Bird watching, wildlife and culture in Laos and Cambodia – 19 nights / 20 days

Route: Luang Prabang – Vientiane – Na Hin – Phnom Penh – Kampong Thom – Siem Reap


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DAY 1: LUANG PRABANG – ARRIVAL    (-/-/-)

DAY 2: LUANG PRABANG – ELEPHANT VILLAGE (1/2 day trip)    (B/L/-) 

DAY 3: LUANG PRABANG – KHOUANGSI WATERFALL – HILL TRIBE VILLAGES VISIT    (B/-/-)

DAY 4: LUANG PRABANG – PAK OU CAVE    (B/-/-) 

DAY 5: LUANG PRABANG – VIENTIANE    (B/-/-) 

DAY 6: VIENTIANE CITY TOUR – BUDDHA PARK    (B/-/-) 

DAY 7: VIENTIANE – THA KHEK – BAN NA HIN    (B/-/-) 

DAY 8: BAN NA HIN – BIRD WATCHING TOUR    (B/L/-) 

DAY 9: NA HIN – KONG LOR CAVE – NA HIN    (B/L/-) 

DAY 10: NA HIN – VIENTIANE    (B/-/-) 

DAY 11: VIENTIANE – PHNOM PENH    (B/-/-) 

DAY 12: PHNOM PENH CITY TOUR    (B/-/-)

DAY 13: PHNOM PENH - KAMPONG CHAM – KAMPONG THOM    (B/-/-)

DAY 14: KAMPONG THOM GRASSLANDS – SIEM REAP    (B/-/-)

DAY 15: ANGKOR TEMPLES FULL DAY EXPLORATION    (B/-/D)

DAY 16: ANGKOR TEMPLES – TONLE SAP LAKE- FLOATING VILLAGES AT KAMPONG PHLUK    (B/-/-)

DAY 17: SIEM REAP - PREK TOAL BIRD SANCTUARY – SIEM REAP    (B/L/-)

DAY 18: SIEM REAP - ANG TRAPAENG THMOR (ATT) DAY TRIP BY SAM VEASNA CENTER FOR WILDLIFE CONSERVATION    (B/L/-)

DAY 19: SIEM REAP AT LEISURE    (B/-/-)

DAY 20: SIEM REAP DEPARTURE 


DAY 1: LUANG PRABANG – ARRIVAL (-/-/-)

Upon arrival at the airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Luang Prabang is perhaps the best-preserved traditional city in Southeast Asia. The tranquility and charm of this town with its splendid natural scenery and cultural sights make it one of the most delightful places to visit in Laos. Today is free at your leisure to explore the city or relax. 

Check in to your hotel for the next 4 nights in Luang Prabang

Please note!: Hotel check-in time is 14:00


DAY 2: LUANG PRABANG – ELEPHANT VILLAGE (B/L/-) 

After breakfast at your hotel, meet your English-speaking guide (0800hrs) in your hotel lobby and drive to the Elephant Village Camp where you are warmly greeted by your guide and participate in a short briefing about elephants - interact with them by feeding, walking, washing and learn how to communicative with them.  Then take boat trip to the Tad Sae Waterfall: Ride in a traditional Lao long boat to the Tad Sae Waterfall and relax or swim in the clear water (don’t forget to pack your swimming kit and towel for today!)

Have a buffet lunch at our Elephant Camp restaurant.  Transfer back to your Hotel in Luang Prabang around 1:00pm

In the afternoon, enjoy a short-guided tour seeing the city’s oldest temple of Wat Sene and the magnificent Wat Xiengthong with its roofs sweeping low to the ground, which represents classical Laotian architecture. During your time here, you will visit the impressive stupa of Wat Visoun and the shrine of Wat Aham, Wat Mai.  Then climb up to the top of Mount Phousi for an enjoyable exploration of the sacred, gilded stupa as well as a panoramic view of the city at sunset and the Mekong River. From there, explore the Night Market, where you can find a lovely selection of handmade textile made by local and hill tribe people surrounding Luang Prabang. 

Overnight in Luang Prabang


DAY 3: LUANG PRABANG – KHOUANGSI WATERFALL – HILL TRIBE VILLAGES VISIT (B/-/-) 

An optional early start gives you the fantastic opportunity to participate in the daily morning rituals of saffron-clad monks collecting offerings of Alms (ubiquitous sticky rice) from the faithful residents. This tradition is very unique in Laos, being the only Buddhist nation still preserving the procession. From there you will visit the morning Phosi Market, where you will see such diverse offerings as dried buffalo skin, local tea and saltpeter among the chickens, vegetables and hill-tribe weavings. Laos is also known for its traditional crafts, and today you will visit local villages of Lao ethnic minority groups at Ban Ouay, Hmong Village and Ban Thapene, Khmu Village, then drive to the beautiful Khouangsi Waterfall where you can cool off with a refreshing swim in the turquoise pools or walk along the forest trails. We return to the city by late evening to observe the sunset at Wat Phabath.   (Don’t forget to pack you swimming kit and towel today!)

