14 Days / 13 Nights
Day 1: Arrive Huay Say and Transfer to the Gibbon Experience.
We meet in Ban Huay Say and watch a safety instruction video at the Gibbon Experience Office. We then leave this border town and make our way to the Bokeo Nature Reserve. Once we reach Ban Toup Village, we sling on our backpacks and trek through the jungle. We’ll break for a picnic lunch and continue until we reach our tree house camp. On arrival we meet the team who will provide harness training and introduce us to the cable network. Then its time for us to move up into the tree tops and get settled into our new tree house home. Feel free to start discovering the surroundings of your tree house way up in the forest canopy. Dinner is served at your tree house.
Day 2: The Gibbon Experience.
Today is spent enjoying this unique experience as we learn more about the forest, the gibbons and this amazing environment that is their home. This is an amazing experience in Lao. A concept emerged; with the local people we build tree houses and a network of zip lines through the canopy of Bokeo Nature Reserve. We provide accommodation in the treetops and local guides ‘fly’ you through the forest to meet the wildlife. The funds received are reinvested to protect the forest. People from the mountainous forest have a deep knowledge of their environment, plants and wildlife. The Gibbon Experience relies upon the local people to operate inside Bokeo Nature Reserve.
Day 3: Travel to Luang Namtha.
After breakfast we have to say “goodbye” to our tree top home. Once back on the road we travel northeast on scenic National Highway 3, an incredible winding road which wraps around the mountainsides of northern Laos. We pass close to the Nam Ha protected area which is famous for its community-based ecotourism treks. We continue to Luang Namtha, our base for the night and check into a comfortable local hotel. We leave the rest of the day free to explore the local community.
Day 4: Cycling and Kyaking in Luang Namtha
Today we cycle up the Nam Tha River for about 40 km. A support vehicle is accompanying us. This off-road ride takes us along the Nam Ha National Protected Area on the other side of the river. Our lunch will be prepared by Lanten people at Ban Sop Dute. We’ll eventually arrive in Luang Nam Tha in the lateafternoon
Day 5: Luang Namtha to Nong Khiaw
Breakfast, drive overland heading southward to Nong Khiaw via Oudomxay; a small town that encompasses around 30,000 inhabitants. Oudomxay is the key intersection between Thailand, China, and Vietnam. Making a number of stops along the way to visit ethnic minority villages as Akhar, H’mong, Kh’mu... Lunch at local restaurant before continue driving to Nong Khiaw for checking into your hotel.
Day 6: Nong Khiaw to Luang Prabang by Boat via Pak Ou Caves.
After breakfast, we depart Nong Khiaw by boat and follow the pretty Nam Ou River, overshadowed by towering peaks and surrounded by lush jungle. After a couple of hours drifting downstream, we arrive at the river's mouth and enter the waters of the mighty Mekong. We visit the Pak Ou Caves, a sacred spot where thousands upon thousands of Buddhas were hidden for safekeeping during earlier invasions. Pilgrims have since added their own offerings and the caves are literally overflowing with Buddhas. After exploring the caves, we cross the river and have a local lunch on the banks of the Nam Ou River. We dine in traditional thatch bungalows overlooking a dramatic cliff face.
We travel by boat to the charming town of Luang Prabang, a living, breathing piece of Lao history, and check into our hotel. We leave the rest of the afternoon free to begin to explore this atmospheric Unesco World Heritage site.
Day 7: Sightseeing around Luang Prabang including Museum and Temples.
In this morning, we begin to explore the historic town of Luang Prabang. We walk along Sisavangvong St, the heart of the old quarter and explore the National Museum, set in the former Royal Palace. Built in 1904, the palace is a blend of Laotian and French influences and houses many royal treasures. The most important item is the solid gold Pha Bang Buddha, a gift from the Khmer King to his son-in-law, Fa Ngum, founder of the Lao Kingdom.
We then continue into the centre of Luang Prabang, exploring the narrow alleys that criss-cross the town, stopping to enjoy some views over the mighty Mekong River. We follow the river until we reach Wat Xieng Thong, one of the most celebrated temples in Laos. A magnificent structure, this is the quintessential Luang Prabang temple with a graceful sweeping roof that reaches almost to the floor. One of the only temples not to have been destroyed by successive invaders, this was originally constructed in 1560. We visit the spiritual sim, the focal point of the temple, as well as viewing the 'tree of life' mosaic on the rear wall. We also take a look at the impressive golden royal funerary chariot. We then continue to the beautiful temple of Wat Saen, originally built in 1718 and under the guidance of Ajahn Khamjan, one of the most revered abbots in Laos. There is the option of climbing Mt Phousi to explore the small temple here and enjoy sunset over this charming town. We then return to our hotel.
