Laos & Cambodia
16 Nights / 17 Days
Laos and Cambodia Unveiled
Classic Tour¦18 Days¦Physical Level 2 Vientiane – Vang Vieng – Luang Prabang – Siem Reap – Battambang – Phnom Penh
Discover the untouched beauty of Laos and the magnificent history of Cambodia on this 18-day tour of Southeast Asia’s incredible landscapes. Swim in waterfall pools, and explore historic caves in Laos, and marvel at the magnificence of the great and glorious temples of Angkor, the spiritual heart of Cambodia.
● Be charmed by quaint Vientiane
● Admire scenic Vang Vieng
● Witness the Takbat alms ceremony
● Be captivated by Angkor
● See local life on Tonle Sap
● Visit colonial Battambang
● Explore Phnom Penh by rickshaw
Laos and Cambodia Unveiled tour inclusions:
All sightseeing and entrance fees
All transportation and transfers
English speaking National Escort (if your group is 10 or more passengers) or local tour guides
Cambodia visa fees for UK and EU passport holders (excludes Laos where visas are payable at the airport; please see visa section below for further information)
Specialist advice from our experienced travel consultants
Comprehensive travel guides
Safe and secure with ABTA, ATOL and IATA
Please ask our sales agent to price the International Flights
The only thing you may have to pay for are personal expenditure e.g. drinks, optional excursions or shows, insurance of any kind, early check in or late checkout and other items not specified on the itinerary.
ITINERARY – Laos and Cambodia Unveiled
Day 1 & 2: Vientiane
You will be met at Vientiane airport in the arrivals hall by your Local Guide and/or National Escort from Wendy Wu Tours. Together with all other group members who may be arriving at a similar time travel to your hotel for check in.
● Vientiane, Laos' laid-back capital, mixes French colonial architecture with Buddhist temples such as the golden, 16th-century Pha That Luang, a national symbol. Along broad boulevards and tree-lined streets are notable shrines including Wat Si Saket, which features thousands of Buddha images, and Wat Si Muang, built on a Hindu shrine. Many bakeries, cafés and villas seem straight out of 19th-century Paris.
Day 3: Vientiane
Nestled in a languid bend in the Mekong, Vientiane is a delightfully quaint city, more a friendlier backwater than the chaotic capital. Spend your day exploring Wat Si Saket, and Wat Phrakeo before visiting COPE – an organisation helping survivors of land mines. Continue your sightseeing at That Luang Stupa and the Patuxai Victory Monument, resembling Paris’ Arc de Triomphe. Sightseeing today involves around 2 to 3 hours on foot. Tonight, enjoy dinner and a traditional performance showcasing Lao music and dance.
Wat Si Saket
● Wat Si Saket is a Buddhist wat built in 1818 on the order of King Anouvong (Sethathirath V.) Wat Si Saket was built in the ‘Siamese style’ of architecture, with a surrounding terrace and an ornate fivetiered roof, rather than in the Lao style. This may have kept it safe, since the armies of Siam that sacked Vientiane following Anouvong's rebellion in 1827 used the compound as their headquarters and lodging. Wat Si Saket features a cloister wall with more than 2,000 ceramic and silver Buddha images.
● Cooperative Orthotic & Prosthetic Enterprise is a non-profit organisation sourcing walking aids and prosthetic limbs for survivors of land mines.
That Luang Stupa
● A gold-covered large Buddhist stupa in the centre of Vientiane. Since its initial establishment, suggested to be in the 3rd century, the stupa has undergone several reconstructions.
Patuxai Victory Monument
● Patuxai means Victory Gate or Gate of Triumph. and, is a war monument in the centre of Vientiane. It was built between 1957 and 1968. The Patuxai is dedicated to those who fought in the struggle for independence from France.
Day 4: Vientiane – Vang Vieng
After breakfast, drive approximately 3 and half hours to Vang Vieng. On the way stop for a couple of hours at Nam Ngum Lake and enjoy a short cruise. This evening enjoy dinner at your hotel and soak up the atmosphere on the Song river banks.
