Laos: The Wild North in 7 Days

An adventurous loop in northern Laos. On this overland trip in the landlocked country of Laos, travelers take in wildlife, Lao revolutionary history, stunning karst landscapes, and ancient jars.

Example itinerary for travelers to Laos:

Vientiane – Xieng Khouang – Sam Neua – Viengsay – Viengthong – Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area – Nong Khiew – Luang Prabang

Day 1 | Vientiane – Xieng Khouang

Transfer to the airport for your flight to Xieng Khouang. We travel to the Plain of Jars, an impressive archeological site where hundreds of large stone jars are littered all over the plateau. No one really knows who carved these impressive artifacts or how they got here. Also take time along the way to visit a village working to improve themselves in light of the war. Using scrap metal from exploded bombs, villagers make spoons and bracelets to sell.

Late this afternoon we visit The Lone Buffalo Foundation. This special project offers young people free English courses, taught by a native speaker. In addition to those, students are given the opportunity to develop computer skills and participate in physical activities, promoting the Lone Buffalo Foundation’s philosophy of encouraging English study through sport. Meeting foreigners (with different accents!) to practice English is a special event for students and helps to overcome their shyness of speaking in public.

things to do at Plain of Jar, Laos

What to do with Menhir, stand stone, Laos

Day 2 | Xieng Khouang – Sam Neua

After breakfast, visit the Mulberries project, working to improve sericulture and support women by training them in creating high-quality silk handicrafts and giving them a steady income. Visit Thampiu Cave, the scene of a tragic loss of a huge number of lives during the Indochina War. We 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, we arrive in Sam Neua.

Day 3 | Sam Neua – Viengsay – Viengthong

Today after a leisurely breakfast, take a walk through the morning market along the Xam River. See the interesting produce available. Then transfer with your guide to Viengsay. Marvel at the amazing karst landscape in the middle of town! Visit the Information Center near the guesthouse to learn more about the interesting historical significance of the area during the Indochina War. With the help of a local guide and an audio tour, travel 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, our jumping off point for an expedition into nature.

Things to do at Nam Nern river, Laos

990 Tiger

Day 4 | Viengthong – Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area

You will be picked up at 8 AM to start your two day/one night expedition in Nam Et/Phou Louey NPA (National Protected Area).

We will drive about 1.5 hours along a winding road through lovely forested, mountainous landscapes before we arrive in Son Koua Village, an ethnic Khmu village were we will be welcomed by the village guide and boatmen.

Travelers learn about the animist tradition of appeasing the village spirit and embark on a 1.5-hour journey to the park substation on the Nam Nern River by long-tail boat. Along the way we learn about upland rice cultivation and might even spot monitor lizards and bird life.

At mid-afternoon, we depart for the night safari. The local guide, a skilled hunter and tracker, explains how local people track deer and other wild ungulates. The boats continue upriver to the dinner site, a sandy, flat bank, where you will enjoy a picnic around a campfire. After dinner, the guides tell Khmu folktales and stories about dragons, wildlife, and ghosts. Animals that may be seen include Sambar deer, otters, barking deer, various species of civets, slow loris, porcupine and owls. At the end of the night safari, the boats arrive at the evening camp.

Things to do at Nong Khiaw Nam Ou MEditation, Laos

Day 5 | Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area – Nong Khiew

After waking up the guide takes you on a walk around the jungle, teaching about the use of medicinal plants and explaining the history of the site, which was once a major settlement during the Indochina War. Board your van and continue on to Nong Khiew, arriving in the late afternoon.

Day 6 | Nong Khiew

We leave Nong Khiaw at 8:30am and cruise up the river via a traditional long boat. Along the way we stop off 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 we turn around and return back downstream to Muang Ngoi. Upon arrival we take some time to have a break and a coffee before heading off on a small trek, which takes us through some gorgeous scenery consisting of limestone cliffs, mountains and rice paddy fields.

Along the trek we visit a historical cave, which was used as bomb shelter by the Laotians during the second Indochina war. Upon returning back to Muang Ngoi we board our boat for the cruise back down the river whilst watching the beautiful sunset over Nong Khiaw, arriving back just before dark.

Day 7 | Nong Khiew – Luang Prabang

After breakfast, meet your guide and board the van for a drive south towards the UNESCO World Heritage town of Luang Prabang.

For booking requests or more information regarding the route and sights on this seven-day travel itinerary in Northern Laos, please fill out the contact form below.

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