Mid-Voyage Land Adventure: Discover Laos
Discover one of Southeast Asia's almost forgotten countries, which recently started to attract ever more savvy and adventurous travellers. Thanks to Laos' breathtakingly beautiful landscape, long history, rich Buddhist culture, and laid back lifestyle the country's isolation is now quickly changing and becoming a popular destination for those in the know. Visit the country's capital, Vientiane and temple-filled Luang Prabang, a World Heritage Site situated 2,296 feet (700 metres) above sea level amid a backdrop of scenic mountains.
02MIDSGN-N Discover Laos
Offered on Voyage 4404
Departure: March 12, 2014
Duration: 2.5 Days/2 Nights
Rejoin ship: March 14, 2014 in Bangkok
Reserve by: December 1, 2013
This Mid-Voyage Land Adventure requires advance booking through Silversea Reservations December 1, 2013. Requests received after this date may be accommodated on a space-available basis and the programme price is subject to change. Payment in full is due within 120 days prior to sailing. This programme is non-refundable if cancelled within 90 days of sailing. Although space is very limited, a minimum number of participants is required to operate this excursion. Guests must bring two passport-sized photos (2"X2") with them.
Discover Laos, one of Southeast Asia's almost forgotten countries. Officially called Lao People's Democratic Republic, the country has only recently begun to attract the attention of savvy and adventurous travelers due to Laos' breathtakingly beautiful nature, long history, rich Buddhist culture, and laid back lifestyle. The country's isolation is now quickly changing and the number of visitors is ever more increasing. On this Mid-Voyage Land Adventure you will have the opportunity for a brief visit to Laos' capital, Vientiane and to Luang Prabang, the country's showpiece and a World Heritage Site.
DAY ONE - Wednesday, March 12, 2014 - Ho Chi Minh City/Vientiane
Depart the ship in Ho Chi Minh City and transfer to the airport for your afternoon flight to Vientiane. Upon arrival in Laos' capital city, you are met and taken to the Settha Palace Hotel for check-in. Built in the 1930s, this Vientiane landmark hotel underwent extensive restoration and now serves once again as a testament to classical elegance and gracious service. After settling in, join your fellow tour members for dinner at the hotel.
Overnight accommodation at the Settha Palace Hotel - Vientiane.
DAY TWO - Thursday, March 13, 2014 - Vientiane/Luang Prabang
Following breakfast and check-out, enjoy an overview of Southeast Asia's 'biggest village'. An interesting mix of Lao,
Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, French and American influences, makes Vientiane a charming and fascinating capital. A morning tour of the city will show you the major highlights, ending at the airport. Most of the sites are in relatively close proximity of each other.
Visit Wat Sisaket, the temple famous for its cloister wall with thousands of miniature Buddha statues. Vientiane's oldest surviving monastery, it was built by King Anouvong in 1818, in the Siamese style. Its grounds are richly planted with a variety of vegetation that is lovingly tended, so it becomes a restful retreat as well. Next, proceed to the most important national monument in Laos, Pha That Luang. This impressive gold-covered stupa is a symbol of both the Buddhist religion and Lao sovereignty. The exterior of the 'Great Stupa' resembles a fortress surrounded by high walls. The main stupa stands 148 feet (44 metres) tall and is covered with gold leaf. Legend has it that Ashokan missionaries from India erected a thâat or reliquary stupa here to enclose a piece of the Buddha's breastbone as early as the 3rd century BC. Excavations have found no trace of this, but did find suggestion of a Khmer monastery that might have been built near here between the 11th and 13th centuries AD. Before heading to the airport, stop for photos at the imposing Patuxai Monument, or 'Victory Gate', touted as Vientiane's own Arc de Triumph. It was built in the 1960s to commemorate those who fought in the struggle for independence from the French.
Arriving at Vientiane airport, check-in for a 40-minute flight to Luang Prabang. Upon arrival, you are met and transferred to the Maison Souvannaphoum Hotel for check-in and lunch. The five-star hotel, formerly the residence of Prince Souvannaphoum, presents a step back in time. The hotel is conveniently located near the historic centre and its key attractions.
After lunch, a trip to Kuang Si Falls some 18 miles (30 kilometres) out of town follows a road that winds through hills with spectacular views, terraced rice fields and farmlands. Closer to the falls the weather gets a bit cooler due to the higher elevation and its forest location. From the parking area, a short hike on a well maintained forest trail leads up some 279 feet (85 metres) to the view point of the falls. Cascades, typical of travertine waterfalls, are intermingled with basins and pools. Be careful around the falls area as the ground may be wet and slippery. Photographers will enjoy the opportunity for pictures. Then retrace your steps down to the parking area, where souvenir shops line the square.
Your return trip to Luang Prabang takes in a stop at Wat Prabath, a Meditation Temple situated on a hillside from where you can enjoy lovely views and the opportunity to watch the sunset. Often, orange-clad monks can be seen mingling on the grounds of Wat Prabath. Back downtown, you may want to take a stroll through the night market before returning to the hotel. This evening, dinner will be served at one of Luang Prabang's popular restaurants.
