Laos Highlanders (10n/11d)

Tai Dam Hilltribe

Tai Dam Hilltribe

Day 1. Chiang Khong – Pakbeng
On arrival at HoueiSay in Laos from Chiang Khong (Thailand), we embark on our traditional boat cruising downriver on the Mekong. This part of the Mekong River is quite narrow and both banks of the rivers are bordered by amazing scenery of beautiful green forests and towering hills. The pace is very relaxed as we drift along the river in our boat, a perfect way to observe rural life close up. Along the way, we stop over at Ban Houeilampen to visit the Hmong hilltribe people. They have a vibrant culture and an interesting history.  Overnight in Pakbeng

Day 2. Pakbeng – Oudomxay
Our expedition begins as we leave Pakbeng and venture into the mountainous and remote area in Northern Laos. The verdant and rugged mountain scenery combined with the colourful local population makes this an unforgettable experience. Oudomxay province is residence to a mixture of 23 ethnic minority groups. We make a few rest stops along the way, which gives you the opportunity to see the ethnic minority groups of Hmong, Khmu, Akha and Taidam. The hill tribe people are unfailingly friendly, welcoming you with waving hands and smiling faces. Overnight in Oudomxay (B)

Day 3. Oudomxay – Muong La – Muong Ngoy
After breakfast, our journey to Muong La will lead us through some scenic landscape.  Here we have the fantastic chance to visit Pra Xack Kham Temple with its sacred Buddha image. The 400 years old legendary statue is said to have many supernatural powers, and is widely worshipped among the faithful local Buddhists. After our pleasant stop in Muong La, we continue our voyage towards Muong Khoua and board a traditional boat for a leisurely cruise on the Nam Ou River down to Muong Ngoy, a little village set along the east riverbank with breathtaking scenery all surrounded by mountains, this will be our base for trekking for the next three days. Overnight in Muong Ngoy (B)

Day 4. Muong Ngoy – Ban Kioukhan
Today, we discover the remote and extremely beautiful mountainous region of the north, ideal for anyone seeking an adventurous trekking expedition. We head out of town and begin our trek uphill to the rural village of Ban Kioukhan. The friendly Khmu hill tribe people reside in this small village; they have a primitive and basic lifestyle. We continue to walk through many different villages where we are sure to attract attention from the locals, as visitors are not frequently encountered in this remote part of the country. We arrive at Ban Kioukhan by late afternoon and have time to walk around this charming village, enabling us to understand a little more about the local culture and their daily lifestyle. We enjoy a local dinner and will reside at a Ban Kioukhan villager’s house, the best way to experience authentic village life. (Home stay). (B)

Day 5. Ban Kioukhan – Muong Ngoy
After breakfast, we continue our trekking expedition, using the local tracks. Today’s trekking may be challenging at times with some steep uphill and downhill climbs, but the experience is unique and rewarding. After spending half the day walking, we arrive at Ban Hadsaphaei village, which is situated by the Nam Ou River. There is a complete change of pace as we embark on a stunning boat trip downriver to Muong Ngoy, giving us a great chance to relax and explore the great landscape of limestone mountain outcrops surrounding the area. Overnight in Muong Ngoy (B)

Day 6. Muong Ngoy – Luang Prabang
After breakfast, we will spend half our day trekking, passing through several more hill villages to Pak Ou Cave. We visit the mysterious Pak Ou Caves, which are two linked caves crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes left by devoted pilgrims. We continue our trip down to the UNESCO World Heritage City of Luang Prabang. This former royal capital with its gleaming temple roofs, fading colonial architecture and stunning mountain backdrop retains a unique charm rarely found in all Asia. There is little traffic on the roads and you will see monks dressed in orange robes scurry in all directions carrying umbrellas shading themselves from the sun. Overnight in Luang Prabang. (B)

Day 7. Luang Prabang – City Tour
It is worth a visit to the National Museum (closed Tuesdays) at the former Royal Palace, which displays a lovely collection of artefacts reflecting the richness of Lao culture dating from the days of the early kings right through the last sovereign. Today we explore some of the major sights in this fabulous city, including the impressive stupa of Wat Visoun, the shrine of Wat Aham, the city’s oldest temple of Wat Sene and Wat Mai. We visit these sights as well as the magnificent Wat Xiengthong, its exterior architecture is remarkable with decorated gilded stuccoes and doorways, a “tree of life” mosaic pattern set in coloured glass on the back wall and its three tiered roofs sweeping low to the ground representing classical Laotian architecture. A visit to Luang Prabang would be incomplete without ascending 329 steps to the top of Mount Phousi for an enjoyable exploration of the sacred, gilded stupa and to enjoy a beautiful sunset view of the city and its glowing reflection on the Mekong River. From there, we explore the Night Market, where you can find a lovely selection of handmade textiles made by local and hill tribe people surrounding Luang Prabang. Overnight in Luang Prabang (B)

Day 8. Luang Prabang – Vang Vieng
After breakfast, we leave this charming city in the early morning for our journey to Vang Vieng. Our journey will be strenuous as we drive along one of the most scenic but also one of the roughest routes in Asia. In the afternoon we arrive in Vang Vieng, a small and tranquil town, which is nestled on a bend of the Nam Song River. Its stunning scenery with a mixture of quiet water and limestone outcrops remains unspoiled, despite recent developments with the advent of tourism. We embark on our boat for a relaxing trip on the Nam Song River, exploring the breathtaking mountain landscape and the famous cave of Tham Jang, which was used in the early 19th century in defence against the Chinese invaders. Overnight in Vang Vieng (B)

Day 9. Vang Vieng – Day trekking
Today we head out of town taking a short drive before we set off on a full day’s trek from Ban Phatang village through undulating hillsides and paddy fields. On the way, we visit Tham Hoy Cave and Ban Phathao village, which is home to the Hmong ethnic minorities. After a splendid picnic lunch, we continue walking and exploring the fantastic limestone karsts formation. The trekking ends when we arrive at Ban Tham Xang in the late afternoon. At this small village, we have a chance to explore the interesting local lifestyle and enjoy a traditional dance performed by villagers. Overnight in Vang Vieng (B)

Day 10.    Vang Vieng – Vientiane
After breakfast, we spend half our day driving to the capital city Vientiane, which is located on the banks of the Mekong River. Vientiane is a charming and fascinating capital, with an interesting mix of Lao, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, French, Soviet and American influences. A city tour acquaints us with the capital and after a short rest if time permits we start visiting some the major sights, including the oldest temple Wat Sisaket, with thousands of miniature Buddha statues and the former royal temple of Wat Prakeo, which previously housed the famous Emerald Buddha Image. Enroute to Lao’s national precious heritage, the famous and sacred structure of That Luang Stupa, you will have the opportunity to take some pictures of the imposing Patuxay Monument, which is well known as Vientiane’s own Arc de Triumph. Overnight in Vientiane (B)

Day 11.    Vientiane – Departure
After breakfast, we will visit the Morning Market and if time permits we will also visit the weaving village of Ban Nong Bouathong. The tour ends after your transfer to airport or for departure. (B)

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