Reclaimed by jungles, many ancient towns and villages with ethnic tribal communities enhance the indigenous exquisiteness of northern Laos while allowing the enthusiastic adventurers to discover ancient appeal hidden behind the time frame. Luang Prabang is the spiritual capital of Laos with gilded temples and saffron-robed monks receiving alms from... More
Reclaimed by jungles, many ancient towns and villages with ethnic tribal communities enhance the indigenous exquisiteness of northern Laos while allowing the enthusiastic adventurers to discover ancient appeal hidden behind the time frame. Luang Prabang is the spiritual capital of Laos with gilded temples and saffron-robed monks receiving alms from the devotees crafting the cultural identity of the city. The capital Vientiane sits at the heart of the colonialism and history and inherits a small town like ambiance where time stands still. Southern Laos is the gateway to natural extravaganza where cascading waterfalls set the dramatic backdrop for 4000 riverine islands of mighty Mekong River.Less
Welcome to Laos! Upon arrival, meet by travel-to-nature Asia representative/guide and transfer to your hotel. Please look out for your name-card once you exit out of arrival area.
Situated in the centre of northern Laos, Luang Prabang is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its outstanding cultural, historic and architectural values and its harmonious relationship between the natural and built environment.
You are free to stroll around the city on your own. Overnight in Luang Prabang.
Accommodation: Sala Prabang Hotel
Wake up as the sun rises, we will prepare to join the most sacred tradition of Laos, the daily morning alms giving, which dates to the 14th century. More than 200 Buddhist monks depart from various temple to gather their daily meal from the faithful residents sitting quietly on the streets.
From there, we will visit the temporary morning market near the former Royal Palace. Just set on the ground, the local people come here to barter their day’s catch from rice, to vegetable, to fish, or chicken. This is the best chance to experience the flavor of local life.
After breakfast, we visit Royal Palace Museum, which hosts a range of interesting artifacts. Our next stop in the city is the magnificent Wat Xiengthong with its roofs sweeping low to the ground, which represents classical Laotian architecture. We will also take a look at the Traditional Art & Ethnology Center to learn about the many Lao ethnic groups. We then visit Wat Visoun, dating back to 1513 during the reign of King Wisunarat (Visoun), this is Luang Prabang’s oldest temple and was once home to the Prabang Buddhas.
Laos is also known for its traditional crafts, we will take a short visit to the Ock Pop Tock Living Craft Center, where you will have a short tour so you get information about Silk, about weaver, about the Women that work in the Centre.
This then takes us to the beautiful Kuang Si Waterfall where you can cool off with a refreshing swim in the pools or walk along the forest trails. You can also see up close Asiatic bears at the Bear Rescue Centre along the jungle walk to the waterfall.
Arriving in Luang Prabang, we ascend the 329 steps to the top of Phousi Hill for a beautiful sunset view of the city and its glowing reflection on the Mekong River. Overnight in Luang Prabang.
Accommodation: Sala Prabang Hotel
Our driver will pick you up from your hotel at 6:30am, and transport you to the boat pier. The boat leaves at 7:00am for the upstream cruise to Pakbeng. French breakfast is served onboard after the introduction of the crew.
Shortly thereafter, we will stop to visit the famous Pak Ou Caves (Tham Ting) and its thousands of Buddha images.
For lunch, local food is served onboard. Then, you will have free time for relaxing in the afternoon, until the boat arrives in Pakbeng at dusk. Here, you will retreat to your accommodation for the night.
Accommodation: Mekong Riverside Lodge
Meal: Breakfast, Lunch
Departure Schedule of Shompoo Cruise: Monday, Wednesday, Sunday
For early risers visit the morning market where residents of the nearby villages and hill tribes gather to buy and exchange their goods.
