Journeys Within Tour Company - vacations and travel

Legacies of Laos

Lao, People's Democratic Republic

from $2,760* per person 12 Days Year-round
Comfort accommodations Exertion level: 4
Operator: Journeys Within Tour Company 10 people max
  • Lao, People's Democratic Republic
  • Active & Adventure trips

For those travelers who don’t mind roughing it, traveling great distances on mountainous roads and getting very local, this is the tour for you. This trip is a grand adventure for those seeking one and truly allows you to comprehend how today’s Laos was formed. Beyond the cultural and historical experience, you will get to see some breathtaking countryside, highly impressive (and sought after) textiles and meet some of the best people in Laos. This 12 day tour is the adventure of a lifetime for those of you who truly want to go “off the beaten path.

Locations visited/nearby

Lao, People's Democratic Republic

0 testimonials about this trip.

3 testimonials about the provider, Journeys Within Tour Company:

  • Reviewer: located in USA
    Journeys Within provided us with the travel experience of a lifetime. Our trip was full of contrast—adventure, wonder, relaxation, history, emotion, excitement, connection with new cultures and people. Journeys Within is not just another tour company. They take the work out of traveling. We loved the quiet of their B & B in Siem Reap and were spoiled by the care and service their staff provided. We traveled with another couple and we are still speaking which attest to how stress free and enjoyable our trip was.
  • Reviewer: located in New York USA

    Steve and I have travelled extensively world-wide but never to SE Asia and we rarely rely on agencies. I put feelers out for organizations within the US as well as in this region of the world. From the first conversation with Andrea of Journeys Within there was an immediate connection, a comfort level in terms of their knowledge, warmth, experience, listening skills, suggestions and their patience for answering all of my many and on-going questions. Being a curious and detail-oriented person I was constantly finding areas and events that i just “had to see” and would ask another question. Realizing that time and money was somewhat of a factor Andrea was a magician and always was able to make it all happen. Their humanitarian goals, through Journeys Within Our Community, in a country that has so many needs, was also a large part of why we chose them.

    Through the many conversations we had they were able to focus on our main interests (photography, seeing the cultures of each country by viewing the people within their daily life in rural villages that many times showcased their handicrafts, the Buddhist religion and seeing the monks in their saffron robes) and created an extensive itinerary with memorable experiences. We don't go on tours that include large groups of people and so love being able to go off the beaten track on our own with just a guide and driver. Their guides are exceptional, both knowledgeable and so proud of their country and wanting to share it with us. They were all very astute as to what would give us the best experience.

    There were numerous instances where unplanned additions were spontaneously added to our day. For example, we remember getting up at 4 AM in Siem Reap because our guide, Sima, had a special relationship with the abbot in one one the wats and knew that we would enjoy seeing the monks meditate. We ran across fields in Angkor Wat and up steep stairs to listen to monks chanting. Throughout, our guides also knew the best vantage points for us to get that “perfect” photograph. We, also, laughingly remember getting out of our car on the way to the ferry in order to cross the Mekong to view the floating markets at Cai Be and Cai Rang and our guide, Kha, arranging for each of us to hop on the back of a motor bike in order to to whiz along and circumvent the 7 km backup which would have taken hours. We definitely appreciated his problem-solving skills. The challenge of successfully crossing the streets in Hanoi and Saigon amid the cacophony of horns and disregard for the traffic lights was masterfully taught and we took great pleasure when we were able to do this on our own. Obviously, we are alive to tell the tale!

    If we had to single out (an impossiblity) our favorite places one would have to be the idyllic Luang Prabang, a totally unspoiled area of Laos. Another would be Hoi An, in Vietnam, and it's beautiful walking areas along the Perfume River and throughout the village. Getting up at 5 AM and watching the fishing boats come in and the markets being set up was amazing. When we took the overnight Victoria Express train in our private berth from Hanoi to get to the Sunday Bac Ha market north of Sapa we felt as if we were in a foreign film. The market was an experience in itself that was extraordinary. Seeing the ethnic minority tribes come together in their colorful attire where each group is easily identified put my head on a swivel. My camera continually snapped away. There was so much to see. I think I bought Steve a water buffalo for his birthday! Everything imaginable was sold there.

