Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, the quiet town of Luang Prabang is considered the center of Lao culture. Nestled in a mountain valley at the confluence of the Mekong and Khan rivers, the city offers a fascinating glimpse into the Buddhist religious practice and traditional lifestyle of hill-tribe groups in the northern region of Laos.

The town is growing with an outstanding array of restaurants, hotels and shops in the center but is still peaceful and quaint. Luang Prabang has much to offer, with a picturesque landscape of palm-lined riverbanks, ornate golden temples and ancient monuments. You are free to explore the surrounding areas such as the Pak Ou Caves, the Kuang Si Waterfall and several cotton-silk weaving villages. This once-royal seat of the Lane Xang Kingdom blends tradition and contemporary culture while remaining a charming little town.

Located a few miles outside Luang Prabang, the Elephant Village celebrates the endangered Asian elephant. Here, these giants and their mahout caretakers are provided with a safe occupation. Instead of being trained for intense manual labor, the privileged elephants that live at the camp are trained to work with visitors, navigating the jungle landscape to reach isolated locations like the stunning Tad Sae Waterfall.

Venturing north along the Mekong River, visitors pass through impressive karst landscapes and undulating natural scenery to witness villagers bathe in the river and work in their paddy fields, Buddhist monks attend the daily alms-giving ceremony, and frequent water buffalo coming to the water for refreshment. Stop in Muang La to soak your feet in the ancient hot springs and pick up a game of pétanque with locals, and cruise the river to the famous Golden Triangle where the borders of Thailand, Laos, and Burma intersect for onward adventures in southeast Asia. Experience Northern Laos travel today with Ker & Downey.