Trekking Secrets of the Northeast

8 Days, 7 Nights

Trek across the Phu Sang, a superb mountain range in southern Phongsaly. Encounter ethnic minorities and immerse yourself into the daily life of O’Pa, a fascinating sub-group of the ethnic Akhas. Cruise downstream the scenic Nam Ou River, surrounded by karstic peaks. Indulge in Luang Prabang, a blend of Lao and French cultural heritage.

Trip Highlights

  • Hike through the hills of remote Northern Laos, meeting local tribes and experiencing stunning views along the way
  • Immerse yourself into the daily life of the O'pa tribes where few travelers venture
  • Take in mystical views of karstic peaks rising from the waters as you navigate your way down the mythic Nam Ou River
Price
$1950 USD per person
Trip Activities
Trekking
Trip Length
8 Days, 7 Nights
Physical Level
Casual
Start/End
Luang Prabang, Laos
Accommodation
Homestay (3 nights)
Guesthouse (1 night)
Hotel (1 night)
Age
Minimum 16 years of age
Meals not included
Lunch, Breakfast Day 1
Lunch, Dinner Day 8
Flights Included
None

Day-by-day Itinerary

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Day 1
Arrival in Luang Prabang
Activities
None
Transfers
None
Description

When you arrive in Luang Prabang, a car will be waiting for your transfer to the hotel. In the afternoon, we will have an orientation walk in Luang Prabang Old Quarter, which contains a beautiful blend of French colonial buildings and Lao architecture. This charming town is wedged between the Mekong River and its tributary, the Nam Khan River. Explore the rich culture and history of Luang Prabang. You'll have the opportunity to visit temples, the National Museum (former Royal Palace) and explore hidden laneways. We will then enjoy a welcome dinner at Sonphao restaurant, complete with a traditional dance show featuring ethnic dress.

Meals
  • Dinner
Accommodation
None
Day 2
Luang Prabang to Muang La
Activities
None
Transfers
  • Van: 5
Description

In the early morning, we will head to the old quarter of Luang Prabang. As the sun begins to rise, orange-robed monks walk down the streets to collect offerings. After breakfast at the hotel, we depart for Muang La, a district of Oudomxay Province. We will take a drive along the Nam Beng River, passing through diverse mountainous landscapes, rice fields and hamlets of the Khmu and the Hmong.

In the early afternoon, we will arrive in Muang La and settle into a local guesthouse. After a short rest, we will discover the rural life of the village of Pak La. Stroll through the tiny village to admire the panoramic views over the Nam Pak River, beautiful rice terraces and the salt mines. The site at Muang La is dominated by the temple of Pha Chiao Sing Kham, which houses a sacred Buddha. According to those responsible for its protection, the statue simply appeared hundreds of years ago; now the temple has become a sacred place of pilgrimage.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
None
Day 3
Muang La to Ban Sanam
Activities
  • Trekking: 5 hours
Transfers
  • Van: 3
Description

This morning, we will drive to the North in the direction of the Nam Ly, to embark on a 4 day, 3 night trek through the northern heart of the Phu Sang. Note: depending on actual weather conditions, we may have to replace the below detailed trek with a revised itinerary located on the southern slopes of the Phu Sang.

We will commence the hike on a track rising along banana plantations toward the edge of the Nam Ly forest. Still preserved and wild, this forest is the seasonal habitat of a herd of twenty elephants, and covers the eastern foothills of the Phu Sang Mountains. Cross the wild jungle in an hour, and take in the view of combes and domes covered with glorious vegetation. To the north, the landscape offers an unobstructed view on the Phu Sang summits. Continue the hike on the track bordered by burnt land and bamboo forests. Pass through the Pouly village of Nam Muong, then walk at the trough of the valley with slopes covered by slash-and-burn crops.

At the end of the day, arrive at Ban Sanam, a tiny Khmu village with only forty households.

Note: clients should bring their own inflating/camping mattresses and sleeping bags. Dormitory, no electricity, hot water - only natural shower with a basin and outside natural toilet. Basic conditions.

