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8 day Luxury Laos Heritage River Cruise

Huay Xai – Vientiane

Known in Laos as the “Mae Nam Khong” (“Mother of Water”), the upper Mekong meanders through fascinating river scenery, where you will witness the captivating and unchanged local way of life in a variety of settings.

On this unique 7 night cruise travel through secluded areas and see isolated local riverside villages and witness how the residents’ daily life unfolds. On our authentic shore excursions you will experience the long-standing cultures and traditions, and enjoy active adventures as well as the enchanting laid-back life on board vibe – all in luxury aboard Heritage Line’s Anouvong. 

 Feel the waters of the Mekong carry you downstream with almost no effort, relax and enjoy the passing natural beauty and immerse yourself in this very special trip.

 

Trip code : TWHLL8D

Duration : 8 days

Destination : Laos

Travel Dates :2021/2022

CRUISE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Cruise on a 5-Star resort-like, designer ship
  • Stay in the most luxurious staterooms & suites
  • Participate in daily guided tours
  • Sumptuous full-board dining
  • Complimentary drink package
  • Insightful lectures & presentations
  • Diverse on-board entertainment
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

Heritage Line welcomes guests at the Thai immigration office in the morning (times to be advised).  Our team assists you with all immigration procedures on both the Thai and Laos sides and we take care of your luggage, which you will find later in your room on board. After all formalities, we transfer you to the ship, which is moored at Huay Xai pier on the Laos riverside. Upon check-in, get acquainted with the ship and settle in your room as we start our journey.

Enjoy your first hours onboard as we sail from the Thai-Lao border southbound. The river in this area is mostly wide, however our captain always has to watch out for rocks and stones or sandbanks in order to navigate safely - making the sailing an interesting one to observe from the open deck. After some hours the landscape and the river starts to change, becoming more mountainous and the river increasingly narrow.

Our first stop in the afternoon is Khon Teun, a relatively modern Laotian village showcasing various wooden sculptures and home to roughly 800 residents belonging to the Tai Lu ethnic minority. For a traditional Laotian greeting and to wish us a safe journey, the village elders welcome us with a time-honoured “Baci ceremony”. The villagers here practice long-held traditions and techniques of weaving handmade garments with distinguishing patterns. Making their living from it, the families here have passed down their weaving knowledge from generation to generation.

The village also has a lovely temple nearby in which we can arrange an optional meditation session (limited availability). Resident monks and novices (boys who typically pledge to adopt a monk’s lifestyle for at least a few months, but often much longer), are always eager to interact and socialize with visitors. After taking in a bit of ‘Zen’ the ship continues cruising to the overnight mooring spot. Our local expert guide hosts a lecture about Laotian elephants and their cultural importance in the past and the current situation which have brought them to the brink of extinction. A nice and interesting preparation, as tomorrow we will meet these fascinating creatures close up in an elephant sanctuary.

Dinner is served in Anouvong's elegant De-Lagree Dining Hall. Afterwards you may like to while away some time in the bar or join our cinema under the stars on the open terrace deck. The movie named “Chang” (Laos and Thai, for “elephant”), was shot in this region in 1927, by the same producer as the first King Kong movie. Enjoy your first night’s sleep mid-river at a seclude sandbank in the middle of nowhere.

Wake up early to catch your first sunrise in Laos on the Mekong River. Early birds are welcome to join our daily morning exercise on the terrace deck (Tai Chi or Yoga). We think there is no better backdrop than the stunning river scenery to do some revitalizing morning exercise to start the day.

After breakfast, we arrive in the small town of Pakbeng. This riverside settlement is halfway between our embarkation at Huay Xai and Luang Prabang. Many locals also stop here when they travel or transport goods between these two “hubs” on the river.

Opposite of the town – so to say on the starboard side of cruising direction– is the country’s most sustainably managed elephant sanctuary. If we arrive early enough, we may still see elephants freely walking along the shoreline and taking a morning bath. To expand your knowledge from our lecture the day before about these majestic animals, we then visit the conservation sanctuary. All the elephants here used to work as logging elephants, after their time as working animals, they lack the ability to live and survive in the wild (there still exists very few wild elephants). The sanctuary is fully committed to the tenets of ecotourism and sustainability.

