Nam Et Phou Louey view

Northern Laos Explorer

Trip code
NLE001

If you’re fascinated by the ancient wisdom of mountain and jungle folk, come and explore northern Laos with us.

Bookended by Vientiane and Luang Prabang, we’ve built this trip to take you into the most remote villages, dense jungles and secret caves. It’s off the beaten track in an already little-travelled country, a place where ethnic minorities are steadfast in their traditions. Hankering for something a bit different? Tell us! We can mix and match destinations and activities to suit you.

Pricing

Price based on 3* accommodation
From
$3,800
pp
Price based on 4* accommodation
From
$4,300
pp

Key facts

13 nights/14 days
Guided tours of Luang Prabang and Vientiane: see the monk alms giving, tour the museums and temples, tuck into Lao barbecue at Vientiane’s night market
Get to grips with Lao history at the curious Plain of Jars
Meet retired elephants and take a night-time river safari through the Nam Et Phou Louey National Protected Area
Explore the landscape on a Mekong sunset cruise, kayaking down the Nam Ou River, trips to Vieng Xai Caves, ethnic minority villages near Muang La and Kuang Si Waterfall
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DAY 12-14 MEKONG DELTA DAY 9-11 HO CHI MINH CITY DAY 7-8 HUE DAY 5-6 HOI AN DAY 3-4 LAN HA BAY DAY 1-2 HANOI DAY 2-3 PHONSAVAN DAY 4-5 SAM NEUA DAY 1 VIENTIANE DAY 11-14 LUANG PRABANG DAY 9-10 MUANG LA DAY 6 NAM ET PHOU LOUEY NPA DAY 7-8 NONG KHIAW
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DAY 2-3 PHONSAVAN DAY 4-5 SAM NEUA DAY 1 VIENTIANE DAY 11-14 LUANG PRABANG DAY 9-10 MUANG LA DAY 6 NAM ET PHOU LOUEY NPA DAY 7-8 NONG KHIAW

The journeys are all part of the adventure in rural Laos. Most are by car transfer including four drives of three to six hours through dramatic mountain scenery. You’ll break up the long stretches with plenty of stops in interesting villages and viewpoints. There’s also one short domestic flight, and three boat transfers of two to five hours.

What's great

With a blend of history, culture, wildlife and outdoors activities, this is an amazing trip to experience Laos from every angle

In northern Laos, ethnic minorities are the majority. We’ve designed this trip to take you to remote Hmong, Khmu and Ikhor villages where you can learn about customs and traditions unchanged for generations

Few visitors venture north of Luang Prabang, but you’ll be rewarded with staggering scenery from jungles and grassy plains, to karst mountains and meandering rivers

Things to consider

Accommodation options are limited in rural areas so expect a warm welcome, but fairly basic facilities

As you'd expect, reaching isolated villages and remote wilderness involves some bumpy and winding roads!

We've included some fantastic hiking and kayaking that requires a good level of fitness. If this is not for you, let us know and we’ll tailor to suit you

The experience

We don’t work to a script. All our holidays are completely customisable, so talk to us about your dream Laos adventure and our experts will design a bespoke itinerary just for you.

Day 1

Vientiane

Welcome to Vientiane, the capital of Laos. Get stuck into the national cuisine on a visit to the night market, a firm favourite with the locals. We’ve handpicked your guide, who knows the best flavours and ingredients in Lao cooking. Whet your appetite with a few snacks, then sit down for sindat, a Lao barbecue for dinner. In the morning, delve into Vientiane’s history on a tour of the most beautiful temples, including the oldest, Wat Sisaket, home to thousands of miniature Buddha statues, and the former royal temple of Wat Prakeo. You’ll also climb the steps to the top of Patuxai Monument and visit the COPE exhibition centre which tackles the issues of unexploded ordnance in Laos.

Statue in Vientiane

Highlights

Tuck into a hearty Lao-style barbecue at a popular local restaurant

Explore Wat Prakeo, the former royal temple, and the Buddhas of Wat Sisaket

Visit the moving COPE centre dedicated to UXO victims

Temple in Vientiane

Day 2-3

Phonsavan

A short flight from Vientiane will bring you to Phonsavan, aka the Plain of Jars. Amid green rolling hills on a wide-open plateau, you’ll find a huge archaeological site littered with 2,000-year-old stone jars, up to 4 metres tall, part of an ancient burial practice. Sadly, during the US-Vietnam War, Laos earned the dubious distinction of the world’s most heavily bombed country per capita, and this corner of the country was especially affected. At the Mines Action Group office, you’ll learn how they’re slowly restoring safety to large swathes of countryside. You’ll also meet students studying English who are eager to talk to you about their hometown and life in rural Laos.

Plain of Jars

Highlights

Discover the myths and legends surrounding the Plain of Jars

Learn how Mines Action Groups are tackling landmines in the region

Meet students from the Lone Buffalo Foundation, a UK-registered charity project

Plain of Jars

The finer detail

  • Breakfast every day
  • Five lunches; one in Nam Et Phou Louey NPA; one picnic lunch in Nong Khiaw; one picnic lunch on the boat to Muang La; one picnic lunch whilst trekking through villages; one at the MandaLao Elephant Sanctuary
  • Two dinners: street food tour in Vientiane; one in Nam Et Phou Louey NPA
  • Three full-day experiences: a visit to Plain of Jars sites 2 & 3, as well as a nearby community project; kayaking and hiking in Nong Khiaw; hike through ethnic minority villages in Muang La
  • Six half-day experiences; city tour of Vientiane; a visit to Plain of Jars site 1; the Vieng Xai Caves; picnic breakfast at the Kuang Si waterfalls; Luang Prabang city tour; MandaLao elephant sanctuary
  • Two evening experiences: street food tour in Vientiane; sunset cruise on the Mekong River
  • Overnight stay in Nam Et Phou Louey National Protected Area including jungle based activities
  • All entrance fees to sites included in guided experiences
  • All internal transport & accommodation

Day 1:
Car transfer from Vientiane Airport to hotel (15 minutes)

Day 2:
Flight from Vientiane to Phonsavan (30 minutes)

Day 4:
Car transfer from Phonsavan to Sam Neua (6 hours)

Day 6:
Car transfer & boat from Sam Neua to Nam Et (3 hours & 2 hours)

Day 7:
Boat & car transfer from Nam Et to Nong Khiaw (2 hours & 5 hours)

Day 9:
Boat & car transfer from Nong Khiaw to Muang La (5 hours & 1.5 hours)

Day 11:
Car transfer from Muang La to Luang Prabang (5 hours)

Day 14:
Car transfer from hotel to Luang Prabang Airport (15 minutes)

  • Visas
  • International flights
  • Meals not mentioned
  • Entrance fees to any sites not included in guided experiences
  • Tips for guides & porters