“Discover Thailand & Laos” – Luxury Mekong Journey

Another UNIQUE Cooking Passions “Small-Group” Cuisine & Culture Journey

Luang Prabang Palace Temple 600x399

11 Days / 10 Nights of All Inclusive Thai & Laotian Luxury
Date : Wednesday 03 February 2016 to Saturday 13 February 2016

$US3820 (Double/Twin Occupancy)
$US4920 (Single Occupancy – Own Room) – additional $US100 per day


Expressions of Interest currently being accepted for our February 2017 tour to Thailand & Laos. Please contact us via email at nico@urbanprovider.com.au or 08 9228 0507 to be places on our Pre-Notice List. We will advise you of dates and itineraries when they are available, prior to the release of the tour.

*Due to the limited rooms available at our selected Luxury Boutique hotels and Mekong River cruise/lodge, bookings must be secured by Monday June 15th 2015 so that we can confirm them with our accommodation providers. We trust this meets with your understanding.

We have crafted our newest tailor-made tour to discover two of Southeast Asia’s most unique ancient royal capitals – the UNESCO World Heritage towns of Northern Thailand’s Chiang Mai and Laos’ Luang Prabang – as well as a journey down the Mekong River, one of the world’s greatest waterways. Join us on this off-the-beaten-path journey as we share with your our “hand picked” Northern Thai & Laos experiences, cuisine & culture adventures and stunning luxury boutique accommodations for 11 exciting days from February 3rd 2016 to February 13th 2016.

Our Cooking Passions “Luxury Mekong Journey” will have you stepping back centuries in time to when these two cities led the region as centres of art, culture and rich traditions. Highlights include :

Nico & Belinda Moretti have “hand-picked” all of the delicious Cuisine & Cultural experiences; all 5-star luxury boutique accommodations; all local transfers; and all included meals. All you need to do is pack a bag and a sense of adventure and join us on a delicious journey through these fascinating imperial cities.

Cooking Passions “Small Group” Cuisine & Culture Journeys

Cooking Passions Cuisine & Culture Journeys have been designed so that you can make the most of your precious time, as we have done all of the “behind the scenes” research to scope out the finest hotels, local transfers, sights, restaurants, spas & excursions, so you don’t have too.

Each of our tours are designed so you can do as much or as little as you like, while allowing you plenty of free time to explore and immerse yourselves in the sights, shopping, relaxation and eating that YOU want to experience (we’ll be happy to provide suggestions and tips on some of our favourites from our previous trips). So all you have to do is book your preferred flight, pack a bag & a sense of adventure, and join us for an unforgettable and unique Southeast Asian experience!!


Chiang Mai Wall 600x399Chiang Mai, once the venerable walled & moated city of the ancient Lanna Kingdom and founded in 1296, is nestled amongst the foothills of northern Thailand. As Thailand’s second-largest city, its UNESCO World Heritage moated historic centres is a sanctuary for travellers, filled with sacred Burmese-style temples; carved teak architecture; artisanal hill tribe handicrafts, sumptuous spas and a delicious culinary fusion of Lanna (Northern Thai), Burmese and Shan cuisine.


The food of the North (Lanna) is characterised by its location near China and Burma. As a trading centre and crossroads for cultures and people like the Tai, Burmese, Chinese and many various hill tribes, they all brought their own foods and cooking styles. Its historical isolation, due to its mountainous terrain, allowed its cuisine to develop uniquely from that of Bangkok and the rest of Thailand. One of the most notable characteristics of Lanna food is that it is not as spicy, but somewhat “sweeter” in flavour. One of Chiang Mai’s most famous dish is Khao Soi, a noodle-and-curry soup which may have originated with the Burmese Shan or the Chinese Muslim Yunnan. Khao Soi blends a thick curry base with fresh Chinese noodles, dried spices and coconut milk, made from coconuts sourced from the south of Thailand. Khao Soi 600x188

