Flavors of Laos
The Lao people believe that sticky rice is the glue that binds them together – but that’s not all Lao cuisine as about. From minty laab to spicy pâté baguettes and Chinese dim sum, Laotian cuisine has soaked up influences from Thailand, Vietnam, China and France, and turned them into something completely unique.
This itinerary introduces some of Laos’s most popular destinations from a different perspective, immersing you in the local culture through farm visits, cooking classes, plantation stays and some of the finest restaurants in the country.
Transport in detail
Transport will be be two domestic flights (from Vientiane to Pakse, and from Pakse to Luang Prabang), with short hotel transfers either side and one two-hour journey in a minivan.
This is a food-themed trip, so you’ll have lots of included meals at some of Laos’s best restaurants
We’ve included our favorite “alternative” experiences to give you a fresh perspective on these classic destinations
The scenery is stunning throughout
Your included experiences will give you lots of opportunities to get to know local people
This trip is easily extended to include some time on the beach in Thailand
Things to consider
If you have mobility issues, we can include a standard tour instead of cycling in the 4,000 Islands
Because this itinerary has so many included meals, it’s not suitable for vegetarians, vegans, or those with other dietary requirements
You’ll need to be prepared to stay in some fairly basic “homestay” style accommodation
This is a busy itinerary, often keeping you busy all the way from breakfast until after dinner
We built this trip around our favorite food experiences, but we can design an itinerary on any theme. Just tell us what you’re into, and let’s see what we can do.
Nothing moves at speed in Laos, and its leafy, languid capital on the banks of the Mekong is no different. Begin your food-themed discovery with a night-time tour of the capital’s best street food. This isn’t just a great night out, it’s an induction to the food culture of Laos — from lively night markets to sindat BBQ cooked over a bucket — and it’ll set you up beautifully for what’s to come. Next, explore this former French outpost by tuk-tuk, discovering Laos’s diverse cultural and culinary influences as you stop for spicy pâté baguettes and Chinese snacks on your way from temple to temple. Round off your visit with dinner at (in our opinion) the best restaurant in Vientiane: Doi Ka Noi.
Spend your first evening in Laos exploring Vietiane’s night market, sampling street-food snacks and learning about Laotian food culture
Explore the capital on a guided tour by tuk-tuk — the quintessential Southeast Asian mode of transport
Eat out at Doi Ka Noi, a “slow food” restaurant serving a daily changing menu of fresh, traditional Lao cuisine
Make an overnight detour to the Bolaven Plateau, where the rich volcanic soil and temperate climate produce some of the world’s best coffee. Most visitors to the Plateau follow a well-trodden route around the perimeter, but you’ll be diving deep into its heart, traveling by vintage Jeep as you follow little-used dirt roads to hidden waterfalls and swimming pools, stopping in to visit villages of the Laven, Alak, Katu and other ethnic minorities. You’ll spend tonight in a bamboo hut at a coffee plantation, where you’ll eat a delicious home-cooked meal, learn about the growing process, and wake up to freshly roasted coffee in the morning.
Get away from the tourist trail as you tour the Bolaven Plateau by vintage Jeep
Learn about the coffee growing process, from seed to cup
Trek to a mountain peak for incredible views over the Plateau
The finer detail
- Nine breakfasts
- Seven lunches: one street food baguette in Vientiane; one at a restaurant in the Bolaven Plateau; one at a coffee farm on the Bolaven Plateau; one at a local home in the 4000 Islands; one at the Pha Tad Ke Botanical Gardens; one at a family farm near Luang Prabang; one as part of the cooking class in Luang Prabang
- Seven dinners: one as part of the Vientiane food tour; one at Doi Ka Noi restaurant in Vientiane; one at a coffee plantation in the Bolaven Plateau; one at the 3 Nagas restaurant in Luang Prabang; one at L’Elephant restaurant in Luang Prabang; one at Kaiphaen restaurant in Luang Prabang; one at Paste restaurant in Luang Prabang
- Four half-day experiences: a city tour of Vientiane; two tours of the Bolaven Plateau; a cooking class in Luang Prabang
- Three full-day experiences: a cycling tour of the 4000 Islands; a tour of Luang Prabang; a tour of a family farm & Kuang Si Waterfall
- Two evening experiences: a food tour of Vientiane; a sunset Mekong River cruise
- All accommodation
- All entrance fees to sites included in guided experiences
- All internal transport
Logistics & journey times
Car transfer from Vientiane airport to city (20 minutes)
Car transfer from city to Vientiane airport (20 minutes)
Flight from Vientiane to Pakse (50 minutes)
Car transfer from Pakse to the Bolaven Plateau (1 hour)
Car transfer from the Bolaven Plateau to Champasak (2 hours)
Car transfer from Champasak to Pakse airport (1 hour)
Flight from Pakse to Luang Prabang (1 hour 40 minutes)
Car transfer from Luang Prabang airport to town (20 minutes)
Car transfer from town to Luang Prabang airport (20 minutes)
What's not included
- International flights
- Entrance fees to any sites not included in guided experiences
- Tips for guides, drivers & porters