Adventure in Northern Laos

10 Days / 9 Nights

  Luang Prabang - Luang Namtha - Muang Sing - Nong Khiaw - Vieng Thong - Muang Kham - Phonsavan

10 Days / 9 Nights

Adventure in Northern Laos

  Luang Prabang - Luang Namtha - Muang Sing - Nong Khiaw - Vieng Thong - Muang Kham - Phonsavan

Discover the remote corners of northern Laos on an adventure that’s truly off the beaten path. Depart Luang Prabang, travelling by foot, car, boat and tuk-tuk to the heart of Laos. Dive into the diverse minority cultures of the region, leaning about their customs, homes, clothing and way of life. See the mysterious Plain of Jars and ancient ruins of Xieng Khoang, and marvel at the untouched scenery on this memorable ten day tour!

JOURNEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Exploring remote corners of northern Laos, whether riverside villages or mountainous communities
  • Meeting some of the ethnic minorities that call these places home, learning about their customs, dress and craftsmanship
  • Marvelling at caves and hideouts from the Secret War, diving into Laos fascinatingly troubled history
  • Trekking through verdant countryside, and cruising along rivers in the rural countryside
  • Going on a guided wander through the mysterious Plain of Jars and ancient ruins of Xieng Khoang

TOUR INCLUSIONS

  • Tours as mentioned and air-conditioned transfers
  • Sightseeing and permit fees during guided times
  • Meals listed in the itinerary
  • Expert English-speaking local guide
  • Service charges and government VAT tax

ITINERARY

DAY 1

Luang Prabang – Luang Namtha

DAY 1 - Luang Prabang – Luang Namtha

Get ready to truly go off the beaten path as you go on rural adventure! Discover the hidden gems of northern Laos on an adventurous journey through this quaint, lush and remote region. Begin your journey by road today as you drive for eight hours through the pristine countryside of northern Laos. You’ll stop for lunch in a roadside village, and at other points to stretch your legs before arriving in the quiet town of Luang Namtha by late afternoon. Tucked in the northwestern corner of Laos, this sleepy town shares a border with China and Myanmar.

DAY 2

DAY 2 - Luang Namtha - Muang Sing

Dive into Laos’ tragic history as you visit the UXO office, learning about the unexploded ordinances still dotting the countryside. Learn about the efforts underway to unearth these bombs that still dot the countryside of Laos, the remainder of bombing campaigns by the United States during the Vietnam War. Known as the Secret War, during this nine-year bombing campaign Laos became the most heavily bomb country in history.

After seeing the work done to find and remove these safely, visit the Golden Stupa on a hilltop just outside of town. Next, transfer to Muang Sing, a beautiful valley town that will be your base for exploration of this corner of Northern Laos over the next few nights.

DAY 3

DAY 3 - Muang Sing

Spend the day on a trek through the remote villages outside of Muang Sing to learn about the diverse minority groups that call this place home. Head off in a tuk-tuk to your starting point in Ban Don Chai, wandering around before setting off through this quaint rural area. Stroll through the verdant countryside, arriving in Ban Pha Kha, an Akha village. Explore this fascinating community, of predominantly mountain dwellers, learning about their vivid spiritual practices.

Continue your trek through the fields encountering some Yao villages along the way. Learn about their traditional and intricate weaving practices and tuck into some lunch at a local restaurant. Stop at another Akha village to unveil more about their culture and architecture before hoping back in the tuk-tuk returning to Muang Sing for the night.

DAY 4

DAY 4 - Muang Sing – Nong Khiaw

Visit a buzzing morning market, before heading back to your guesthouse for breakfast. Then set off to Nong Khiaw, a small town on the banks of the Ou River between silvery limestone mountains. Stop in a H’mong village along the way to see how their traditions differ from those of the area’s other ethnic-minority groups and pop into a local school to meet the children and see a different side of local life. Wander the sleepy streets of this charming and rustic town before relaxing on the banks of the river for sunset.

DAY 5

DAY 5 - Nong Khiaw

After breakfast on the terrace overlooking the Ou River, embark on a cruise upstream to visit the lowland people of Ban Sopjam who make silk and cotton. Learn how to use a loom and weave with a local family before heading off to Moung Ngoi for lunch and gentle trek to Kang Cave, once a refuge for locals during the war. After exploring and swimming through the cave, cruise back to Nong Khiaw for the night.

DAY 6

DAY 6 - Nong Khiaw – Vieng Thong

Travel about six hours by road to Vieng Thong passing through beautiful scenery of lush rainforest covered sloped mountains along the way, even in the dry season. This small township is nestled on the banks of the Nam Kahn River and is home to Blue Hmong and low land Laotians. Vieng Thong itself, does not have much flare, however, it is on the doorstep of the vast Nat Et National Park Area, where tigers once roamed. Check into your accommodation for some rest in this quaint local village.

DAY 7

DAY 7 - Vieng Thong – Muang Kham

Tuck into your breakfast before another scenic seven hour journey through this heavenly remote part of Laos. Drive towards the town of Muang Kham, with some stops along the way for a stretch and panoramic viewpoints. Be sure to enjoy the views of this relatively untouched corner of Southeast Asia, marvelling at the natural wonders all around you. Upon arrival, check into a local guesthouse in this small village, and take a bath in a hot spring to soothe your muscles after the journey.

DAY 8

DAY 8 - Muang Kham – Phonsavan

Take a trip to the fascinating Tham Piew, a cave with a tragic history. The bombardment campaign by the United States of Laos during the Vietnam War, known as the Secret War, meant that many locals sought shelter for safety in caves. According to locals, this cave offered shelter to mostly women and children who would seek shelter during the day, tending to their decimated crops during the night.

One day in 1968, this cave was targeted and a bomb was dropped killing all 400 hundred people who were hiding inside. It’s difficult to know whether it was a hideout for enemy fighters or a mere local refuge, but either way this visit offers a surreal and sobering thought about the toll of warfare. Continue onwards to Xieng Khoang province, the gateway to a mysterious archaeological puzzle, called the Plain of Jars. Check into your accommodation for the rest of the day at leisure in this area steeped in history.

DAY 9

DAY 9 - Phonsavan

Unearth the unknown today, on a visit to the famous and fascinating Plain of Jars. Scattered across a vast landscape of rice fields and forests, these giant vessels, some as big as 3 metres tall and 1 metre wide, are believed to be most likely stone urns that date back to the Iron Age. These mesmerizing megaliths are quite mysterious, with various archaeological theories as to their purpose and placement, but none certain.

Local lore also provides captivating explanations, rumours such as the jars holding whiskey for the thirsty giants that lived in the mountains over Phonsavan. Go on a guided wander through one of the plains, sticking to the clearly marked pathway, as going off it may be dangerous. This area was the most heavily bombed during the Secret War, many unexploded ordinances still hidden in the foliage, so best to stay with your guide.

Head to Muang Khoun next, the once royal seat of the small kingdom of Xieng Khouang. Five hundred years ago, it was known for its opulent stupas, but over time it has faced invasions from east and west, pillaging by bandits from the north and seemingly endless bombing campaigns. Now, it is a ghost of its former glory, making it a mesmerising place to explore.

DAY 10

DAY 10 - Phonsavan – Luang Prabang

Check out after breakfast and hop in a private vehicle for your transfer back to Luang Prabang. Enjoy a few stops to stretch your legs as well as for a scenic lunch in the countryside. Take this time to reflect on your adventures in rural Northern Laos, remembering that you’ve truly gone off the beaten track. Arrive in Luang Prabang at late that afternoon, before catching your flight onward to your next destination. 

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