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Northern Laos Exploration

Lao is famous for its beautiful green virgin nature, which attracts nature lovers all over the world to come, and explore. 15-day Northern Laos Exploration tour brings you to the most remote areas of northern Laos, which is home to many hill tribe people, green nature, and colorful culture.

HIGHLIGHTS

Various activities on sites

  • Leisure cruise on the mighty Mekong River, Nam Ou River
  • Driving through the countryside in the northern of Laos
  • Visit and experience the life of some authentic local villages
  • Trekking to the hidden waterfalls, colorful villages, and virgin jungle
  • Visit the Mandalao Elephant Camp, join the elephant walk/ride to explore the Nam Khan river. 

Unforgettable moments

  • Waking through the small peaceful street of Luang Prabang, admiring the life of local people
  • Watching the daily morning alms giving in Luang Prabang
  • The cruise along the Mekong River through the northern Laos
  • The panoramic view from the top of Phousi Hill over the town of Luang Prabang
  • Walk around the evergreen nature of Kuang Si waterfalls

Nature exploration

  • The scenic mountainous area in the northern Laos
  • The beautiful nature around Huay Xay, Pakbeng & Muang La
  • The nature along the banks of Mekong River and Nam Ou River
  • The beauty of the exciting Kuang Si waterfalls 

Culture experience

  • Attending the daily morning alms giving in Luang Prabang
  • Visit various temple and museum in Vientiane, Luang Prabang to learn about the culture of Laos
  • The visit to the local villages during the tour to see the local life

Map

Detailed schedule

Day 1 - Welcome to Chiang Rai

Upon arrival in Bangkok, take another flight to Chiang Rai, which locates in the northern Thailand.
Our guide & driver will meet you at Chiang Rai airport and transfer you directly to the hotel in Chiang Rai.
Free for the rest of the day for your own exploration.
Overnight in Chiang Rai
 

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Day 2 - Chiang Rai - Chiang Khong - Lanjia Lodge

In the morning, we will transfer to Lanjia Lodge, which locates at the top of the mountain in Chiang Khong at Ban Kiewkan.
Upon arrival, watch a presentation about  the Hmong and Lahu tribes, the Golden triangle area and the giant catfish (locally known as Pla Buek) – the world’s biggest fresh water fish found in the Mekong River.
Learn about activities that affect the Mekong River and people whose lives depend on the river. 
10h00: tour the Hmong and Lahu hill tribe village, including a visit at the shaman’s house of the Hmong. 
Drink tea with the shaman and discover why the fireplace is important to the Hmongs and why they bury the placenta and umbilical cord of their newborn babies. 
Lunch will be provided on the charming terrace that looks to the Mekong River and Laos. 
14h10: Get first-hand experience on how to make Hmong batik handkerchief with Hmong ladies (about 45 minutes). Alternatively, you can learn how to make and set animal traps. 
Then you will help villagers to plant trees at the Herbal Plant Nursery Project. The project is dedicated 
to His Majesty the King to commemorate his 84th birthday on December 5, 2011. 
The main objective of the project is to improve the quality of life of local people by educating them on how to grow vegetables and the importance of the eco-system in their village. 
Dinner and watch traditional Hmong performances 
Overnight at Lanjia Lodge 

Notes

Distance: Chiang Rai – Lanjia Lodge: 82KM | 1.5-hour transfer

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Day 3 - Golden Triangle Exploration

After breakfast, (07h45) depart for the Thailand-Burma border at Mae Sai District for a visit. On your own expense, you can cross the border to Burma to visit Tachilek Market.
Then drive along the border via Baan Pha Mee to visit Wat Prathat Doi Tung, Doi Chang Mub arboretum garden and Doi Tung Palace. 
Lunch served at a local restaurant. In the afternoon drive to the Golden Triangle to visit the Hall of Opium (closed on Monday). 
Board a long-tail boat for a cruise on the Mekong River down to a fisherman village of Baan Had Bai. Then return to the lodge. 
Dinner and overnight at Lanjia lodge. 

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Day 4 - Lanjia Lodge - Huay Xay - Pakbeng

After breakfast, transfer directly to the border where the representative of Luangsay Cruise will help you take the public bus crossing the border to Laos.
Upon finishing the border formality, our guide will pick you up and transfer to the boat pier. 
The Luang Say boat leaves Huay Xay pier at 9.30am for a cruise down the Mekong River to Pakbeng. 
After one-hour journeying along the river, the boat stops at a traditional village. This is a chance to observe rural life along the Mekong and witness the daily life of ethnic minorities and their talented craftsmanship. 
Lunch is served on board in a buffet style with a selection of starters and main course from Laos’ main culinary delights as well as a choice of fish and meat dishes. 
The river cruise arrives at Luang Say Lodge near Pakbeng before sunset, giving plenty of time to refresh, enjoy the scenery of the river and admire the surrounding nature.
A Laotian dinner is served on the open air terrace overlooking the Mekong River.