During lunchtime we continue our journey with stunning views of the shores from the comfort of the dining room. At a sandbank further down the river, the local ethnic Lao, Khmu and Hmong live in the tiny village of Kok Aek. At the riverside they have set up a little parcel of land as an organic garden, caringly maintained and enclosed by bamboo fences and growing organic vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Though these plots are unusable at certain times of the year due to flooding, the nutrient-rich Mekong irrigation promises bountiful annual harvests. As we get to know the villagers, be sure to sample a local specialty, kai paen, which is made of dried freshwater “seaweed” topped with sesame and vegetables.

Back on board, as we cruise for some more hours, lay back and take in the absolutely amazing scenery or enjoy some pampering time in our tucked away spa. We drop anchor to overnight near another small and secluded village. Subject to our arrival time and daylight availability, we may explore this tiny village of just around 300 inhabitants which is bereft of electricity or any semblance of modernity, but for sure not of abounding charm and warm-heartedness of the villagers.

As we remain here at the sandbank overnight, kick back with an aperitif while being serenaded by some local villagers who have come onboard to perform on their ‘Khene’ – a handheld, ancient instrument made of bamboo and originating here in Laos. We end the day with a culinary highlight, as we dine tonight on the terrace deck, with the sights and soothing sounds of nature all around us.

After breakfast, a morning lecture provides us with interesting insights and facts about Laotian culture relating to the diverse tribes living along the upper Mekong.

The rest of the morning is at your disposal as we sail through lush vegetation and past gently rolling verdant hills. After lunch prepare yourself for a quite unique activity to experience the calmly flowing lower Mekong from a different perspective. Hop in a kayak and paddle along on your own in total symbioses with the peacefully flowing stream. Feel the waters of the Mekong carrying you downstream with almost no effort, relax and enjoy the passing natural beauty and immerse yourself in this very special trip. You may like to paddle all the way to the famous caves of Pak Ou, which is our next stop and highlight to come (or return back on board).

We stop close to Pak Ou, and go ashore where we will meet the local “medicine man” who takes us on a jungle trek explaining various interesting facts and astonishing features about the flora and the nature in this area. In the village we may one more time be able to observe local weaving, and find here as well ‘the art of local whisky distilling’. (Kindly note a basic fitness level is required for the approx. 45-minute trek, which is relatively easy walking but does involve some uphill terrain; guests may opt to stay on the ship to reach our next stop, the Pak Ou caves).

The trekking group reaches the caves via the “backdoor”. The famous Pak Ou Caves are located directly on the Mekong’s rocky shore and opposite the mouth of the Ou River. There are two limestone grottoes which house approximately 4,000 sacred Buddhist statues and images ranging in size from mere centimeters up to 2m (7ft) in height. We arrive first at the upper cave and then take steps down (approx. 200 steps) to the lower, most impressive grotto.

Once back on board you can refresh yourself and lunch is served afterwards. From Pak Ou we have about three more hours to sail. During this time, we meet Mr Francis Engelmann, who used to work for UNESCO on heritage preservation projects. Born in Paris in 1947, he has lived in Laos for over 20 years and knows Luang Prabang like the back of his hand. Join his fantastic presentation, in which he shares some of his expertise on the country’s and Luang Prabang’s rich cultural heritage and fascinating history.

We arrive at the enchanting town of Luang Prabang in the early evening (approx. 18:00 o’clock). Dinner is served on board after our arrival. Afterwards, you may like to have a first taste of the mesmerizing charms of this old town on a stroll through the small streets on your own.

This morning after breakfast we explore one of Southeast Asia’s most unique and charming cities. We head out for a walking tour to discover ancient Luang Prabang (almost flat terrain, easy walking, tour duration about 3.5 hours including refreshment stops).

In celebration of the 20th UNESCO Anniversary in 2015, a book was published which highlights numberless aspects of this unique World Heritage Site. Our “off the beaten track” guided walking tour explores the old town and its peninsula where the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers meet. See Luang Prabang’s distinct architecture and hear interesting stories about the houses and the places we pass. We stroll leisurely along the crisscross of small roads and streets lined with antique structures and mango trees. Some of the 100-year-old Lao-style buildings brim with a by-gone era atmosphere. One of the houses, the Lamache, was once home to noble families and later was the appointed ice cream supplier to the royal family. There is no better place to have a “Lao Tea Break” with Lao coffee or herbal tea, traditional snacks and artisan ice cream.

