Northern Laos & the ’Golden Triangle’

This is a tour for the truly adventurous. Travel by speedboat, by foot, by car, and by sampan through the mountainous north of the country. Experience the warm and friendly hospitality of the ethnic minority groups and spend a night in an Akha village. Trek and drive through the high mountains breathing in the incredibly fresh mountain air.

Relax in the tranquillity of the World Heritage City of Luang Prabang before continuing south for more trekking in the mountains and caves of Vang Vieng. Then round off your tour in the modern capital of Vientiane.

Day 1 : Arrive Ban Houai Xai

After crossing the Thai-Lao border, you will arrive in Ban Houai Xai, a small typical Lao city surrounded by small traditional villages.

Check into the guesthouse that will have been booked for you. You have time to rest and walk around.

At 18.00 pm you will meet your local Lao guide who will brief you on your itinerary for the coming days.

Day 2 : By speedboat to Xieng Kok

In the morning we take you on a spectacular journey along the Mekong River. We leave Ban Houai Xai by speedboat and head west along the Mekong, passing the Golden Triangle where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet.

The river winds its way through thick vegetation and the boat is navigated through large black volcanic outcrops along the way. Eventually we reach Xiengkok, a small frontier border town where we spend the night. (B, L, D)

Day 3 : Trek to the Homestay Akha village

After breakfast we head for the real jungle. About a five hour trek will take us to a charming Akha village where we spend the night at the house of the village chief.

The hike is through a forest of giant stands of bamboo, strangler figs, and rice fields. This unique home stay will give you a wonderful chance to experience the hospitality of the Akha people. (B, L, D)

Day 4 : Trek to Muang Sing

In the morning wake to the sounds of the village coming to life. The inevitable roosters will start crowing long before the sun is up.

After drinking in your last images of the Akha people and their rare village life, we will start walking again (for about 4 hours) to meet up with our driver waiting at the main road to take us to Muang Sing. On the way we will pay a short visit to a Lao Then village. (B, L)

Day 5 : Drive to Luang Namtha

In the morning we start with a visit to the Hill Tribe Market where the various ethnic groups come together.

Then we visit dwellings of Yao and Thai Lu minorities before continuing to Luang Namtha with stops on the way at Ikho, Akha and Lackham villages, Once in Luang Namtha we visit the Museum and a weaving village. Overnight in Luang Namtha. (B, L)

Day 6 : Drive to Nong Khiaw

This day there is a long drive to Nong Khiaw. The road conditions in this part of the country very much depend on the weather and therefore you should be prepared for some landslides and delays.

The scenery however is spectacular with views of mostly forested mountains with outcrops of slash and burn cultivation. Also there are many Hmong and Khmu villages along the roadside. Overnight in Nong Khiaw. (B)

Day 7 : By sampan to the World Heritage City of Luang Prabang

After breakfast you will have some time left to enjoy the village life before boarding our wooden sampan to continue our trip on the Ou River to Luang Prabang. On the way we will visit the Pak Ou Caves, where we climb steps up the limestone cliffs to reach the sacred Buddhist shrine.

Around lunch time we will arrive in Luang Prabang. This afternoon you will have some time to relax and unwind or to explore a bit of this World Heritage City. All the main sites of interest are close together so you can comfortable wander around and visit several Wats by yourself. Don’t miss Wat Xieng Thong (the golden temple built in 1559) which is strikingly decorated in brilliant red and gold designs, with and an imposing tiled roof and mosaic motifs.

On the top of Mount PhouSi we can enjoy fine views over the town and surrounding hills. From there, we will explore the Night Market Street, where you will be able to find lovely handicrafts made by our local people, Overnight in Luang Prabang. (B)

Day 8 : Visit the National Museum, Khuang Si Waterfall and the Footprints of the Buddha

We start with a visit to the National Museum – once the Royal Palace – but now giving a picture of the various leaders and fighters famous in Lao history, from long ago and up to the present new revolutionary period.

After this we will enjoy a sightseeing tour of two magnificent temples : Wat Visoun and Wat Xienthong - the city’s oldest temple and one of the best examples of Luang Prabang’s classical architecture.

After lunch in one of Luang Prabang’s favourite restaurants, we take a long drive to the Kuangsi Waterfall set in the lush green surroundings of one of the National Conservation Areas. En route, we visit two small villages - Ban Na Oune, a Hmong village and Ban Tha Pane, a Khmu minority village. We return to Luang Prabang in the late afternoon and stop at Ban Xangkhong - a weaving village.

We will end our day with a visit to Wat Siphouthabath to see the footprints of the Buddha. Overnight in Luang Prabang.

Day 9 : Drive to Vang Vieng

This day we travel by road to Vang Vieng, a small town on a bend in the Nam Song River. Although the journey is quite strenuous it takes us along one of the most scenic but rough routes in the whole of Asia to the once tranquil town of Vang Vieng which is now rapidly developing along with the advent of tourists.

However the beautiful scenery with its mixture of quiet water and limestone outcrops has been unchanged for centuries. We embark on our boat for a gentle trip on the Nam Song River, exploring the breathtaking mountain landscape. Over night in Vang Vieng (B)

Day 10 : Trekking in Vang Vieng

The limestone cliffs and valleys surrounding the resort complex of Vang Vieng are home to numerous caves and caverns. The most famous of these caves, Tham Jang, was used by local people around 200 years ago as a hideout from Chinese invaders.

We visit this beautiful cave in the morning before taking a walk to the friendly and welcoming Tai Deang and Souay hill tribe villages. The remainder of the day is free for your own exploration of the town and relaxation. Over night in Vang Vieng. (B)

Day 11 : Drive to Vientiane

Heading out of town we start our drive back to Vientiane stopping on the way to visit the archaeological site of Vang Xang dating back to the 11th century.

After checking into your hotel we visit the Buddha Park, a fascinating blend of Buddhist and Hindu sculptures created by a mystical monk on parkland on the Mekong River. The Buddha Park is close to the impressive Friendship Bridge linking Laos and Thailand.

A perfect way to round off the day is to watch the spectacular sunset over the Mekong River from one of the many riverside bars. Overnight in Vientiane. (B)

Day 12 : Tour Vientiane City

After breakfast, we start with visits to the major sights of the capital ; including the oldest wat - Wat Sisaket with thousands of miniature Buddha statues and the former royal temple of Wat Prakeo which previously housed the famous Emerald Buddha Image.

On the way to the sacred That Luang Stupa, we stop to take some pictures of the imposing Patuxay Monument, which is well known as Vientiane s own Arc de Triomphe. View the sunset by the Mekong Riverside and take a late evening stroll. Overnight in Vientiane.

Day 13 : Depart Vientiane

After breakfast, we visit the Morning Market and the weaving village of Ban Nong Bouathong (if time permits).

The tour ends with your transfer to Wattay Airport or the Friendship Bridge. (B)

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