Pack your bags and get ready to get truly off the beaten path on a week-long exploration of rural North Eastern Laos. The journey begins with a visit to the impressive and mysterious Plain of Jars archaeological site before experiencing Thampiu's caves, Sam Neua's villages, the beauty of the Xam river, and a night safari adventure in a remote national park. Finish your trip exploring Nong Khiaw, followed by a final transfer ending in Luang Prabang. Get ready for the trip of a lifetime!
*Due to the remote nature of this routing, accommodations will include local homestays.
Today, you will be picked up at the airport in Xieng Khuang and travel to the Plain of Jars - an impressive archaeological site where hundreds of large stone jars are littered all over the plateau. The creators of these artifacts and how they came to be here are mysteries. Along the way, you'll have a chance to visit a village working to improve themselves after the war - using scrap metal from exploded bombs, villagers make spoons and bracelets to sell.
Later this afternoon, you'll visit the Lone Buffalo Foundation. This special project offers young people free English courses taught by a native speaker. In addition to English, students are given the chance to develop computer skills and participate in physical activities, promoting the Lone Buffalo Foundation's philosophy of an integrated and holistic approach to language development. Meeting foreigners with different accents to practice English is a special event for students and helps them overcome their fear and shyness of speaking publicly. (This service is on a private basis.)
Your journey through Northern Laos will continue today with stops along the way. First, you will visit the Mulberries Project, working to improve sericulture and support women by training them in creating high-quality silk handicrafts and providing a steady income. Next, you will make a stop at the Thampiu Cave, which was a tragic scene of numerous lives lost during the Indochina War. Afterward, you will continue on to the mysterious menhirs (standing stones) at Hintang. No one is quite sure who built them or why, perhaps burial sites or markers of some sort. The stones were first inconclusively studied by the archaeologist Madame Colani and her expedition in the 1930s. In the early evening, you will arrive in Sam Neua for your stay at a local guesthouse. (This service is on a private basis.)
This morning after a leisurely breakfast you will enjoy a lovely stroll through the morning market along the Xam River. you will have some time to peruse through the interesting products available before your onward transfer to Viengsay. The karst landscape in the middle of town is truly a sight! Marvel at the amazing topography and make a visit to the Information Center near the guesthouse to learn more about the interesting historical significance of the area during the Indochina War. Your local guide will show you around town before you head over to some of the nearby caves to see how the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party lived during the war. In the afternoon, transfer west to Viengthong, your jumping off point for an expedition into nature. (This service is on a private basis.)
This morning, you will be driven about 1.5 hours along a winding road through lovely forested, mountainous landscapes before arriving in Son Koua Village. This people of this ethnic Khmu village practice animist traditions and live in harmony with local spirits. They serve as the guides and boatmen for the night walk. After lunch in the village, you will journey by long tail boat to the Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area (NEPL NPA). Along the way, there will be an opportunity to learn about upland rice cultivation and spot monitor lizards and bird life.
This national park in northern Laos is co-managed with local communities for ecological conservation and sustainable agriculture, the right place for this eco-travel initiative. The local guide, a skilled hunter and animal tracker, will explain how local Lao people track deer and other wild animals during a hike into the jungle. Ecotourism initiatives as well as traveler’s interest in watching wildlife now provide financial compensation for local Lao village people to conserve these resources rather than practice slash and burn farming and market hunting.
The boats continue upriver to reach a campfire on a flat, sandy bank where you will enjoy a picnic dinner. Around the campfire, the guides tell Khmu folktales about dragons, wildlife, and ghosts. Under the moonlit sky, you will return to the boats and float down the river with engines off so as not to disturb the nocturnal animals. Wildlife that may be seen include Sambar deer, otters, barking deer, various species of cat-like civets, slow loris, porcupine, and owls. (This service is on a group basis.)
Early this morning before breakfast, local guides take you on a walk around the jungle, teaching about the use of some 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 through the core zone at a relaxing pace with engines off, while the guides point out wildlife along the way.
Upon arrival in the village, you are invited to fill out a wildlife monitoring form that is used to monitor wildlife abundance and indicate the number of bonuses put into the village development fund from the tour costs (There is no extra fee if you are so lucky to see a tiger.) (This service is on a group basis.)
Around 8:30 AM this morning you will depart from your homestay to enjoy a full day river cruise tour in a traditional longtail boat. Today's journey will include stops to visit several different ethnic villages. One of the villages is famous for its traditional Lao silk and cotton weaving. After spending some time in the village you will turn around and head downstream to Muang Ngoi. Upon arrival, you will have a break and some coffee before heading off on a small hike, which will take you through some gorgeous scenery consisting of limestone cliffs, mountains, and rice paddy fields.
Along the trek, you will visit a historical cave, which was used as a bomb shelter by the Laotians during the second Indochina war. Once you have returned to Muang Ngoi, you will board your boat for a lovely cruise back down the river whilst watching the beautiful sunset over Nong Khiaw, arriving back just before dark. (This service is on a private basis.)
Today after breakfast, meet your guide and board the van for the drive south to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Luang Prabang. Upon arrival, you'll be transferred to your hotel.
Perched on top of a hill in Phonsavan, Xieng Khouang, Vansana Plain of Jars Hotel offers great 360-degree views of Phonsavan town and the surrounding fields and mountains. Quiet and peaceful, this popular property not only boasts an excellent views from your private balcony or the restaurant, but also comfortable guest rooms, experienced friendly staff and a free shuttle bus to drop you into Phonsavan at your request.
Enjoy the unique opportunity to spend the night in a traditional house with a local family. This extraordinary cultural experience reveals an authentic world usually never seen by travelers. Immerse yourself in the community, truly get to know the people, and see how they live their day to day lives.
Opened in 2009, the Nam Nern Night Safari is a 24-hour boat-based tour into the core of the NEPL NPA. The trip involves night-time wildlife spotlighting: long-tail boats drift down the Nam Nern River looking for wild and endangered animals. Additional nature activities during the tour include bird watching, wildlife tracking, and a short morning hike. Visitors to the Night Safari stay overnight in traditional Lao bungalows built and managed by the community. This innovative and adventurous journey is not only one of the few opportunities in Laos to view rare wildlife, but the trip is designed to support alternative livelihoods for local people and generate community support for conservation of tigers and other wildlife.
*Pricing is based on two persons traveling together, based on availability, subject to change.
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