Then we drive to Muang Sing. The journey will give you plenty of opportunities for photos and visiting hill tribe villages. You will pass through the provincial capital, Oudomxay. Once a very sleepy town, this has become an important trading hub and shows the changes which are happening rapidly in the region. This makes the final leg of the journey, away from the busy town and in to unspoiled nature, all the more exciting. The contrast also highlights just how special the experiences are in the remaining wilderness.
We then pass through Luang Namtha, which is located on the banks of the Namtha River, is a land of rugged mountains and beautiful tropical forests and shares its border with China and Myanmar.
Upon arrival in the town of Muang Sing, you will check in your hotel. Overnight in Muang Sing.
Accommodation: Singchalern Hotel
Visit ethic villages and explore the Nam Ha National Protected area.
After breakfast, transfer by private car to visit the local market to discover the different ethnic groups. Then you go back to town and visit a Thai Lu style temple. Its architecture is different from the temples you see in Luang Prabang.
Then you walk to visit the museum of Muang Sing which presents the ethnic groups and the history of the city. En route to the Chinese border and free zone of Pangthong, you will visit ethnic minority villages such as Iko, Lu and Yao, visit Bane OudomSinh (9km from the city) and then walk to the villages (Iko Aka) and Yao villages: Ban ChongKa, Ban Nam May, Ban DoneThanh.
In the afternoon, explore Nam Ha Protected Area. The park’s main forest type is mixed secondary deciduous forest including secondary evergreen forest. At the park’s lower elevations, in the Luang Namtha plain, human modification of the forest is evident and habitats include bamboo and scrub areas.
Animal species include Assam macaque, clouded leopard, gaur, tiger, elephant and a possibly unique species of muntjac. The frog species Amolops akhaorum is only known from the park. It is named for the local Akha people who helped with the fieldwork of the team who discovered the species in 2007.
The park is host to diverse bird species: about 300 species are recorded here. A few species are unique in Laos to Nam Ha: crested finchbill, white-bellied redstart and white-necked laughingthrush.
Overnight in Muang Sing.
Accommodation: Singchalern Hotel
Today we head to Oudomaxy , spend a quiet in natural surrounding of Namkat Yorla Pa Resort.
We will make an stop at Luang Namtha and explore local villages, like Ban Koum the distilling village of rice and maize alcohol and see the style of their traditional houses on stilts, weaver village of Thai Black tribes.
The local market also attracts numerous ethnic minorities who converge from the surrounding mountainsides or valley to barter and trade their goods. We visit this congregation before setting off on our journey along the south to Oudomxay. Here we have the chance to visit the intriguing Pra Xing 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.
Upon arrival in Oudomxay, we will transfer directly to Namkat Yorla Pa Resort, which locates 30km from Oudomxay center. The resort is famous for its pure natural surround with the thick jungle, and especially the amazing Namkat Waterfalls, which we will explore in the next days.
Upon arrival, check in your riverside bungalow. Free for the rest of the day at the resort pool, or just relax and enjoy the sound of nature. Overnight at Namkat.
Accommodation: Namkat Yorla Pa Resort
Today, we will say goodbye to Namkat Yorla Pa Resort, and drive to Nong Khiaw, a small beautiful town along the Nam Ou River. The road conditions are partly good and poor, so it may be a rough journey; however many villages dot the hillsides and the undulating terrain makes this an interesting journey.
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, Black Thai and Lu; Hmong hilltribe people. We arrive in Nong Khiaw at around lunch time; transfer to your hotel. Free for the rest of the day to relax. Overnight in Nong Khiaw.
Accommodation: Nong Kiau River Side
Note: There are plenty of activity in the afternoon for you to choose, such as: trekking to the view point of Nong Khiaw – Phou Phadaeng, tubing or kayaking along the gentle Nam Ou to admire the sunset, etc.