Notes

Distance:
+ Lanjia Lodge – Chiang Khong border: 34KM | 46-minute transfer
+ Huayxay – Pakbeng: 6-7-hour by boat

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Day 5 - Pakbeng - Luang Prabang

Mornings are special times at Luang Say Lodge with stunning sights of the peaceful neighboring mountains, often shrouded in mist, while a full breakfast is served on the expansive teak terrace. 
The cruise departs for another day of nature discovery along the legendary river with two stops planned along the way to Luang Prabang. 
A few hours into the day after enjoying the sights of granite cliffs and sparkling sandy shores, the river boat makes a stop to visit the hill tribe village of Baw, where you can watch the traditional process of making Lao whiskey. 
Lunch is served on board in a buffet style with a selection of starters and main course from Laos’ cuisine. A different choice of fish and meat dishes than on the first day is prepared for a greater culinary experience. 
Opposite the mouth of the Nam Ou River, near Pak Ou village, the cruise stops to visit the Tam Thing cave. Translated as Rock Cave, it is famous for housing over 2,500 Buddha statues of all sizes and for being a place of pilgrimage for locals.
Following a day along the mighty Mekong river, with beautiful sceneries of mountains, wild nature, local life and delicious food, the cruise arrives at Luang Prabang, the former imperial capital of Laos.
Transfer to your hotel. Overnight in Luang Prabang

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Day 6 - Luang Prabang Culture & Architecture

After breakfast, our guide will take you on an in-depth walking tour of the city with Mr. Francis Engelmann, who is the retired UNESCO specialist.
The walk is oriented towards the lesser known parts of the town including charming lanes showing the more traditional atmosphere of the heritage town. 
Along the way, we will see the four different types of buildings categorized by UNESCO. 
The first one is the traditional Lao house which is made from tropical hardwood or bamboo and built on stilts.
The second is a half wood and half cement house built after the arrival of the French. 
The third is the traditional French colonial building that are similar to those found in Vietnam and Cambodia. 
The last form of architecture you will see is the old Chinese shop houses that were built to be used for both commercial and residential purposes.
During the walk, it is you chance to ask any questions that you may have about Luang Prabang history or culture for our specialist before leaving him around noon time.
In the afternoon, we will visit some famous attractions inside city center including the oldest temple of Wat Sene and the magnificent Wat Xiengthong with its roofs sweeping low to the ground, which represents classical Laotian architecture. 
We then continue with a visit to the Royal Palace Museum, which hosts a range of interesting artifacts. From there, we walk to the nearby Wat Mai, which is one of Luang Prabang’s largest and most richly decorated temples.
Late afternoon, we climb up to the top of Mount Phousi for an enjoyable exploration of the sacred, gilded stupa as well as a panoramic sunset view of the city and the Mekong River.  
The tour ends after a visit to the famous Night Market, where you can find a lovely selection of handmade textiles made by local and hilltribe people surrounding Luang Prabang. 
Overnight in Luang Prabang

Notes

In the evening, we recommend joining the Royal Ballet Theatre at the National Museum to watch the traditional show of Phralak Phralam and learn about the history and culture of Laos (not included – payable on spot)
 

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Day 7 - Luang Prabang - Kuang Si Waterfalls

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.
We then 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. 
After breakfast at the hotel, we will visit UXO Visitor Center (closed on Saturday, and Sunday), where you can find the documentation about the secret war in Laos.
Then transfer directly to the beautiful Kuang Si, which is the biggest waterfall in the Luang Prabang area with three tiers leading to a 50-metre drop into spectacular azure pools before flowing downstream. The pools also make great swimming holes and are very popular with both tourists and locals
There is also the chance to walk to the nearby village of Ban Thapene, and explore the hidden waterfalls, which is rarely visited by other tourists
If you wish, take a short visit to the Bear Rescue Center, which houses a couple of dozen animals rescued from the hands of poachers and traffickers.
After visiting Kuang Si waterfalls, you can visit the nearby Butterflies Park, where you can enjoy the afternoon tea with the homemade cookies whilst relaxing inside the green peaceful garden full of colorful butterflies.
On the way back to Luang Prabang, we will take a short visit to the Ock Pop Tock Living Craft Center, set serenely close to the Mekong, this beautiful, traditionally styled workshop, where weavers, spinners and batik makers produce top-quality fabrics, offers free tours every half-hour. This is also one of the best spots to admire the sunset in Luang Prabang
Transfer back to your hotel late afternoon. Overnight in Luang Prabang

