12 Days China-Laos Overland Tour from Kunming to Luang Prabang with Mekong Cruise

Northern Laos and Yunnan Province in China have much more in common than just a border frontier. The two share a number of characteristics including rich ethnic culture, stunning valleys and tropical mountain landscapes. This adventure makes the natural link between the destinations, offering an immersive introduction to this picture-perfect corner of the world. The journey gets underway in Kunming, the cosmopolitan capital of Yunnan and a fine place to sample the feel of a big Chinese city. After leaving the urban whirl behind, guests proceed to the southern reaches of Yunnan where they will meet Lahu and Bulang ethnic groups and visit ancient pagodas. Crossing into Laos, the route proceeds through some of the prettiest countryside in the region, cool, clean rivers providing options for kayaking and swimming and later cruising. The journey ends in Luang Prabang, a one-time seat of royalty that retains a peaceful charm.


  • Wonders ofthe World: The Stone Forest in Kunming;
  • Ancient Towns: Jianshui Old Town, The Ancient City of Luang Prabang;
  • Grand Mekong River: Take the cruise from Houay Xai to Luang Prabang;
  • Wonderful Rice Terraces: Enjoy the sunrise and sunset view of Yuanyang Hani Rice Terraces;
  • Ethnic Culture: Discover the ethnic minorities in Yunnan and Northern Laos including Hani, Yi, Akha, Dai, Kemu and so on.
  • Tropical Forest: DisVisit the Menglun Tropical Botanical Garden in XishuangBanna;
  • Exotic Markets and delicious Food: Explore Gaozhuang and Luang Prabang night markets, taste the ethnic food in the whole trip;

Brief Itinerary

  • Day 1: Arrive in Kunming
  • Day 2: Kunming-Shilin-Jianshui
  • Day 3: Jianshui-Yuanyang
  • Day 4: Yuanyang
  • Day 5: Yuanyang-Lvchun-Jiangcheng
  • Day 6: Jiangcheng-Zhengdong-Jinghong
  • Day 7: Jinghong-Mohan-Luang Namtha
  • Day 8: Luang Namtha-Houay Xai
  • Day 9: Houay Xai-Pak Beng
  • Day 10: Pak Beng-Luang Prabang
  • Day 11: Luang Prabang
  • Day 12: Luang Prabang

Google Map

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive in Kunming

Sightseeing and Activities: Flowers and Birds Market, Green Lake
Accommodation: Kunming
Meals: Lunch

You’ll begin your journey to the diverse and captivating province of Yunnan from the capital city, Kunming. Upon arrival at the Kunming International Airport, meet your local guide and transfer to the hotel.

If time permits, you will have a Kunming city tour to visit the Flowers and Birds Market in the downtown of Kunming. You will take a leisurely stroll along the Green Lake, a charming area of teahouses and small boutiques selling handicrafts and beautiful local paintings.

–Kunming is the capital of southwest China’s Yunnan province, a primarily agricultural province of 45 million. Kunming has a population of five million and is located in one of the world’s most geographically, ethnically, biologically and linguistically diverse regions. Situated at 1,900 meters (6,233ft) above sea level and 25° north of the Equator it has a rather unique and pleasant climate for a Chinese city.

Day 2 Kunming-Shilin-Jianshui

Sightseeing and Activities: the Stone Forest, Jianshui Old Town, the Garden of Family Zhu
Accommodation: Jianshui
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

You will drive 86 km to the Stone Forest. There is a local saying: ‘It is a waste of time not to visit the Stone Forest while visiting Kunming’, which vividly expresses the deep love of the local people toward this world wonder. The quintessential karst landscape makes every tourist lost in wonder. And then, you’ll drive around 4 hours to Jiangshui.

After arriving at Jianshui, you’ll visit the Old Jianshui City and the Chaoyang Gateway, which was built in Ming Dynasty (1389). It is also known as ‘Miniature Tian’an men’ because the out shape of it is similar to Tian’anmen Square in Beijing. Visit a typical southern private garden-the Garden of Family Zhu.

