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Impressions of Laos Itinerary

Day 1: Pakse
Day 2: Si Phan Don
Day 3: Si Phan Don
Day 4: Champasak
Day 5: Pakse
Day 6: Vientiane
Day 7: Vientiane
Day 8: Vang Vieng
Day 9: Vang Vieng

Day 10: Phonsavan
Day 11: Phonsavan
Day 12: Luang Prabang
Day 13: Luang Prabang
Day 14: Luang Prabang

Day 15: Tour ends

Website, Images and text Steve Davey/stevedavey.com 1990 - 2023

unforgetPlaces4PCThis tour is led by Steve Davey - a professional photographer, whose work appears in publications all over the world. He is the author of the bestselling Unforgettable Places To See Before You Die (BBC Books). Steve recently published Footprint Travel Photography, which covers everything that you would ever want to know about travelling with a camera. Click for more.

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Laos is a relatively little visited, yet entrancing country, but often becomes one of the most favourite destinations for many travellers. Formerly known as the Land of a Million Elephants, journalists nicknamed it the Land of a Million Irrelevants during the Vietnam War, alluding to its relaxed nature and backwaters atmosphere.

 

Travel in Laos is not always easy, but it is like taking a step back in time, and visiting an Asia which has long since disappeared in many other countries. Laos is a devoutly Buddhist country, a religion which has survived the influence of its Communist Government. It retains much of its colonial history too, and is home to what is simply the best beer you will ever taste - the incomparable Beer Lao.

 

Our trip is timed to visit the Vat Phu Champasak festivel in the ancient Khmer ruins in the South of the country.

The trip will include extensive photography tuition from professional travel photographer, Steve Davey, countless photo opportunities and the company of fellow photography enthusiasts.

Our adventure starts in the Souther city of Pakse, a thriving city which benefits from its proximity to Thailand, but still retains much of its old charm. We quickly head to the far South of the country, and the vast inland delta of Si Phan Don, or the so called- 4000 Islands, where the mighty Mekong River splits forming thousands of large and small islands, and a number of atmospheric waterfalls.

The many cataracts in the River stopped the colonial French from navigating the river, so they built a railway across some of the islands, with a loading bay at either end.

After Si Phan Don, we head north to the ancient Khmer ruins of Vat Phu Champasak. This was once a part of the empire which was centred on Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The ruins are well preserved, and still considered a religious site. Our visit is timed to experience the Vat Phu Champasak festival, which attracts monks and pilgrims from all over the country.

The pilgrims climb the steep steps of the temple to get to the shrine at the top, and then scramble to get water from a holy spring at the top. The festival is not just about religion though, and we should be able to see sideshows and other attractions to entertain the faithful.

After spending time at the festival we return to Pakse where we will catch a flight to the capital Vientiane. Although it has developed since my first visit, Vientiane still retains its laid back atmosphere and touches of colonial charm and architecture. The French influence has led to a tradition of baguette and pate, and of course a taste for drinking Beer Lao.

As well as the colonial architecture, there are a number of sunning monasteries in Vientiane, and you will be able to see many fine examples of the different Laoation styles of Buddhu image - many of which stand in various positions.

Our nest stop is the city of Vang Vieng, which nestles alongside the Nam Song River, amidst breathtaking limestone karst rock outcrops. Predictably there are a number of caves here, including one with a large reclining Buddha inside.

From Vang Vieng we head North to one of the most bombed, and little visited parts of the country - Phonsavan. Home to many hilltribes, who will still often wear their tradition dress, and also to countless ancient carved stone jars. The function of these enigmatic jars is not known, but various theories include making wine and burying bodies.

Next we drive through mountainous scenery to the pearl of Laos - the UNESCO city of Luang Prabang. Home to dozens of Buddhist Monasteries and thousands of Buddhist monks, who form long lines at dawn to collect alms from the faithful. This ritual happens all over Laos, but in Luang Prabang the lines are longer than anywhere, and it is the best place to witness this ancient tradition in the country.

We also visit an elephant sanctuary, a local waterfall and take a boat trip down the Mekong River before this adventure ends.

 

We have deliberately pitched this to be a premium trip, wherever possible staying in more expensive and quality accommodation, and you can see links to the places that we will be staying at in the itinerary.

Although we have set out an itinerary above, there are always a number of gaps and things that are organised on the ground. One of the things that we specialise on my trips is wringing the most photo-opportunities out of any trip. In essence, this is the basis of all of our trips: it is not just the things that are listed on the itinerary that are the things that people remember, we are always seeking out things to stop for, engage with and photograph. There are a number of times when we have built in time to be flexible.

 

To cope with the challenge of travel in the Covid era, we have introduced a variable pricing policy. Traditionally we have always priced our trips to be full, in order to keep prices as keen as possible. This means that dropping even a couple of places can severely affect the viability of a trip: more than that means we are running at a loss.