We return to the vessel for lunch and refreshments before we continue in the afternoon on our discovery of Luang Prabang. The afternoon is dedicated to a visit to the former Royal Palace – which is now the National Museum. The museum displays interesting local art and other exhibits which used to belong to the Lao royal family. After the museum tour, you have some time on your own to walk around the small city center further - or just pick one of the inviting street cafés and enjoy the laid back, or “sabai-sabai”, atmosphere before we return to the ship.

In the early evening, you are warmly invited for a sunset aperitif on the terrace deck which is accompanied by a classical local dance or music performance. Afterwards, we leave the vessel for an evening out, dining in one of the city’s fine venues for a distinctively Lao-style ambiance. After dinner, the rest of the evening can be spent exploring the night market or back on board.

For the very early risers, we have a special treat today. Before the daylight basks the town in warm golden tones, the morning alms round, referred to as “Tak Bat” in Lao, is a spiritual Buddhist tradition for Lao people and dates back generations. It is lovingly and faithfully adhered to here in Luang Prabang especially. Wake up before dawn to witness a procession of hundreds of saffron-robed monks in the early morning light. After the alms giving, walk through the morning market and watch as the town comes to life before returning to the ship in time for breakfast. We say good-bye to Luang Prabang and continue our journey further downstream on the Mekong river.

In the morning, we set out for our today’s sightseeing and pay a visit to an innovative and socially responsible Laos Buffalo Dairy Farm. Having almost no dairy products some decades ago, these milk based products have become more and more popular in recent years in Asia and also in Laos. It is interesting to see how various dairy products, such as cheeses, ice cream and yoghurt are made locally and distributed to local markets. We continue with a visit to a breath-taking sight in the area, the cascading Kuang Si waterfall with its rushing turquoise waters. It is a pleasure to hike leisurely through the surrounding natural park, and if you like you can also refresh yourself with a swim in the natural pools of water at the waterfall’s base. So refreshing!

Back on the vessel, the cruise carries on towards the nation’s famous dam and hydroelectric power plant. Before we arrive at the dam, we offer an interesting lecture about the role of energy production in Laos’ economy and how the country is set to become the ‘battery’ of Southeast Asia. Eventually, we arrive at the Xayaburi Hydroelectric Dam. The ship slowly passes through two ship locks, bringing the vessel down by about 30 meters. We also have the chance to discover this enormous structure during a short guided tour.

After some additional sailing time into the evening, we moor near the southern side of the dam midstream at a sandbank. Enjoy some cocktails with the sand under your bare feet before heading to a lovely dinner on the terrace deck.

After the morning exercise (Tai Chi or yoga on the terrace) and breakfast, we offer this morning two different excursion or activities to choose from:

Set out in a long-tail boat and go on an exploratory and adventurous joyride upstream through the lush jungle along the remote, beautiful Nam Fuang River. We stop over at the shore to explain some facts about the interesting jungle life of the local tribes residing in this area. Alternatively, you may stroll through the small village of Khok Akha sitting right on the riverside plateau. The village’s population is mainly comprised of “Lao Loum” (which translates to “lowland Laotian”) whose main income is from planting rice, fishing and selling wood. The elevated location of the village allows for some great views on the meandering Mekong to take home some great photos.

Setting sail, the shorelines have now become a bit rockier with some very narrow channels to navigate through. In the afternoon we stop at Don Saynhan village, from where we take a short local “Tuk Tuk” ride to visit the so-called Khao Cave. The cave has been home to a large bat population for many generations and supplies the village with very potent fertilizer. You can venture inside and discover the stalagmites and stalactites.

Back on board, we keep cruising until we reach Pak Lay village, where we stop for the night. This evening after dinner our daily cinema is held open-air under the stars on the terrace deck with another classic movie on display.

Fortify yourself with a hardy breakfast for this morning’s exciting kayaking excursion. In this area, the Mekong is very calm and shallow with many small sandy islands along its shoreline, making it ideal to explore on your own for some time.

The ship then travels along the Thai-Lao border, something you are reminded of by the large Buddha greeting us from the opposite shore. After lunch we stop at Phalat village, a small hamlet which looks over the Mekong, in sight of Thailand. By local means of transportation again, “Tuk Tuk”, we trundle to a nearby chopstick factory. Have you ever wondered how chopsticks become perfectly round and all have the same dimensions? Here you will learn the answers to these questions, and besides, it is always interesting to get a look behind the scenes of a local factory.

