Laos & Cambodia Rural Landscapes

Journey through the traditional towns and villages and rural landscapes of Laos and Cambodia. Experience Cambodia's staggering 12th century site of Angkor Wat. Enjoy a personal encounter with Asia elephants at elephant camp. Hike across bamboo bridges, past waterfalls, and fantastic limestone formations. Raft down Nam Khan River and take a quad bike into the forest to reach a nearly forgotten temple. Visit organic farms and rice fields in the heart of Cambodia. Discover Laos' relaxed capital of Vientiane and the temple-rich city of Luang Prabang.

Country Information

Cambodia & Laos

Laos & Cambodia Rural Landscapes Enrichment Series

(Countries Visited)

Cambodia & Laos

(Interest Type(s))

Adventure Travel

(Tour Length)

12 Days

Tour Highlights

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  • Journey through the traditional towns and villages and rural landscapes of Laos and Cambodia
  • Go on an elephant back ride into the teak forest; hike a  trail that crosses bamboo bridges, past waterfalls, and fantastic limestone formations; raft down Nam Khan River; and take a quad bike into the forest to reach a nearly forgotten temple
  • Visit organic farms and rice fields in the heart of Cambodia and learn about local agriculture and farming methods
  • Explore two remarkable Laotian  cities – the relaxed capital of Vientiane and temple-rich Luang Prabang
  • Discover Cambodia’s staggering and stunning 12th century site of Angkor Wat, the crown jewel of Khmer architecture that was once thought of as merely myth



Day 1: Luang Prabang, Laos
Today on arrival in Luang Prabang, you clear customs and proceed to the exit where you are met by your Big Five representative and transferred to your hotel to relax before dinner. This evening, you board the Nava Mekong for a dinner cruise. The boat is both traditional and modern, and is perfect for a leisure cruise on the famed Mekong River. Enjoy watching rural life and peaceful sceneries on the banks of the river as the sun sets over the Mekong. The boat moors along the bank opposite the town during dinner, which includes a selection of typical Lao dishes. Enjoy the live band and traditional Lao dances performed by artists from nearby villages. Return to the historical center of town, and return to your hotel. 3 Nagas Hotel – Superior Room (D) 

Day 2: Luang Prabang
Today you travel by elephant, on foot and on a raft! This morning, you are transferred by VIP minibus to the "Shagri-Lao Explorer Camp," outside Luang Prabang. On arrival, tour the luxury camp, and learn about the camp. You also learn about the elephants at the camp. You have the opportunity to talk with the camp’s veterinarian, to feed the elephants and to relax by the riverside before you set out to explore the landscapes of the area. You begin with an elephant ride across the river and travel for about an hour and a half into teak forests and over hills to reach the protected Huay Sae Valley. Along the way, stop to see some of the amazing scenery in the Nam Khan River Valley. When you reach the valley, you leave your elephant and enjoy a lunch of traditional Lao foods and wine at a secluded waterfall. After lunch, you set out on foot on a trek of about an hour and a half along the marvelous Huay Sae Mountain stream. The adventurous trail crosses bamboo bridges, and past waterfalls, fantastic limestone formations and turquoise blue pools in the dense jungle. Along the way, learn about the people of the area and their customs as you trek across fields, plantations and into the teak forest, where you savor stunning views of the mountains ranges while the guide explains the local agriculture and farming methods. Down at the Nam Khan River, you board a bamboo raft that takes you to a village for a coffee break. Along the way, get glimpses of the traditional life of farmers and fishermen. Then, continue floating down river for another hour and a half. You can opt for a 30-minute stop at the Tad Sae Waterfall before returning to camp to catch the VIP minibus back to Luang Prabang and your hotel. 3 Nagas Hotel – Superior Room (B,L) 

Day 3: Luang Prabang
This morning, you explore an organic vegetable farm and rice fields. You learn about the land from the farmers and craftsmen of Ban Phong Van. They also demonstrate the 13 steps for growing, harvesting and cooking sticky rice, "Kau Niau". You finish by sampling some rice-based specialties. Later this afternoon, discover Luang Prabang. which has some 30 temples. The National Museum, formerly the royal palace, is a modest but graceful building that combines traditional Lao and French beaux-arts motifs. This turn-of-the-century royal residence has been preserved as it was when the royal family lived here. It provides unique insights into the history of Laos. The Hor Phrabang is the front corner room of the palace that opens to the outside, and contains a collection of the palace's most prized art, including the Phrabang, a Buddha cast of an alloy of gold, silver and bronze, which was brought here in 1353 from Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre (closed on Mondays), with exhibits of unique ethnic clothing, household objects, religious artefacts and handicrafts from various ethnic groups. Learn about their lifestyles, beliefs, and traditions. The Wat Xieng Thong was built in 1560 on the banks of the Mekong River. This beautiful monastery shows typical Lao-art style with old religious artifacts and some ancient masterpieces of Lao art. 3 Nagas Hotel – Superior Room (B)

Day 4: Luang Prabang / Vientiane
Today you are transferred by flight to Vientiane. On arrival, you are met and transferred to your hotel. Later you tour Vientiane, the capital city of Laos. It still feels like a sleepy city with relaxed charm, tree-lined boulevards, fascinating temples and colorful markets. Explore the highlights, including an open-air museum, Wat Xieng Khuan (Buddha Park). This is a collection of whimsical but compelling statues of Buddhist and Hindu gods. That Luang is a gleaming golden stupa and one of the most important national monuments in Laos. The formal royal temple, Ho Pha Keo is now a museum with beautiful examples of Buddhist sculpture. Other sites of note include Wat Si Saket; Patuxai, a monumental arch inspired by the Arc de Triumphs, embellished with Lao motifs; and Wat Si Muang. End your day at the Talaat Sao, the best place to buy traditional Lao fabrics. Mercure Vientiane Hotel – Superior Room (B)