Overnight in Luang Prabang 


DAY 4: LUANG PRABANG – PAK OU CAVE (B/-/-) 

After breakfast, enjoy a short-guided tour seeing the city’s oldest temple of Wat Sene and the magnificent Wat Xiengthong with its roofs sweeping low to the ground, which represents classical Laotian architecture. Then board a cruise upstream on the Mekong River, which also gives you a panoramic view of the tranquil countryside as well as an interesting visit to the mysterious of Pak Ou Caves - two linked caves crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes left by pilgrims. Along the way, stop at the small village of Ban Xanghai, where the local rice wine is distilled. On your way back, pass the local villages at Ban Xiengmene and Ban Chan.  Continue to see the royal temple at Wat Longkhoun, which once belongs to royal family patronage and nearby Sackarine Caves. You cross the city and take a short drive to Ban Phanom, well known for its hand weaving. 

Overnight in Luang Prabang


DAY 5: LUANG PRABANG – VIENTIANE BY FLIGHT (B/-/-) 

Following breakfast, we visit the Central Market. After you will have free time to explore the town further before catching your flight back to Vientiane. After checking into the hotel, time permitting, continue your sightseeing tour of the surrounding areas of Vientiane.  Visit the impressive Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge and the Buddha Park, a scattered enchanting collection of Buddhist and Hindu sculptures on the Mekong Riverside meadow, close to the Friendship Bridge. There are approximately 200 religious images dating back over 500 years, which were created by a mysterious monk spreading his philosophy on life and revealing his ideas about the universe. A spectacular view of over the Mekong River at sunset is a perfect way to finish the day. 

Overnight in Vientiane 


DAY 6: VIENTIANE CITY TOUR – BUDDHA PARK (B/-/-) 

After breakfast, see the major sights of the capital; including the oldest Wat Sisaket, the temple with thousands of miniature Buddha statues and the former royal temple of Wat Prakeo, which previously housed the famous Emerald Buddha Image. On the way to Lao’s national precious heritage, the famous and sacred structure of That Luang Stupa, you stop en route to take some pictures of the imposing Patuxay Monument, which is well known as Vientiane’s own Arc de Triumph.

In the afternoon, you transfer out to see the Buddha Park, a scattered enchanting collection of Buddhist and Hindu sculptures on the Mekong Riverside meadow, close to the Friendship Bridge. There are approximately 200 religious images dating back over 500 years, which were created by a mysterious monk spreading his philosophy on life and revealing his ideas about the universe. A spectacular view of over the Mekong River at sunset is a perfect way to finish the day. 

Overnight in Vientiane


DAY 7: VIENTIANE – THA KHEK – BAN NA HIN (B/-/-) 

We depart early for our drive towards Khammouane province. Along the way we can make several stops to stretch your legs and take some wonderful pictures of the breath-taking scenery of Lao Countryside. Depending on road and traffic conditions, you will arrive at Ban Na Hin, the gateway to Khong Lor Cave, by mid or late afternoon. On arrival, you can enjoy a short walk around this charming village, enabling you to understand a little more about their culture and lifestyle. 

Overnight in Ban Na Hin 


DAY 8: BAN NA HIN – BIRD WATCHING (B/L/-) 

All the birding sites are located close to your accommodation so you have the luxury to do short trips and return for breakfast, lunch and dinner to your resort restaurant. After familiarizing with the habitats and some general birding to build up a decent species list you can start to target the goodies, not at least the newly discovered 'bald' Bulbul, Limestone Leaf Warbler, Sooty Babbler and Lao Langur in the limestone forest, while the evergreen forest should reveal a host of other specialties; Red-collared and Pale-headed Woodpecker, Red-vented Barbet, Spot-necked Babbler, Long-tailed Broadbill, Spot-bellied Eagle Owl... A full list of birds that have been seen in the area can be found. 

Overnight in Ban Na Hin 

DAY 9: NA HIN – KONG LOR CAVE – NA HIN (B/L/-) 

The amazing cave of Khong Lor is 7.5km long and was formed by the Hinboun River, which flows though the cave all year round. Today we take a short drive to Khong Lor Cave, stopping en route for at Ban Na Hin for a walk to That Mouang and That Namsanam Waterfalls. Here we embark on a small boat for an impressive excursion through the main cave to the valley beyond, stopping to observe the stalactite formations. The cave is still used by local villages as an access route. 

