Khiri Travel Insider Tips – Laos Off the Beaten Track and In Style
Give your clients insider information so that they can avoid the crowds, make discoveries and have a rewarding travel experience. Ruben Derksen, General Manager Khiri Travel Laos advices on how to combine a journey of-the-beaten path with Laos’ luxury hospitality options.
The perceived dilemma that travelers sometimes have when planning a trip is making the choice of braving very basic conditions to go off-the-beaten track versus staying in locations that can offer modern luxuries. Fifteen years ago in Laos this would have been a true dilemma. However, this laid back tourist destination has developed to the point now where tourists can travel to tropical jungles yet still relax amidst remote natural landscapes in style and comfort.
Two off-the-beaten track resorts I’d like to highlight are Pakbeng Lodge along the Mekong River and Muang La Resort in Oudomxay Province. Both resorts have stunning natural backdrops, are excellently managed, and feature delectable cuisine. They’re also actively promoting and participating in the local economy. Muang La Resort has two natural hot springs, a steam room, excellent massages, and possibly the best five-course meal I’ve ever had in Laos.
While western managed, these remote lodgings hire locals for all other positions and train them according to western hospitality standards. Muang La is a shining example of the benefits of such community-based tourism. Before the lodge was constructed there were a few poor villages in the area. A Frenchman exploring the area found the hot springs in the valley and convinced investors to fund the construction of a luxury establishment. Nowadays Muang La Resort provides construction jobs, education and training for the nearby village residents. These employment opportunities and new salaries plus purchasing locally grown produce all enable local people to improve their standard of living through tourism that directly impacts the community.
Both resorts also feature excellent day excursions that allow your travelers to intermingle with locals in their native culture. Given their remote settings, these day trips would definitely be labeled off-the-beaten track. For example, in Pakbeng, one can help bathe the elephants in the river or learn how to cook local cuisine. In Muang La, my personal favorite is to drive in a 4×4 land cruiser to 1200-meter altitudes along unsealed roads and dirt tracks to visit hill tribe villages hidden in the mountains. These ethnic people, relatively untouched by the modern world, still hunt in the forests for wild cats and other animals.
As a travel tip, these establishments and their exhilarating natural environments can best be combined with an overland entry via Chiang Rai. From there travelers can take a gentle cruise down the Mekong to Pakbeng, and a drive north in the direction of China to Muang La. From Muang La the remote backcountry travel continues with a drive to Muang Khoua and a cruise on a private boat to Nong Kiauw on what is perhaps the most scenic river in Laos. After an additional two-hour drive, the final destination is the UNESCO World Heritage Town of Luang Prabang where some incredibly lavish accommodation options await our guests.
Please contact us at [email protected] for more details on this incredible journey that brings traveling clients in touch with isolated hill tribe cultures, remote jungle and mountainous scenery without sacrificing style, comfort and modern luxuries.
General Manager, Khiri Travel Laos