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PLEASE NOTE: The Pre-Conference tour and Post-Conference tour are identical programs.

The Pre-Conference Tour aligns with the QLD and VIC School holidays which run from 19 Sept – 4 Oct 2020.

Laos is the sliver of South-East Asia mass tourism forgot. A steamy land of mountains and rice paddies, jungles and temples, where tradition trumps broad-scale development. In Luang Prabang – the spiritual heart of Laos – we’ll step back in time to a place UNESCO describes as the best-preserved city in Asia. See a procession of saffron-robed monks in the streets, visit Laos’ oldest inhabited temple, swim in a jungle waterfall and commune with buffalo, bears and elephants.

Day 1

Luang Prabang, Laos

Transfer to the five-star Pullman Luang Prabang and check in to your luxury villa, nestled among paddy fields, ponds and meandering streams.

Freshen up before boarding our luxury boat for a private sunset cruise on the mighty Mekong River – the lifeblood of South-East Asia. Relax with tapas and tipples on the deck as we glide past jungle-fringed villages and mountains wreathed in mist.

Day 2

Luang Prabang, Laos

Get set for a full day of sightseeing, starting with a city tour. Visit the National Museum, housed inside the former Royal Palace, wander through the king’s reception hall, admire the royal car collection and see scores of artworks and relics capturing Laotian history and culture.

Next, visit Wat Visoun – the country’s oldest inhabited temple, built in the early 14th century – and see the 35-metre high stupa, dubbed the watermelon.

Afterwards, cool off with a swim at Kuang Si Waterfalls. The tiered falls tumble over a series of calcified pools and are guranteed to be one of the best swims you’ll ever have.

Enjoy lunch at a restaurant overlooking the falls, but don’t fill up – on the way back we are visiting Laos Buffalo Dairy. See how buffalo milk is made into cheese, yoghurt and ice-cream and discover how the enterprise is providing a revenue stream for local buffalo keepers.

Draw yourself away from the buffalo to visit the bears at the Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre. See dozens of adorable moon bears playing and lazing in the sun and hear about rescue efforts to save them from the illegal bile trade – big business in Chinese medicine.

Day 3

Luang Prabang, Laos

Enjoy free time today to explore Luang Prabang at your own pace. What tickles your family’s fancy? For an active adventure, climb the 300-plus steps to Mount Phousi temple and enjoy sweeping views across the city.

Board a boat and explore Pak Ou Caves, brimming with Buddha statues at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Ou rivers.

Alternatively, peruse the local produce at the morning market, participate in a craft workshop at the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Center or relax by the pool.

Day 4

Luang Prabang, Laos

Rise early this morning for a quintessential Luang Prabang experience – the Alms Giving ceremony. See scores of saffron-robed monks file through the streets as Buddhist devotees make food offerings.

Next, we visit the Elephant Conservation Center – home to more than 30 rescued former-logging elephants. Join the mahouts on a trek through the jungle to a watering hole and prepare to get wet as the elephants enjoy a morning bath.

In the evening, participate in a traditional Baci Ceremony, where you will be bestowed a white cotton bracelet, symbolising continuity and brotherhood. The ritual is a mainstay of Laotian culture, believed to bring peace to the soul and good fortune. That good fortune begins straight away with a culinary treat as we join a foodie and tapas tour. Learn about traditional foods and Laotian delicacies as you take your tastebuds on a sampling circuit of local food stalls.

Day 5

Luang Prabang, Laos

Transfer to the airport for the flight to Siem Reap.

(PULLMAN LUANG PRABANG)

Dr Gary Kilov (1:42)
Dr Asha Nair (1:31)
Dr Ralph Audehm (1:11)
Dr Diana Hart & Dr Roger Scurr (1:39)