Let’s Do Laos + Hanoi & Ha Long Bay

  • March 11 – 19, 2022
  • Laos
  • Laos
  • March 11 – 19, 2022
  • 9 days / 8 nights
  • $7650*
  • 10 -12 guests

Overview

Escape the mundane! Laos, the landlocked country of Southeast Asia contains many charms. It consists of an irregularly round portion in the north that narrows into a peninsula-like region stretching to the southeast.

Laos is bounded to the north by China, to the northeast and east by Vietnam, to the south by Cambodia, to the west by Thailand, and to the northwest by Myanmar (Burma).

Colonization by the French from the late 19th to the mid-20th century infused Laos with a European cultural element, which intensified throughout the country’s embroilment in World War II and the Indochina wars, as well as a civil war of its own in the second half of the 20th century. After exploring Laos, we’ll end our trip in Vietnam soaking up the rich French-influenced culture in Hanoi with a Ha Long Bay overnight cruise thrown in to boot!

Highlights

  • Capture the spectacular Luang Si waterfalls with your smart phone
  • Enjoy the Butterfly Park
  • Discover Laotian cooking at our Tamarind Garden Cookery class
  • Explore the Royal Palace Museum
  • Experience a Royal Ballet performance at the Royal Palace
  • Tour Wat Mai, one of the most beautiful temples in town
  • Hike to the top of Mount Phousi
  • Visit Luang Prabang Orphanage and School
  • Take a Weaving class
  • Explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ha Long Bay by Boat
  • Relax with a 1-hour traditional Lao massage
  • Discover the unique Architecture of Luang Prabang on a walking tour
  • Learn how to fish for squid
  • Relish exclusive shopping in Hanoi and Laos
  • Experience the early morning sacred tradition of giving Alms to the Buddhist monks
  • Accommodation in superior award winning five-star hotels

The Luang Prabang region consists of 58 adjacent villages, 33 of which are classified as making up this UNESCO World Heritage Site heralded for its outstanding cultural, historic and architectural values and its harmonious relationship between the natural and built environment.

This UNESCO heritage region will be sure to delight us. We’ll be in awe of its golden roofed temples and the vestiges of French colonial architecture that Luang Prabang brings us. Fabulous arts and crafts shops to pop into, as well as a very authentic night market will be sure to tick off our retail therapy list but consider also that our shopping will be a philanthropic experience as well. IE No guilt!

Rose petal tea, filigree silver handmade jewelry, buffalo horn products, as well as finest of brightly colored silks are sure to fill our suitcase. Not to mention those antique calligraphy brushes!

We’ll collect many travel stories.  Each one written into our hearts, by the beautiful smiling, friendly people that we will meet. This Indochine country, with its exquisite, spicy cuisine will have us swooning at every meal, guaranteed!

Prabang and Hanoi – both were historically very French influenced which is why we’ve included Hanoi at the end of the trip with an overnight cruise on the famous Ha long Bay allowing to you tick off yet another Asian country while you discern the difference between the two nations.

The dry season (November to April) is dominated by the northeast monsoon. Minimum temperatures average between 60 and 70 °F (16 and 21 °C) making it the perfect time to be in Laos & Vietnam.

Itinerary

Day 1: Friday, March11th 2022 (D)

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

Situated in the center of northern Laos, Luang Prabang is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its outstanding cultural, historic and architectural values and its harmonious relationship between the natural and built environment.

If time permits, our guide will walk you through the small streets of Luang Prabang to admire local life. We will make a stop at one of the petanque courts, where we will join a game with a local team.

Overnight in Luang Prabang at the Rosewood hotel in a Riverside Room.

Our welcome dinner will be served tonight at Rosewood hotel.

Hidden in the lush green jungle that surrounds the historic royal settlement of Luang Prabang, a river, emanating from a flowing waterfall, runs through the heart of this exotic retreat. Taking its cue from the French-Lao architecture for which the town is known, the interiors of the Luang Prabang resort reflect the influences of ancient temples, while luxurious tented villas celebrate the explorer spirit.

Day 2: Saturday, March12th 2022 (B, D)

Around 10:00AM we will transfer directly to the beautiful Kuang Si, which is the biggest waterfall in the Luang Prabang area with three tiers leading to a 50-meter (164 foot) drop into spectacular azure pools before flowing downstream. The pools also make great swimming holes and are very popular with both tourists and locals.

There will be a chance to walk to the nearby village of Ban Thapene, and explore the hidden waterfalls, rarely visited by other tourists.

If you wish, take a short visit to the Bear Rescue Center, which houses a couple of dozen animals rescued from the hands of poachers and traffickers.

After visiting Kuang Si waterfalls, we’ll visit the nearby Butterfly Park, where you can enjoy afternoon tea with homemade cookies whilst relaxing inside a green peaceful garden full of colorful butterflies.

Transfer back to your hotel to refresh before dining at the French restaurant, L’Elephant a short 15 minute drive away.

Overnight in Luang Prabang at the Rosewood hotel.