Rather than hike prices across the board to cover ourselves for people dropping out we have instituted this policy. The price varies per person, so if people drop out before paying the balance of the trip, but without us having the chance to replace them, then we are covered. In essence, this makes it more likely that the trip will still go ahead, and that we won't have to cancel the departure!

When you book a trip, you should assume and be prepared to pay the higher 8 person price. Obviously if the trip goes ahead with this number then you will benefit from more personal attention with your photography. Once we have the final payments in, and it is too late for people to pull out then we will notify you of the final price and action any refunds due to the actual numbers of people on the tour.

Highlights of this trip

• Vat Phu Champasak Festival

• Historic Luang Prabang

• Monks morning alms round

• Vang Vieng scenery

• Mystical Plain of Jars

• Friendly Lao people

• Extensive photographic tuition

tour summary

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What is covered on this
Who is this tour suited

Who is this tour suited to?

Our photo tours cater for a wide spectrum of people at a range of different levels. Steve's skill in explaining things, patience and tireless energy mean that he is able to pitch talks and individual tuition so that they are relevant for a range of different abilities.

These tours are primarily aimed at people who have at least a basic knowledge of their cameras and are keen to develop their skills further.

The people who get the most from a trip like this are those who are aware of the areas that they want to develop. It might sound obvious, but if you know your own shortcomings then you are better able to tackle them!

If you have a greater knowledge, then Steve will be able to fill in a lot of the theories behind things that you might have already thought that you knew, which will help make decisions more instinctive and more confident. He will also be able to help you to take your photography forward to the next stage and can teach you a number of advanced techniques and theories.

If you are an absolute beginner, then these tours will still teach you a vast amount about photography. A large part of photography is artistic and not technical. Selecting viewpoints and angles, composition and especially approaching people to take their picture are as vital as apertures and shutter speeds. Allied to this Steve will explain all of the technical aspects that you need to know as they relate to you and your camera.

You will get more out of these tours if you have a basic familiarity with your camera. If it is new, and out of the box then you might spend a great deal of time thumbing through the manual, and not learning about photography. I should also point out that whilst I has a lot of experience with different cameras, he doesn't know everything about all of them! If you are not familiar with your camera, then you should definitely bring the manual with you! Between us, we should then be able to sort out most things!

Finally, it is important to remember that whilst photography does need patience and sometimes you need to wait for a picture; this is a group tour. There will be a lot of time for you to go off on your own, but there will also be times where we have to meet at a certain time, or during a journey need to maintain our pace. If the group dynamic is not really for you and you have the opinion that everyone else can just wait for you if you are taking a picture, wandering off or shopping then these (or any group tours) probably aren't for you!

Similarly, if you are the sort of person who gets offended or irritated by other people easily, and just "have to speak your mind" about it, no matter who you offend, then maybe any group trip is not for you. These trips work better if everyone is prepared to work together as a team, and help each other. We will all have a better time, and come away with better pictures and better memories.

Travel in Laos
This trip will require a good level of fitness. We have included a number of walks to help us explore more, and sometimes the ground could be a little rough, and the conditions could be hot and dusty.

There are some long journeys on this trip, and some of the road conditions may be rough. The reward will be passing through some stunning scenery and also reaching some incredible and rather remote places. We will stop as much as possible in order to take photographs..

Foodwise, this trip is perfect for those who are vegetarians, as there will always be good options for you, and although Laos has a reputation for spicy food, there are a number of options for milder dishes

For more information, please contact us and we will help you to assess if this adventurous trip is for you.

Non-photographing partners
Steve is often asked about non-photographing partners coming on our trips, and he always say that they are more than welcome - as long as they are not photographer-phobic! Steve believes that travel photography is a great way to engage with a place and the people who live there. Because we are photographers we will see more sunrises, talk to more locals, try more foods and visit more markets than ordinary trips. This means that non-photographers can engage with us - and some even go away with a new interest in photography. We are also about having a good time too - Steve is mindful that this is a holiday as well as a photography tour - so we aim to have lively meals, a lot of laughs and the odd drink or two. As someone recently stated abut our tours:

"Your love of photography and travel is infectious and I can honestly say I have never laughed or learnt so much on a holiday before!"

If Steve had to have a mission statement for these tours, then this is it!

Land arrangements for this tour
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about steve davey
about jamie marshall
footprint travel photography
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Contact us &
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Start: 20 Feb. 2024

End: 5 March 2024

Code: IOL24

Variable price structure.
Prices from:

8 pax 3395 pp
9 pax 3295 pp
10 pax 3195 pp
11 pax 3125 pp
12 pax 3095 pp

excl. flights, based on roomshare

Info about variable pricing

Min 8, max 12 people

Places left: 5

Trip is to be confirmed.

Single supplement: 650

Estimated current
flight cost 1100

Land arrangements are sub-contracted to Intrepid Travel, who have many years experience in running small group adventures.

Bookings are made through the Intrepid Tailor Made Dept. in London. Contact Steve Davey for information

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