● A town in Vientiane Province about four hours bus ride north of the capital. The town lies on the Nam Song River. The most notable feature of the area is the karst hill landscape surrounding the town.
Day 5: Vang Vieng
Today venture across the Nam Song river to visit the Tham Chang cave, used as a bunker during the Chinese-Ho invasion in the early nineteenth century. Sightseeing here involves approximately 1 hour on foot over uneven surfaces, and climbing steps to get up to the cave. Later, enjoy an easy walking tour on the banks of the Nam Song River.
Tham Chang Cave
● Tham Jang is a cave just to the southwest of Vang Vieng, Laos. The cave is reached by crossing a bridge that spans across the Nam Song River. You will need to then climb a long flight of steps to the entrance. A spring is located about 50m inside the cave.
Day 6: Vang Vieng – Luang Prabang
After breakfast, return to Vientiane for lunch and travel to the airport for your 45-minute flight to Luang Prabang. On arrival, check in to your hotel before dinner at a local restaurant.
● The capital of Luang Prabang Province in northern Laos, lies in a valley at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers. It’s known for its many Buddhist temples, including the gilded Wat Xieng Thong, dating to the 16th century, and Wat Mai, once the residence of the head of Laotian Buddhism.
Day 7: Luang Prabang
This morning, visit Wat Xieng Thong and Wat Visoun. Later, board a boat to cruise the mighty Mekong up to the sacred caves of Pak Ou, known for the hundreds of miniature Buddha sculptures that reside within. Return to Luang Prabang visiting local villages to witness the daily life of the local people and their cottage industries.
Wat Xieng Thong
● A Buddhist temple (wat), located on the northern tip of the peninsula of Luang Prabang, Laos. Wat Xieng Thong is one of the most important of Lao monasteries and remains a significant monument to the spirit of religion, royalty and traditional art. There are over twenty structures on the grounds including a sim, shrines, pavilions and residences, in addition to its gardens of various flowers, ornamental shrubs and trees.
Wat Visoun – Rebuilt in 1898 following fire due to Black Flag Haw raiders, restoration commenced to rebuild the once oldest wooden temple in Luang Prabang from more sturdy bricks and stucco. The highlight here is a 34.5-metre-tall Lotus Stupa.
Pak Ou Caves – Near Pak Ou (mouth of the Ou river) the Tham Ting (lower cave) and the Tham Theung (upper cave) are caves overlooking the Mekong River, 25 km to the north of Luang Prabang, Laos. They are a group of two caves on the west side of the Mekong River, about two hours upstream from the centre of Luang Prabang. The caves are noted for their miniature Buddha sculptures. Hundreds of very small and mostly damaged wooden Buddhist figures are laid out over the wall shelves. They take many different positions, including meditation, teaching, peace, rain, and reclining (nirvana).
Day 8: Luang Prabang
Visit the National Museum this morning. Drive 1 hour to Kuang Si Waterfall and the Bear Rescue Centre. En route, stop at Ock Pop Tok weaving centre for a visit. Sightseeing at the waterfall will involve around 1 hour of light walking and on the way up to the waterfall you follow a bush walking track which has a slight upward gradient. It is possible to take a swim in the river near the falls; if you wish to do this, please remember to bring along your swimsuit and a towel. Changing rooms are available on site.
National Museum – Built in 1904 in the French colonial era, the original building was the Royal Palace but was later converted into a museum.
Kuang Si Waterfalls
● A three-tier waterfall approximately 29 kilometres south of Luang Prabang. The falls begin in shallow pools atop a steep hillside. These lead to the main fall with a 60 metres cascade. The falls are accessed via a trail to a left of the falls. Water collects in numerous turquoise blue pools as it flows downstream. The many cascades that result are typical of travertine waterfalls. There are walkways and bridges for your enjoyment. Most of the pools are open to swimming.