Meals
  • Dinner, Lunch, Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Ban Sanam
Day 4
Ban Sanam to Ya Pa
Activities
  • Trekking: 5 hours
Transfers
None
Description

This morning, we will trek down to Ban Sa Na, viewing Akha hamlets set along the Nam Pok River on the way. After crossing the river, we will take a steep climb of 384 m over 3.5 kms to stunning views of the Nam Pok valley. We then arrive at the O'pa village of Ban Chapilou. The trail continues toward another pass and crosses vast undergrowth, sometimes invested by O'Pa working in slash-and-burn plantations.

We will trek along the southern slopes of Phu Sang Mount, overlooking the Nam Ly valley, which leads to Ya Pa village, haven for about a hundred O'pa families located on the southeast side of Phu Sang Mount.

Tonight, you'll settle in to the village chief's house. You'll have the opportunity to interact with villagers and prepare dinner with the host family before a good nights sleep.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
  • Ya Pa
Day 5
Ya Pa to Mushi
Activities
  • Trekking: 3 hours
Transfers
None
Description

This morning, commence your hike along a track leading to the highest point of the Phu Sang range. You'll walk about two kilometers through a cirque overlooking the Nam Ly gorge and arrive in Ya Pa, a significant O'pa village. Then, you'll continue four kilometers toward the peaks, arriving at the stone road that runs along the Phu Sang summit. This road was formerly constructed by the CIA during the Vietnam War. From the ridge, you'll see spectacular views of the Phongsaly Province.

Next, we will take an hour long trek along a series of ridges that descend on the western slopes of Phu Sang Mount. You'll have unforgettable views of the mountains neighboring the Chinese border. We will arrive at a Hmông Mouchi village located on the northern slopes of an eminence. You will have the chance to explore the village and interact with locals.

Tonight, you'll settle in a Hmông Mouchi house and have free time at leisure.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
  • Mushi
Day 6
Mushi to Muong Khoa
Activities
  • Trekking: 7.5 hours
Transfers
None
Description

We will start off the morning with a long descent to the Nam Ou River through a lush forest to the Nam Ou basin. The path follows ridges in the direction of the Nam Ou River, where you'll get magnificent views of various surroundings valleys. Trek further along a wild landscape made of lush jungles on the northeastern slopes of the Katchouma-Katchouma mountain range, surrounded by plantations owned by ethnic minorities. Arrive at a newly built dam and hop on a local boat to cruise the lake. On arrival at the other side of the lake, we will return to the vehicle and drive along the Nam Ou River. We will stop for lunch in Muong Shamphan.

In the afternoon, embark on a boat and navigate downstream the Nam Ou River, along karst peaks and lush subtropical forests, until we arrive at Muang Khoa. We will have a short transfer to the guesthouse and the night will be yours to spend how you wish.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse
Day 7
Muang Khoa to Nong Khiaw
Activities
None
Transfers
None
Description

Today, further navigate down the Nam Ou River to Nong Khiaw. On the way, stop by several Lao villages, including Muang Ngoi. The village is only accessible by boat, as there are no roads leading here, to one of northern Laos’ prettiest villages. We will have a local lunch in Muang Ngoi before our next transfer.

Mid-afternoon, we will arrive in Nong Khiaw, a sleepy town. We will arrive at the hotel for check in and then you will have some time at leisure to take advantage of the resort amenities, which include a swimming pool.

In the afternoon, take a short walk to discover the town and its surroundings. You can choose to go for a massage and herbal bath at a local spa, or take a hike to witness the sunset over the valley.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
  • Hotel
Day 8
Nong Khiaw to Luang Prabang
Activities
None
Transfers
  • Van: 4
Description

This morning, we depart for Luang Prabang. We will drive along the Nam Ou River, which gives you a chance to take in the towering limestone karsts.

On arrival, transfer to Luang Prabang airport for onward international flight.

Depending on international flight schedule, a stop en-route to visit Pak Ou Caves can be arranged.

Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
None

Trip Information

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Inclusions

All tours and transfers mentioned in the itinerary

Accommodations, bed & breakfast as mentioned

All entrance fees for all sights in the itinerary

All ground transfers by private comfortable A/C vehicle

Meals as mentioned in the itinerary

Boat trips as mentioned in the itinerary

Local English Speaking Guide

Bottled water in the vehicles and drinks at meals

Exclusions

International Flights

Visa Fees

Early/Late Check-in/out when not mentioned in the itinerary

Personal Expenses (tips, drinks, …)

Travel Insurance

Peak Season surcharge