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Laos Spirit & Elephants

7/Days  Flexible & Private Tour
 Luang PrabangSayabouryLuang Prabang
Only From
$1251 $1063
Designed by © Inside Travel Experts
Laos Spirit & Elephants Laos Spirit & Elephants Laos Spirit & Elephants See all 74 photos
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Well-known as the ‘Land of a Million Elephants’, Laos is continually striving to protect and take good care of the Asian elephant population, and a visit to an elephant sanctuary is surely a should-not-miss activity for any traveler when in Laos. Within this 7-day tour, you will have a precious chance to stay close to Laos’ adorable elephants for several days in the Sayaboury’s Elephant Conservation Center. Here you will interact freely and authentically with these giants, walk along them through the dense jungle, see them bathing or partake in making their socialization area, all to help them recover from hard times they suffer and start a new bright life back close to nature. What a wonderful place to explore!

Highlights

  Explore relaxed atmosphere of UNESCO protected town of Luang Prabang

  Partake in unique Laos’ traditions: daily morning almsgiving and Baci ceremony

  Visit Wat Xieng Thong and many beautiful temples in Luang Prabang

  Cruise upstream on the mighty Mekong River to the mysterious Pak Ou caves

  Marvel at the nature of Luang Prabang surrounding by vising the Pha Tad Ke Botanical Garden, and Kuang Si waterfalls

  Discover the Elephant Conservation Center in Sayaboury and see great efforts to make a safe home, and socialize these animals back to nature

Tour Summary

By Day Transfer Destinations Activities Meals
Day 1 Luang Prabang Arrive in Luang Prabang. Visit Royal Palace, Wat Mai, Climb up to... D
Day 2 Luang Prabang Wake up early to join the daily morning alms giving ceremony. Visit a... B, L
Day 3 Luang Prabang Take a boat to Pha tad Ke Botanical garden. Tuk Tuk ride to the... B, L
Day 4 Luang Prabang, Sayaboury Drive from Luang Prabang to the pier at Nam Tien Lake. Boat trip to... B, L, D
Day 5 Sayaboury Experiences with elephants. B, L, D
Day 6 Sayaboury, Luang Prabang Enjoy last moments with elephants. Back to Luang Prabang. B, L
Day 7 Luang Prabang Be transferred to Luang Prabang airport for your onward flight B
  • Transfer:
  • Activities:

    Arrive in Luang Prabang. Visit Royal Palace, Wat Mai, Climb up to Mount Phousi, join in Baci ceremony at a local family. Have dinner at the host family house

On arrival at the airport, you will be met and transferred to check in the hotel.

After a soft rest, visit Royal Palace Museum, which hosts a range of interesting artifacts. Continue to Wat Mai, a temple renowned for its golden basrelief, which is one of the most beautiful temples in town. If time permits, we will take a short walk around the small streets of city center, watching the life of local people.

Late afternoon, we climb up to the top of Mount Phousi for an enjoyable exploration of the sacred, gilded stupa as well as a panoramic sunset view of the city and the Mekong River. After that, join a private Baci ceremony at a local family. The Baci ceremony as a traditional ritual of the Lao people expresses the spirituality of the country and is a highly memorable experience and a deep insight into Lao culture for the participants.

Dinner will be served after that for you to share with the host family. This is the best chance for you to have first experience of local life and culture.

Overnight in Luang Prabang.

Royal Palace in Luang Prabang

Located on the banks of the Mekong River and facing the sacred Mount Phousi, the Royal Palace was built in 1904 to serve as the residence of King Sisavang Vong and his family during the French colonial era. After the revolution in 1975, the palace turned into a national museum and opened to the public in 1995. On the palace grounds, there are some buildings such as an exhibition hall, Haw Pra Bang that houses the standing Buddha statue called Prabang - the palladium of Laos, Royal Barge Shelter, Staff Headquarters and the Royal Ballet Theater. Besides enjoying the royal religious objects, the last king’s collection of cars, ancient statues, and paintings dating for centuries, you can also marvel at the stunning architecture of the palace that is a blend of traditional Lao style and French Beaux-Arts. The Royal Palace Museum is really well worth a visit to learn about Lao history and culture as well as the royal lifestyle.