–Jianshui is a small town in Honghe prefecture,  in the southern part of Yunnan.  It is on the road Kunimg to the famous Yuanyang rice terraces, most of the travellers stay one night here to enjoy the atmophere of an ancient Chinese town. There are numerous buildings of historic value and places of interest in this area, including over 100 temples ,academies of classical learning and large residences .There are still kept in good condition, including the Chaoyang Gateway Arch, the Jianshui Confucius Temple, the Zhilin Temple, Shuanglong Bridge, the Private Garden of the Zhu Family and the Ancient Nalou office Building.

Day 3 Jianshui-Yuanyang

Sightseeing and Activities: Jianshui Confucius Temple, Tuanshan Village, Zhang Family Garden, terraced fields of Laohuzui
Accommodation: Yuangyang
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

In the morning, visit the Confucius Temple, which has a history of 700 years. It is the second largest Confucius Temple in China. Then you’ll visit Tuanshan Village and the Garden of Family Zhang; Tuanshan Village is a rare surviving example of an intact-albeit neglected-traditional walled Yunnan village compound in southwestern China, and has been added to the 2005 list of internationally significant sites by the World Memorial Fund for Architecture (WMF), an international fund for the protection of world heritage sites.

In the afternoon, you will transfer to Yuanyang and enjoy the sight of terraced fields of Laohuzui(Tiger Mouth) at sunset. Overnight at Mengnong Chieftain Palace.

–Yuanyang is about 300km south of Kunming, renowned for its rice terraces, which claim as the world’s largest and most spectacular one, crafted out by bare hands by the Hani people one thousand years ago and is still in use today. The rice farmers have had to practice ecology and land preservation centuries before those concepts were widely accepted around the world. Without hard work maintaining the terrace walls and irrigation system, the precious top soil would wash down the hillsides into the rivers.
Yuanyang Rice Terrace is a self sustaining ecosystem. During winter to early spring, the entire field is irrigated with spring water from the forest above to rejuvenate and getting prepared for the next season. The Hani people have repeated this for more than a thousand years. There is only one harvest in a year for the Yuanyang Rice Terrace; planting is from March to Oct./Nov. every year.

Day 4 Yuanyang

Sightseeing and Activities: Yuanyang Duoyishu Rice Terrace Fields, Qingkou village, terraced fields of Bada, Shengcun market, terraced fields of Laohuzui
Accommodation: Yuanyang
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Get up every early in the morning, you’ll drive 30KM to visit Duoyishu Village and enjoy the sunrise of Duoyishu Rice Terrace Fields when the sun appears above the eastern horizon. The terraced fields are ring upon ring and cascade one by one. They go along the hillside up to the sky. You will see the scenery of the terraced fields from the top of the mountains to the bottom. They are all farms under the sunshine and cloud and mist. The landscape is spectacular.

And then, you will visit Qingkou Village and rice terraces where Hani people for generations inhabit. Visit Bada Hani Rice Terrace, Shengcun Market as well. You will enjoy the sunset of Laohuzui Rice Terraces in the late afternoon in Panzhihua Town. Transfer back to Xinjie Town.

Day 5 Yuanyang-Lvchun-Jiangcheng

Sightseeing and Activities:local market, Lvchun Hani Ethnic Culture Museum, Lixianjiang River Valley, Hani ethnic villages, rice terraces
Accommodation: Jiangcheng
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

After breakfast, visit the local market in Xinjie Town. Depart from Xinjie Town, drive around 2 hours to Laomeng, if you are lucky enough, you will have chance to enjoy the Laomeng Sunday Market. Laomeng holds the most flamboyant market every Sunday. One can see people from six different ethnic minorities, with women and children dressing up in colorful dresses, different in their own traditional style.