Day 5: Vientiane
Today you are going on an orchid trek! Early this morning, travel to the village of Ban hatkhay, where your local guide transfers you by vehicle to Say Pha along a path that leads to the rice fields before arriving in Phou Khao Khouay National Protected Area. The trek starts at orchid Pha Say, which has impressive views of the jungle. You walk along trails to discover different forest types such as semi-deciduous jungles and bamboo. You are accompanied by two guides and an expert on orchids, who help you identify the abundance of orchids, which is places seem to be everywhere, including covering rocks. You also learn about medicinal plants and other plant families such as cane, gingers, and the dipterocarps. Later, enjoy a picnic lunch in the bed of a dry river. In the afternoon, end your trek with a swim in Tad Say Waterfall before returning to the village, where you are transferred back to your hotel in Vientiane. Mercure Vientiane Hotel – Superior Room (B) 

Day 6: Vientiane / Pakse / Siem Reap, Cambodia
Today you are transferred from Vientiane to Siem Reap via Pakse. On arrival in Siem Reap you are met and transferred to your hotel. This evening, you enjoy Cambodia’s version of Cirque de Solei, an incredible hour of traditional and modern theater, music, dance, acrobatics, athleticism and juggling, all beautifully choreographed and performed in narratives about Cambodian life and society. Then savor a culinary treat when you dine at Chef Joannès Rivière's modern Khmer food at Cuisine Wat Damnak. Then sip a rose and lemongrass martini at Shanghai-inspired Miss Wong's or join the fun 24-hour Tuk Tuk Cocktail Bar.  Heritage Suites Siem Reap – Bungalow Suite (B,D)

Day 7: Siem Reap
Today you explore one of Southeast Asia’s most important enduring cultural symbols – the temple complex at Angkor Wat, the crowning jewel of Khmer architecture. Angkor is the highlight of any visit to Cambodia. The largest, best preserved, and most religiously significant of the Angkor temples, Angkor impresses visitors both by its sheer scale and beautifully proportioned layout, as well as the delicate artistry of its carvings. You cross the vast moat along a broad causeway lined with naga balustrades. Enter the main building, ascend up through a series of galleries and courtyards before reaching the central sanctuary, with its beautiful views back over the causeway and across the surrounding countryside. On the way, stop to enjoy the intricate stone carvings that adorn nearly every surface, with some 1,700 Apsaras, or celestial dancers, sculpted into the walls. Along the outer gallery walls runs the longest continuous bas-relief in the world. It narrates stories from Hindu mythology, including the famous Churning of the Ocean of Milk. Angkor Wat is stunning at any time of the day, but sunrise and sunset are especially magnificent as you watch the play of light and shadows on the stones. The fortified city of Angkor Thom covers an area of 10 square km. Enclosed by a wall and wide moats, the city includes many of Angkor's most popular sights. Enter by the monumental South Gate over a causeway lined on either side by statues of demons and gods, each carrying a giant naga. Continue to the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper Kings, once spaces for public ceremonies, both adorned with dramatic bas reliefs. Visit the ruined Baphuon, Royal Enclosure and Phimeanakas before continuing to the mysterious Bayon Temple. This temple is one of the most popular and compelling in Angkor, with its galleries of beautifully preserved bas reliefs. Ascend narrow stairs to reach the central sanctuary, where you find giant stone faces smiling enigmatically down at you from every angle. Visit Ta Prohm, one of the most popular attractions of Angkor as much of the jungle has not been cleared, and it looks very much as most of the Angkor monuments would have appeared when the first European explorers stumbled upon this site. Savor sunset over the Cambodian countryside from the upper terraces of an ancient Angkor temple. Heritage Suites Siem Reap – Bungalow Suite (B)  

Day 8: Siem Reap
Today, you set out on an adventure by quad bike to the secluded Banteay Ampeul Temple. Passing through villages and along country roads, you begin to get a sense of rural life. Head off the beaten track into the forest to reach a temple that few tourists every as the trail is impassable for anything but quad bikes. Enjoy a peaceful picnic lunch at the temple before returning to your hotel. Heritage Suites Siem Reap – Bungalow Suite (B,L)

Day 9: Siem Reap / Phnom Penh / Kep
Today you fly to Phnom Penh, where you are met and driven to Kep. On arrival you  check into your hotel where the rest of the day is at leisure. Knai Bang Chatt – Garden View Room (B,L)

Day 10: Kep
The countryside surrounding the city of Kep is incredibly scenic and dotted with traditional Khmer villages, and seasonal rice paddies, which form the heart of rural Cambodia. Traveling along the coastal roads via tuk-tuk or motorbike, your guide leads you to the village of Chamcar Bei, home to the Hand in Hand Cambodia project, where you can visit with students at the community school and the Women’s Handicraft and Development Association. Villagers make traditional looms, woven kramas, coconut jewelry, and funky junk products made from recycled plastic. You visit the salt fields and make a stop at the vibrant and colorful Keo Krosang Pagoda. You also visit a working organic pepper farm, with various fruit and vegetable plantations in the heart of Cambodia’s famous pepper region. Knai Bang Chatt – Garden View Room (B)

Day 11: Kep
Today you are free to do as you like – take a cooking class, go sailing or fishing, enjoy a yoga class or have a relaxing massage. You set your own pace or do nothing at all. Knai Bang Chatt – Garden View Room (B) 

Day 12: Kep / Phnom Penh / Depart
Today you have a private transfer from your hotel to the Phnom Penh airport in time to connect your onward flight home. (B)

Land price, per person, double occupancyFrom US$350 per person per day

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