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9 Days Laos Culinary Vacations and Beyond

  • Luang Prabang - Mekong - Oudomxay - Vientiane

Rice Experience and Culinary Holidays in Laos

Laos is one of Asias true gems. This 9-day culinary holidays will allow you to experience stunning natural wonders, rich heritage, friendly people and culinary wealth of Laos. You will be able to learn about places like Vientiane, with its French colonial buildings, ancient temples and colorful markets. Also, there is Luang Prabang, a former royal capital and now a world heritage site recognized by UNESCO. There is so much more and you will be thrilled that you came to share the delights of Laos.

Highlights

  • Cyclo ride
  • Cooking class
  • Sailing along Halong Bay
  • Boat trip along Mekong Delta and Hoi An River
  • Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City tours
  • Feast on Vietnamese dishes
  • 8 days with instruction
  • English
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Day 1: Arrival - Luang Prabang

Upon arrival at the airport, transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is free at leisure. Overnight in Luang Prabang.

Day 2: Luang Prabang, Tamarind cooking class

An optional early start gives you the fantastic opportunity to participate in the daily morning rituals of saffron-clad monks collecting offerings of alms of ubiquitous sticky rice from the faithful residents. This tradition is very unique in Laos, being the only Buddhist nation still preserving the procession. From there, we will take a short visit to the morning local market near the Royal Palace. At the market, you can find anything from rice to fresh vegetables to steamed fish, frogs and anything else that might be the days catch. Just set up on the ground, this is what the locals do every day. This is really the chance for you to get a real flavor of the local culture.

After breakfast at the hotel, you will take part in the cooking class at Tamarind restaurant. We start with a visit to the major food market and explanation on what the foods are and what they are used for. We then transfer back to Tamarind garden to cook and eat. After enjoying what you have created, we will transfer to the south of Luang Prabang.

Laos is also known for its traditional handicrafts and today you will visit local village of Lao ethnic minority groups at Ban Ouay and Ban Thapene. We then drive to the beautiful Khouangsi waterfall where you can splash around in the turquoise pools or walk along the forest paths. Before returning to Luang Prabang, we stop to visit the Kuang Si Falls Butterfly Park (closed on Tuesday), one of the must-visit spots, newly opened on January 2014. You will spend the night in Luang Prabang.

Meal plan: Breakfast and lunch.

Day 3: Luang Prabang - Pak Ou caves - Pakbeng (Shompoo cruise)

Our driver will pick you up from your hotel / guesthouse at 06:30 and transport you to the boat pier. The boat leaves at 07:00 for the upstream cruise to Pakbeng. French breakfast is served on board after the introduction of the crew. Shortly after, we will stop to visit the famous Pak Ou caves (Tham Ting) and its thousands of Buddha images. For lunch, local food is served on board. Then, you will have free time for relaxing in the afternoon until the boat arrives in Pakbeng at dusk. Here, you will go to your accommodation for the night. Please note that Shompoo cruise departs every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Day 4: Pakbeng Lodge cooking class

In the morning, we will have a short market tour where you will learn to choose ingredients. We then come back to the lodge and take a short visit to the organic garden, where we can also find some ingredients for our dishes. Afterwards, we take part in the cooking class, where the chef will teach you how to cook the local foods of Pakbeng. He will also explain the difference of the foods in Pakbeng compared with the other regions of Laos. The lunch will be served with the food you have just prepared. You are free in the afternoon for your own exploration. Overnight at Pakbeng Lodge.

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Day 5: Pakbeng - Muang La

After breakfast at the lodge, you will leave for Muang La. On the way, you can observe the local rural life, local markets on the side of the road and clear views on corn and banana plantations and amazing views over the mountains. You will pass through the provincial capital, Oudomxay. Once a very sleepy town, this has become an important trading hub and shows the changes which are happening rapidly in the region. This makes the final leg of the journey, away from the busy town and in to unspoiled nature, all the more exciting. The contrast also highlights just how special the experiences are in the remaining wilderness.