    One very important highlight was the time we spent with Journeys Within Our Community (JWOC) and learning about and from them. It happened to be Valentine's Day and about 130 children wandered in, first carefully washing their hands, to take part in an arts and crafts project of making heart baskets using paper plates. We were privileged to be able to participate and help. Although we could not verbally communicate, our faces and bodies spoke volumes and we all got along so well. Each child left with a basket to bring home, a smile and an orang e to eat. JWOC focuses on basic needs such as clean water, education, health and many other community-based issues. There is even a program that they started in the local prison where the women are taught how to use a sewing machine and make clothing. This will enable them, upon their release, to be productive and contributing members of their community. By breaking this cycle of poverty and building self-esteem by giving them the tools to enrich their lives by making them independent bodes well for their future, their children's future, and ultimately, the future of their country. We plan on being a contributing part of making this part of the world and it's people a better place via JWOC.

    Journeys Within provided us with a trip of a lifetime!

  • Reviewer:

    Hi Andrea:

    We're home and had a wonderful trip so thanks for all of your guidance. As you suggested, The Nam Hai exceeded our expectations and was the perfect ending to our busy and extremely hot trip. We all loved our time there. Considering the heat and Charlie's ongoing struggle with stomach issues, I'm not sure I'd attempt the Hanoi bikeride again -- though our sweaty morning and lunch with Vinh will doubtless provide great stories for years to come. The kids were not up for another waltz through a pagoda, so we did the Hoi An market instead. It was the first market exploration of our entire trip and was fascinating, especially the area with fresh seafood and veggies. We bought some bamboo placements and small pottery. Vinh seemed to relax a lot once we were settled down for lunch at his home, beautifully prepared by his wife and mother-in-law. Lunch was delicious.....if only it weren't so hot out. Cold beers helped a lot.

    yes, it was extremely disappointing to miss Halong Bay. If we were to do it again, as an alternative plan because of the typhoon, I think we'd drive out to Halong Bay for the day (around 3 hours) instead of the excursion we chose to Perfume Pagoda. Perfume Pagoda ended up being much longer and more strenuous than we were prepared for because of the heat, though I'll bet it's a very different experience in the fall or winter. (I really should send you the photos of our sweaty group midway and following the hike.) when I spoke first with Du, we loved the idea of a one-hour drive to a 45-min. boatride to a one-hour hike. unfortunately, the drive was more like 2.5 hours and the boatride was stifling hot (not that interesting) with a difficult climb at the end. In the end, of course, we definitely are proud of what we accomplished that day and will be talking about our adventure for years to come. We loved Du and really enjoyed the time we spent with him in Hanoi.

    finally, Cambodia was a huge hit with the kids. The temples were incredible and I would recommend the short balloon ride to anyone with kids. We got terrific photos. Plus, we loved your Journeys Within, which made the visit extremely special. Your staff there were magnificent and we felt like we had our own private pool -- perfect for cooling off. (The whole experience reminded me of some places we stayed in Zimbabwe --then Rhodesia --more than 30 years ago.) Leap was a charming guide and we enjoyed our time with him as well.

    All in all, a wonderful trip for all of us. I think the weather in August is truly a challenge at every step. But, we loved being there in the off-season (it was already WAY more crowded in HK when we returned in mid-August) and would visit again if only it weren't SO FAR away.



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Special information

  • This is a custom departure, meaning this trip is offered on dates that you arrange privately with the provider. Additionally, you need to form your own private group for this trip. The itinerary and price here is just a sample. Contact the provider for detailed pricing, minimum group size, and scheduling information. For most providers, the larger the group you are traveling with, the lower the per-person cost will be.
  • May accommodate certain types of disabilities. Contact the operator for more information.


Day 1   Luang Prabang: Arrival and Orientation Tour

After your arrival in Luang Prabang, you’ll be picked up from the airport and driven to the main part of town for a quick orientation tour. Your guide will give you an introduction to the city, showing you the main roads, some restaurants and the night market area, before dropping you off at your hotel to check in.