After Phalat, we make our way to one of the deserted sandbanks, where we moor for your final night. To end your journey with us on a high note, our kitchen team has prepared a culinary treat. Step off Anouvong onto the sandbank and savour a barbecue dinner in a wonderfully remote and romantic setting.

Enjoy your last sunrise aboard with a morning Thai Chi or Yoga. Today you can take a long leisurely breakfast as we voyage towards Vientiane. During the morning time our local guide presents a lecture on the history of Lao royalty with a focus on King Anouvong – this vessel’s namesake.

Around midday we arrive in the Laos’ capital, Vientiane. Our team assists with your check-out and helps with your luggage. End of our service. 

This Cruise is not recommended for persons with reduced mobility.

All of our cruises/excursion require a reasonable level of fitness. Every traveller on our cruises is required the ability to walk around sights on uneven surfaces in both urban and rural / mountainous areas unaided. You will be getting on and off cruises, coaches and boats, walking around the sights and climbing some steps.

Please read our cruise itinerary carefully for outline of activities to help you select the right holiday for you.

Important notes:
• All persons must be fit and physically able to partake unaided in their chosen activities/packages/tours /cruise etc. as outlined in the itinerary.

• All parties acknowledge the physical demands and hazards involved in the tour or cruise they will be undertaking and have chosen to participate at their own risk.
We provide a wealth of dining experiences and venues. Most meals during the cruises are onboard or at famous restaurants during excursion, with the menus handpicked and planned to highlight a perfect mix of Local and Western cuisines.

• Meals onboard are a cultural culinary experience: Continental breakfast buffets with a rich menu are offered daily, while lunch and dinner are set menus.

• Gala evening: The gala evening is a long-awaited tradition in the world of cruising. This is the night we like to dress up, although no dress code is imposed. The crew all in their dress uniform, are presented to the passengers who are invited have a pre-dinner drink with the captain in the company of the purser, and the head chef.

Note: It is your responsibility to notify us of any dietary requests/requirements. We will do our best to meet your request/requirements, however, cannot guarantee that it can always be accommodated.
The currency accepted on board is the local currency or US dollar. You can pay in dollars or using an international credit/debit card (Visa and MasterCard) at the end of the cruise. It is recommended to have some local currency or US dollars in cash with you during your cruises.
A range of activities and entertainment are provided on board:

• Before dinner, games and quizzes are hosted by our entertainers in the lounge bar

• On the sun deck, where you can stroll alone, be with family or friends or sit comfortably in the sun loungers, gymnastics sessions are organised in the morning whilst enjoying the magnificent views of the landscapes that pass by.

• The panoramic lounge bar, the library and the "piano bar"
• Depend on the destination, lectures on subjects related to the history and geography of the places visited, are offered in the lounge bar.

• Some evenings, the dance floor of the lounge bar comes to life with musical evenings, folk groups or singers

• Some cruises have variety evenings where the crew members reveal their hidden talents are also provided.
All cabins are air-conditioned and double-occupancy cabin with shower in bathroom

• Triple Share: Available upon request
• Bedding Configuration: Double or twin bedding (subject to availability).
• Adjoining / Interconnecting Rooms: Not Available
• Laundry service: Not Available
• Wi-Fi: All the cruise is equipped with free Wi-Fi available in all lounges / bars and receptions. For some destination it is available in the cabin.
After purchase, you will receive a Booking Confirmation and Passenger Information Form by email. Within 24 hours of purchase you need to send us a copy of your passport together with your Passenger Information Form.

After purchase, you are required to make a deposit or full payment for your order. Please note most of our deposit is non-refundable. Please check your booking and your invoice for the Terms and Conditions which apply specifically to your booking.

If you would like to cancel your booking, please refer to our cancellation terms.

Please note:
• Any special requests, preferences MUST be clearly stated in your Passenger Information Form
• Any change requested after submitting your Passenger Information Form cannot be guaranteed, is strictly subject to availability and will incur surcharges
Safety Net Protection is not included in our tour/cruise packages. If you wish to purchase safety net protection, an additional fee of $105 per person will be incurred. This is only valid for a one-time use (claim).

