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 north of 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.
Itinerary Idea in Detail
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Day 01: Luang Prabang Arrival
Upon arrival to Luang Prabang International airport, our local adventure guide will pick up then transfer you to the hotel in town centre. After checking 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. Tasting local street food, drinking the famous Laos Beer and buying souvenirs for your family and friends.
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 we return hotel for breakfast.
After breakfast, we continue with an interactive tour of Luang Prabang, ancient city in the north of the Laos and a delightful mix of exquisite temples and French colonial. Discover what makes this UNESCO city so unique. First, we will take 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. 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. We 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. (***Note: Museum closed on Monday). Overnight at hotel in Luang Prabang.
The Chang Inn Luang Prabang
Day 03: Luang Prabang - Pak Ou Caves - Pakbeng
Today, we will take a River Cruise and board upstream Mekong River to Pak Beng. After breakfast, our driver will transfer you to a pier on Mekong River, embark on private boat and start our journey today. On the way, we will 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. We also stop at Ban Baw village where it is possible to witness the processing of traditional rice alcohol. Enjoy your picnic lunch onboard 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 Oudomxay along the Nam Beng River. Depending on the water level of river, our boat could reach Pakbeng in time to watch the sun set over the river on board. And enjoy the magnificent views of Mekong river at one of the restaurant balconies. Dinner and overnight in Pakbeng hotel.
After breakfast, we 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, wind 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. Afterwards, 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, please enquire further.
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. Overnight at hotel in Pakbeng.
Mekong Riverside Lodge
Day 05: Pakbeng – Oudomxay - Muang La
This morning, we depart from Pakbeng and drive towards Muang La via Oudomxay. 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. We will stop to visit the cultural village of Ban Yor. According to villagers, Ban Yor 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 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 we 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. Overnight in Muang La Hotel.
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, we will 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, we cross through the forest and mountains of pristine trees and designed for moderately active people who love getting into the great outdoors.
You also could take part in many activities which are offered by resort such as: bicycle riding, elephant riding… Note: this activity mostly takes place during the dry season from November to May. Overnight at hotel in Muang La.
Nam Kat Yola Pa Resort
Day 07: Phoupapak Mountain Soft Trek
Today, we will take part in a trekking tour to Nam Kat Protected Rain Forest Area. You will be guided by professional staffs at resort. We depart around 08:30 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.
We continue go along beaten track, pass 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.
Nam Kat Yola Pa Resort
Day 08: Muang La - Phongsaly
After breakfast, we 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 Nam Ou River. The road condition is good and situated on the mountain slopes. The drive will pass through beautiful landscapes and panoramic views over the surrounding mountains. On the way, we will see locals who are working on tea, banana plantations, small villages which are located along road or on hills. If you wish we could stop to visit local markets, take some photos of this unique market. There is no better place to blend into local life than its open market: so vibrant, so colourful and filled with exotic smells.
Make a stop at Ban Bountai, and enjoy a Laos traditional meal at a local restaurant. After lunch, we continue driving to Phongsaly town. Arrival 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 are playing Pétanque or football in the late afternoon. After the tour, enjoy your dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight in Phongsaly hotel.
Day 09: Visiting Hill Tribal Villages
This morning, we will meet our local guide for today’s trekking tour at the hotel. Then, be transferred to the H’mong village of Ban Aya where our trek begins. Upon arrival village, we will spend about an hour to walk around the village and meet the local people before taking a guided trek through the amazing jungle and paddies 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 – 400 Year Old Tea Plantation – Muang Khua
After breakfast, we will take a visit to the famous 400-year-old tea plantation which is 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 village, we will take a an hour stroll through the ancient tea plantation. In harvest season, you could see Phounoy tribe people climb up to pick the precious leaves. They then process and sell this rare tea in cigar-shaped tubes. After the trek, we will take a four hours transfer to Muang Khua. Stop en route to have lunch at a local restaurant. Upon arrival Muang Khua, check in your hotel and relax. Have your dinner at a restaurant which is overlooked the Nam Ou River. Overnight in Muang Khua hotel.
Day 11: Muang Khua - Muang Ngoi
Today, we will board a private long tail boat for a cruise down one of the most scenically beautiful stretches of Nam Ou river. It takes nearly four hour, 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 Ngoy.
Day 12: Muang Ngoi Trekking – Nong Khiaw
After the breakfast, we leave Muang Ngoi and begin 2 hours of trekking through the rice field and beautiful landscape to Ban Houay Sens village. On the way, we will stop to explore Tham Kang, Tam Gang and Tam 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 Ngoy.
Take a short break then float downriver to Nong Khiaw by boat. Overnight in Nong Khiaw hotel.