Meals Included: None

Overnight at Mekong Riverview Hotel – 1 Double Superior River View Room

Day 2   Luang Prabang: Early Morning Alms Giving and City Tour

Wake up at sunrise to give monks morning alms. You’ll be accompanied by your guide who can demonstrate the proper method of alms giving and explain this daily Buddhist ceremony. Return to your hotel for breakfast.

Today you will explore the city by bicycle. Following your guide, travel through town along the main roads and go off the beaten path through alleys and side-streets. Ride along both the Mekong and Nam Khan roads to take in the views and stop at temples and national landmarks along the way. Enjoy lunch at the Ock Pop Tok Living Crafts Center, which is located on the Mekong River surrounded by a beautiful garden and a number of different artisans. After lunch, visit the temples on the outskirts of town and then end your afternoon by leaving your bikes behind and climbing Mt. Phou Si to see a sweeping view of the city.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Overnight at Mekong Riverview Hotel – 1 Double Superior River View Room

Day 3   Luang Prabang to Phonesavanh

Depart Luang Prabang after breakfast for a seven-hour drive along the winding mountain roads to Phonesavanh, home of the Plain of Jars. The scenery on the drive is some of the best in the whole country but this long journey on the winding roads can be difficult at times. Don’t worry - your guide will have all the proper medications and solutions to ease the journey. On the way, you'll stop to visit a Hmong hill tribe village and have lunch at a local restaurant. If there is time once you reach Phonesavanh, visit a local mulberry farm and weaving center before checking into your hotel for the evening.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Overnight at Vansana Plain of Jars Hotel – 1 Double Deluxe Double Room

Day 4   Xeing Khoung: Plain of Jars

After breakfast you'll drive to see the second and third Plain of Jars sites. Cross over a bamboo bridge and walk through a local farm’s rice paddies to visit jars at Site 3.  Once you’ve had a look around, join back with the van and carry on to see Site 2. Enjoy the shade under the tree while taking in panoramic views atop Site 2. You will then drive to the Muang Khoun district for lunch. After lunch you'll explore Wat Phia, where bombs destroyed the entire temple but left a giant Buddha statue fully intact, as well as visiting the overgrown That Foun Stupa. In the afternoon you will return back to town and stop to see the impressive first site of the Plain of Jars. Take your time walking around the biggest and most picturesque of the sites before returning to your hotel for the evening.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Overnight at Vansana Plain of Jars Hotel – 1 Double Deluxe Double Room

Day 5   Phonesavanh to Sam Neua

After breakfast, pack up and hit the road for the Houapahn Province, known for its breathtaking mountainous peaks and fertile valley plains; rich in intricate and complex textiles; and it’s history of war and turmoil in the 1960’s. Laos attributes the province for being the “birthplace of Laos” as it was the main center for the Pathet Laos’ defense against the US during the “Secret War”. 

Along the 4.5 hour ride to the capital of Houapanh you will stop to visit a couple villages along the way.  First stop in the Hmong village of Ban Tha Jok/Na Kam Peng, which is known as the “bomb village” to see how the village has recycled cluster-bomb casings to decorate their yards and build their homes. Nearby to the village in the valley is a multilevel waterfall, if you wish to make the 2km journey ask for the village to give you directions.   Stop for a local noodle soup lunch in Nam Neun before heading onto the main road to Sam Neua.  You will then make stops at Ban Nasala, known for its Lao Khao rice whiskey, before heading to the weaving village of Ban Saleuy a, known for their distinctive method of weaving known as Mat-mee or Ikat. If you love textiles, this is a place to stock up on fabrics and gifts.  Continue on a short distance to Ban Phonxay for a stop at the Saleuy waterfall before finishing your last leg of your trip to Sam Neua. Check into your hotel and have a rest or take around the town before heading to dinner at Banaonuangxam Restaurant. 