Safety Net Protection enables passengers to amend their tour and/or river cruise 15 days prior to departure, to another tour/cruise to the same destination, departing in the same year (once only) without any applicable cancellation charges or penalties.

The new tour/cruise must be at the same cost or higher but cannot be at lower cost than the initial cruise/ tour booked. If the passenger chooses the higher cost option, then the additional difference amount must be paid. However, no modifications shall be accepted less than 15 days prior to departure.

Important notes:
• Safety Net Protection is payable immediately at the time of making the deposit payment. Once purchased, Safety Net Protection is not refundable
• Safety Net Protection does not apply for airfares or third-party fees and charges.
• Safety Net Protection allows for amendment ONLY, not cancellation.
• You will be responsible for all your personal belongings while on the tours. It is your responsibility to make sure your room is secure.
Tipping is not compulsory and is not included in this cruise. We believe that if you choose to tip, you should only pay for the service you receive.

In general, tipping is widely accepted as a way to show your appreciation of good service but is not compulsory. Tipping is expected and often makes up a large part of people's wages.

• If travel on a river cruises and happy with the services provided by your crews and service onboard. Recommended tips - For the crew members on board the ship - $10US per day per passenger.

• If you are happy with services provided by your tour guides and drivers, a tip is appreciated. Recommended tips - For the guides and drivers - $6US per day per passenger.
You must carry your own luggage from/to the coach and to/from the hotel or cruise. The driver/crews and his assistance will assist with the uploading/off-loading of your luggage.

Please note:

• You will be responsible for all your personal belongings while on the tours/cruises. It is your responsibility to make sure your room/cabin is secure.

• Tweet World Travel will not be liable for any loss or damage to your luggage or other personal belongings.
Our products DO NOT include Travel Insurance. Travel insurance is not included in our cruises and shore excursions.

For your protection, we strongly recommend that you purchase comprehensive travel insurance for your travel arrangements (without limitation) that include coverage for medical expenses, loss of luggage, cruise, land content and airfare charges that may occur.

You need to provide us your Travel Insurance details upon booking, or at least before 30 days prior to your departure.

If you do not have travel insurance prior to your departure, we retain the rights to refuse boarding/joining our tours or cruises. We might refund / provide travel credits for you, less any unrecoverable fees including but not limited to admin fees, visas fees, other suppliers’ cancellation fees. We won’t be held liable for any costs associated with this matter.
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Inclusions:

  • 7 nights on board the luxury 5* cruise ship Anouvong
  • Daily (group) shore-excursions & entrance fees
  • Sightseeing and transfers during the cruise
  • Transfers from/to Heritage Line’s meeting point to/from the ship 
  • English speaking tour guiding on-and offshore
  • Entertainment/activities during the cruise as mentioned in the program
  • Meals as mentioned in the program
  • Welcome drink 
  • Complimentary beverage package
  • Passenger liability insurance 
  • Internet on the ship (subject to cellular network signal)
  • Complimentary usage of ship facilities (exclusive of spa treatments)
  • Port or anchorage fees
  • Fuel and taxes

Please note:  this cruise doesn’t include the entry visa for the country it travels to. Make sure you have acquired a valid visa before travelling and joining the cruise. Check whether a single entry or multiple entry visa is required/ available.

When assisting with an international travel booking, we assume that all travellers in the booking have a valid Passport and Visas to enter to the country it travels to. Passports must be valid for the countries through which a ship or tour passes. It is the responsibility of each passenger to ensure the validity and conformity of their passport/Visas.

It is the customer’s responsibility to make sure that the travellers have the valid visas and/or correct visa type to enter the destination country they are travelling to. Travellers might need to present the visas at multiple checkpoints and may be refused to fly out of their countries, if the visa documents cannot be presented. If such an event occurs, we won’t be liable and the travellers will be deemed as “no-show”. Please check our Terms & Conditions for penalty for “no-show”.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate for up-to-date information.

Important Note:

  • All travellers must have a valid passport for international travel and most countries require at least 6 months validity from the date of return and some countries require a machine‐readable passport.
  • Some countries require visas and re‐entry permits which meet the requirements of immigration and other government authorities.
  • It is your sole responsibility if any fines, penalties, payments or expenditures incurred as a result of such documents not satisfying the requirements of those authorities.

 

All daily shore excursions and entrance fees, as per the itinerary are included in cruise price.