Mekong Journey: Golden Triangle to Luang Prabang

Northern Thailand and Luang Prabang are both drenched in rich cultural heritage, from the hilltribes, temples to an age-old mahout lifestyle. Both countries are bordered by the mighty Mekong River, and when combined provide an extremely enriching journey.

This 10 day itinerary takes you from the Golden Triangle to Luang Prabang where you will admire exceptional sites.

Day 1: Arrival in Chiang Mai

Upon your arrival in Chiang Mai, you will be met by a representative who will transfer you to your hotel.

Depending on your time of arrival, you might like to consider some of the following activities:

  • Thai cooking lessons in addition to visiting the market and learning about the local herbs and vegetables.
  • A walking tour of the Old City on foot, including Wat Phra Singh, Wat Chedi Luang, and Wat Suan Dok, where Chiang Mai’s royal family’s ashes are interred.

One of our favourite boutique hotels in Chiang Mai is Rachamankha, located in the Old City, a very quiet and tranquil location – you can hear the birdsong in the morning as you go for breakfast in the courtyard restaurant. The owner has his residence in the compound and hence it maintains its tranquility. Rooms have antique or traditional furniture and are sufficiently spacious, they also do not overlook the pool – so sunbathers have lots of privacy. This is a lovely option for couples and adults.

Stay: Rachamankha

Day 2: Chiang Mai

With a full day ahead of you, take the time to embark on a full day’s excursion outside Chiang Mai city. We suggest a day trip to the Doi Inthanon National Park which is known for its beautiful wild flowers, great bird watching opportunities and majestic waterfalls.

After a slow trek through the park, you will reach the highest point of Thailand, at 2,565 metres above sea level, to visit the twin Chedis that were dedicated to King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit.

Stay: Rachamankha

Day 3: Chiang Mai – Golden Triangle

Today after check out you will be met by your guide and transferred to the Golden Triangle. Upon arrival you will be shown to your luxury tent overlooking the lush green surrounds just south of Burma and west of Laos.

By far one of the most stunningly located resorts in South-east Asia, the Four Seasons Tented Camp has only 15 tented and spacious accommodations, each spread out across the resort with its own uninterrupted view of the surrounds. Unique in luxury, complete with hand-hammered copper bathtubs your luxurious tent echos the romantic spirit of 19th-century explorers.

Stay: Four Seasons Tented Camp

Day 4 & 5: Golden Triangle

Be immersed into the mahout way of life, rising early to meet the elephant calves at breakfast and learning the skills of the trade while getting to know your elephant over the next two days.

Something special to experience would be to join the mahouts as they get the elephants ready for trekking by bathing and scrubbing the gentle giants in the river or pond. This is great fun with the gentle but playful creatures who immensely enjoy their bath time.

In the afternoons you may either relax at the wonderful Four Seasons Tented Camp (a huge favourite amongst Lightfoot clients we must add), or go riding on your elephant to practice your driving skills. Alternatively, you may also wish to make use of your unique location and embark on a varied three-country tour, and visit the hill tribes of the area.

Stay: Four Seasons Tented Camp

Day 6: Golden Triangle – Mekong River (Pakbeng)

After breakfast depart early for your transfer to Huay Xai. Board the vessel as it cruises to Pakbeng where you will check into the Luang Say Lodge around sunset. Enjoy lunch onboard observing rural life on the Mekong.

Stay: The Luang Say Lodge

Day 7: Mekong River (Pakbeng) – Luang Prabang

After breakfast at the lodge, board the boat for the second leg of the cruise. Enroute, cruise to Pak Ou Village, at the mouth of the Nam Ou River. You will disembark to visit the Tam Thing Caves of a Thousand Buddhas. Enjoy a buffet lunch on board after the visit. In the afternoon, stop at a hill tribe village to watch the traditional process of Lao whiskey production.

When you arrive at Auberger Calao pier, your Laotian private guide and driver will be waiting to transfer you to the beautiful Amantaka.

Set on a large garden estate, Amantaka is housed in graceful French colonial buildings in the UNESCO protected town of Luang Prabang. Airy and elegant throughout, the décor and furnishings reflect the town’s French colonial history.