Day 9: Luang Prabang – Siem Reap
Rise early this morning to view Takbat, a Buddhist ceremony before visiting the impressive Wat Mai and climbing the Phousi Hill for panoramic views of the city. Continue to visit the impressive Wat Mai and local market. Later fly 1 and a half hours to the fascinating city of Siem Reap and wander the Angkor Night Market.
● A 100m high hill in the centre of the old town of Luang Prabang. It lies in the heart of the old town peninsula and is bordered on one side by the Mekong River and on the other side by the Nam Khan River. The hill is a local religious site, and houses several Buddhist shrines. Halfway up the hill, overlooking the Nam Khan is Wat Tham Phou Si, a Buddhist temple. At the summit of the hill, overlooking the town and surrounding countryside, is Wat Chom Si, which is also a Buddhist temple and is a tourist highlight of Luang Prabang.
● Siem Reap is a bustling tourist destination due to its proximity to both Tonle Sap Lake and the ancient Khmer national capital city of Angkor. Angkor Wat, the spiritual and cultural icon of Cambodia, is one of the main attractions and is the world's largest religious monument.
Day 10: Siem Reap
Spanning from the 9th to 15th century, the Angkor complex with over 1,000 temples was the seat of the thriving Khmer Empire. UNESCO manages the complex and to enter, your group will drive approximately 6km out of town to the main entrance gate to get your entrance passes, which you must carry with you. If you choose to climb at any site, you must be able to climb and descend without assistance. Begin at the city of Angkor Thom and the enigmatic Bayon, the Elephant Terrace and the Terrace of the Leper King, before continuing to the temple of Ta Prohm, enveloped in a labyrinth of jungle. This afternoon is devoted to the fascinating and awe-inspiring Angkor Wat.
Please note: The Central Tower of the Angkor Wat is closed on Buddhist holidays and on all other days the complex has a limited number of visitors allowed at any given time, under regulations from UNESCO. If you wish to visit this tower, you will be required to wait in the queue alongside all other visitors. The ability to do this will be determined upon the group’s schedule.
● This fortified city is flanked by a row of 54 stone figures on each side, which leads you through a 23-metre imposing stone entrance gate to the various temples inside.
● Beautifully crafted central towers, decorated with four opposing faces representing King Jayavarman VII. Bayon’s stone galleries display extraordinary bas-reliefs incorporating over 11,000 figures.
Elephant Terrace and Terrace of the Leper King
● Giant viewing platforms used for public ceremonies, which served as a base for the King's grand audience hall.
● Swallowed by the jungle where Strangler Figs and Kapok Trees have entwined themselves around the ruins. Undoubtedly, the most atmospheric ruin at Angkor with several towers, closed courtyards and narrow corridors to explore.
● Surrounded by a 190-metre moat and taking 30 years to build, Angkor Wat represents the Khmer civilisation at its grandest. With its fascinating decorative flourishes, extensive bas-relief and multiple tiers, it is the best-preserved temple within the complex.
Day 11: Siem Reap
Today, explore the less visited Beng Mealea, a mysterious temple completely overrun by the jungle where you will explore on foot for approximately an hour and half. In the high water season, you will also visit the unique stilt-village of Kompong Khleang; in the lower water season, you will visit Chong Kneas floating village. Return to Siem Reap via a Cambodian artistry assembly, ‘Les Artisan D’Angkor’. Tonight, enjoy an Apsara dance performance over dinner.
● Dating from the 11th century, this sprawling temple covers over one square kilometre. Largely overrun by vegetation and constructed in a distinctly Angkor Wat-style, Beng Mealea precedes and may even have served as a 'prototype' for Angkor Wat.
● The Tonle Sap is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. During the rainy season, it can swell from 3,000sq km to 7,500sq km. Locals have built floating villages on the Tonle Sap, which include schools, restaurants, markets, and even a medical clinic.
● Established in 1998, this community workshop teaches the unique arts of painting, silk weaving, wood and stone carving in traditional Cambodian style to local young people.