Day 3:  Sunday, March 13th 2022 (B/L)

After breakfast at hotel, you will take part in a cooking class at the Tamarind Garden.We’ll start with a visit to the major local food market where we’ll learn what the various unfamiliar fruits, vegetables, fish and meats are and what they are commonly used for.We then head back to the Tamarind Garden to cook and eat. You’ll learn to make:

  • A variety of jeow: the fundamental Lao spicy dipping sauces
  • Mok Pa: a popular dish of herbed fish steamed in banana leaves
  • Tamarind’s specialty: lemongrass stuffed with chicken & herbs
  • Laap/koy: a minced meat salad, fragrant with herbs
  • Dessert course: a surprise!
  • You’ll learn the art to perfect sticky rice and its eating etiquette.

The lunch should be finished at around 2:30.

The afternoon will be dedicated to some most famous sites inside city center starting with a visit to Royal Palace Museum, which hosts a range of interesting artifacts.

Continue to Wat Mai, a temple renowned for its golden bas-relief, which is one of the most beautiful temples in town.

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.

From there, we will come back to the National Museum to watch a show by the Royal Ballet Theatre, which performs Phra-Lak Phra-Lam, the Laotian version of the sacred poem, the Ramayana, in the Royal Palace.

Transfer back to our new hotel after the show, the Satri House in a Deluxe room.

Built as a residence for a branch of the Laotian royal family in the late 1900s, Satri House was once the childhood home of Prince Souphanouvong. Once again it is fit for aristocracy after an extensive renovation. The original house is the centerpiece of masterful design, somehow managing to be intimate and homely yet striking and grand all at once, a glorious tribute to a bygone era.

‘A History of Laos’ by Martin Stuart-Fox will be sure to get you into the mood of things to come.

Day 4:  Monday, March 14th2022 (B)

In the morning, we will visit Luang Prabang Orphanage School, which is home to more than 500 orphans. (Gifts and donations will be prepared by the clients).

In the afternoon, we will join a weaving class at Ock Pop Tock Living Craft Center. Here we’ll start with an introduction to silks, dyeing and weaving techniques. Each student is assigned a loom — a guide and a weaver who will help you learn the art of weaving.

You will get to take home the itemyou’ve worked on at the end of the class. Plus, silk colors can be customized!

This afternoon, we’ll return to our Hotel to enjoy a 1-hour traditional Lao massage.

The Luang Prabang Satri House is one of the most exquisite places in the ancient city, designed with a style inspired by Lao culture and set in a truly relaxing environment. Here you can enjoy private moments to yourself and really unwind or sit and watch the everyday life of local people from your balcony.

The 28 Rooms and 3 Suites are furnished with superior crafted wood furniture, oversized balconies, spacious bath rooms with rain shower and separate toilet room, and bath tubs in the Suites. Facilities include a restaurant, garden bar, library, outdoor swimming pools and spa.

Day 5:  Tuesday, March15th 2022 (B, D)

After breakfast, we will meet Mr. Francis Engelmann, a UNESCO expert. After a short brief, we’ll take a guide in-depth walking tour of the city.

The walk is oriented towards the lesser known parts of the town including charming lanes showing the more traditional atmosphere of the heritage town.

Along the way, we will see the four different types of buildings categorized by UNESCO. The first one is the traditional Lao house which is made from tropical hardwood or bamboo and built on stilts.

The second is a half wood and half cement house built after the arrival of the French. The third is the traditional French colonial building that are similar to those found in Vietnam and Cambodia.

The last form of architecture you will see is the old Chinese shop houses that were built to be used for both commercial and residential purposes.

This afternoon we’ll visit some of the best Arts & Crafts Shops in Luang Prabang including Naga Creation, Ma Te Sai, Caruso Lao, and Pathana Boupha.

Our farewell dinner will be held at the famous 3 Nagas Restaurant complete with traditional Lao food.

Overnight in Luang Prabang – Satri House.

Day 6: Wednesday, March,16th (B, L, D)

Today we’ll wake up as the sun rises and 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.

Alas, all too soon, our tour of beautiful Laos has come to an end, but there’s more in store!

Today we’ll transfer out to the airport to take the 1 hour flight to Hanoi.

Upon arrival, you’ll transfer to your hotel allowing time to rest. Free at leisure.

There’s much exploring of Hanoi to be done – Hanoi is a magical and charming city. The character, history and romance of the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi will certainly add a little extra special something to your journey here. Savor our French art de vivre blended with elegant Vietnamese touches and please enjoy this wonderful place. The original colonial grandeur is preserved in the historical Metropole Wing, while the newer Opera Wing offers a stylish neo-classical elegance. All accommodations are equipped with Sofitel’s MyBed, broadband Internet, LCD televisions as well as Hermes & Lanvin bathroom amenities.

Overnight in Hanoi. Sofitel Metropole Hotel Hanoi Premium room

Day 7: Thursday, March, 17th (B, L, D)

Breakfast at our hotel and then depart from hotel following the new highway to the Got Ferry Terminal, Cat Hai Town, Haiphong City (arrive about 11:30). You will travel on the longest bridge in Southeast Asia and be greeted at the lounge before boarding.

