At Asia Senses Travel we’re adventurers at heart. Our journeys are all about discovering new places and cultures while creating unforgettable memories through physical activity and breathtaking scenery.
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Our 13-day Northern Laos Explorer Tour takes you to the remote northern Laos for a trekking adventure. We will spend two weeks exploring lush jungles, serene rivers and vibrant tea plantations. Our tour starts in the UNESCO World Heritage of Luang Prabang and take a loop of Northern Laos. Home to more than 20 ethnic groups including the Hmong, Lantan, Yao, Akha and Khmu tribes, the provinces offers a unique insight into the country’s cultural diversity as well as an off-the-beaten track experience for intrepid travelers.
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DAY 01: LUANG PRABANG ARRIVAL
Upon arrival in LUANG PRABANG, our local adventure guide will pick you up then transfer you to the hotel in town centre. After check in, enjoy the remainder of the day free at leisure or explore Luang Prabang’s bustling night market, which is open daily from dusk until about 10pm.
Follow your guide on a leisurely walking tour in Luang Prabang today and discover what makes this UNESCO city so unique. Wake up early for a pre-dawn experience of Luang Prabang. Begin by climbing the 328 steps to the top of Phousi Hill, getting to the top before the sun comes up. Enjoy panoramic views of the city, surrounding countryside and witness the breathtaking sunrise, one of the most unforgettable sights on this tour. Then return to hotel for breakfast.
After breakfast, pay a visit to the former Royal Palace (now the National Museum) which was built in 1904 during the French colonial era for King Sisavang Vong and his family. The Museum hosts a range of interesting artifacts from the Royal period in Luang Prabang. Followed by Wat Mai, one of the largest and most richly decorated temples in Luang Prabang and Wat Sene.
NOTE: National Museum closed on Monday.
Next stop is the Wat Xieng Thong, one of the most important of Lao monasteries and remains a significant monument to the spirit of religion, royalty and traditional art. Lunch will be served at a famous restaurant where it is possible to sample Laos traditional dishes.
After lunch, continue tour to visit the impressive stupa of Wat Visoun (Wat Wisunarat), oldest operating temple in Luang Prabang. It was built in 1513 under King Wisunarat’s order.
Afterwards, we take visit to Wat Aham which means “Monastery of the Opened Heart” and Wat That means "the Stupa Temple" one of the most symbolic religious relics in Luang Prabang. Finish our today’s tour with the Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre, a private, non-profit museum which is dedicated to the preservation and celebration of the many ethnic minorities existing in Laos.
Today, take a Mekong river cruise and board upstream Mekong river to PAKBENG. After breakfast, our guide and driver will transfer you to a pier on the Mekong river, where you embark on private boat and start our journey today.
On the way, visit the famous & sacred Pak Ou Buddha Caves. These caves, overlooking the confluence of the Mekong & Ou rivers from on high, have been home to many thousands of Buddha images that were placed here by local people since 16th century. Stop at Ban Baw Village where you can witness the processing of traditional rice alcohol. Enjoy your picnic lunch on board while cruising along the scenic Mekong River.
Pakbeng is located halfway between Houay Xay and Luang Prabang. It is connected by a sealed road with Oudomxai along the Beng river. Depend on the water level of river, our boat will reach Pakbeng in time to watch the sunset over the river on board. Alternatively, it is possible to enjoy the magnificent views of Mekong river at one of the restaurant balconies.
Following breakfast, cross the river to Mekong Elephant Camp to observe elephant in their natural habitat, see the elephant bath and join with the mahouts to bath these gentle giants if you wish. For those who would prefer to not take part, they can view the elephant bathing from a nearby platform. The elephant bathing is a great moment of fun.
After bathing, begin our elephants trek with the guidance of professional mahouts. The trek starts off with a ride down the river, winding through the surrounding forest over paths connecting various different villages. Along the path, stop to visit a village of Khamu people. Stroll through village, take part in some of the villagers' daily activities, such as basket-making and crop harvesting.