LUANG PRABANG (LAOS) – The Destination

Laos (also known as “The Land of a Million Elephants”) is a country of complexity. As one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia (and the most bombed country, per capita, in history), due to its blissful isolation amongst mist-shrouded mountains, it has also been able to retain its former royal grandeur which existed long before the bombs and politics arrived. The mighty Mekong River (known in Laos as “Mother of Rivers”), is the lifeblood of this land-locked country. Its nearly 5,000 km length flows through six countries China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Laos Mekong Sunset 600x399
Luang Prabang (pop. 40,000), Laos’ former imperial capital, is its centuries-old cultural and religious capital. Situated on the banks of the majestic Mekong River, it is surrounded by blue-green jungle, spectacular turquoise waterfalls and ancient caves. It is one of Southeast Asia’s best-preserved ancient royal capitals dating back over 620 years, and was also the Royal capital until 1975 when the Communist-led Pathet Lao forced King Vatthana to abdicate. Luang Prabang Panorama 600x400 Only opened to travellers since 1989, its UNESCO World Heritage designation has preserved its historic centre and over 30 precious ancient gleaming Buddhist temples; classic French provincial architecture; teak Lao wooden houses; and a beautifully preserved former royal palace. Luang Prabang is now the only city in Laos where ethnic Lao people make up the majority rather than Chinese, Vietnamese or Thai. Its peninsular location, carved out by where the Mekong and Nam Khan River meet, make it small enough to explore by foot or bicycle, with no need for maps or public transportation. Its boutique and cafe-lined main street makes it one of the most charming & tranquil towns in Southeast Asia where you can happily spend a few days of calm & quiet reflection, while witnessing the ancient ritual of the dawn alms ceremony by processions of saffron-robed monks & novices, following their ancient rhythm of monastic life around you. Luang Prabang Mekong Nam Khan 600x400

LAOS – The Food

orlam, luang prabang, lao Lao-noodle-soup 250x375

Lao cuisine is very similar to its Thai and Vietnamese neighbour’s culinary offerings. Sticky rice, fresh vegetables, mountains of fresh herbs, fish and meat, fish sauce, chilli, spices, fruit and more sticky rice, one of the wonderful features of the Lao diet is the almost complete absence of processed foods. Ironically, it is the poor economic status of this small, landlocked Southeast Asian country that has kept its cuisines fresh, vibrant and healthy for hundreds of years.

With no trading port to the outside world, and until recently with a relatively small emigrant population, Lao cuisine hasn’t spread its culture globally like Thailand and Vietnam and the nature of the food and eating style has remained undiscovered. The balance of flavours in dishes is different from that of the West and even neighbouring Thailand. Lao food has often been regarded as essentially the same as Thai food, however as the north-east of Thailand was once Lao territory, its food has retained some similar characteristics and dishes such as grilled chicken, papaya salad & sticky rice. Where it does differ from Thai food is in its use of sticky rice as the staple rice dish. Eaten with the fingers, most traditional Lao dishes were designed to accompany it.


We have arranged to visit Chiang Mai and Luang Prabang in February as the weather is nice and cool (by local standards) between December and February. March through May can be unbearably hot, with a high incidence of smoke and smog caused by the local hill tribes burning off their harvested rice fields in preparation for planting during the wet season commencing in June & July.

Tour Itinerary

 Day 1 – Wednesday 03 February 2016 – CHIANG MAI, NORTH THAILAND

– Upon arrival into Chiang Mai Airport, we have arranged for your Private Airport Transfer to Chiang Mai’s finest 5-Star boutique hotels – Rachamankha – the only luxury boutique hotel located within Chiang Mai’s ancient “golden mile” walled city. When arranging for your preferred international flights, direct flights into Chiang Mai are available via Singapore or Bangkok.

The hotel – Rachamankha Rachamanka Courtyard 600x450 The 24 room, five-star boutique hotel is a member property of “Secret Retreats” the keynote of which is uniqueness. Rachamankha was opened in 2004. It was designed and built by one of Thailand’s renowned architects and with the interiors and gardens designed by an equally renowned designer: it is still owned and managed by this same team today. Set in 2 acres of manicured courtyards, the hotel’s buildings reflect their Lanna heritage (the golden age of Chiang Mai, c.15th century), and the courtyard layout was influenced by ancient Chinese residences. Rachamankha-bedroom 600x450 rachamanka-pool 600x260.jpg

Racha Restaurant 250x375 Rachamankha Library 250x275

Rachamankha Alfresco 600x400 Should you wish to arrive earlier than today’s start to our tour, we can arrange for any additional nights at our hotel. ACCOMMODATION – Rachamankha

Meals (D)

Day 2 – Thursday 04 February 2016 – CHIANG MAI, NORTH THAILAND

Pantawan Cooking Pavilion 600x400 Pantawan Cooking Station 600x400

Mick Pantawan 250x375 Belinda Pantawan 250x375

Pantawan Cooking 600x400

ACCOMMODATION – Rachamankha Meals (B,L)

Day 3 – Friday 05 February 2016 – CHIANG MAI, NORTH THAILAND

Wat Pra That 600x338

 Wat Pra That Staircase 600x400

 Khao Soi 600x250

SP Chicken 600x250

ACCOMMODATION – Rachamankha Meals (B,L)

