Good Cause Laos
7 Days / 6 Nights
Day 1: Arrive Luang Prabang. Afternoon Sightseeing including Museum and Temples.
We arrive in Luang Prabang and transfer to our accommodation. In the afternoon, we begin to explore the historic town of Luang Prabang. We walk along Sisavangvong St, the heart of the old quarter and explore the National Museum, set in the former Royal Palace. Built in 1904, the palace is a blend of Laotian and French influences and houses many royal treasures. The most important item is the solid gold Pha Bang Buddha, a gift from the Khmer King to his son-in-law, Fa Ngum, founder of the Lao Kingdom. We then continue into the centre of Luang Prabang, exploring the narrow alleys that criss-cross the town, stopping to enjoy some views over the mighty Mekong River. We wind up at the beautiful temple of Wat Saen, originally built in 1718 and under the guidance of Ajahn Khamjan, one of the most revered abbots in Laos. There is the option of climbing Mt Phousi to explore the small temple here and enjoy sunset over this charming town.
Day 2: Cooking class at Tamarind. Book party with Big Brother Mouse.
Pick-up at your hotel to meet up with the Chef at Tamarind restaurant at 0900am. Then take on a Tuk Tuk tour with Chef to the local food market for today main ingredients. After that, heading out to our stunning lake-side open air pavilions where you learn how to cook 6 Lao traditional dishes including sticky rice; varieties of 'Jeow'; lemongrass stuffed with chicken; fish steamed in banana leaves; Orlarm, a special local dish; and dessert. Enjoy your own cooked lunch and we will bring you back to town at around 0300pm. (Vegetarians are very easily accommodated). Later we head to the outskirts of Luang Prabang to participate in the book party with Big Brother Mouse (http://www.bigbrothermouse.com) at rural village. Most children in Laos have never seen a book, other than a textbook, and perhaps not even that. There's no system for getting books into rural villages, some of which involve a day or two of travel from the nearest road. That's why Big Brother Mouse invented book parties. Here's what we do at a typical 3-hour party you will see many activities while you are there such as talking about book, art lesson showing by letting children draw, game time the Big Brother Mouse’s staff will lead the children to play a game, a song about books, story time, choosing your first book, a mini-library using the books in school..etc back to Luang Prabang by later afternoon.
Overnight at hotel in Luang Prabang.
Day 3: Boat Trip to Pak Ou Caves. See a Royal Ballet Performance.
This morning, we travel to Wat Xieng Thong, one of the most celebrated temples in Laos. We then take a boat up the Mekong River, passing abandoned riverside temples and isolated villages. Our destination is the Pak Ou Caves, a sacred spot where thousands upon thousands of Buddhas were hidden for safekeeping during earlier invasions. Pilgrims have since added their own offerings and the caves are literally overflowing with Buddhas. After exploring the caves, we cross the river and have a local lunch on the banks of the Nam Ou River. We dine in traditional thatch bungalows overlooking a dramatic cliff face. We then return by boat to Luang Prabang and leave the rest of the afternoon free to enjoy the town. In the Evening we visit the Royal Ballet at the Royal Palace.
Day 4: Mahout for a Day Experience at Elephant Village.
Today, we take an elephant ride through the beautiful Lao countryside to visit an elephant camp where Asian Elephants are protected. We travel to the impressive Tad Sae Waterfall where it is possible to swim. This trip helps the rural development of the Ban Xiem Lom area and helps to sustain these former logging and working elephants through a gentle retirement.
The location of the Lao Spirit elephant camp is unique and offers stunning views of a breathtaking mountain chain and towering cliffs. The countryside around the camp is unspoiled and covered with forests, plantations and fields. We enjoy a local lunch at the elephant camp before returning to Luang Prabang in the afternoon.
Day 5: Fly to Vientiane. Afternoon City Sight Seeing.
We arrive in Vientiane and check into our hotel for the night. After lunch, we visit the historic temple of Wat Si Saket, the oldest surviving temple in Vientiane. Then its time to visit the striking golden stupa of Pha That Luang, the most sacred monument in the city. We continue to the 'Arc de Triomphe' of Vientiane, or Patuxai as it is known locally. Built in the 1960s, the US-supplied cement was originally earmarked for a runway extension at the airport, but the Laotians found a much more creative use for it. We ascend the monument for some refreshing breezes and great views over this low-rise garden city. We finish with a stroll along the Mekong riverfront.
Day 6: Buddha Park and Free Time.
Today we step outside the city boundaries and visit the incredible Buddha Park, a kitsch riverside garden brimming with garish religious statues. We see a famous reclining Buddha and can clamber inside some of the bigger sculptures to discover strange scenes from heaven and hell. There is a local café here where we can enjoy a local lunch with views over the Mekong. In the afternoon, we return to Vientiane and can enjoy some free time or take an optional visit to a well-known Textile Gallery, enjoy a Traditional Herbal Sauna or visit the COPE Centre to learn about the scourge of UXO in Laos.
Day 7: Time at Leisure until Departure.
After breakfast, free at leisure for shopping or packing. Transfer to the airport to catch the departure flight.