Day 8: Cycling and Kayaking Combination around Luang Prabang.
Today we cycle through the bustling streets of Luang Prabang to the outskirts of town and explore the ecological treasures of the pristine countryside. We pass local villagers as they engage in their daily life and arrive at a Lao Loum village to discover the secrets of their cotton and silk hand weaving.
We continue our journey with a stop to pay homage to the 'rediscovered' of Angkor Wat, Henri Mouhot, who died in Luang Prabang in 1861. Moving on through numerous sleepy villages, we arrive at the riverbank for the next part of our journey by kayak. We enjoy a picnic lunch and then kayak down this beautiful stretch of river, shrouded in jungle and hemmed in by mountains. Later we return to Luang Prabang.
Day 9: Kuang Si Falls.
This morning we travel south on the Mekong River to a traditional pottery village. We explore the village and learn how they make traditional clay pots for rice wine storage and other uses. We might have our very own pottery class with one of the master potters from the village.
We continue downriver to where we join our vehicle for the rest of the journey to the Kuang Si Falls. This beautiful series of waterfalls spills into the jungle and has several inviting pools for a swim. We walk through the forest, passing pool after pool of turquoise waters, white limestone rock and lush green forest. We find a quiet spot for a picnic lunch and then can continue upwards to the top of the main falls. Later in the afternoon, we return to Luang Prabang, stopping at a minority village along the way to learn about their traditional way of life.
Day 10: Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng.
Today, we leave the historic town of Luang Prabang and travel south to the beautiful area of Vang Vieng, where the landscape is dotted with limestone karst hills. We pass through Kasi, set in a fertile valley and blanketed in emerald green rice fields. The scenery is spectacular, huge mountains looming large and jungle spilling down to the roadside. We arrive in Vang Vieng and check into our hotel for the night.
Day 11: Caving and kayaking/Tubing around Vang Vieng.
Today we spend the morning exploring the most important caves around Vang Vieng. Tham Jang is the most famous cave in the Vang Vieng area and was once used as a bunker to defend against marauding Chinese invaders. This cave offers fine views over the Nam Song river valley and there is a spring connecting the cave to the river. We also visit Tham Phu Kham, which contains a bronze reclining Buddha. After lunch, we try tubing down the river, a relaxing way to take in the striking scenery of this area. We start near the organic farm, which we may visit first, and then float down the river towards Vang Vieng. For those that want to try something a little more traditional, it is also possible to kayak this section of the river.
Day 12: Vang Vieng to Vientiane.
We enjoy a ride by public Songthaew, and arrive in the town of Hin Heup. This is where our kayaking trip begins. Basic paddle instruction and practice is provided by our experienced river guides. The scenery is stunning and the river offers the perfect vantage point to soak up the tranquillity. Enjoy a Lao style picnic on banana leaves on the riverbank where we take some time to relax. For the more energetic, swimming in the river is possible. The afternoon is spent in calmer waters, where the local fishermen are at work. More paddling takes us to a stunning steep gorge, which provides perfect platforms for cliff jumping into the cool and deep river. The day ends at the Tai Dam Village of Ban Vang Mon in the dry season (at the Lao Loum Village of Ban That in the wet season), where a pick-up awaits us for transfer Vientiane.
Day 13: Sightseeing around Vientiane.
Today we take in the main sights of the Lao capital. We’ll visit the historic temple of Wat Si Saket, the oldest surviving temple in Vientiane. Then its time to visit the striking golden stupa of Pha That Luang, the most sacred monument in the city. We continue to the 'Arc de Triomphe' of Vientiane, or Patuxai as it is known locally. We ascend the monument for some refreshing breezes and great views over this low-rise garden city. We then head over to the Morning Market, Vientiane's main market, and browse the stalls. Everything from medicinal herbs to silk scarves is available here and it is very popular with Lao shoppers. We finish with a stroll along the Mekong riverfront.
Day 14: At leisure until departure
After breakfast, free at leisure for shopping or packing. Transfer to the airport to catch the departure flight.