The ad blocker plugin on your browser may not allow you to view everything on this page. For the best experience on our website, please disable this ad blocker.
To access all acount benefits, sign in now
Small Groups: 8-16 travelers-guaranteed!(average of 14)
Act now to take advantage of these terrific savings on last-minute departures, available exclusively on our website. You won’t find these deals anywhere else!
When you travel with O.A.T., we promise that you’re getting the best combination of value and experience, at the best price—even with international airfare included
When you refer new travelers to O.A.T. through our Vacation Ambassador Referral Program, you’ll earn $100 per person in your choice of CASH or credit—and the more travelers you refer, the greater the rewards: up to a FREE TRIP. Watch our video to learn how.
Learn about how you can guarantee your trip price—and save up to 10%—with OAT’s exclusive Good Buy Plan. The earlier you reserve and pay in full by check or electronic funds transfer, the more you'll save.
Many OAT travelers don’t stop at one annual adventure. For those who reserve two or more trips within one calendar year—either with OAT, Grand Circle Cruise Line, Grand Circle Travel, or a combination of the three—we’ve introduced a new Sir Edmund Hillary Club benefit to reward your exceptional passion for discovery.
Every time you travel with O.A.T., you'll receive a Frequent Traveler Credit worth 5% of the advertised cost of your trip, applicable toward the next O.A.T. adventure you take within one year.
At O.A.T., we strongly believe that word of mouth is our best advertisement. And it works. Just ask the more than 500 Group Leaders who have chosen an O.A.T. adventure for their travelers this year—and traveled FREE! Watch our video to learn how.
Watch our video to learn about the benefits of our Travel Protection Plan. You can cancel your O.A.T. adventure at any time—up to the day of your departure, and for any reason—and retain the FULL value of your trip, including your deposit.
See what differentiates us from other travel companies and how these differences have made O.A.T. the undisputed leader in small group travel along the road less traveled.
See why O.A.T. travelers are different from typical tourists—and especially how they love stepping out of their comfort zones and going off the beaten path to discover local culture. Plus, meet a few of the O.A.T. travelers who know the benefits of small group travel.
With itineraries designed exclusively for experienced American travelers, we’ve been providing indelible travel memories for more than 40 years. Find out what makes OAT the undisputed leader in small group travel along the road less traveled.
Create the adventure that's right for you. Learn how to personalize your trip, or view standard air routing and travel times.
Many OAT travelers return to discover the world with us time and time again, and to show our appreciation, we've created the Sir Edmund Hillary Club, a membership rewards program for travelers who've joined us on three or more adventures.
Over the past 10 years, our travelers and industry experts have given us high marks in independent surveys from Travel + Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, and more. When you embark on an O.A.T. adventure, you can expect an award-winning experience.
Alan and Harriet Lewis created the nonprofit Grand Circle Foundation with the mission of changing people’s lives through travel—which includes both the travelers who journey with O.A.T., and the local people who welcome us so warmly into their homelands.
O.A.T. Vice Chairman Harriet Lewis created the Harriet’s Corner online community as a place where travelers can learn and connect. Enjoy stories, trivia, and short films featured in our Inside Scoop e-newsletter … ask and answer questions in our Travel Forum … view issues of our Dispatches quarterly magazine … and much more.
Join the community
Enjoy stories, traveler insights, and unique videos featured in our weekly e-newsletter.
Exchange thoughts, experiences, and opinions openly with other travelers, whether you're looking for information on a future trip, or have valuable insights from your own travels you'd like to share.
This quarterly magazine is filled with notes from the field that celebrate the adventurous spirit of our most experienced O.A.T. travelers.
Our free 101 Tips for Women Travelers booklet features advice from seasoned travelers, staff, and guides from around the world.
Share your photos and videos of memorable moments made with Overseas Adventure Travel.
Upload your best travel photos for a chance to win a free O.A.T. land or small ship adventure.
Having Trouble Logging In?
Either your username OR your password is not correct.
Please check that both items are correct before trying again, or use the ‘forgot your password’ and ‘forgot your username’ links for assistance.
If you have forgotten your password, enter the email you used to set up your account, and click the Continue button. We will email you a link you can use to easily create a new password. If you are having trouble resetting your password, call us toll-free at 1-800-221-0814.