Today, we will drive through the most rural and least developed part of Laos via Vieng Kham to Muang Hiam. These back roads are a perfect way to venture off the beaten track and explore the real Laos. We see very few other travelers, mostly rural dwellers who are just as interested in finding out about our lives as we are of theirs. The drive can be challenging on some parts of our journey due to poor road conditions; however the verdant and rugged mountain scenery combined with the colorful local population makes for a memorable experience.
Arriving in Muang Hiam, we have ample time to stroll around this small town before continue to drive to the Khmu village of Ban Son Khua. This village is the entrance to the Nam Et – Phou Louay NPA, where we will explore the next day with Nam Nern Night Safari. Dinner with the host family; overnight in Ban Son Khua.
After breakfast depart for the Nam Et-Phou Louey NPA (National Protected Area).
Here you will experience the Nam Nern Night Safari and stay in a simple eco-lodge, all of which has been developed with the local community. Learn about wildlife conservation, medicinal plants, traditional agriculture and the history of the Secret War from your local Khmu guide.
Upon arrival at Ban Son Koua, an ethnic Khmu Village, village guides and boatmen will meet you and take you on a short tour of the village where you will learn about the animist tradition of appeasing the village spirit. Then embark on a 1.5 hour journey to the park substation on the Nam Nern River by long-tail boat, along the way learning about upland rice cultivation and having opportunities to spot monitor lizards and bird life.
After arriving at the park substation, you will enjoy a lunch prepared by the village cooking group. After lunch, receive a briefing by park staff about the on-the-ground efforts in protecting tigers and their prey. Around the middle of the afternoon you will depart for the night safari.
Stopping near a salt lick, you will hike into the forest. Your local guide, a skilled hunter and tracker, will explain how local people track deer and other wild ungulates. The guides point out evidence of wildlife, such a tracks or scat at the salt lick.
The boat will continue upriver to the dinner site, a sandy, flat bank, where you will have a picnic dinner around a campfire. After dinner, your guides tell Khmu folktales and stories about dragons, wildlife, and ghosts. They educate you about the species of animals they may see during the spotlighting and explain the rules and expectations for spotlighting.
Depending on the amount of moonlight, depart for the night spotlighting 1-2 hours after dark, floating down river with engines off. There is only one light per boat. Only guides use the light, to avoid scaring the animals. The guides and boat drivers communicate via hand signals to avoid talking that might disturb the animals. The boat is very quiet so as not to disturb the animals. Animals that may be seen include Sambar Deer, Otters, and Barking Deer, various species of Civets, Slow Loris, Porcupine, Hogbadgers, Asian Golden cat , Wild dogs and Owls have also been seen.
At the end of the spotlighting, the boats arrive at the evening camp. Before going to bed you will be able to check out a variety of insects attracted to the black light set up near the substation. Overnight in Nam Nern.
Accommodation: Nam Nern Night Safari Ecolodge
Meal: Breakfast, Dinner
Before breakfast, your local guide will take you on a walk around the jungle, teaching you the use of medicinal plants and explaining the history of the site, which was once a major settlement during the Secret War. After breakfast, the boats float back to the village at a relaxing pace with engines off, pointing out birds along the way.
Upon arrival in the village, you will be invited to try earthen jar rice wine (lao hai). After that continue driving about 3 hours to Xiengkhouang. Along the way enjoy the beautiful scenery and see local village life. You will stop for lunch at a local restaurant.
Xiengkhouang is a town that has been totally rebuilt after being destroyed during the secret war in Laos. The town is now located 30 km away from where it was originally. Today, Xiengkhouang, locally called “Phonsavan” is the gateway to the Plain of Jars.
After checking into your hotel, if you still have the energy, you can visit the MAG Center in the town. MAG is a humanitarian organization clearing the remnants of conflict for the benefit of local communities worldwide. Lao PDR is the most heavily bombed nation in the world (per capita). Free entry, open everyday from 08:00h – 20:00h. Overnight in Xiengkhouang.
