Luang Prabang and nearby 5 days

posted Aug 11, 2014, 2:15 AM by Mickey Dong Hoang Thinh   [ updated May 14, 2015, 8:53 PM by Vietnam Travel Tour ]
Day 1 : Luang Prabang - Muangla
Depart Luang Prabang in the morning and journey north heading towards the remote province of Oudomxai. Expect a total journey time of approximately 6 hours, including stopping for a picnic lunch along the way. The road may be a little bumpy here but you will pass through all sorts of dramatic scenery to keep you entertained. You can stop whenever you wish to, for photo opportunities. 
This northern region of Laos is very mountainous and very green with rice paddies and plantations dividing areas of thick jungle. You will encounter various tribes on the trip. Even on this first day’s journey you will pass some villages perched precariously on steep mountainsides, and valleys carved out by ancient rivers. 
You will pass through the provincial capital Oudomxai. Once a very sleepy town, 
it has become an important trading hub and shows the changes which are happening rapidly in the region. This marks the final leg of the journey. Away from the busy town and into unspoiled nature, the contrast highlights just how special these experiences in the remaining wilderness are. 
Arrive in the Muangla Resort late afternoon for an overnight stay. Check-in, relax and enjoy the river. Facilities include a spa, sauna and steam room (it does get cold in the evening here, especially November – February). The resort is built next to a natural hot spring and a small pool is filled every evening with water from the hot spring. Evenings are a real treat here with 5 course set menus combining Asian and European influences, to be enjoyed by candle light with the sound of nature. 

Day 2 : Muangla Trekking - Phonsavanh 
This full day tour includes approximately 5 hours of walking and a transfer of approximately 50 minutes. 
After breakfast, you will be driven for around 25 minutes by 4WD following the Nam Pak river, before taking the small mountain road overlooking the Nam Kor river, to the start point of the trek, which takes you along a narrow mountain trail through the lush forest. 
Arrive at the Khmu village of Houay Ho where life flows at a relaxed pace. 
Your guide will answer any questions you may have, and explain about the life of the village. Interesting topics include their animist beliefs and ceremonies as well as the different tools they use in the field around the village. 
You set off from the villages following a natural trail, climbing from the river alongside a mountain stream which feeds into it, passing through a rice field and reaching the Lao Loum village of Ban Phong Savannah, which sits at the heart of a beautiful little valley, in time for a well-deserved picnic lunch in the lush country side of northern Laos. 
After lunch, you follow a mountain trail overlooking magnificent scenery and pass through farms in the heart of the local countryside, with some breathtaking panoramic views. Your guide will take the time to explain how the local people use the plants and herbs of the forest to feed and sometimes heal themselves, using the medicinal properties of the local flora. 
Continue your trek, crossing a small bamboo bridge as you descend to the Yang villages of Long Ya. You will learn about the peaceful life of the villages interspersed with various communal activities, such as drying herbs and vegetables, setting animal traps and preparing their meals using the local products. The village is well known for the production of rice alcohol ("Lao Lao") and also houses a small Buddhist temple. 
A further 2 kilometers takes you to the hidden temple of Wat Hoy Thin Pra Bath
which houses a 35meters long reclining statue of Buddha. Numerous effigies and symbols glorifying Buddha can be found in the central temple which also contains a footprint of Buddha embedded in stone. The temple is in complete harmony with its surroundings and exudes serenity. 
Leave the village following a dirt road along the river Houay Ya and enjoy the stunning mountain scenery before you arrive back at the resort in the late afternoon for a well-deserved rest. Dinner and overnight in Muang La resort. 

Day 3 : Maung La - meet the ethnic groups of northern Laos 
This full day tour includes no real trekking, only walking through and between villages. Travelling by 4WD is the only way to cover enough ground and climb the steep mountains in order to reach the most untouched and fascinating villages in the region. Speak to your guide to check if there are any special markets or festivals happening today, as the itinerary can sometimes be flexible. 
Set off after breakfast to visit an entirely isolated Ikhos village. This ethnic group originates from Tibet and Yunnan and these villagers have seen very few foreigners. You may notice a different atmosphere here compared to other villages which are more used to seeing visitors. Your guide can teach you about the daily life of the villagers and how they still follow ancient customs passed down through the centuries. At more than 1,000 m above sea level, the views are magnificent, making it a great picnic spot. 
After lunch, you leave the village, walking for approximately 45 minutes to the Hmong village of Ban Tauser. The remote route to the village takes you to a viewpoint with a stunning 360 degree panorama. The Hmong originate in the high steppes of Tibet and you will learn about their way of life, including the great importance of their livestock. 
Return to the resort at the end of the day. Dinner and overnight in Muang La Resort. 

Day 4 : Muang La - Muang Khua - Nong Khiaw 
After breakfast, you will be driven approximately 2 hours to Muang Khua , a small town on the banks of the Nam Ou river, where you will board a private longtail boat for a cruise down one of the most beautiful stretches of river in Laos. Compared to the Mekong, the Nam Ou is considered more dramatic and wild, and has far less traffic. 
Enjoy a picnic lunch along the way and spot various local villages as you cruise downstream. 
In the late afternoon you will reach your destination of Nong Khiaw, famed for the dramatic limestone mountains which surround it. Disembark and check in to the accommodation on the banks of the Nam Ou river. 
Enjoy some leisure time and don't miss sunset from your balcony. Overnight in Nong Khiaw. (www.Nong Kiau Riverside Eco Lodge.com) 

Day 5 : Nong Khiaw - Luang Prabang by boat via Pak Ou caves
After breakfast travel down the Nam Ou river by private boat on your way to Luang Prabang. As your cruise down the river, watch the local fishermen and the lifestyles of the riverside residents. The cruise down the spectacular Nam Ou river will take roughly 3.5 hours and you will enjoy a picnic lunch along the way. 
Stop for a visit to the mysterious Pak Ou caves, at the confluence of the Nam Ou and Mekong rivers. Locally referred to as Tam Ting, these two caves are carved out of towering limestone cliffs and contain thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues. 
Continue downstream for another 2 hours to Luang Prabang with the option to stop at a local village along the way (discuss with your guide). 
You will be met at the boat pier in Luang Prabang for a private transfer to your hotel, or the airport. 
Note there is an option to drive from Nong Khiaw to Luang Prabang taking approximately 2.5 hours but this does not allow a stop at the Pak Ou caves.