Continue the driving along the banana forest and some rice terraces, you arrive at Lvchun County. Lvchun county, on the south western border of Yunnan Provice, China, just like its name, is a land where the green mountains spread out like a ribbon, the azure water always flows, the winter isn’t too cold, and the summer isn’t too hot. Pay a visit to Lvchun Local Market and Lvchun Hani Ethnic Culture Museum. The main cultural legacy of the worldwide Hani people over several thousand years of development is its unique immaterial culture. Therefore, this museum, in accordance with current advanced theory, has discarded the model of a traditional museum which simply displays a collection of implements, and adopted a model of bringing together local characteristics and the worldwide Hani culture.

After lunch, drive along the Lixianjiang River Valley to Jiangcheng Hani and Yi Autonomous County. Visit Lixianjiang River Valley, Hani ethnic villages, rice terraces on the way.

Day 6 Jiangcheng-Zhengdong-Mengwang-Puwen-Jinghong

Sightseeing and Activities: Longfu Border, Jiangcheng Tea Plantation, Mantan Village, Chenzisanzhai Village, Monument of One Foot in Three Countries, Gaozhuang Night Market
Accommodation: Jinghong
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

In the morning, drive 1 hour to Qushui Town and visit Longfu Border between China,Vietnam and Laos including Monument of One Foot in Three Countries, Triple-border Boundary Tablet, Longfu Border Market (3th,13th,23th). Longfu Border, located in Shiceng Dashan Mountain (Ten Layers Mountain), is famous for the Place Straddling the border of China, Vietnam and Laos.

Drive back to Jiangcheng, visit Jiangcheng Tea Plantation. Drive to Zhengdong Town, 60KM from Jiangcheng County. Visit Mantan Village and Chenzisanzhai Village of Dai Minority.
Transfer to Jinghong City, pass by Mengwang and Puwen towns as well as the Wild Elephant Valley.
Arrive at Jinghong City, you will be free to explore Gaozhuang Night Market and Mekong River by your own.

Day 7 Jinghong-Menglun-Mohan-Luang Namtha

Sightseeing and Activities: Menglun Tropical Botanical Garden, China-Laos Border crossing
Accommodation: Luang Namtha
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

In the morning, drive to Menglun Town. Menglun is situated south-east of Jinghong on the bank of Luosuo River, a tributary of Lancang Jiang (Mekong). The main attraction of Menglun is the wonderful tropical garden situated on the bank of Luosuo River. The botanical garden of Menglun contains over 8,000 different varieties of tropical plants. The botanical garden of Menglun contains over 8,000 different varieties of tropical plants. A small museum explains the “function” and biodiversity of a rain forest. In the morning you visit the botanical garden of Menglun.

Afterwards your journey continues to Mohan, the border town and gateway to Laos. After the formalities have been taken care of the Laotian guide will be waiting for you. You travel through the glorious landscape of northern Laos called Oudomxay Namtha.

Check-in and overnight stay in Luang Namtha.

Day 8 Luang Namtha–Houay Xay

Sightseeing and Activities: The village of Ban Namdee, the Golden Stupa, Vieng Phouka, Tham Eng Cave, the sunset view of Mekong River
Accommodation: Houay Xay
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

The town of Luang Namtha is situated on the bank of Namtha River in the forested mountainous landscape of North-Western Laos. You will visit the village of Ban Namdee and the Golden Stupa, from where you enjoy a wonderful view over the High Plateau.

A leisurely boat trip up the river in a traditional boat through the beautiful landscape of North Laos, or an easy exploration tour by mountain bike in the surroundings of Luang Namtha.

Afternoon trip from Luang Namtha to Houay Xay via Vieng Phouka, where you visit the famous Tham Eng Cave.

Arrival in Houay Xay late in the afternoon. The town of Houay Xay is located on the eastern shores of the Mekong River. Here the Mekong River marks the border between Laos and Thailand.

Overnight in Houay Xay.

Day 9 Houay Xay– Pak Beng

Sightseeing and Activities: the Mekong River cruise, Pak Beng town, Pak Tha,
Accommodation: Pak Beng
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Travel from Yunnan to Laos: Boat trip on the Mekong River in Northern Laos.
In the morning you board our comfortable boat for the wonderful boat trip downstream on the Mekong River towards Pak Beng, our destination of the day.