Day 4 – Saturday 06 February 2016 – CHIANG MAI, NORTH THAILAND

Phra Singh temple

Patara Nico Baby Elephant 600x400

Patara Wash Elephant 600x400

Oasis Spa Chiang Mai 600x250

ACCOMMODATION – Rachamankha Meals (B,D)

Day 5 – Sunday 07 February 2016 – CHIANG RAI, NORTH THAILAND

Chiang Rai White Temple 600x450

Le Meridien Dusk 600x250

le-meridien-chiang-rai-deluxe-room 600x250

ACCOMMODATION – Le Meridien Chiang Rai

Meals (B,D)

Day 6 – Monday 08 February 2016 – LAOS

Luang Say Boat 600x400

Luang Say Mekong River Cruise

This unique overnight cultural journey is an opportunity to understand more about life and nature along one of the world’s legendary rivers. We will witness life on the Mekong River, and in its traditional hill tribes, in this rich, colourful and historic region, largely untouched by the modern world.

The Luang Say is a custom built 34m luxury river boat that travels on the Mekong in Laos, between Huay Xai and Luang Prabang. As part of our 2 day cruise, we will spend the night at Luang Say Lodge, where you can experience the fiery and spectacular Laos sunset from your luxury teak and rosewood bungalow along the Mekong River.

Luang Say Lodge & Boat 600x400

LuangSay Lodge Deck 600x400

Luang Say Bungalow 600x400

ACCOMMODATION – Luang Say Lodge, Mekong River, Laos Meals (B,L,D)

Day 7 – Tuesday 09 February 2016 – LUANG PRABANG, LAOS


 Hilltribe Town 250x276 Hilltribe Window 250x376

Hilltribe Kids 250x376 Hilltribe Child Eyes 250x375

 Tam_Ting_Cave 600x260

Tam Thing Thousand_Buddhas-Pak_Ou_caves 600x260

Heritage Burasari 600x400

Heritage Burasari 1200x1200

Heritage Terrace 600x400

ACCOMMODATION – Heritage Burasari, Luang Prabang

Meals (B,L,D)

Day 8 – Wednesday 10 February 2016 – LUANG PRABANG, LAOS

Alms 250x376 Alms 2 250x376

Alms 192x376 Alms 308x376

Heritage Terrace 2 600x400


Kuang Si 600x399

Kuang Si 600x400 pool

Sunset LP 600x400

Sunset Phousi 250x376 Sunset Mekong 250x376

Night Market 600x400

Night Market 2 600x400

ACCOMMODATION – Heritage Burasari, Luang Prabang

Meals (B,D)

Day 9 – Thursday 11 February 2016 – LUANG PRABANG, LAOS

Market 250x376 1 Market 250x376 2

Market 3 600x400

 Tamarind 1 600x400

Tamarind 2 600x400

ACCOMMODATION – Heritage Burasari, Luang Prabang

Meals (B,L)

Day 10 – Friday 12 February 2016 – LUANG PRABANG, LAOS


ACCOMMODATION – Heritage Burasari, Luang Prabang

Meals (B,L)

Day 11 – Saturday 13 February 2016 – LUANG PRABANG, LAOS

If you are able to join us on this special “Discover Northern Thailand & Laos” Luxury Mekong Journey, please contact us on 08 9228 0507 or email nico@urbanprovider.com.au to secure your places and request a Booking Form. Also, please don’t hesitate in contacting us should you have any questions on our tour.


$US3820 (Double/Twin Occupancy)
$US4920 (Single Occupancy – Own Room) – additional $US100 per day

The following is INCLUDED in the price:

BOOKING DEADLINE* : 15 June 2016

*Due to the limited rooms available at our selected Luxury Boutique hotels and Mekong River cruise/lodge, bookings must be secured by Monday June 15th 2015 so that we can confirm them with our accommodation providers. We trust this meets with your understanding.

The following is NOT INCLUDED in the price:


To secure your places, please contact Nico Moretti at nico@urbanprovider.com.au or 08 9228 0507, and we will forward you a Cooking Passions Booking Form, or Download a BOOKING FORM below:

Booking Deadline: 15 June 2015 (or until places remain available)

Booking Deposit: A $AUD600 non-refundable BOOKING DEPOSIT is required to hold a booking for the tour, at the time of your reservation.

Final Payment: Payment in full is required at least 90 days prior to departure (Payment Due : 03 November 2015)

We look forward to hosting you on this very special Vietnam experience! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate in contacting us.

Bon voyage,
Nico & Belinda Moretti
Cooking Passions Cooking School
267 Vincent Street, LEEDERVILLE WA 6007