Lost in Laos: River Cruises, War Caves and Mysterious Stones

October 16, 2017 by | Filed Under: Adventure Travel, Authentic Experiences, Laos, News

Northern Laos is mountainous, remote and difficult for road travel, but the reward of exploring this rugged area is proud ethnic people, stunning landscapes and enigmatic stone-age sites.

On an itinerary we like to call Lost in Laos, Khiri Travel Laos takes your travelers out to experience the ruggedness of this corner of Southeast Asia. We can combine a visit to this remote mountainous area of northern Laos with a stopover in Luang Namtha, the Plain of Jars in Xieng Khoung Province, or en route between Hanoi and Luang Prabang.


Hidden in the limestone karst of northern Laos lay the towns of Sam Neua and Viengxay. Far from the main roads and unfrequented by visitors from the West, ethnic hill tribe people live their daily lives growing rice, washing their clothes in the river and preparing the evening meal of rice and vegetables.

After a homestay near Nong Khiew and a cruise on the Ou River, we travel overland past the calm Lao landscape to the village of Sam Neua. The road twists, turns and climbs for about 340 km. With our evening arrival, your clients will notice the distinctly cooler air, as we are almost 1000 meters above sea level. Bring a light jacket as the mornings and evenings can be chilly.

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The next morning we take a walk through the morning market along the Xam River. It’s hard to tell if the tribal costumes or the produce is more colorful. After a freshly brewed cup of Lao coffee, we depart for Viengxay and the mountain caves that were home to the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (Pathet Lao) during the Indochina War (American Vietnam War). With help of a local guide and an audio tour, we will lead your clients on an exploration of the caves and information center to learn more about the history of this proud and tragic place. Your clients can also marvel at some amazing karst topography right in the middle of town or take some time to relax at the guesthouse.

From Viengxay, we travel to Xieng Khoung with a stopover at the mysterious menhirs (standing stones) at Hintang. No one is quite sure who built them or why, perhaps they are burial sites or markers of some sort. The stones were first studied by the archaeologist Madame Colani and her expedition team in the 1930s but their origin and purpose remained inconclusive.

The next stop on our Lost in Laos itinerary is Thampiu Cave, the scene of a tragic loss of a huge number of lives during the Indochina War. In the early evening, we arrive in Xieng Khouang, the town known for the mysterious Plain of Jars. Thousands of gigantic stone jars, like coffee cups for giants, are scattered over a large area of rolling hills in this part of northern Laos. When in Xieng Khoung we also recommend a visit to two worthwhile NGOs, the Mulberries Project and the Lone Buffalo Foundation.

For more information about travel in northern Laos, please contact sales.laos@khiri.com.