You will arrive at Muang La Resort in the afternoon. Check in, relax and enjoy the views. Facilities include a spa, sauna and steam room. It does get cold in the evenings here especially from November to March. The resort is built next to a natural hot spring and they fill a small pool every evening with water from the hot spring. Evenings are a real treat here with 5-course set menus combining Asian and European influences to be enjoyed with candle-light and the sounds of nature. Dinner and overnight at Muang La Resort.

Meal plan: Breakfast and dinner.

Day 6: Muang La, rice experience

After breakfast, you walk for around 30 minutes along the banks of the river Nam Pak to the Khamu village of Wang Wanh where the villagers make sacks from the fibers of local plants. You will be welcomed by a local family in their rice fields surrounded by hills and you can immerse yourself in discovering the different stages of cultivating rice and their traditional way of life.

Accompanied by your local guide, you learn all about the villagers life in their fields with their faithful friend, a buffalo. You will learn all about the life of the local farmers from choosing the right seeds, planting the seeds, transplanting cuttings to the crucial stage of harvesting thecrops. After a morning of fun, its time to relax and enjoy your lunch at the farm "sala", giving a 360 panorama of the wonderful countryside in the valley. You will have the time to relax and watch the daily life of the villagers.

After lunch, you cross the river Nam Pak on a bamboo raft to go to the Khamu village of Vieng Kham. The villagers are well-known for their weaving skills creating wonderful silks and sarongs. You continue on to the village of Muang La to visit the local school and the temple of Chiao Pha Kham Sing which houses a sacred Buddha and is now a place of pilgrimage for Buddhists. You return to the resort in the middle of the afternoon with a light heart and a head full of wonderful memories.

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Day 7: Muang La - Oudomxay - Vientiane

You are free in the morning to stroll around the town before transferring back to Muang Xay to take the flight to Vientiane, the capital of Laos. You will take QV502 with estimated time of departure at 13:10 and time of arrival at 14:00 on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday or Sunday. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel. You are free for the rest of the day. Overnight in Vientiane.

Meal plan: Breakfast.

Day 8: Vientiane, cooking class at Lao Experience

You are free in the morning before transferring to the garden by the Mekong river, where you will join your cooking class. The garden is in a quiet area of Vientiane where you can watch Lao people pass by. You will make a variety of popular Lao dishes and use the freshest ingredients. The use of traditional cooking utensils and cooking methods provides the perfect photo opportunity.

The management of Lao Experience limits their Lao cooking classes to a maximum of six people so you get the opportunity to interact with our Lao cooking instructor and further enhance your knowledge of local people and their culture. We come back to the hotel after lunch. Overnight in Vientiane.

Meal plan: Breakfast and lunch.

Day 9: Vientiane - departure

You are free before taking your departure flight.

Meal plan: Breakfast.

  • Boat trip to Pakbeng
  • Rice experience at Khamu village
  • Visit Lao villages
  • Visit local markets

Welcome to Laos, the country of thousands of elephants, wonderful landscapes and friendly people in one of the last frontiers in southeast Asia! The mighty Mekong River in the west and the Truong Son Mountains in the east offer natural borders to Thailand and Vietnam respectively, while Laos also shares borders with China in the north, Myanmar in the northwest, and Cambodia in the south. With over half of this land locked country's area being densely forested, and 70% of it mountainous, it is hardly surprising that a profusion of rare flora and over 1,200 species of wildlife find a home beneath Laos tropical canopy.

While Laos does not offer a coastline or famed beaches, it does have 4,000 islands in the south, as well as the Khonephabangeng falls, the largest waterfall in Southeast Asia. Apart from the 4,000 islands, southern Laos main attraction is the temple of Wat Phou, a world heritage listed site, in Champasak. Upon entering Vientiane, you will be surprised at the relaxed atmosphere and small town charm of this capital city. The city is characterized by an eclectic mix of colonial French buildings and ancient temples, along with colorful markets. Nestled in the valleys of the mountainous north is Luang Prabang, a former royal capital and now a world heritage site listed by UNESCO. This enchanting city, dominated by golden-roofed temples and bright saffron-robed monks, exudes a spiritual essence that will surely capture your soul.

Below is a sample of what you will be cooking at Tamarind restaurant.

