mai, Luang Prabang’s oldest pagoda. Continue to Wat Xieng Thong (“Golden Temple”), with its classic Laos-style roofs. End your tour with an optional climb up Phu Si Hill (328 steps), a sacred site with panoramic views of Luang Prabang and the Mekong. Transfer to the airport for your departure flight...B

Note: For religious reasons, it is recommended that women have shoulders covered and refrain from wearing shorts or very short skirts. Men should wear trousers and short sleeved shirts. Shoes must be removed before entering the temples.


Length: 3 days
Cost From: $850  
Arrive: Luang Prabang, Laos
Depart: Luang Prabang, Laos
Lodging: 2 nights hotel (First Class or Deluxe option)
Meals: Meals as indicated (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Cultural Adventures
Trip Level:

Walking tours, river cruising, and cultural exploration

Visa Requirements

A visa is required for U.S. citizens visiting Laos. You can obtain your visa on arrival ($35 and one passport photo required.)