With 4350km, the Mekong River is the 11th longest river in the world and the only river in Asia that flows through 6 countries.

You make a short stop in Pak Tha, where the captain puts the boat papers in order. On the leisurely boat trip to Pak Beng you will visit a village by the river, where you will get a good insight into the life of the local population.

In the afternoon your boat trip on the Mekong River leads through the beautiful mountain landscape of North Laos, along impressive karst formations and past numerous villages, most of which can only be reached by water. You reach Pak Beng in the late afternoon.
Overnight in an idyllic hotel in Pak Beng.

Day 10 Pak Beng-Luang Prabang

Sightseeing and Activities: the Mekong River, Pak Ou Caves (Tham Ting), Luang Prabang City
Accommodation: Luang Prabang
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

At 8 a.m. the boat leaves Pak Beng for your trip downstream on the Mekong River in the direction of Luang Prabang. Relax over a cup of tea while you let the beautiful river landscape pass by at a contemplative pace.

Our competent guide will be happy to supply you with information about Laos and its people. Again, lunch will be served on board.

At midday you take a break to visit the famous Pak Ou Caves (Tham Ting) and the thousands of Buddha statues inside. Continue to Luang Prabang, where you will moor at the jetty around 17h00. Transfer from the quay to your hotel.
Overnight stay in Luang Prabang.

Day 11 Luang Prabang

Sightseeing and Activities: the Morning Almsgiving, Luang Prabang City Highlights,  the Royal Palace, the monasteries of Vat Xieng Thong, Vat Saen and Vat Visoun, Kuang Xi Waterfall, Wat Phousi
Accommodation: Luang Prabang
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

You will be picked up at your hotel at 5:30 am and transferred to a street where a single-file line of silent, saffron-clad Buddhist monks walk with their alms bowls each morning. Observe or participate in this serene Buddhist ritual of almsgiving, known as tak bat. Luang Prabang’s many monastic communities are sustained by the local Buddhists who place sticky rice in the monks’ bowls during the daily ritual. Take the opportunity to make a rice offering with the help of your guide, or simply watch in awe as dozens of monks emerge to stroll past laypeople offering flowers and incense in reverence for this sacred observance.

Back to hotel to have breakfast and take a short rest then go to visiting the museum at the former Royal Palace and the monasteries of Vat Xieng ThongVat Saen and Vat Visoun. After enjoying lunch , the next stop is the incredibly scenic Kuang Xi Waterfall which is surrounded with turquoise blue pools and an ideal place for swimming! Back in Luang Prabang we will visit Wat Phousi to enjoy the rewarding view of the city.

Rice is considered the most important staple food in Asia. For many visitors from the West, the rice comes from the supermarket and is packed in practical 1kg Uncle Ben’s bags. But where does rice come from and what does it take until the rice even ends up in our package?

Day 12 Departure from Luang Prabang

Sightseeing and Activities: Luang Prabang City
Accommodation: Home
Meals: Breakfast

You will be free in Luang Prabang in the morning.
Transfer to Luang Prabang Railway Station or Luang Prabang International Airport for returning.
Service ends.

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Service Included:

  • Admission fees for all of the sightseeing spots listed in the itinerary;
  • Meals as listed in the itinerary;
  • Hotels as listed in the itinerary;
  • Private English-speaking tour guide and vehicle for transfers & sightseeing;
  • Service charge & government taxes;
  • Luggage transfers between airports and hotels;
  • Two bottles of mineral water each day;

Service Excluded:

  • Any arrival and departure international airfares or train tickets;
  • Chinese visa fees;
  • Excess baggage charged by Airlines;
  • Single room supplement;
  • Tips to guides and drivers;
  • Personal expenses and gratuities to service staff.
  • Personal travel accident insurance;
  • All optional programs;
  • Domestic air tickets fares with airport tax and fuel extra fee based on economy class mentioned in the program.