Escape to the rugged, wild Phongsaly province for an unforgettable voyage. The journey is an intrepid one yet richly rewarding. Encounter exotic hill tribes living amid spectacular natural landscapes. Get the blood pumping with adventurous treks then relax with a cruise on the scenic Nam Ou river.
Take a half day trek on the outskirts of Phongsaly to meet with and learn about the Akha, Tai Yag, Laopan and Tai Yue ethnic groups.
Travel to Ban Komaen village and see its ancient tea trees which stand more than 6-metres high and produce a rare, delicious tea.
-Cruise from Muang Khua to Muang Ngoi on the Nam Ou River, a ruggedly beautiful waterway lined with dramatic scenery.
Phongsaly Loop In Depth - 9 Days / 8 Nights
Upon arrival to Luang Prabang, our guide and driver will be waiting to provide transport to the hotel for check in. After checking in to the hotel, enjoy the remainder of the day free at leisure or take an independent walk around town.
Overnight in Luang Prabang
After breakfast, depart on a Mekong river cruise for the small town of Pakbeng. On the way, a stop will be made in a local village for a lunch alongside the river.
Arrive into Pakbeng town around 14:00. Acting as the halfway point between Luang Prabang and Houay Xay, Pakbeng proves to be the ideal stop for slow boats spanning the two distances. The dynamic town is illustrated with wooden houses along a steep street on the hillside, exuding a tranquil, laid back vibe.
The rest of the day is free at leisure. Don’t miss the unforgettable Mekong sunset from the boat’s balcony!
Dinner and overnight at Pakbeng
For early risers, make a morning visit to the nearby market where residents of the nearby villages and hill tribes gather to buy and exchange their goods. After returning for breakfast, take a longboat across the river to reach the elephant camp on the opposite side of the Lodge.
Upon arrival, receive an introductory tour of the camp. The guide will provide some guidance about the elephants and how the camp is working to protect the animals while educating the visitors. Then participate in with the elephants’ 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 bathing experience, assist the mahout in his interaction with the elephant, receiving some hands-on insight into the unique bond between the elephant and mahout.
Head back to the boat for a return cruise to the lodge where a delicious local lunch awaits.
After lunch at the lodge, depart for the picturesque drive to Muang La. Take note of the provincial capital of Oudomxay whilst passing through. Once a very sleepy town, this has become an important trading hub, reflecting the rapid changes of the region.
Arrive at the Muang La Resort in the late afternoon. Check in, relax and enjoy the views. Facilities include a spa, sauna and steam room. Additionally, as the resort is built next to a natural hot spring, staff happily fills 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.
Dinner and overnight in Muang La Resort
After breakfast, depart the resort for the brief, 30-minute journey to Lao Loum village. Upon arrival, head to the starting point of the walk, trekking through the lush vegetation of northern Laos.
Follow a mountain trail for around 30 minutes, leading along rivers, hills, mountain streams and flowing rice fields. During the hike, the guide will explain life in the local villages and how they use indigenous plants, herbs and trees of the forest to feed, and sometimes even heal themselves.
Continue across bamboo bridges to reach the Yang village of Long Ya. Another 2 kilometers reveals a hidden monastery, Wat Hoytinphabath, which houses a 35m long reclining Buddha. Numerous effigies and symbols of the Buddha can be found in the central temple, which also contains footprints of the Buddha embedded in stone.
Return to the Resort to enjoy lunch.
The afternoon is free at leisure to discover the surroundings or to relax at the resort.
Dinner and overnight at Muang La Resort
After breakfast, depart for Phongsaly. The road unveils beautiful landscapes, local rural living and panoramic mountain views. Photo stops can be made upon request.
Make a stop at Ban Bountai around 12:30 and enjoy a delicious picnic lunch. A visit can also be made to the local market.
Continue to Phongsaly for about 4 hours, arriving for check in around 16:30.
Head out with the guide for a stroll through the streets of Phongsaly. The charm of the town is made by the narrow paved streets bordered by traditional Chinese wooden houses. During the walk, learn all about the history and culture of this multicultural city and the harmony that reigns between Lao people and Chinese immigrants.
There will also be a chance to visit a Chinese temple with some lovely views over Phongsaly. Wrap up the tour with a short walk to the quiet Wat Keo, where the monks play petanque or football in the evening.
After the tour, enjoy dinner in a local restaurant.
Overnight in Phongsaly
After breakfast, drive to Bountai to meet the guide for the day. Continue with a transfer to the Hmong village of Ban Aya, where the day’s trek will start. After exploring the village and meeting its locals, trek further into the nearby jungle and verdant rice fields for some brilliant surrounding landscapes.
A stop will be made en route to enjoy a typical Lao picnic lunch.
After lunch, descend to Ban Aneng, another Hmong village, and explore the town’s rich culture and traditions. Afterwards, pay a visit to the tribal villages of Akha Mouchee, Tai Yag, Laopan and Tai Yue, before going back to Bountai by private car.
Transfer back to the hotel in Phongsaly with the remainder of the day free at leisure.
Overnight in Phongsaly
After breakfast in town, visit the famous 400-year-old tea plantation, located in the village of Ban Komaen (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 road to Ban Komaen passes through other tea plantations and offers stunning views of Phongsaly and surrounding mountains. In the village, a newly built tea-tasting shop serves some food and sells the 400-year-old tea.
After the visit, drive to Muang Khua for about 4 hours. Stop en route to have lunch in a local restaurant (not included).
Upon arrival to Muang Khua, check in to the hotel and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.
A dinner is included at Sayphoun restaurant, which has a nice view over Nam Ou River.
Overnight in Muang Khua
After breakfast at Sayphoun Restaurant, board a private longtail 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, wild and also has far less traffic.
Enjoy a picnic lunch along the way and spot various local villages during the cruise downstream.
In the late afternoon, reach the final destination of Nong Khiaw, famed for its dramatic limestone mountains. Disembark and check in to the accommodation located along the banks of the Nam Ou River.
For the adventurers at heart, enjoy a trek up Phou Pha Deang mountain. The hike to the summit takes around two hours and is rewarded with some stunning views of the surrounding landscapes. Enjoy a rest at the top before trekking down to Nong Khiaw.
Enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.
Overnight in Nong Khiaw
After breakfast, our guide and driver will provide transport back to Luang Prabang, taking approximately 2.5 hours.
If heading to the airport, a transfer will be provided for the onward flight.
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