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Phongsaly Loop In Depth - 9 Days / 8 Nights
Phongsaly Loop In Depth - 9 Days / 8 Nights

Phongsaly Loop In Depth - 9 Days / 8 Nights

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Luang Prabang - Pakbeng - Muang La - Phongsaly - Muang Khua - Nong Khiaw


While it is possible to experience the wonders of the Phongsaly Loop in Northern Laos in just a few days, it pays to linger a little along the way. The route is one of Southeast Asia’s true epics – a riot of spectacular mountain scenery, deep river valleys and a mosaic of ethnicities steeped in tradition – and it offers up a host of possibilities along its way. These range from elephant camps and luxurious hideaways centered upon hot springs, to colorful hill-tribe markets and encounters with friendly locals. The latter is undoubtedly a standout highlight of the itinerary. Northern Laos is a melting pot of ethnicities and the mountains of the area are home to H’mong, Ikhos and many others. With unforgettable vistas and spectacular scenery along the Mekong and Nam Ou rivers to be found along the way, the Phongsaly Loop is one of the jewels in Laos’s crown.

Day 1 - Luang Prabang - Arrival

Arrive in Luang Prabang. Your guide and private car will meet you and transfer you to your hotel for check-in. Welcome to the spiritual capital of Laos!

Enjoy free time at leisure or may like to take a walk around the town.

Overnight in Luang Prabang

 

Distance and journey time:

Luang Prabang Airport – Luang Prabang (4 km): 15 min

Day 2 - Luang Prabang - Pakbeng (B,L,D)

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After breakfast, you will leave for a cruise on the mighty Mekong River to reach the small town of Pakbeng.

You will stop en route to have lunch in a local village alongside the river.

You should arrive in Pakbeng around 2pm. At halfway between Houay Xay and Luang Prabang Pakbeng is an ideal stop for slow boats on their way to Luang Prabang. The town is built with wooden houses along a steep street on the hillside and has a tranquil laid back vibe.

The rest of the day is free at leisure.

Relax and watch the sunset along the Mekong from your balcony.

Dinner and overnight at Pakbeng

 

Distance and journey time:

Luang Prabang – Pakbeng by boat (130 km): 5 hours

Day 3 - Pakbeng - Elephant Camp - Muang La (B,L)

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For early risers visit the morning market where residents of the nearby villages and hill tribes gather to buy and exchange their goods.

After breakfast, take a long boat and cross the river to reach the elephant camp located at the opposite side of the Lodge.

Upon arrival you will get an introductory tour of the camp. Your guide will teach you about elephants and how this camp is trying to protect the animals while educating the visitors. Then you will participate at the elephant’s daily bath which lasts about 30 minutes. The camp's pool is designed to allow all 8 elephants to bathe at the same time.

After the elephant bath, you will assist to the elephant show during 30 minutes. It will show you the strong relation that exists between an elephant and his mahout.

Then, you will take the boat to return to the lodge, where you will enjoy a delicious lunch.

After lunch at the lodge, you will leave for Muang La. On the way, you can observe the local rural life, local markets on the side of the road, clear views on corn and banana plantations and amazing views over the mountains.

You will pass through the provincial capital, Oudomxay. Once a very sleepy town, this has become an important trading hub and shows the changes which are happening rapidly in the region. This makes the final leg of the journey, away from the busy town and in to unspoiled nature, all the more exciting. The contrast also highlights just how special the experiences are in the remaining wilderness.

Arrive at Muang La Resort in the late afternoon. Check in, relax and enjoy the views. Facilities include a spa, sauna and steam room (it does get cold in the evenings here, especially November – March). The resort is built next to a natural hot spring and they fill a small pool 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 sounds of nature.

Dinner and overnight in Muang La Resort

 

Distance and journey time:

Pakbeng – Muang La Resort: 4-5 hours

Day 4 - Muang La - Reclining Buddhe Trek (B,L,D)

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After breakfast, you will leave The Resort and make a short journey of around 30 minutes, which follows the course of the River Nam Pak and then a hillside road in along a hidden valley. You will arrive in the Lao Loum village – Phongsavan; the starting point of your walk through the lush vegetation of northern Laos. You will follow a mountain trail for around 30 minutes which takes you from the banks of the river to the top of the hills and continue on following a mountain stream and climb to the heart of the rice fields. Your path overlooks the mountain scenery and local farms and your guide will explain the daily life of the local villagers; how they use the plants, herbs and trees of the forest to feed themselves and in some cases, heal themselves using the medicinal properties of the different flora.

You will continue on crossing small bamboo bridges and reach the Yang village of Long Ya. Another 2 kilometers brings you to the hidden monastery – Wat Hoytinphabath, which houses a 35m long reclining Buddha. Numerous effigies and symbols glorifying Buddha can be found in the central temple which also contains footprints of Buddha embedded in stone. The temple is completely in harmony with its surroundings and exudes an inspiring serenity.

Return to the Resort to enjoy lunch.

The afternoon is free at leisure to discover the surroundings by yourself or enjoy the pool.

Dinner and overnight at Muang La Resort

 

Day 5 - Muang La - Phongsaly (B,L,D)

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After breakfast, you will depart for Phongsaly. The road is in good condition and at mountains’ slope. You will see beautiful landscapes, banana plantations, local rural life in the villages that bordes the road and panoramic views over the surrounding mountains. You can ask your guide to stop whenever you want to take pictures on the way.

You will stop at Ban Bountai around 12:30 and enjoy a delicious picnic lunch. You can also visit the local market.

Continue to Phongsaly for about 4 hours. You will arrive around 16:30 and check-in at your hotel. Phou Fa Hotel is the former Chinese consulate and the best hotel in town.