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  • Meals:

    Dinner

  • Transfer:
  • Activities:

    Wake up early to join the daily morning alms giving ceremony. Visit a local morning market, Wat Sene. Boat trip to Pak Ou caves. Stop at Ban Xanghai & travel to Wat Xiengthong. Visit traditional Art and Ethnology Center

Wake up as the sun rises, we will prepare to join the most sacred tradition of Laos, the daily morning alms giving, which dates to the 14th century. More than 200 Buddhist monks depart from various temple to gather their daily meal from the faithful residents sitting quietly on the streets. From there, we will visit the temporary morning market near the former Royal Palace. Just set on the ground, the local people come here to barter their day’s catch from rice, to vegetable, to fish, or chicken. This is the best chance to experience the flavor of local life.

Breakfast at the hotel, we will first visit the city’s oldest temple of Wat Sene. After that, we embark on the leisurely cruise upstream on the Mekong River, which also gives us a breathtaking view of the tranquil countryside, before reaching the mysterious Pak Ou Caves, a 16th century cave monastery filled with thousands of Buddha images, which locates 25 Kilometers North of Luang Prabang in the limestone cliffs overlooking the Mekong river. En route, you will stop at Ban Xanghai, a well-known village for its traditional Lao rice whisky distilling. You will arrive back in Luang Prabang.

On arrival back in the city, visit the magnificent Wat Xiengthong a superb piece of Lao temple architecture, which presents a sweeping two-tiered roof and ornate mosaics including a beautiful ‘tree of life ‘glass montage on the rear temple wall. Our last stop today is the Traditional Art and Ethnology Center (closed on Monday) to learn about Laos’ many ethnic cultures.

Overnight in Luang Prabang.

Pay a visit to Wat Xieng Thong - the highest symbol of Buddhism in Laos

Wat Xieng Thong, literally translated the ‘monastery of the golden city’, is one of the oldest and most important temples of Luang Prabang as well as one of the highest symbols of Buddhism in Laos. This Buddhist temple was built in 1559-1560 by King Setthathirath in the northern tip of the peninsula where the Mekong River and the Nam Khan River join. After a number of restorations, Wat Xieng Thong now consists of more than twenty structures on the grounds including a sim, a royal funerary carriage house, pavilions, shrines, residences, and gardens. As the temple still keeps its original form, a visit around will show tourists the characteristics of 16th-century Lao art and craft with the 2-tiered roof, colorful mosaics and carvings depicting Lao legends and the tree of life on the rear temple walls. Wat Xieng Thong is also an important venue where significant annual festivities in Luang Prabang are held.

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Enjoyable Mekong River boat excursion to Pak Ou Cave

When in Luang Prabang, it is recommended to take a boat tour through Mekong river and visit Pak Ou caves. The excursion will bring you pleasant time to see the local life along the way where the mountain, blue sky and spectacular scenery are in harmony to take the picture. The climb to the caves will guide you to superb exploration to see hundreds of Buddha sculptures in a dark cave, which is not only an insight into top attraction in Luang Prabang, but the historical stories of the sacred relics protection from bombings during the Secret War as well.

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  • Meals:

    Breakfast, Lunch

  • Transfer:
  • Activities:

    Take a boat to Pha tad Ke Botanical garden. Tuk Tuk ride to the beautiful Kuang Si waterfall. Visit Bear rescue centre.

After breakfast, we will take the cruise to Pha Tad Ke Botanical garden. Upon arrival, you will be given a short presentation about the gardens. After that walk through the Ginger Garden and the Ethno-botanic Garden, which is the centrepiece of the garden. Follow the path through the Limestone Walk and take in the amazing mountainous Mekong landscape. Learn how to make a bamboo stick animal at the site of the hunting lodge of the former royal family. Then continue your tour of Pha Tad Ke Botanical Garden walking through the Arboretum, Palm Garden and Bamboo.

Garden to our viewpoint that overlooks the rice fields. Stop by the Mist House where you will learn more about the importance of biodiversity conservation. Finish your excursion with an optional orchid talk at Pha Tad Ke Nursery. All of the gardens will have introductory panels and labels. You can always ask our expert staff should you have any questions or require more information.
Enjoy a delicious Lao set lunch at the Pha Tad Ke café.

In the afternoon, we continue the cruise downstream the Mekong river further to Ban Sing, enjoying the peaceful scenery of the countryside. We then transfer by local tuk tuk to the beautiful Kuang Si Waterfall where you can cool off with a refreshing swim in the pools or walk along the forest trails. You can also see up close Asiatic bears at the Bear Rescue Centre along the jungle walk to the waterfall.

