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9 Days Laos Culinary Vacations and Beyond

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.