Overnight accommodation at Maison Souvannaphoum Hotel - Luang Prabang.
DAY THREE - Friday, March 14, 2014 - Luang Prabang/Bangkok
Optional: For early risers a special treat awaits. Near the hotel you can watch one of Luang Prabang's most fascinating rituals as hundreds of orange-robed monks begin their walk at dawn to collect alms from faithful residents. It is a great opportunity for some very unusual and memorable photographs.
After breakfast and check-out, discover the major sites of Luang Prabang. The beautiful setting, splendid scenery and blend of foreign influences have earned the town top billing as the country's showpiece. Located at an elevation of 2,296 feet (700 metres) above sea level, Luang Prabang is encircled by impressive mountains and wedged between the Mekong and Khan Rivers. As the former royal capital of the Lan Xang Kingdom, Luang Prabang has long been a centre of culture and preserved heritage.
The main attractions of this World Heritage Site can be seen within a short period of time and include ornate temples of and charming colonial architecture. A stop at Wat Mai lets you admire the most richly decorated of all the temples in Luang Prabang.
Next, visit the nearby Royal Palace Museum. Once the residence of the kings of Luang Prabang, exhibits feature a collection of personal memorabilia of the royal family, including photos, musical instruments and numerous gifts received from dignitaries of foreign countries. Many of the rooms have been preserved since the day of the revolution when the royal family was forced into exile. (Shoes have to be removed at the entrance to the museum.)
From here proceed to Wat Xieng Thong, the Temple of the Golden City and one of the most important temples in Laos. The temple's rear wall is adorned with one of the best known artworks in Laos - the exquisite Tree of Life mosaic.
Conclude your Laos' Discovery with a transfer to the airport and a one-hour flight to Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport, where you are met and assisted with arrival formalities. Then board your transfer coach that will bring you to the ship at Klong Toey Pier.
Please note: This Mid-Voyage Land Adventure requires an extensive amount of walking and climbing of steps at all sites visited, making the tour unsuitable for guests with limited mobility or those utilising a wheelchair. Visas for both Laos and Vietnam are included and will be issued upon arrival at the airports. Guests will need to bring two passport-sized photos (2"X2") with them. This Land Adventure involves touring outdoors and guests may be exposed to warm/hot, humid and/or wet weather and insects; please pack accordingly. Lightweight clothing, a sunhat, sun block, insect repellent and sunglasses are imperative. Bring a jacket or shawl for the cooler region of Luang Prabang. Comfortable walking shoes that are easy to slip on and off are essential. Out of respect, dress modestly, with any skirts or pants well below the knee and shoulders must be covered for visits to Buddhist shrines. Some temples and the Royal Palace Museum require shoes be removed at the entrance. Remember to bring your camera. Monks may be at the sites; their picture may only be taken after obtaining their permission and women may not touch monks. US dollars are well accepted by most vendors; local ATMs are available in some locations visited however you should carry small change. Bargaining is common at markets. Airlines restrict baggage to 44 lb (20 kg) per person; hand luggage cannot exceed 11 lb (5 kg) in weight, should smaller aircraft be utilised (at the discretion of the airline). The tour sequence may vary in the event of flight changes; order of sites and/or the itinerary may change.
· One-night stay at Settha Palace Hotel (or similar) - Vientiane
· One-night stay at Maison Souvannaphoum Hotel (or similar) - Luang Prabang
· Two breakfasts, one lunch and two dinners (Lunch includes choice of two local beers, soft drinks, bottled water; dinner includes also house wine as an additional choice)
· Flights in Economy Class: Ho Chi Minh City/Vientiane, Vientiane/Luang Prabang, Luang Prabang /Bangkok
· Laos and Vietnamese visas
· All sightseeing and transfers as per itinerary
Any meals and drinks not specified above, Vietnam visa, gratuities to drivers and tour guide, charges incurred by the airlines for excess or overweight luggage, laundry, telephone calls, cancellation insurance and other personal items.
All Land Adventures require a minimum number of participants in order to operate as described. If this minimum number is not met, Silversea reserves the right to offer the programme at a different rate based on private arrangements, or to cancel the specific departure. Silversea's published cruise cancellation policy will remain in effect. All Land Adventure fares are subject to change and are not guaranteed until payment is received in full by Silversea. All Land Adventures are non-transferable and non-refundable for any reason, within 90 days of sailing. This description is a general overview of this programme. Our local operator reserves the right to substitute other sites if local situations, including holidays and weather, require. The programme described in this brochure is provided by independent contractors. Silversea acts solely as ticketing agent. Silversea shall have no obligation or liability of any kind to guests for the business practices, acts or omissions in connection with or arising out of arrangements with independent contractors, including but not limited to airline carriers, ground-tour operators, and hotels since they are neither agents for nor employees of Silversea Cruises. Silversea's liability does not extend beyond the vessel.