Accommodation: Vansana Plain of Jars Hotel
The “Plain of Jars” is an impressive archaeological site where hundreds of large stone jars are scattered all over a plateau. These huge jars are supposedly over 2,000 years old, but most of archaeologists still question their purpose. We have time today to explore the Plain of Jars site 1 and some nearby villages, populated by the Hmong hill tribe and Tai Dam people; they are very poor but possess a vibrant local culture and an interesting history.
We leave Xiengkhouang for our scenic drive to Vang Vieng, a small town, which is nestled on a bend of the Nam Song River. Its stunning scenery with its limestone outcrops remains unspoiled, despite recent developments with the advent of tourism.
Along the way, we will stop at Tham Pra, which served as the hospital during the Indochina War. From there, we will stop at the peak of Phou Phiengpha, which offers the panoramic view over the region. Our next photo stop is Phatang Mountain view point to admire the beautiful scenery before reaching Vang Vieng. Overnight in Vang Vieng.
Accommodation: Tmark Resort
Early morning, we drive out of town to the capital, Vientiane. Vientiane is the charming and fascinating capital of Laos. This city conjures up exotic images, with the curious mix of Lao, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, French influences. En route, we will make a short stop at the H’Mong market at Km52.
This afternoon we explore the town; with Wat Sisaket which is the oldest temple still standing in Vientiane. This amazing structure features remarkable frescoes and Buddha images. We continue sightseeing by visiting Haw Prakeo, the former royal temple of Laos monarchy, which previously housed the famous Emerald Buddha Statue. We then visit the imposing Patuxay Monument, which is well known as Vientiane’s own Arc de Triumph before continuing to the famous That Luang Stupa. Overnight in Vientiane.
Accommodation: Aaron Hotel
Our tuk tuk driver (also our guide) will pick you up at your hotel after breakfast, and take you to an organic rice, fish and vegetable farm on the outskirts of Vientiane. Run by a Lao non-government organisation using traditional Lao farming methods, this is the perfect place to try your hand at rice farming. The friendly farmers will show you how to get your feet wet planting rice seedlings (during rainy season), or if it’s harvest season then cut and thresh your own rice for lunch! Do a spot of fishing, collect fresh duck eggs, learn about organic fertiliser and how it is made, and harvest fresh seasonal organic vegetables and bamboo (if in season).
Once you’ve finished in the field, you’ll cook up a traditional Lao lunch with the days’ produce. Learn how to cook sticky rice and make papaya salad and sit down to enjoy a picnic-style lunch and a well-earned rest.
On the way back into town, we’ll take you to a local fresh food market to check out the amazing diversity of Lao food. Stop for a while in the market for a traditional Lao coffee or sample some delicious Lao sweets. Transfer back to your hotel late afternoon. Overnight in Vientiane.
Accommodation: Aaron Hotel
Transfer to airport for your homeward-bound flight.
Price: US$ 2,330 per person (Twin Sharing | Based on Minimum 6 Travelers)
Single Supplement: US$ 500
Giving back to the communities is our responsibility!
With every trip, you also support the SWAN and thus projects for Sustainable Community development and Biodiversity protection.
Our primary NGO partner is Social Welfare Association of Nepal (SWAN), with whom we have carried out multiple CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) projects. Besides carrying out regular CSR activities in the areas of education and women empowerment, we have supported relief and rehabilitation initiatives in the aftermath of several natural disasters like earthquake, immediate response to COVID-19 pandemic across Nepal.
Giving something back to the world is a special and responsible affair of travel-to-nature Asia right from its inception. When you travel with travel-to-nature Asia and SWAN-Nepal, you become an integral force for change in addressing the most pressing social and wildlife conservation issues. Your tourism funds help transform the future of under-privileged and marginalized communities and transform the future of at-risk natural places you travel. Portion of our profit flows to local communities who live with and steward nature, creating jobs and improving livelihoods.
By joining one of our holidays you are playing a vital role in bringing positive changes in the lives of local community.