Stay: Amantaka

Day 8: Luang Prabang

Included with Amantaka: For early risers, quietly line the streets to watch the monks collecting alms. As the sun begins to rise, long lines of orange-robed monks leave their pagodas and walk barefoot down the streets collecting offerings from Luang Prabang residents. It is a beautiful, serene ceremony that highlights the spiritualism of the locals. You will return back to the hotel for breakfast after the ceremony.

After breakfast, meet your guide for your tour through Luang Prabang. Your first stop is at Wat Visoun, the holiest temple of the city, which was entirely rebuilt in 1887 after being destroyed by the invading Black Flags from Southern China. Next you will visit the former Royal Palace, now the National Museum, to learn about the history of Laos. Continue to Wat Sensoukarahm, which features a beautiful dazzling golden façade. Finish your morning tour at the most revered temple in Luang Prabang, Wat Xienthong.

After lunch, set off with your swimming costume, to the Kuang Si Waterfall, 32 km from Luang Prabang. These waterfalls cascade down a multilevel limestone formation creating a series of turquoise blue pools perfect for swimming in on a hot day. The jungle and dense woods surrounding the falls is filled with wildlife and pleasant walks can be taken along the natural footpaths. For the adventurous, you can possible to walk to the top of the falls via a steep track where stunning views await you at the top.

After the waterfalls, make a stop at the sunbear rescue center. Located near the falls, the center is home to about a dozen sunbears who were rescued from poachers. The aim of the center is not only to rehabilitate the bears but also to raise awareness for the protection of this endangered species.

Return to Luang Prabang in the afternoon, and as the day comes to the end, visit Phou Si Mountain, located in the center of town. Climb the 328 steps that lead to the top of the hill where you will be rewarded with marvelous views of the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers, the neighboring mountain ranges, and the city buildings. The sunset views are particularly spectacular as the sun casts glorious colors over the peaceful scenery below.

Descend the steps on the opposite side of the hill and stroll to the nearby colorful Night Market. Every evening, the area’s ethnic minorities gather to sell their handicrafts. The quiet evening atmosphere and soft lights of the stalls combine to create a magical market setting from which to shop for souvenirs.

Stay: Amantaka

Day 9: Luang Prabang

Today you have the day to relax and have some time at leisure after the end of an exciting holiday.

Stay: Amantaka

Day 10: Luang Prabang – Bangkok

Today after check out you will be transferred to the airport for your departure flight. Luang Prabang has limited international connections and we recommend transiting in Bangkok for your international flight home.



Duration Description Overnight
Day 1: Arrival in Chiang Mai Rachamankha
Day 2: Chiang Mai Rachamankha
Day 3: Chiang Mai – Golden Triangle Four Seasons Tented Camp
Day 4 & 5: Golden Triangle Four Seasons Tented Camp
Day 6: Golden Triangle – Mekong River (Pakbeng) The Luang Say Lodge
Day 7: Mekong River (Pakbeng) – Luang Prabang Amantaka
Day 8: Luang Prabang Amantaka
Day 9: Luang Prabang Amantaka
Day 10: Luang Prabang – Bangkok



  • Accommodation with daily breakfast
  • All transfers and transport
  • English speaking guides
  • All entrance fees on tour
  • 24 hour emergency contact

Not Included

  • International airfaire
  • All drinks
  • Visa and airport taxes
  • Personal expenses
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Travel insurance (please note that travel insurance is mandatory for all Lightfoot Travel holidays


1- Rachamankha 2- Four Seasons Tented Camp 3- Luang Say Lodge 4- Amantaka

From USD 7,150 per person based on two guests travelling

Notes on our prices

  • This price guide provides you with a broad indication of how much to budget for your holiday.
  • Prices are generally based on two people travelling together (unless stated otherwise) on a shared room basis.
  • Prices can fluctuate depending on season, standard of accommodation, excursions selected (private versus shared) etc.
  • This basic structure works very nicely, but don’t forget that Lightfoot Travel can provide a range of experiences and we tailor-make each itinerary based on your travel requirements. Get in touch to start planning your perfect trip with your own travel consultant