If you have forgotten your username, please provide your email address in the box below. We’ll send you an email with your requested username. If you are having trouble, please call us toll-free at 1-800-221-0814.
You’ll receive an email in a few minutes. Please check this email to find your requested username.
If you do not receive an email or you are having trouble logging into My Account, please call us at 1-800-221-0814.
Register using the one of the following:
The Customer Number you have provided is not valid. Please try again
Email Address is required
Phone Number is required
Customer Number is required
Already have an account? Sign In
Easy-going and laid back, it is jokingly said that the PDR in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic actually stands for “Please Don’t Rush.” When encountering the natural beauty, stirring spirituality, and welcoming people of Laos, rushing should be the furthest thing from your mind.
This lush, mountainous region—surrounded on all sides by Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, and China—was first established as the Kingdom of a Million Elephants (Lan Xang) in 1353. For 400 years, it reigned as one of the largest empires in Southeast Asia, but internal conflict tore it apart. The region then became a French protectorate in 1893, and French colonial influences are still very strong here today. Laos finally reunified and gained its independence back in 1953.
The road for Laos has not been an easy one. During the Laotian Civil War, the Lao government was accused of genocide and other human rights violations against the indigenous Hmong people—some of whom fought on the Royalist against the communist-backed Pathet Lao. The fallout caused many Hmong to flee the country. While there was a repatriation effort, very few Hmong returned to Laos. But those who still live in Laos today continue to live off the land as they always have.
From its gilded temples and saffron-robed monks to the mighty Mekong River and vibrant green mountainsides, Laos is a land of man-made and natural wonders, emerging from its once-turbulent past to invite travelers to come, discover, and above all—take your time.
Witness Southeast Asia's remarkable diversity by going eye to eye with smiling children, orange-robed monks, and old souls
Witness the essence of Southeast Asia, reflected through the eyes of its people, in this short film featuring locals from all walks of life.
People of South East Asia
Witness the essence of Southeast Asia, reflected through the eyes of its people, in this short film featuring locals from all walks of life.
Produced by Janis Brod
Grand Circle Foundation
Laos Foundation Site: Tin Keo Village
See the difference we're making at the weaving center and local school in Tin Keo Village.
Pictures of South East Asia
From bucolic scenery to cheeky wildlife to whirling cityscapes, experience a visual love letter to Southeast Asia.
Click on map markers below to view information about top Laos experiences
Click here to view more information about this experience
Click here to zoom in and out of this map
*Destinations shown on this map are approximations of exact locations
Sitting at the confluence of the mystical Nam Khan and Mekong rivers, Laos’s former capital city—Luang Prabang—still retains its importance as the country’s spiritual center. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, the city is home to many monasteries and gilded wats; Buddhist monks clad in their iconic saffron robes silently wind through its streets. Early risers in Luang Prabang can witness the daily ancient tradition of alms giving: hundreds of monks and novices walk in single file, each holding a gleaming metal bowl. Locals and visitors alike take part in this revered ceremony by giving offerings of rice, fresh fruit, or sweets to each monk as he passes by.
The city’s unique and remarkably well preserved architecture also features strong French colonial influences. The city was attacked in 1887 by the Chinese Haw, which led the Laotian monarchy to accept the protection of the French. The result of this union was the many French colonial villas that dot the city today. These villas sit harmoniously alongside traditional Lao buildings and bustling street markets, to beguiling effect.
A capital city with a small-town vibe, elegant Vientiane invites you to slow down and enjoy its multicultural offers. French colonial influences can be found not just in the architecture, but cuisine as well—boasting some of the best Gallic gastronomy outside of Paris. Lest you forget you’re in Southeast Asia, Vientiane’s bevy of gleaming temples and omnipresent Buddhist monks will remind you. Among these temples is Wat Sisaket—the oldest surviving temple in Vientiane and home to thousands of Buddha statues. Another important religious monument is the Great Stupa, Pha That Luang, which towers above Vientaine’s cityscape at 148 feet tall. Built in 1566, it is also the national symbol of Laos.