  • Varieties of jeow: the fundamental Lao spicy dipping sauces
  • Mok pa, a popular dish of herbed fish steamed in banana leaves
  • Tamarinds specialty: lemongrass stuffed chicken and herbs
  • Laap/koy, a minced meat salad, fragrant with herbs
  • Dessert course: a surprise!
  • Of course you will learn the art to perfect sticky rice and its eating etiquette.

The nearest airport to the location is Luang Prabang International Airport (LPQ). Luxury Vietnam Travel will pick you up from the airport. The pick-up is included in the price.

For information about the booking conditions, please send Luxury Travel Vietnam an inquiry.

Testimonials

  • Review by Terriabba from California, USA
    10 out of 10

    "Our trip arrangement from Luxury Travel, and help of Ms. Doung, all our tour guides and drivers during our 12 days trip was over our expectation and amazing! I highly recommend to use them during your trip to south Asia."

    "They arranged our flights, with the nicest hotel, and great entertainment in between. Ms. Doung did arrange for our visa for the family. We had some issue with one of the kids visa since I forgot to mention to her for change of passport last minute, but she was great on helping us in an hour to get his visa straight with new passport."

    "The tour guides very polite and knowledgeable. The drivers are all so helpful, took care of water and sanitizing our hand each time we get in to the car."

    "I am definitely planning to visit the place back again since I did not finish seeing everything I wanted in 12 days. I will be using the same company again for sure!"

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by a traveler from England, UK
    10 out of 10

    "We booked a 2-week trip direct with Luxury Travel after our UK travel agent ceased trading."

    "They were very helpful, even chasing up a missing suitcase, lost by the airline."

    "The arrangements were detailed and accurate. The drivers were punctual and polite. The guide supplied was helpful and knowledgeable. "

    "We would use them for any future visits in Asia."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by a traveler from Ontario, USA
    10 out of 10

    "We booked Luxury Travel Co. for a 15-day trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. All hotels, tour guides, transportation, airlines were great, on time, no issues at all. Luxury Travel booked all transportation and many meals (lunch/dinner) at excellent restaurants. Throughout our planning and booking, Luxury Travel was most accommodating and customized our itinerary based on our arrival and preferences. Two weeks prior to departure from Canada, we received our final travel documents including e-tickets and names of our tour guides in each city. "

    ""

    "I would highly recommend Luxury Travel for your Vietnam holiday."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by Diane W. from Adelaide, Australia
    10 out of 10

    "Luxury Travel organised our 2-week visit and we were very impressed with their planning. They booked everything we requested for our 3rd visit to Vietnam. The accommodation was excellent, the guides helpful, and we cannot think of anything that went wrong over the 2 weeks. A great company that I would highly recommend and we will certainly use again for our next South-Est Asia trip. I organised it from Australia and they always replied promptly with an answer to our request. Ms. Hao Chu (our sales person) was always helpful and kept in contact with us during our trip. Thanks for a great 2 weeks."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by a traveler
    10 out of 10

    "We are very pleased about our amazing trip to Vietnam with our 2 boys aged 8 and 9. We spent two weeks from North to South. The visits, accommodation, guide, driver, restaurants organised and selected by luxury travel were very good. We highly recommend them if you are planning a trip to Vietnam!"

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by a traveler from Mexico City, Mexico
    10 out of 10

    "Luxury Travel was recommended to me by a friend, and since I first wrote them an email, the answer came within 24 hours, with great options which we detailed a bit, but they pretty much know what the tourists want! The service level, flexibility and organization was amazing, and everything was planned out perfectly to enjoy a perfect trip! Everyone in our tour was super nice, all the fixed meals super nice, hotels very good, and the touristic places mind-blowing! I really recommend you book your trip with them!"