Overnight in Ban Na Hin 


DAY 10: NA HIN – VIENTIANE (B/-/-) 

You leave Ban Na Hin and continue returning to Vientiane capital, upon arrival check in at hotel, the rest is free at leisure on your own. 

Overnight in Vientiane 


DAY 11: VIENTIANE – PHNOM PENH (B/-/-) 

After breakfast, you transfer to the airport and take a flight to Phnom Penh.

Welcome to Phnom Penh – the city retains its traditional Khmer and colonial styles with French villas and large tree-line sidewalk. After a short break, you will visit the impressive colourful Khmer-style royal palace complex build in 1866 by the Predecessors of King Norodom. Nearby is Silver pagoda (the emerald Buddha temple), where contain plenty of Buddha Statues decorated and made by gold, diamond, gemstone and silver. You will stop at Independence monument and explore the National museum; a beautiful Khmer architecture building contains more than 5000 art antiques made by bronze, wood, gold, silver, copper, sandstone and others.  Pass through the river-front park where 4 rivers met at a junction include mystical Mekong. Walk up to sacred hill Phnom Daun Penh – also the name of a pagoda and name of the capital nowadays. Lastly, visit Central Market, a large market constructed in 1937 in the shape of a dome with four arms branching out into vast hallways with countless stalls of goods. Initial design and layouts are from French architect Louis Chauchon. 

Overnight in Phnom Penh.


DAY 12: PHNOM PENH CITY TOUR (B/-/-)

After breakfast at the hotel, you visit Choeung Ek museum, where between 1975 and 1978 about 17,000 men, women, children and infants detained and tortured at S-21 were transported for the extermination. We continue to Tuol Sleng prison, now a Genocide Museum, the most secret part of the Khmer Rouge regime. It’s also called S-21 (abbreviated for Security Office 21), a Khmer Rouge's premier security camp, specifically designed for the interrogation and extermination of anti-Angkor elements. 

After lunch (your own account), take a stroll around the Russian market, enjoy the bustling daily activities of the locals. Lastly you will take a cruise to see the sunset on the Mekong and Tonle Sap River in the “Four Arms” section where the Mekong meets the Tonle Sap River before splitting into two branches. 

Overnight in Phnom Penh.


DAY 13: PHNOM PENH - KAMPONG CHAM – KAMPONG THOM (B/-/-)

After breakfast, departure overland to Kampong Cham, also called "The Garden City" and the main town in the province of that name. You will have a first stop at Skuon Land for a visit at Spider Village. 

In the afternoon, you will visit the archaeological sight of Sambor Prei Kuk by national Road#6. The road condition from Siem Reap to Kampong Thom is very good now. Only the road from National road to the temple is a bit rough. Overnight in Kampong Thom.

DAY 14: KAMPONG THOM GRASSLANDS – SIEM REAP (B/-/-)

After breakfast at your hotel, your transport will transfer by 4WD(today) to Stung District located in Kampong Thom province. Get off the National Road No.6 for a few more kilometers before reaching the grasslands area to search for the critically-endangered Bengal Florian. Raptors including Eastern Marsh Harrier, Pied Harrier and Greater Spotted Eagle are often seen cruising over the grasslands here. You might be able to see Manchurian Reed Warbler and Oriental Plover also. On the way back, visit Kampong Kdei Old Bridge on Angkor Ancient road. Then drop in hotel Siem Reap for check in hotel. 

Overnight in Siem Reap.


DAY 15: ANGKOR TEMPLES FULL DAY EXPLORATION (B/-/D)

Breakfast at hotel, explore South Gate of Angkor Thom known as Big Angkor, 3km2 walled and moated royal city and was the last capital of the Angkorian Empire, the famous Bayon Temple was an architectural muddle, in part because it was constructed in a somewhat piecemeal fashion for over a century. Terrace of the Elephants is an impressive, two and a half meter tall, 300 meter long terrace wall adorned with carved elephants and gradual that spans the heart of Angkor Thom in front of Baphuon - huge temple mountain in the heart of Angkor Thom, Royal Palace Area and Phimeanakas - impressive rite and sandstone pyramid. Terrace of the Leper King is at the north end of the Terrace of the Elephants, a double terrace wall with deeply carved nag as, demons and other mythological beings. 