Notes

Late afternoon, join the cinema at Amalea Restaurant to watch the 100-year-old Chang Movie, which is the oldest film about Laos. This is a silent film about a poor farmer in northern Nan Province (northern Thailand) and his daily struggle for survival in the jungle. 
The dinner is recommended at the restaurant before returning to your hotel (not included – payable on spot)

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Day 8 - Mandalao Elephant Camp - Chateau Orientale

After picking you up from town or your hotel we will leave Luang Prabang around 08:30 for the nearby village of Xieng Lom. Upon arrival you are invited to have coffee or tea as your guide for the day provides an in-depth introduction to elephant behavior and the ways we should interact with them.
A quick boat ride across the Nam Khan River will deliver you to the waiting elephants. You will be introduced to your new friends and feed them some special treats - a sure way to begin an instant friendship.
Enjoy observing elephants from the river bank as Mahouts wash them in the Nam Khan river. You can experience elephants washing, swimming and playing in the water. Please note this is voluntary activity for the elephants and Mandalao does not force them to get in the water. (On cold days the elephants are less likely to want to get wet.)
After 2 hours crossing through a beautiful stretch of traditional Lao gardens you will arrive at the jungle-covered Huay Nok stream. As you walk alongside the elephants and crisscross through the cool water you will experience a profound sense of understanding, respect, and caring for these amazing animals. As you prepare to start your walk back to MandaLao, you will bid farewell to your new friends with more treats and goodbye hugs.
When you get back to MandaLao, you will head to the restaurant and enjoy a delicious fresh Lao meal made from our own organically grown produce. There you can relax, kick-back, and process the day’s experiences on the veranda overlooking the river and misty mountains.
Following lunch, we will walk to the nearby beautiful Chateau Orientale Resort, where we will spend the night.

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Day 9 - Chateau Orientale - Free day

You are free to stroll around the resort for your own exploration or just stay relax by the riverbank.
There are plenty of activities on site such as kayaking, or cycling offered by the resort.
Overnight at Chateau Orientale
 

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Day 10 - Chateau Orientale - Muang La

Today drive North takes through some of the most stunning mountain scenery you will find in South East Asia, with plenty of opportunities to stop off at the various Khmu and H’mong villages along the way.  
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 at Ban Songja and Ban Jarong. 
The hill tribe people are unfailingly friendly; welcoming you with waving hands and smilling faces. 
We may also 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. 
We shall reach Muang La by mid-afternoon, which is famous for its natural hot springs for the night.  
No activities are planned for the rest of the day so you can stroll around the village or just relax at the riverside retreat enjoying a massage or sometime in the hot springs. 
Overnight in Muang La  
 

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Day 11 - Muang La Lodge - Free Day

You are free to relax and enjoy the nature and facilities of the resort.
You can either choose one of the plenty activities offered by the lodge to spend the day.
Overnight at Muang La Resort

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Day 12 - Muang La Lodge - Free day

You are free to relax and enjoy the nature and facilities of the resort.
You can either choose one of the plenty activities offered by the lodge to spend the day.
Overnight at Muang La Resort

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Day 13 - Muang La - Oudomxay - Vientiane

Free before transferring to Oudomxay to take the flight to Vientiane. 
Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel.
Free for your own exploration of Vientiane.
Overnight in Vientiane
 

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Day 14 - Vientiane - Buddha Park

In the morning, we will first visit Wat Si Muang, which is very famous for its supernatural power. 
After that drive to Buddha Park which takes around 45 minutes away. Also known as Xieng Khuan, this unusual park is filled with over 200 Buddhist and Hindu statues.
We then visit Lao Disable Women Development Center, which assist disable women to cope with their disability and advocate for their rights. Spend time watching the video and learn about the effort to earn their daily living. You can support them by buying some small handicrafts at the shop.
Start the afternoon with a visit to That Luang, the holiest site in Laos. Constructed by King Setthathirat in the 16th century, the temple is resplendent as the sun is shines upon its towering golden spire. 
Then, enjoy a panoramic view over the city as you climb the stairs to the top of Patuxai, Vientiane’s own “Arc de Triomphe”. 
Continue down Lane Xang Avenue the serene Wat Sisaket, the only temple left intact after the Siamese (Thai) invasion in 1828. 
Continue on to the nearby Wat Phra Keo.  Used as a religious museum, Wat Phra Keo displays a collection of both Lao and Khmer works of art. 
End your tour of the capital along the banks of the Mekong River as the sun begins to set. Stroll along the river, stop to enjoy a cold drink, or sample a snack from one of the many local food stalls.  
Overnight in Vientiane.