We then take the boat upstream the Mekong river back to Luang Prabang whilst the sun is setting behind the mountain. Transfer back to your hotel by tuk tuk.

Overnight in Luang Prabang.

Visit the bear rescued center in Luang Prabang

Located 30km southwest of Luang Prabang, Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre is only a short walk past the entrance gate to Tat Kuang Si Waterfall. Run by Free the Bears with the help from the Laos Department of Forestry since 2003, this excellent center is home to many wild Moon bears rescued from poachers and illegal wildlife trade where they have an open enclosure to live and play freely with lots of trees and swings. Due to the growing population of rescued bears, there are other bear houses built in the hills near Nahm Dong. When visiting the center, you can observe these lovely animals playing and enjoying their food from a viewing platform and along the wooden paths. The visit will be the best chance for visitors to learn about these adorable bears and other wildlife we need to protect. If you want to support the center, you can buy a T-shirt or make a donation.

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Spectacular and stunning Kuang Si WaterFalls

No words can describe the stunning of Kuang Si Waterfalls and the emerald water: you must witness in person, the experience will surely exceeds your expectations!Located outside the city of Luang Prabang, Kuang Si Waterfalls are absolutely breathtaking and definitely worth the visit.  You can climb up to the falls and take a dip, or walk through the beautiful area and got in the water a bit more downstream, swim or simply put my feet in for a relaxation.Truly, a joyous feast for eyes and ears, for mind and soul !

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  • Meals:

    Breakfast, Lunch

  • Transfer:
  • Activities:

    Drive from Luang Prabang to the pier at Nam Tien Lake. Boat trip to Elephant Conservation Center in Sayaboury. Get close with daily life of elephants at Elephant Conservation Center. Overnight at the Elephant Conservation Center.

In the morning, our driver will transfer you to the meeting point where we will join the minivan of Elephant Conservation Center for the transfer to Sayabouly (about 90KM). When you have arrived to the pier at Nam Tien Lake, we will transfer you to the center by boat. You might be able to catch a quick glimpse of one of our elephants while our boat docks. You will have some time to install yourself in your private bungalow before lunch is served. 

After enjoying a Laotian style meal, your guide will take you for a visit of the Center’s facilities and present our ongoing projects. During the hospital visit our veterinarian and biologist will take you into their world and explain about the projects they are undertaking. Through the visit of the only Elephant Hospital in Laos, you will discover the conservation actions implemented by The Elephant Conservation Center. You will then observe the elephants’ daily bath and learn more about our giant guests’ playful characters. Elephants are surprisingly good swimmers and love water. They also use this time to socialize.

After the elephants have washed themselves, you will meet our mahouts, who will show you how they get on and off the elephant and the commands they use. You will then have the opportunity to interact with the elephants with the mahouts at your side. Get a feel for the elephant’s amazing skin and prickly hair, and experience up close the dexterity of their trunk as you offer them some food. Feel free to take photos standing next to our giants! For those who really want to get a feel of being on top of the elephant, mahout style, you can request to do so later on when bringing the elephants to the forest or socialization area. But this is absolutely not central to the experience we propose and is strictly on the neck, not in a chair on the elephant’s back!

While walking the elephants to their nightly resting ground you will witness the unique bond between the mahout and his elephant. Our experienced mahouts use vocal commands to steer the animals through the thick foliage. As you stroll together with these magnificent creatures into the dense forest of Nam Tien, take a moment! This is the REAL land of elephants! Your guide will give you some interesting information about the biodiversity of our protected forest.

Before dinner, take some time to take in the surroundings from our viewpoint. You can also go for a swim in the lake or visit the museum. During meal time, feel free to ask your unresolved questions to the staff or share one of the Laos style cocktails!

Overnight in Elephant Conservation Center’s bungalow.

Elephant Conservation Center in Sayaboury - the real land of elephants

Welcome to the Elephant Conservation Center of Laos (ECC)! Created in 2011 by a team of experts in Sayaboury (3 hours by road from Luang Prabang), the ECC is not just another elephant camp, but a real sanctuary for Laos’ elephants. Here you will meet a dedicated international team of experts, mahouts, and elephant vets who are trying to take care of the elephants who have endured the mistreatment from the logging industry and mass tourism. The ECC staff helps elephants develop hunting and socialization skills, then gradually reintroduce them to the wild and eventually release to live on their own. In the center, you will learn all about Asia's most iconic creature and of course, do not expect any touristic rides.