Day 12: Siem Reap
Today, travel to Preah Khan Temple, Banteay Srei and explore Banteay Samre before boarding a boat to view the sunset from the moat of Angkor Thom.
● A Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva and considered by many to be the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of Angkorian art. The temple is cut from stone of a pinkish hue and contains some of the finest stone carvings in the world.
● Built approximately halfway through the 12th century, Banteay Samre is decorated with many intricate and well-preserved carvings of Hindu and Buddhist stories and lore.
Pre Rup Temple
● A popular place to view the sunset; the view over the rice fields is spectacular. Pre Rup was built by Rajendravarman II and may have been an early royal crematorium.
DaY 13: Siem Reap
Travel approximately 3 hours to Battambang, stopping at the Puok District to visit the National Silk Centre. Learn about silk creation and the harvesting of mulberries before continuing to Battambang.
National Silk Centre
● A fascinating way to learn about Cambodian silk. Here you will witness silk creation and the growing and harvesting of mulberries.
● Cambodia’s second largest city. Situated on the banks of the Stung Sangke River, Battambang possesses some of the grandest and best-preserved colonial architecture and scenic countryside.
Day 14: Battambang
Climb to the top of Phnom Banan to reach the Prasat Banan Temple to admire the breathtaking view. In the afternoon, visit ‘La Maison de Coco’ and learn how to make rice paper, and visit the Bat Caves at Phnom Sampov. Please note rice paper making is seasonal; when this is not available you will still see the rice paper, as well as visiting an orphanage school and a tailors’ workshop.
Prasat Banan Temple
● Located on the top of a small hill, the temple was built in the 11th century and consists of 5 towers.
La Maison de Coco
● A non-governmental organisation which runs projects to give skills and support to the local people.
Day 15: Battambang – Phnom Penh
Today drive approximately 4 to 5 hours to the capital, Phnom Penh, stopping en route for a couple of hours to explore Udong and Kampong Chhnang Province to see traditional handmade pottery and climb Touch Hill to admire the surroundings. There are approximately 415 steps to climb to reach the top of Touch Hill.
● The capital of the Kingdom of Cambodia is built around four river arms, formed by a sharp curve in the Mekong River near the junctions of the Bassac and the Tonle Sap tributaries. This charming city has a pleasant blend of oriental and colonial architecture, but reminders of a troubled past are also evident.
Day 16: Phnom Penh
Enjoy a sightseeing tour of Phnom Penh today, incorporating around 3 hours of leisurely walking this morning. Explore sites such as the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda and the hilltop temple of Wat Phnom. Visit the Tuol Sleng Museum and reflect on Cambodia’s tumultuous past before dinner.
The Royal Palace
● Built in 1866 by the French these ornate buildings are the official residence of the reigning Cambodian royal family and King Sihamoni. View the Throne Hall and Silver Pagoda. Silver Pagoda
● This concrete and marble structure includes a floor with over 5,000 silver tiles each weighing 1kg. Famous artefacts include a 90kg solid gold Buddha made in 1907 and an Emerald Buddha said to be made of baccarat crystal.
● Home to a hilltop temple that carries the cities namesake. Locals flock here to pray for good luck and success.
Tuol Sleng Museum
● This former school was used by the Khmer Rouge as a detention and torture centre in the late 1970s. Today this building houses paintings and photographs of the victims. You can see the crude cells built in the classrooms and the torture devices used to extract confessions by the regime.
Day 17 & 18: Depart Phnom Penh
Today, if time permits, there will be an optional tour to the Killing Fields (to be paid for locally; approximately US$15-20pp). This particular killing field is the site of the brutal executions of more than 17,000 men, women and children. Many who had first suffered interrogation and torture at S21 and buried in mass graves. The nowp-eaceful fields and a stupa remain here as a permanent memorial.
Transfer to the airport to board your flight back home, arriving the next day.
11/02/23 & 18/03/23 & 11/11/23 & 24/02/24 & 16/03/24 & 09/11/24