Continue trek through panoramic views over several alluvial plains where sweet corn and tobacco grow along with traditional houses and gardens. For those who wish to do a more challenging excursion, it is possible to adjust. After the walk, spend some time at the yard elephants. There is no better chance to learn about the elephants’ delicate diet and get a chance to feed them, under professional supervision.
This morning, depart from Pakbeng and drive towards MUANG LA via Oudomxai. This is a reasonably straight forward journey, where the landscape is covered with a variety of agricultural farming. Along the way, there are lush forests and beautiful mountains. You could see some villages which are located near the road.
En route, stop to visit the cultural village of Ban Yor. According to villagers, the village was founded in the 10th century CE when a group of Tai Lue moved into the wide open valley which promised good harvests and a warm climate. Upon arrival at the village, you will observe all stages of the pottery making process from collecting the earth to burning and glazing the vases. During the harvest season from February to April, you also can learn the cotton harvesting technique.
After the visit, enjoy your lunch followed by a walk up the town's highest pagoda, Wat Phu That, to get a wonderful panorama of the surrounding town and countryside. Then take a soft trek around this peaceful town.
Tonight, you will sleep at Nam Kat Yola Pa Resort which is more than just a resort though. As part of the investment, a complex of trails, camp sites, zip lines and suspension bridges were created inside the park, making it accessible for visitors with varying abilities and interests.
Nam Kat Yola Pa Resort was opened in April 16th, 2016. The resort has an ambitious plan to protect the Nam Kat forest by providing employment and building awareness among local villagers of nearby Ban Faen Village.
Today, trek through some of the most stunning scenery in the Nam Kat Protected Rain Forest Area. It’s perfect for those seeking a true experience of the Laos rainforest. In this adventure, cross through the forest and mountains of pristine trees and designed for moderately active people who love getting into the great outdoors.
NOTE: This activity mostly takes place during the dry season from November to May.
Spend another day taking part in another trekking tour to Nam Kat Protected Rain Forest Area. Depart around 08:30 AM and delve further into the densely forested mountainside. Along the way, the guide will deliver you some information about the wild animals such as monkeys, squirrels and a variety of birds, plants and medicinal herbs which you could see in the forest.
Continue going along beaten track, passing through the jungle and reach to a waterfall where you can relax, swim on a hot day. Have your picnic lunch which is prepared by resort’s chef. After lunch, continue trekking downhill, reaching the resort in the afternoon. The rest of day is free at leisure.
After breakfast, drive to Phongsaly, which shares borders with Yunnan (China) and Dien Bien (Vietnam) province. The climate is pleasant and refreshing covering the endless mountains down to the canyon of the Ou River. The road condition is good and situated on the mountain slopes. The drive passes through beautiful landscapes and panoramic views over the surrounding mountains.
Along the way, it is possible to stop then see locals working on tea, banana plantations, small villages. Alternatively, stop to visit a local market, taking amazing and colourful photos. There is no better place to blend into local life than its open market: vibrant, colourful and filled with exotic smells. Later, halt at Ban Bountai, and enjoy a Laos traditional meal at a local restaurant.
Arrival in PHONGSALY in the afternoon, check in and take a short break at the hotel. Once settled, take a guided walk through the streets of Phongsaly. The town features a remaining old quarter with Yunnanese wooden architecture now rare to find in Yunnan itself. Most of the people living here belong to the Hor ethnic group, speaking Chinese. Our guide will explain about the culture and history of this multicultural city.
Our walk tour includes a Chinese temple and Wat Keo where you could see monks playing Pétanque or football in the late afternoon. After the tour, enjoy your dinner in a local restaurant.
Overnight in Phongsaly hotel.