But one of Vientiane’s most popular activities—watching its famously glorious sunsets over the Mekong River—is emblematic of this friendly, laid-back city.
Tucked in the verdant North Luang Prabang Valley is the tiny village of Kia Luang—home to the Hmong people. Once indigenous to the mountains of China, the Hmong migrated south in the 18th century both to escape political unrest and to find more arable land to farm. Today, the villagers of Kia Luang continue to make their humble living by farming and tending livestock. They also weave and embroider the colorful clothing the Hmong are associated with—usually black, green, or white embellished with floral designs.
Life for these peaceful people has not been easy. During the Vietnam War, the CIA recruited thousands of young Hmong to fight in the simultaneously ongoing Laotian Civil War (also known as the Secret War) against communist insurgent Pathet Lao and the North Vietnamese. After the conflicted ended, thousands of Hmong fled to Thailand to escape persecution and execution by the victorious Pathet Lao who established the communist state known as the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. Many of these refugees resettled in westernized countries including the U.S., Australia, and France. And while there was a repatriation effort, very few Hmong returned to Laos. The villagers of Kia Luang—who you will meet with O.A.T.—represent this minority.
Winding through Asia like a sparkling serpent is the mighty Mekong River. It connects China, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam—and is the lifeline of Laos. Though tricky to navigate in certain areas, the river is a major trade route between China and the rest of Southeast Asia. At 2700 miles long, it is the 7th longest river in Asia and the 12th longest on Earth. Known as the Nine Dragons River and the Mother of all Waters, the Mekong truly lives up to its legendary names.
A popular way to explore the river is aboard a traditional longboat. The slower pace allows time to appreciate Laos’s spectacular mountainous scenery as it glides past. Along the Mekong one can also find the Pak Ou Caves—also called the Buddha caves. Inside these caves are thousands of small and damaged wooden Buddha statues, piled one atop the other and tucked into every crevice. It is considered bad luck to throw a Buddha statue away, so they are often stored in riverside caves like this. It's just one of many secrets the Mekong keeps along its banks.
There are pros and cons to visiting a destination during any time of the year. Find out what you can expect during your ideal travel time, from weather and climate, to holidays, festivals, and more.
As with most Southeast Asian countries, cooler seasons will bring a larger number of tourists. In Laos, the situation is no different—larger crowds mean hotel and vendor prices will be higher, which can affect your travel dollar.
Yet, with the cooler temperatures, what is usually an incredibly hot and humid country becomes quite pleasant. Be sure to pack warm clothes as nighttime in Laos can be brisk.
The rice harvest begins in December. In the countryside, thousands of acres covered in marshy green paddies can make for especially pleasant back roads travel. Being in the countryside is probably best, as most tourists are crowding into Vientiane and other major cities.
Hmong New Year, celebrated by the Hmong people of Laos, brings all the resplendent colors they’re known for to the fore. Dancers wrapped in robes of ornate design and shining hues sing songs in elaborate displays of cultural pride. One of the celebration’s biggest highlights is Hmong storytelling—from legend and myth steeped in animist beliefs to struggles of the modern day during the Vietnam War, much of the Hmong culture is designed to preserve the past.
Driving through the hot and humid countryside of Laos during March and April, it’ll be hard not to notice a thick haze hanging in the air. Farmers are burning their farmland to make space for the next round of crops.
Temperatures in Laos are on the rise quickly at this time, with highs of over 80 degrees and high humidity. Traversing higher elevations, such as the verdant mountains surrounding Luang Prabang in the north, would be preferable. Most low elevation destinations in Laos, such as Vientiane, will be extremely hot.
Laotian New Year is arguably the largest celebration in the country. For up to a week in larger cities, Laotians celebrate the breaking of the dry season by washing homes, Buddha statues, and each other in water. It’s not uncommon to see domesticated animals running free in town—as a way to build merit in the Buddhist tradition, people will set their animals free. This is also a great time to see some of Laos’ most beautiful cultural dance routines, including the majestic lamvong, or “circle dance.”
As it's the rainy season all over Laos, short and intense showers drop a deluge of water in the course of hours. Areas near the rivers, such as Vientiane, will experience less rainfall than in the mountains.