Then, your guide will accompany you for a walk through the streets of Phongsaly. The charm of the town is made by the narrow paved streets borded by traditional Chinese houses in wood. Your guide will explain you more about the history and culture of this multicultural city and the harmony that reigns between Lao people and Chinese immigrants.

You will also visit a Chinese temple where you can enjoy a nice view over a small pond and Phongsaly. Then walk to the quiet Wat Keo, where the monks are playing petanque or football in the evening.

After your tour, you will enjoy dinner in a local restaurant.

Overnight in Phongsaly

 

Distance and journey time:

Muang La Resort – Phongsaly: 6-7 hours

 

Day 6 - Phongsaly - Multiple Tribe Trek (B,L)

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After breakfast, you will be driven to Bountai and meet your local guide for the day. Then, transfer to Ban Aya, the village where you will start your trekking. Ban Aya is a Hmong tribe village. After the visit of the village and its people, your local guide will lead you trek through the amazing jungle and green rice fields. On the way, you will enjoy seeing wonderful landscapes of the mountainous area.

Stop en route to enjoy a typical Lao picnic lunch.

After lunch, you will descend to Ban Aneng, another Hmong village located in a lower area. Explore the village and learn more about their cultures and traditions.

You will then visit some other tribal villages of Akha Mouchee, Tai Yag, Laopan and Tai Yue, before going back to Bountai by private car.

Transfer back to your hotel in Phongsaly. The rest of the day is free at leisure.

Overnight in Phongsaly

 

Distance and journey time:

Boun Neua – Phongsaly (42 km): 1 hour

Trek: 4-5 hours – Level: easy to moderate

Day 7 - Phongsaly - 400 years old Tea Plantation - Muang Khua (B,D)

After breakfast in town, you will to the famous 400-year-old tea plantation, located in the village of Ban Komaen, about 30 minutes south from Phongsaly.

According to some tea experts, this village has some of the oldest tea trees in the world. The large root system of the old trees extends deep into the mineral-rich soil and gives ‘Phongsaly Tea’ its specific aroma and taste. The oldest trees stand 6 m high with a stem up to 30 cm in diameter. There are regularly cut and kept to a reasonable size by Phunoy people, climbing to pick the precious leaves. They then process and sell this rare tea in cigar-shaped tubes.
The road to Ban Komaen is passing through more recent tea plantations and offers a stunning view on Phongsaly and surrounding mountains. In the village a newly built tea-tasting shop serves some food and sells the 400-year-old tea. You can also have a look to the temple and its characteristic Buddha statue with big ears.
After the visit, you will drive to Muang Khua for about 4 hours.

Stop en route to have lunch in a local restaurant (not included).

Arrival in Muang Khua and check-in at your hotel.

A dinner is included at Sayphoun restaurant, which has a nice view over Nam Ou River.

Overnight in Muang Khua

 

Distance and journey time:

Phongsali – Ban Komaen: 30 min

Ban Komaen – Muang Khua: 4 hours

 

Day 8 - Muang Khua ? Nong Khiaw (B)

After breakfast at Sayphoun restaurant, you will board a private long tail boat for a cruise down one of the most scenically beautiful stretches of river in Laos. Compared to the Mekong, the Nam Ou is considered more dramatic and wild and also 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 your accommodation on the banks of the Nam Ou River.

For the most adventurous, take a short walk down over a bridge before beginning the hike up Phou Pha Deang mountain. The trek will take you around two hours to reach the peak however once there you are rewarded with some truly stunning views! You will rest for a while before starting the descent back down to Nong Khiaw.

Enjoy some time at leisure and don’t miss sunset over the river from your balcony.

Overnight in Nong Khiaw

 

Distance and journey time:

Muang Khua – Nong Khiaw by boat: 5 hours

Trekking: about 3 hours – Level: intermediate

Day 9 - Nong Khiaw - Luang Prabang (B)

After breakfast, your guide and private driver will transfer you back to Luang Prabang, taking approximately 2.5 hours.

A transfer to the airport is included for your onward flight.

 

Distance and journey time:

Nong Khiaw – Luang Prabang (134 km): 2,5-3 hours

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please note that the accommodation in Phongsaly is standard and the touristic infrastructures in the North of Laos are not well developed. Therefore we do not recommend this tour for older people or disabled people.

Tour Duration: 9 Days / 8 Nights
Tour Operates: Year Round/On Demand
Tour Price: Available Upon Request

Rates vary frequently. Please contact us to get the best possible price based upon your travel period and specific touring needs


Our Services Include:

  • Hotel accommodation in shared twin/double room with daily breakfast.
  • Meals as mentioned in the itinerary (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner).
  • Tours and transfers by private air-conditioned vehicles.
  • English speaking local guide (for other languages supplements apply)
  • All entrance fees as indicated in itinerary.

Our Services do not Include:

  • International and domestic flights (quoted separately).
  • Meals other than mentioned above.
  • Camera/video entrance fees.
  • Personal expenses
  • Travel insurance, tips, visa
  • Other services not clearly indicated in the package inclusions above.

 

Creating Unique Touring Experiences

All the touring itineraries on this website have been carefully crafted by our in-country management teams and represent a series of experiences we can certainly recommend. However, we understand that every travel experience should be as unique and individual as each traveler. Our consultants are waiting to hear from you so that we can tailor or custom design a Laos tour to your individual specifications.


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icon-quote-l  Many thanks for the organization of this beautiful trip and all the good recommendations from your side!  icon-quote-r

Kerstin and Camille

Exo Foundation

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