DAY 09: PHONGSALY
This morning, meet with our local guide for today’s trekking tour. Be transferred to the H’mong village of Ban Aya where our trek begins. Upon arrival at the village, spend about an hour to walk around the village and meet with the local people. Then trek through the amazing jungles and paddy fields. A typical Lao picnic lunch will be served to you along the trails.
After lunch, continue to Hmong village of Ban Aneng which is located in a lower area. Explore the village and learn more about cultures and traditions of Hmong people. During the trek, we also visit some other tribal villages of Akha, Tai Yag and Tai Yue people, before going back to Phongsaly by private car. The rest of the day is free at leisure.
Overnight at hotel in Phongsaly.
DAY 10: PHONGSALY – MUANG KHUA
After breakfast, explore the famous 400-year-old tea plantation located in the Phunoy village of Ban Komaen, which according to some tea experts, has some of the oldest tea trees in the world. According to the elders in the village, there was once an old tea tree which was located on the path to the local stream. During 400 years, the old tea tree began to spread its seeds and, with the help of the villagers, it spread throughout the small village. The oldest trees stand 6 m high with a stem up to 30 cm in diameter.
It takes about a 30 minutes (18 km) drive south of Phongsaly town. The road to Ban Komaen passes through beautiful tea plantations and offers a stunning view of surrounding mountains in Phongsaly. Upon arrival at the village, take an hour stroll through the ancient tea plantation. In harvest season, you could see Phounoy hill tribe people climb up to pick the precious leaves. They then process and sell this rare tea product in cigar-shaped tubes.
After the trek, jump on a four hour transfer to MUANG KHUA. Stop en route to have lunch at a local restaurant. Upon arrival, check in your hotel and relax. Have your dinner at a local restaurant overlooking the Ou River.
Overnight in Muang Khua.
DAY 11: MUANG KHUA – MUANG NGOI
Today, board a private long tail boat for a cruise down one of the most scenically beautiful stretches of Ou river. It takes nearly four hours, cruising slowly between the white limestone rocks of the mountains that border the river right and left. On the way, you could see lush green subtropical forests, water buffaloes and pigs lazing and grazing on the sandy riverbanks. Villagers, children and fishermen are waving at you. Enjoy your picnic lunch along the way while cruising downstream.
In the afternoon, reach the destination of MUANG NGOI, a place to unwind and reset your soul. Disembark and check in to a local guesthouse.
Overnight in a guesthouse in Muang Ngoi.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Guesthouse in Muang Ngoi
DAY 12: MUANG NGOI – NONG KHIAW
After the breakfast, leave Muang Ngoi and begin 2 hour trek through the rice fields and beautiful landscapes to Ban Houay Sens village. On the way, stop to explore Tham Kang, Tham Gang and Tham Pha Keo Caves, which are located about 30 minutes from Muang Ngoi. These caves were used as bomb shelters during Vietnam - America war. They are several kilometers in length with waterfalls and rock formations. Our guide will give you information to help you better understanding about ethnic groups in Northern Laos such as Hmong and Khmu minorities.
After that, we trek back to Muang Ngoi. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant in Muang Ngoi. Take a short break then float downriver to NONG KHIAW by boat.
Free at leisure until our guide and driver transfer you back to the Luang Prabang Airport by private car for your onward flight. It will takes approximately 3 hours to drive from Nong Khiaw to Luang Prabang.
Private Tour (for 02 pax, cheaper if more)
Tour Price Includes
12 night accommodation
Local English speaking guides
Meals as mentioned
Elephant Camp visit
Trekking at Namkat Yolarpa
Boat in Pakbeng, Muang Ngoi, Pak Ou Caves
All sightseeing as specified and entrance fees included
Bottled drinking water per touring days
Tour Price Excludes
Visas if required
Other meals not mentioned in the program
Domestic & International flights
Items of a personal nature such as laundry, drinks, etc...
Tips for your guide and driver
Any camera or video fees at any sites
When to Go
See estimated monthly temperature and rainfall for this itinerary