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by AnnMarie B. from Scotland, United Kingdom
    10 out of 10

    "Used this company in Ho Chi Minh/Hoi An and Hanoi for airport transfer to and from our hotels. Drivers were professional, courteous and always on time. We booked a Ho Chi Minh City tour, guide was knowledgeable and informative and very professional while being friendly. Would have no hesitation in recommending their professional high class service. Very clean air conditioned cars with plenty of cold water available as required, very professional drivers."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by a traveler from Mumbai, India
    10 out of 10

    "The most memorable trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. When we made the booking we were a bit skeptical, as it was the first time we were coordinating an entire trip of 20 days with a travel agent outside India. However, from the moment we landed in Siam Reap, until our taxi ride back home in Mumbai, the entire trip was well planned with the utmost comfort and luxury one could ask for.The entire team of Luxury Travel, with a special mention for Mrs. Duong, ensured that we had one of the most memorable trips. At every instance they were in touch with us checking and ensuring that all travel and hotel facilities, as well as excursions, are as per our requirements and of the top most quality. Even at a couple of places where there was a communication mismatch with the hotel they were instantly up to the task of setting things in order within minutes.We never expected our trip to be so good and so luxurious. I would say we had the best of everything; luxurious private car, superb guides, excellent itinerary, and probably a very good execution team to constantly ensure we had an enjoyable, fun loving and memorable time together. I would conclude by giving thumbs up to Ms. Duong and her team for a trip that has set standards hard to beat. Thanks once again."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by Renifos from England, UK
    10 out of 10

    "We booked our holiday with Elegant Travel and Tours UK and they use Luxury Travel in Vietnam for our tour. I must admit that we were quite worried as we had several flights, transfers and pick-ups in our itinerary. But, everything went like clockwork and all drivers were always on time. We decided to change our Halong bay day trip to an overnight stay last minute and contacted Mrs. Thu Huong who is on 24-hour service by email. We got a reply almost instantly from her and the trip was changed and the booking confirmed by return. We had fantastic service and great company. We would definitely use them again when traveling around Vietnam."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by Margaret S. from London, UK
    10 out of 10

    "We used Luxury Travel in Vietnam via Elegant Travel in UK. We would highly recommend Luxury Travel Vietnam. Everything was well organized. The tours, guides and drivers were all excellent. We altered our itinerary the night before we were due to go on a tour to Halong bay and Mrs. Thu Huong was most efficient and organized everything for us. The hotels were very good and the tours were excellent."

    Trip Advisor website, edited

  • Review by Tantallon from St. Andrews, UK
    10 out of 10

    "Ms. Duong of 05 Nguyen Truong To street, Ba Dinh Dist, Hanoi, Vietnam, organized our visit to Vietnam for the third time. Once again it was a pleasure to deal with her and every aspect was just perfect. We cannot recommend her enough and look forward to her arranging future visits to her lovely country."

    Trip Advisor website, edited

  • Review by Bhavnish R. from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
    10 out of 10

    "We communicated with Mrs. Duong of No 5 Nguyen Truong To street for booking a tour of Ho Chi Minh city. It is a must-do thing for any visitor to Saigon. She was very quick and efficient in responding to any of the queries we had. Also, our guide was very well experienced and thoroughly professional while showing us the city during the tour. It was such good experience that we booked another tour of Mekong delta for the next day. I would highly recommend Luxury Travel's services for anyone wishing to experience Vietnam."

    Trip Advisor website, edited

  • Review by Dordeduca from Virginia, USA
    10 out of 10

    "We returned recently from an extended trip in southeast Asia. We traveled in Vietnam and Cambodia and were extremely happy with the services of Luxury Travel Vietnam and especially Ms. Duong Vuong. We booked a few private tours in Hanoi, Halong bay, Ho Chi Minh city, Phnom Penh and Angkor in Cambodia, as well as private transportation from Ho Chi Minh city to Phnom Penh and from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. Ms. Duong went out of her way to help us customize our trip.What seemed in the beginning a complicated itinerary was made stress free and enjoyable by the personnel at Luxury Travel. Their guides were extremely knowledgeable and professional and the drivers were very safe and courteous. A special nod to our guide in Hanoi, Mr. Tu, and to our driver in Cambodia, Mr. Tung, who went above and beyond the call of duty. Mr. Tu is a very talented guide. He truly loves what he is doing and made our experience in Hanoi and Halong bay unforgettable. We highly recommend this company and would definitely use them again in our trips through southeast Asia."

    Trip Advisor website, edited