Laos small group vacation

“A top-to-tail exploration of Laos and its myriad waterfalls, caves, mountains and river villages. The lush starting city of Vientiane couldn’t be more different to the finish: Thailand’s Bangkok.”

Highlights

Stupas and wats in Vientiane | ancient Phonsavan | Plain of Jars | scenic drive to Luang Prabang | tour Wat Xieng Thong | Kuang Si Falls | riverside Nong Khiaw | longboat down Nam Ou River | Luang Prabang | sail to Pak Ou Caves | Four Thousand Islands | Tad Fane Waterfall

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Date
Price
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07 Nov 2019
US $2840
excluding flights
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21 Nov 2019
US $3040
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19 Dec 2019
US $3040
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23 Jan 2020
US $3090
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06 Feb 2020
US $3090
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20 Feb 2020
US $3090
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09 Apr 2020
US $3090
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05 Nov 2020
US $3090
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19 Nov 2020
US $3090
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17 Dec 2020
US $3090
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Vouchers
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Vacation type
Small group vacations
Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, traveling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week vacation, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travelers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.
What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Simplicity
Make the most of your vacation time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travelers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your vacation.

Solo travelers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those traveling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travelers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
Mythbuster
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travelers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travelers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
No.
Meet a local guide
No matter how experienced your group leader, they can never make up for the knowledge gained from a lifetime in the destination. That’s why many of our trips work with local guides around the world – who invite you into their homeland with pleasure.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Laos small group vacation

Environment

Due to the continual aerial bombardment during the Vietnam War, Laos is the most-bombed country in the world. Many of the bombs dropped didn’t detonate, and unexploded ordinance (UXO) is a real danger to everyday life in parts of Laos. In Phonsovan we visit the Mines Advisory Group (MAG), a fantastic organisation that has helped to destroy some of the 80 million cluster bombs that still remain live in Laos’ fields ,rice paddies and villages. We also visit the COPE museum in Vientiane whose excellent work includes increasing public awareness around UXOs and helping to provide prosthetic limbs to the many landmine victims.

The Mines Advisory Group works on a donation basis, which we encourage on the trip. 100% of the donations made at the Visitor Centre is spent on supporting MAG’s work in Laos. Similarly COPE works on a donation basis all of which help the important work that they are undertaking in Laos.

All of the hotels that we use are local properties such as the Nong Kiau riverside resort that has just 15 bungalows built to blend in with the natural environment. We only include breakfasts on the trip and you will be eating in the local communities that you visit, thus giving something back to the community and in support of the local environment.

Community

In contrast to its neighbours, Laos is still relatively little-visited so the income we bring to this area really helps local development; particularly as we use locally owned services throughout the tour. One of the highlights of this trip is the chance to visit some of the tribal villages. We’ve factored in plenty of time so that we really get a chance to meet the local people, learn about their traditions and daily life and interact with them in a manner which is both insightful yet respectful. Your local tour leader will be a great facilitator in this regard. Buying crafts directly from them cuts out the middle man and enables them to supplement their income in an area where the economic opportunities are few.

We are always very sensitive to the impacts of visiting rural communities. One of the reasons we prefer to use local tour leaders is they can give a real insight into the local culture; anything from learning about the education system, to making sure we don’t fall foul of any taboos. It is our policy to generate business and employment opportunities in the countries we travel to by employing local people. All our leaders in Laos are locals and we’ve trained them all too so they are comfortable in their work and you get great service.

In addition to the above, we are continually looking for ways to improve and are proud to be ‘Responsible in everything we do’. Education is key and so all staff, Tour leaders and partnering suppliers are trained in responsible and sustainable tourism. At our UK Head Office, we continually strive towards a sustainable and planet-friendly working environment, including having solar panels installed and a company commitment to reducing our plastic usage. As well as this, we have valuable and longstanding partnerships with UK charities Toilet Twinning and Send a Cow, plus many smaller initiatives and projects around the world. We’re members of UK travel industry bodies Tourism Concern and AITO because we believe it’s important to share our knowledge and experience, as well as learn from other operators. We acknowledge that air travel has a negative impact on our environment, so we work together with Cool Earth to offset carbon and protect our important rainforests.

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