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight at Xayphasouk Hotel – 1 Double Standard Room

Day 6   Houaphan: Vieng Xai Caves and Ban Tam Weaving

After an early breakfast drive 28 km to the renowned Vieng Xai Caves for your 9am tour.  Once you arrive you will collect your tour headset, which provides exceptional background and history on the secret war and the caves, before meeting your local tour guide, Mr. Somkit. Along with your audio tour, Mr. Somkit will guide you through the network of seven of the more elaborate bomb-shelter caves which provided a base from some 23.,000  Lao people. These caves provided homes, offices, hospitals, markets, a metal factory and more during the Indochina War.  Most of the caves have minor elements of original furnishings; complete with kitchens, bathrooms and emergency air locked rooms for possible chemical gas attacks. While listening to the fascinating 18 point tour and learning about the war you will have the opportunity to take in the natural beauty of the caves, cliffs and valleys of the surrounding area. It is truly one of the most captivating tours you can take while in Laos.  After your tour, head to Mr. Somkit’s house for tea where you can have the opportunity to sit and talk with him about his life growing up in the area and later becoming a personal bodyguard for Kayisone Phomvihane, who was the leader of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party and the first Prime Minister of the new Lao PDR.

Have lunch in Veing Xai before heading back to Sam Neua. Once you reach town in the afternoon go to visit Mrs. Nalee’s in her textile shop. Here you will have the chance to learn about and view some of the most intricate textiles coming from all around the Houaphan Province and her role in exporting these crafts to neighboring cities and provinces. You will then join her to visit Ban Tham, a village a 13km to the north, where some of these textiles were created.  While exploring the village, you will have the opportunity to meet and learn from some of the top master weavers in the country.  Head back to Sam Neua in the late afternoon for a rest before you head out for dinner. This evening make sure to pack your overnight bag for the next days’s night safari as you will head out early and will only be allowed limited luggage for the journey into the jungle.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight at Xayphasouk Hotel – 1 Double Standard Room

Day 7   Houaphan: Night Safari Adventure

Leave Sam Neua at approximately 7:30am to drive to the 99km to Ban San Khoua, the starting point of your Night Safari two day adventure. Village guides and boatmen will greet you and take you on a short tour of the village where you will learn about daily life and the animist tradition of appeasing the village spirits. Then embark on a 1.5-­hour journey to the park substation on the Nam Nern River by long-­tail boat, along the way learning about upland rice cultivation and with possible opportunities to spot monitor lizards and bird life. After arriving at the park substation, you will be shown to your very basic open air bamboo huts before enjoying a traditional local lunch. Afterwards, you will receive a briefing by park staff about the on-­the-­ground efforts in protecting tigers and their prey. At mid-­afternoon after you have taken rest, the boat will talk you to continue the journey upriver for a couple hours. The boat will continue upriver until reaching the dinner site, a sandy, flat bank, where the group takes a picnic around a campfire. After dinner, the guides will educate about the species of animals they may see during the spotlighting and explain the rules and expectations for spotlighting. The group departs for the night spotlighting 2-­3 hours after dark, floating down the river with engines and lights off. The guides will use their headlamp to spot wildlife, if they see something they will then signal you to turn on your light for a better look. The guides and boat drivers communicate via hand signals to avoid talking that might disturb the animals. Animals that may be seen include Sambar deer, otters, barking deer, various species of civets, loris, porcupine and owls. Once you reach back to the camp, the guides will build a camp fire where you can all commerce and talk about the evenings sighting before retiring for the evening.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight at Night Safari Adventure -  1 Double Standard Hut

Day 8   Houaphan: Ban San Khoua to Nong Khiaw

Before breakfast, local guides take you on a walk around the jungle, teaching about the use of some medicinal plants and explaining the history of the site, which was once a major settlement during the Secret War. After breakfast, the boats float back through the core zone at a relaxing pace with engines off, while the guides point out wildlife along the way. Upon arrival in the village, you will be asked to fill out a wildlife monitoring form that is used to monitor wildlife abundance and indicate the amount of bonuses put into the village development fund from the tour costs. Have a last group photo with your guides and boat drivers before you leave by private van for Nong Khiaw. On your way stop for lunch in Vieng Thong and a walk around the local hot springs before continuing on for 168km to Nong Khiaw. Once you reach the small town of Nong Khiaw, check into your riverside lodge for an evening of leisure.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Overnight at Nongkiau Riverside Lodge – 1 Double Standard Room