Notes

You can also visit Sinouk Coffee Pavilion to discover the Lao coffee, stroll around the mini coffee gallery, view the in-house coffee roaster and try a cup of delicious and unique coffee or tea. Discuss with our guide about this. Entrance fee and extra coffee/drinks are payable on spot.
 

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Day 15 - Vientiane - Departure

You are free to stroll around the town for your own exploration before taking the departure flight

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The ancient capital of Lane Xang Kingdom

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The ancient capital of Lane Xang Kingdom

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The combination of some must-see experience and the cruise tour along the mighty rivers

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Reveal off-the-beatentrack routes, least explored destinations, and unknown tribe groups

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Easy excursion combined with week-long beach break

Laos PLANS BY TIME FRAME
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Laos BLOG ARTICLES

Though opened to tourism since the last 20 years, Laos still has many hidden places or gems that are waiting for the curious explorers. 

Xe Champhone Loop is one of the places.

Early September 2022, we made an Educ tour here, under the operation of Tetraktys Organization to explore the loop, which was an effort to promote the area to the international tourists.

We were impressed with what we saw and learnt here. The area is full of interesting nature spots, traditional culture, and hospitable hosts.

Below is everything you need to know about the area.

Stay tuned!

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The romance of train travel is alive and well in Laos. The recently-completed high-speed railway that stretches from Vientiane, through Laos, and into southern China is operating ‘full steam’ ahead. 

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Luang Prabang will celebrate the boat racing festival (Boun Souang Heua) in Namkhan River during Buddhist Lent Period, on August 26th, 2022.

A notice issued by Luang Prabang provincial office says that Luang Prabang will arrange Boun Hor Khaopadapdin, an annual festival held to feed spirits with home-made parcels of food, and the boat racing activities along Namkhan River. 

The province intends to promote the traditional festival and practices in hopes of attracting more domestic and foreign tourists, generating revenue for locals.

Traditional racing boats are made of a single tree and can accommodate up to fifty rowers.

The boats are considered sacred, are cleaned, and are given offerings which are believed to bring victory to the team.

In the downtown heart of Luang Prabang, there will also be gatherings and markets.

The festival will be held on August 26th, 2022, the same day with Boun Khao Padapdine.

Covid-19 put a stop to traditional customs and festivals for almost three years, but now that the measurements have been relaxed, tourist destinations in Laos expect to recommence festivities and offer hope for travelers.

...more

How long to spend in Laos may seem like a ridiculous question to address, but if you have plenty of time and aren’t sure how much to dedicate, this blog will definitely help you out. 

How long can you stay in Laos? 

Well, as long as you like! From 7 days to a month, there are various ways you can travel across Laos and uncover its secrets. Advising an ideal trip length for Laos is a bit of a complex challenge, as it depends on several factors such as the places you wish to visit, the activities you plan to join, or if you want to combine Laos with its neighbor countries. 

Stay tuned! We are going to sort all these things out including the step-by-step guide to create the best itinerary in Laos.

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The Rocket Festival (Boun Bang Fai) is a merit-making ceremony traditionally practiced by ethnic Lao people near the beginning of the wet season in numerous villages and municipalities, in the regions of Northeastern Thailand and Laos. Celebrations typically include preliminary music and dance performances, competitive processions of floats, dancers and musicians on the second day, and culminating on the third day in competitive firings of home-made rockets. Local participants and sponsors use the occasion to enhance their social prestige, as is customary in traditional Buddhist folk festivals throughout Southeast Asia.

The festival in Thailand also includes special programs and specific local patterns like Bung Fai (Parade dance) and a Beautiful Bung Fai float such as Yasothon the third weekend of May, and continues Suwannaphum District, Roi Et on the first weekend of June, Phanom Phrai District Roi Et during the full moon of the seventh month in Lunar year's calendar each year. The Bung Fai festival is not only found in Isan or Northeasthern Thailand and North Thailand and Laos, but also in Amphoe Sukhirin, Narathiwat.

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A report from Andy Jarosz from BBC Travel about his day trekking to the remote 100 waterfalls in Nong Khiaw 10 years ago (in 2012). The experience that you cannot miss when visiting the area. Check out the details as below so that you have some ideas of what to expect.

In the last four years, the rural village of Nong Khiaw has seen a steady stream of adventure travellers who want to experience the 10km trek before it disappears.

Strictly speaking, the name of the 100 Waterfalls Trek in northern Laos is misleading, since it is impossible to say how many waterfalls tumble through the thick jungle along the steady 10km ascent, with each one tumbling immediately into the next.

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