The cities and towns around Laos will be quiet, as tourists avoid the country’s rainy season. Expect your travel dollar to go farther at this time, when you’re able to use it. The rains, especially in the countryside, can cut access to whole regions.
The Rocket Festival, or “Boun Bang Fai” in the Lao language, is a Buddhist celebration of fertility rites. Along with skies alight from fireworks and rockets—marked with phallic symbolism—large processions of women and men in brightly-colored garments perform ornate dances down the streets. Larger cities, such as Vientiane, become an ecstatic cacophony of music for days.
Laos blooms in green as the foliage pops from the wet season’s rains. Many of the roads in the countryside—and the cities, for that matter—are washed away. Some rural communities could be inaccessible due to flooded roads.
Backpackers tend to travel at this time to Laos, and the rest of Southeast Asia, as tourism is experiencing a lull. Expect to see people hitchhiking on the side of the road, as well as some American and European tourists taking advantage of the low season’s prices. Your tourism dollar will go far in July and August.
As the rainy season is in full swing, the rivers and waterfalls of the country will be flowing strong. Just outside of Luang Prabang, Kuang Si Waterfall is an almost dreamlike collection of turquoise falls, nestled in a jungle clearing. At full flow, you can bathe under the main falls, a welcome respite to the heat and humidity.
The rainy season has subsided by September, leaving a landscape lush with both green vegetation and flowers. The waterfalls and rivers of the Laotian countryside are still flowing strong, though boating will be a bit calmer.
These two months are right before tourism season hits hard in the region. This is the time to visit the larger cities—Vientiane, Pakse, and others—to experience a slice of true Laotian life. Street markets will be in full swing for their own local populations, so you’ll experience good prices and an authentic experience. Try a spicy bowl of papaya salad, a delicacy in Laos.
Wan Ok Phansa marks the end of Vassa, or Buddhist Lent. Boats made of paper are illuminated with colored candles and set down the Mekong River on a moonless night. The light can be seen for miles, and fireworks downriver light up the sky, reflecting on the water in a dream-like scene.
Tourism season is in full swing by November, meaning the larger cities—and many of the most popular attractions in and around them—will be crowded. Expect your tourism dollar to not go as far as in previous months.
Laos’ rivers, lakes, and waterfalls are at full power this time of year. While cosmopolitan areas of Laos will be less desirable, cruising along the robust Mekong yields a relaxing ride in comfortable temperatures.
Alternately, trekking the northern highlands is also more enjoyable. Tourists to Laos tend to congregate around the cities—this could be a great time to see the natural side of the country while enjoying the serenity of the Laotian countryside.
The Mekong River is alive with life at this time. Taking a boat ride down the river—especially with a trained guide—will yield great sightseeing and bountiful flora-spotting. With time for the rains to settle, the vegetation has truly begun to mature into what many consider its most beautiful season.
Click 'Select to Compare' to see a side-by-side comparison of up to adventures below—includingactivity level, pricing, traveler excellence rating, trip highlights, and more
See a detailed overview of the types of experiences you'll have on this adventure in Southeast Asia.
Small Group Adventure
Days in Laos
7 nights from only $2095
7 nights from only $1995
6 NIGHTS FROM FROM $1,645
Days in Laos
15 Days from only $4,495
Our Activity Level rating system ranks adventures on a scale of 1 to 5 to help you determine if a trip is right for you. See the descriptions below for more information about the physical requirements associated with each rating.
Activity Level 1:
Travelers should be able to climb 25 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 1-2 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last at least 1-2 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.
Activity Level 2:
Travelers should be able to climb 40 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 2-3 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for at least 2-3 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.
Activity Level 3:
Travelers should be able to climb 60 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 3 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 3 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 5,000 to 7,000 feet.
Activity Level 4:
Travelers should be able to climb 80 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 4 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 7,000 to 9,000 feet.
Activity Level 5:
Travelers should be able to climb 100 or more stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 8 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 10,000 feet or more.
*This information is not available for our trip extensions. You must reserve the main trip to participate on this extension.
**This information is not currently available for this trip. Please check back soon.
Would you like to compare your current selected trips?
View photos and videos submitted by fellow travelers from our Laos adventures. Share your own travel photos »