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  • Meals:

    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Transfer:
  • Activities:

    Experiences with elephants.

On the second day, you will meet up with the elephants in the forest. After spending the night grazing in the jungle it is time for another bath. Enjoy strolling together with these magnificent creatures in their natural environment. If you wish, you can ask to ride the elephant, bareback on the neck, for a short time on their way through the forest, to get a physical feel for the animal.

When they have had their fill of water they are brought to the Socialization Area. This is an area where the elephants can freely interact during a big part of the day, recreating a semi- natural living environment. Here the elephants can enjoy being elephants. Follow the guide around the perimeter to learn more about the elephants. Take your time on the different platforms to see how a new herd is being formed. This rare opportunity will bring you closer to their natural life, something which is very special about our program and difficult to find anywhere else in Laos. 

Lunch is served at one of the viewing platforms. You have some time to let everything sink in. Following the forest picnic, you can see the resident mother and baby at the nursery. The mahout of the mother stays close by while she and her baby have a bath and play. The mother trusts him around her offspring and even lets him play with her a little bit. Afterwards, board our boat for a trip back to the center in time to see the afternoon bath. You will meet our veterinarian or biologist again as they will conduct a target training session. All our elephants are being trained using "positive reinforcement" techniques to facilitate any necessary treatments. We offer you the chance to follow their work from a safe distance. Afterwards you can walk the elephant back to the forest.

Overnight in Elephant Conservation Center’s bungalow.

Elephant Conservation Center in Sayaboury - the real land of elephants

Welcome to the Elephant Conservation Center of Laos (ECC)! Created in 2011 by a team of experts in Sayaboury (3 hours by road from Luang Prabang), the ECC is not just another elephant camp, but a real sanctuary for Laos’ elephants. Here you will meet a dedicated international team of experts, mahouts, and elephant vets who are trying to take care of the elephants who have endured the mistreatment from the logging industry and mass tourism. The ECC staff helps elephants develop hunting and socialization skills, then gradually reintroduce them to the wild and eventually release to live on their own. In the center, you will learn all about Asia's most iconic creature and of course, do not expect any touristic rides.

More
  • Meals:

    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Transfer:
  • Activities:

    Enjoy last moments with elephants. Back to Luang Prabang.

On the third day, our guide and biologist will explain the enrichment activities. Enrichment is a dynamic process for enhancing animal environments within the context of the animal’s behavioral biology. We are providing cognitive enrichment in the form of hidden food, toys, a mud bath etc. to give the elephants mental stimulation and avoid boredom. They love it! We invite you to take part in this amazing experience by helping our team to prepare the socialization area: cut and hide the food, create elephant toys etc. to give the elephants a challenge.

Once they arrive, you will have the opportunity to observe how the elephants interact with what you have created! This is a novel and unique way to interact with our elephants, contributing directly to their well- being. After Lunch at the restaurant you can take your time to pack your bags and say goodbye to the staff. Perhaps you would like to take in the scenery for one last time before we bring you back to Luang Prabang.

From there, our driver will transfer you back to your hotel. Overnight in Luang Prabang.

  • Meals:

    Breakfast, Lunch

  • Transfer:
  • Activities:

    Be transferred to Luang Prabang airport for your onward flight

You are free to stroll around the town for your own exploration before taking the departure flight.
Ends of services!

  • Meals:

    Breakfast

Inclusions

Meals
6 Breakfasts 5 Lunches 3 Dinners
Accommodation
Hotel (6 nights),
Transport
Car, Boating
Included Services
  •   Accomodation as itinerary
  •   Private transport in air-conditioned vehicles
  •   Government taxes
  •   Local English-speaking guides
  •   Water on coach
  •   Entrance fees, performances, boat trips & excursions

Exclusions

  •   International flights to/from Laos
  •   Domestic flights
  •   Travel insurance
  •   Visa stamp fees
  •   Early check-in & late check-out surcharge
  •   Personal expenses
  •   Meals not mentioned
  •   Drinks not mentioned
  •   Tips & gratuities for guides and drivers

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