Afternoon visit to the Angkor Wat temple, the founder of the temple was Suryavarman II who reigned Cambodia from 1113 to 1152 and built the five towers in the 12th century to dedicate to the Hindu God Vishnu. The plan of the pyramidal conception of the temple combined with spaces, alleys, ditches is an ancient masterpiece of architectural design and construction. It is time to visit Pre Rup temple for a sunset view. After a short rest you have dinner with Apsara, the traditional Khmer dance - drama performance, which are not merely dance but also telling a story. 

Overnight in Siem Reap.


DAY 16: ANGKOR TEMPLES – TONLE SAP LAKE- FLOATING VILLAGES AT KAMPONG PHLUK (B/-/-)

Breakfast at hotel. This morning you have a break from temple tours with a visit to Tonle Sap Lake. Travel south through small beautiful rural villages and rice fields to the Kompong Phluk River. Get on a boat and ride downstream into the main village - home to approximately 3000 people earning life from the waters. There are a few schools, a large pagoda and many stilted homes towering some 9 meters high to adapt to the changing water levels. It is a lovely peaceful place to visit anytime of the year, as well as seeing how a vast majority of Cambodians live as fishermen or farmers and get an insight into their way of life. You then move to a smaller boat and row through the flooded forest of Kompong Phluk into Tonle Lake. You will see the small floating village which moves in and out depending on the water levels, as the community works around the seasonal variance of the great lake as the actual level of the lake can vary by up to 10 meters. 

In the afternoon, visit the fascinating jungle-clad temple of Ta Prohm, Banteay Kdei as the Citadel of Chambers, the mountain temple of Takeo, the elegant Hindu temple of Thommanon, the badly ruined temple of Chau Say Thevoda, and the Royal Bath of Sras Srang. 

Overnight in Siem Reap.


DAY 17: SIEM REAP - PREK TOAL BIRD SANCTUARY – SIEM REAP (B/L/-)

Southeast Asia and during the wet season the rising water level of the Mekong River backs up into the lake causing the lake to grow from 2500sq km to more than 13,000sq km. This seasonal flow of water also moves vast quantities of nutrients making Tonle Sap an incredibly rich spawning ground for fish. The lake is the largest inland fishery in the world. Once you arrive at the lake you will board your motor-powered sampan for the journey to Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary. Along the way you will wind through floating villages and flooded forests and have a chance to observe the different fishing methods used on the lake. You will also have a packed lunch. The bird sanctuary and biosphere reserve of Prek Toal protects some of the rarest water birds in Southeast Asia and if you are lucky you could see both lesser and greater adjutant storks, spot-billed pelicans, milky storks and perhaps even a saris crane. Besides the big wading birds in the sanctuary, it is home to a host of other bird species and the concentrations can be staggering. You will return to Siem Reap in the early evening for overnight.

Overnight in Siem Reap.


DAY 18: SIEM REAP - ANG TRAPAENG THMOR (ATT) DAY TRIP BY SAM VEASNA CENTER FOR WILDLIFE CONSERVATION (B/L/-)

You will depart very early this morning for Ang Trapeang Thmor Sarus Crane Reserve (ATT). Located about an hour and half northwest of Siem Reap, the reservoir and flooded fields of ATT provide critical habitat for more than 200 species of birds including the endangered and charismatic Sarus Crane. Up to 350 Sarus Cranes forage in this reserve which is also home to a great diversity of other water birds such as Painted, Milky, Woolley-necked and Lesser Adjutant Storks; Comb Ducks and Cotton Pygmy Geese; Black-headed Ibis; Spot-billed Pelican; and many species of herons, bitterns and cormorants. Pied and Eastern Marsh Harriers often course over the grasslands looking for prey. The grasslands and reed beds also play host to a wide variety of songbirds. Beyond the avian attractions ATT is home to an important population of endangered Eld’s Deer and we will do our best to see this special mammal during your visit. You will have breakfast along the way and after a full morning of birding you will have the opportunity to visit the Phnom Srok Village which is famous for their silk weavings. After your visit to the village and a chance to shop for silk handicrafts you will have lunch at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s reserve headquarters. After lunch, continue your explorations of ATT looking for any species you might have missed in the morning.  You should arrive back in Siem Reap and our hotel around 5:00pm.

Overnight in Siem Reap.


DAY 19: SIEM REAP AT LEISURE (B/-/-)

Breakfast at hotel, free leisure on own arrangement. Overnight in Siem Reap.  Optional Hot Air Balloon “flight” – tethered to the ground to view the temples.


DAY 20: SIEM REAP DEPARTURE (B/-/-)

Breakfast at hotel, free leisure on own arrangement until time transfer to airport for flight onwards!

Please note!: Hotel check-out time is 12:00


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