12:15 Board the Heritage Cruises boat and enjoy a welcome drink as you receive a cruise briefing, safety instructions and check in to your suite. Lunch is served at L’Indochine Restaurant.

12:40 Cruise to Da Chong islet, where you can see a heritage lighthouse built by the French more than 100 years ago. After lunch, cruise to Gia Luan Lagoon where limestone karst formations rise out of the sea. This quiet bay is untouched and remote, as not many cruise ships visit.

15:00 The cruise vessel approaches the Ba Trai Dao or Three Peach beaches in Lan Ha Bay, a natural frontier between the provinces of Halong and Haiphong. This secret hideaway has beaches, caves and coves, plus the spectacular natural beauty of about 400 islands. Guests can try kayaking or simply swim in the clear waters of the bay.

17:30 Back on Heritage Cruises, enjoy life aboard the vessel or in your suite, and with cocktail in hand watch the sunset over the Gulf of Tonkin. Activities include afternoon tea and wine tasting, and the chef will lead a Vietnamese cookery class.

19:30 A memorable dining experience will be offered at the restaurant, with local food in an intimate and romantic setting.

21:30 Enjoy evening views of the bay at the bar on the top deck. Try your hand squid fishing, or watch a movie in the restaurant. The bars are open until late.

The best time to visit Ha Long Bay is between September to April.

Heritage Cruises provides ultimate service levels. Every detail is taken into consideration. ‘No request is too large, no detail too small’ – this is the credo of Heritage Cruises staff, who go above and beyond to create an extraordinary experience for every discerning guest.

Each Heritage Cruises boutique cruise ship, is one-of-a-kind, exquisitely appointed heritage vessel, drawing on the arts, traditions and culture of the region. With menus designed by an Iron Chef, Heritage Cruises has crafted culinary treats for the most discerning of palettes.

Heritage Cruises – Delta Suite Cabin 

Day 8: Friday, March, 18th (B, L, D)

6:00 Start the day with a session of Vovinam (Vietnamese Martial Arts) on the sundeck, followed by a light breakfast. Then take the bamboo boats to explore the Dark and Bright Cave.

9:30 Return to the ship for checkout.

10:00 Enjoy brunch while cruising back to the harbor.

11:35 Return to Got Harbor and head back to Hanoi.

Free at leisure and overnight in Hanoi – check into hotel.

Enjoy a magnificent farewell dinner with Vietnamese Cuisine at Spices restaurant at our Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel in Hanoi.

Vietnamese culinary tradition redefined with French flair. Enjoy views of the lush garden courtyard and swimming pool. Embark on an adventure of the palette at Spices Garden with the exotic flavors from Hanoi’s bustling cuisine, with “pho” noodle soup, tender spicy barbecued pork, exquisite seafood and the freshest of garden vegetables, spices and herbs.

Sofitel Metropole Hanoi – Premium room

Day 9: Saturday, March, 19th (B)

You are free to stroll around the town before taking the departure flight

Trip Cost

$7650

* All our trips are organized and priced based on single occupancy at all the places we stay. If you’re traveling with a friend/relative or would prefer to save some money by sharing a room, we can usually organize double occupancy and a fairly significant reduction in cost. On this trip up to $2000 per person.

Guides: Your guide, Aussie Jean Wethmar is an inveterate traveler and has been to Laos many times with other fabulous groups of women. Jean has a formidable black book of delightful shopping experiences to share. Think Hang Gai (silk street), and Hang Bac (silver street) and those delightful Colonial shop houses brimming full of bargains galore.

GG2P Founder, Doni Belau will be your host.

What’s included?

  • Everything stated in itinerary above
  • 5-star hotel stays
  • A one-hour massage
  • A Laotian & Vietnamese cooking class
  • Beer, or wine with dinners
  • All guides, museums, tastings & market visits

What’s Not Included?

  • Roundtrip international airfare to Laos and back from Vietnam
  • Any personal souvenirs or purchases.
  • Additional wine, beer or spirits beyond what is offered at meals.
  • Laundry, telephone calls, and room service charges.
  • Travel insurance (highly recommended) and trip medical coverage (required for travelers over 50 years of age).

I’m interested, so what do I do next?

If you have questions, press the Inquire Now button above, and complete the form. We’ll get back to you ASAP.

If you’d like to come, press the Reserve Now button above. You will be prompted to complete a form with your pertinent details, put down a refundable $250 deposit, and schedule a time to speak with a GG2P representative. We like to speak with everyone before they embark on their first trip with Girls’ Guide to Paris & Beyond. This allows you to ask any questions or voice any concerns you may have. These are intimate, small group trips; a quick yet personal conversation allows you to get to know how our trips work and make sure it’s right for you. If it’s not, we’ll immediately refund your $250 deposit.

If it’s a Go! after your call, we’ll bill you for 25% of the trip’s cost (less the $250 deposit you already paid) and your place is reserved. This is non-refundable; you’re committed to the trip. The balance is due approximately 2 months before the trip.

Our cancellation policy is here.

Submit the details. We will contact you within 24 hours.