Along the Mekong: China, Thailand & Laos
Below please find the day-by-day itinerary for this expedition. Unless otherwise noted, daily excursion options are included in the cost of the trip. We do our best to adhere to the scheduled itinerary, but in the spirit of our expeditionary style of travel we may deviate slightly to take full advantage of encounters with the destination and its people, culture, and wildlife.
Based on the expeditionary nature of our trips, there may be ongoing enhancements to this itinerary.
Depart USA / Kunming, ChinaOctober 23 — October 24
Board your independent flight to China. Arrive in Kunming in the late evening on October 24 and transfer to the Green Lake Hotel for overnight.
Explore the mysterious Stone Forest this morning, a series of limestone karst formations that have eroded into a series of pillars that resemble trees. Keep a lookout for the Ashima stone that resembles a girl with a scarf on her head and a basket on her back. After lunch, visit with people from the Yi ethnic group to learn about their unique language, customs, and cuisine. Return to the hotel for dinner and overnight.
Kunming / JinghongOctober 26
After breakfast and a brief city tour and lunch, transfer to the airport for our flight to Jinghong. Upon arrival, check in to the Wanda Vista Resort Xishuangbanna for dinner and overnight.
Jinghong was founded in 1180 by Thai king, Phanya Coeng. Its long history has been influenced by Thailand, Myanmar, and China, which is reflected in its unique architecture and the local language. This morning, visit the fascinating Tropical Plant Institute, a vast garden with over 13,000 plant species. Continue to Manting Park, which dates back 1,300 years. This evening, attend a cultural show at Maxmumbani, where dancers from 38 different ethnic groups display their traditions with music, dances, and acrobatics.
Jinghong / Guan Lei / Embark Sabidee Pandaw / Mekong Cruising (Laos)October 28
After breakfast, drive to the port of Guan Lei and board the Sabaidee Pandaw. After lunch on board, take a walking tour around Guan Lei. Set sail this evening.
Mekong CruisingOctober 29
Continue day along the Upper Mekong, savoring magnificent scenery of dramatic hillsides and cliffs—Laos will be on your left and Myanmar on your right. Arrive at Ban Na Kor, a remote sand bank where the ship will moor for the night. Enjoy an evening of canapés and cocktails on the sandbank, followed by local Lao folklore and traditional floating fire lanterns.
Chiang Sean, Thailand (Golden Triangle)October 30
Arrive Chiang Saen, Thailand. After lunch, visit the center of the Golden Triangle where you can see both Laos and Myanmar across the river. Visit the fascinating Hall of Opium Museum, which chronicles the history of opium in the region.
Mekong Cruising (Laos)October 31
Cross the Thai border back into Laos and continue the journey downstream. Time permitting, after lunch, take a walking tour of a village set in the surrounding jungle.
Pakbeng / Pak Ou CavesNovember 1
This morning, take a walking tour of Pak Beng, a small trading town perched high on the banks of the Mekong. Continue cruising downstream and transfer to a local boat for a visit to the extraordinary Pak Ou Buddha Caves. Admire spectacular limestone cliff faces and the thousands of miniature Buddha sculptures within the caves that have been left by local people over hundreds of years.
Luang PrabangNovember 2 — November 3
Spend two full days exploring the beautiful temple city of Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit several of the city’s pagodas and temples, such as Vat Xieng Thong, Vat Visoun, and Vat Aham, as well as the Royal Palace, which now houses the National Museum. The evening is at leisure to explore the buzzing night market, or perhaps grab a drink or a snack at one of the many delightful cafés and restaurants.
Early the next morning, join a walking tour to observe the morning alms offering by local people to the hundreds of monks who walk around the city every morning. Passengers are invited to join with the offerings we provide for the alms giving. Mid-afternoon traditional dance performance on board the Pandaw
Muang Khay VillageNovember 4
This morning will be spent exploring the deep jungle pools at the picturesque Khuang Si Waterfall with the chance to enjoy a dip in the cooling pools. Stroll through the teak forest trails and visit the butterfly farm. Time permitting there may also be time to visit the elephant camp. Enjoy lunch followed by a cooking demonstration on board while cruising onwards down the mighty Mekong.
Xayaburi DamNovember 5
Pass through the Mekong water control lock at Xayaburi Hydro Electric Power Plant (itself an interesting and perhaps controversial tourist attraction). In the afternoon, join a walking tour of a local village.
Pak SaoNovember 6
This morning, visit Ban Pak Huoang, an interesting local village on the Thai/Laos border. Continue to Pak Sao for an excursion to a plantation village where you may mingle with locals.
VientianeNovember 7 — November 8
Pass through a dramatic landscape of jungle and mountain where the river flows fast and wild. Amazing rock formations straddle the riverbanks. Then enter the cultivated plains of Vientiane province, arriving mid-afternoon in Vientiane, the capital of Laos. There will be time this evening for independent exploration of this delightful, French influenced city. The next day, get better acquainted with the city with visits to Sisaket Temple, the President’s Hall, Wat Prakeo Temple, and the Phatouxay monument. The rest of the day is free for independent exploration to enjoy the many cafes and bistros in this charming little corner of L’Indochine. Attend a farewell cocktails and dinner on your final night aboard the Pandaw.
Vientiane / Disembark / USANovember 9
Disembark this morning and board your independent homeward flight.