Day 9   Nong Khiaw: Ban Sopjam and Ban Muang Ngoi Neua

After breakfast meet your guide and boat driver for your tour along the Pak Ou River.  While coasting to the small village of Donlom enjoy the view of the towering limestone cliffs, lush mountain tops and creeping early morning fog. Once you reach Donlom you will walk around the village until you reach the 100 year old forgotten village temple. Afterwards hop back in the boat and head to the weaving village of Sopjam.  Walk through the village’s main road (there is only one) and admire the craftsmanship in the textiles. The women weavers work throughout the day and into the late night weaving, by a dim light bulb powered by the one generator in the village. Make sure to support these women by picking up a couple of textiles for souvenirs. You will then head on to the village of Muang Ngoi for lunch on the riverside before heading out on your trek to Tham Kang and Tham Pha Kaeo caves.  Your walk will take you through the valley of limestone cliffs and endless rice fields. Before heading back to Muang Ngoi take a dip in the cool, crystal waters at the mouth of Tham Kang. Head back to your boat for a relaxing afternoon boat ride to Nong Khiaw. Get back to your hotel in time to enjoy the setting sun from your bungalow’s private balcony. 

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Overnight at Nongkiau Riverside Lodge – 1 Double Standard Room

Day 10   Nong Khiaw to Luang Prabang

After breakfast check out of your hotel and meet with your guide and driver for your transfer back to Luang Prabang. Check into your hotel and enjoy a relaxing afternoon exploring on your own.

Meals included: Breakfast

Overnight at Mekong Riverview Hotel – 1 Double Superior River View Room

Day 11   Luang Prabang: Temples and Villages on the Mekong

Today you will explore the villages and livelihoods of the locals living off of the Mekong River. After breakfast, you will meet your guide and be transferred to the boat pier on the Mekong. You will cross the river for Xieng Mien, in the district of Chomphet. Even though the Mekong River only separates Xieng Mien and Luang Prabang by a short distance, you will quickly be able to see the differences between the two. Stroll through the village lanes and visit three historic temples - Wat Xieng Mene, Wat Chomphet and Wat Long Khoune. Afterwards you will join your boat and pick up your picnic lunch on the Luang Prabang side of the river before heading down to the pottery village of Ban Jan. Walk around and observe this village which is centuries old and home to some interesting handicrafts. You might even want to further support the village and pick up one of the fun handmade trinkets sold by the locals. From here you will head down river and take in the lush hilltops and serene river while on the less traveled stretch of the Mekong. Once you reach the fishing village of Ban Chompjua, you will transfer to one of the local families’ fishing boats to join as they check traps. The styles and traps will vary depending on the season and level of the Mekong. Learn how time consuming the art of fishing is from the locals as they demonstrate the making of one of their gigantic fishing nets. You will then return to your long tail boat for a picturesque coast while you enjoy your picnic lunch and head for Ban Xing, the Lion Village. Walk through this village, which is believed to date from the 16th century, and see the remnants of a previous time. This farming and fishing village holds some of the oldest traditional homes near Luang Prabang. You will then join your village hosts’ home for a Lao baci ceremony. Your guide will explain this traditional blessing ceremony as you receive well wishes from elders in the village. After the ceremony you will travel up river back to Luang Prabang while taking in the setting sun.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Overnight at Mekong Riverview Hotel – 1 Double Superior River View Room

Day 12   Luang Prabang: Departure

You will be transferred to the Luang Prabang airport in time for your flight.

Meals included: Breakfast


This itinerary is currently in progress and does not reflect hotel room availability. The pricing is not final until the itinerary has been confirmed and booked.

Price includes:

·         Boat tickets as specified above

·         Accommodation as specified above

·         Air-conditioned car/van with driver 

·         Licensed English speaking guides

·         Tours and admission fees as mentioned above

·         Meals as specified in itinerary, including water


Price excludes:

·         Personal expenses

·         Visa fees

·         Airport tax

·         Drinks (except water) and meals not mentioned in itinerary  

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