Day 1: Luang Prabang/Vientiane - Phou Khoun - Phonsavan. Depart from Luang Prabang/Vientiane, the first part of drive follows the road No 13. The ride offers some beautiful panoramic view over stunning mountains of Northern Laos. We stop for lunch at Phou Khun or Kasi (depending on departure point) and time for stretching the legs. After lunch, we continue toward North Est. The road twists while offering stunning views. There is time to visit some of the local villages along the way (Khmu and Hmong ethnic minorities). We arrive in Phonsavan in the late afternoon. Accommodation: Mali Guest house. Includes: (L), (D).
Day 2: Plain of Jars Tour. After breakfast, we drive to site 1 of Plain of Jars for a visit. We continue by car to Site 2 and hike to Site 3 (hiking is difficult in the rainy season from June to September). After exploring 3 sites with interesting story about the Indochina War, we drive to Muong Khoun for lunch. Muong Khoun was once the capital of Xieng Khoang Province. There is time to visit temples such as Wat Chom Phet and Wat That Phoun which were built the same time as That Luang in Vientiane. We can also visit some colonial building and old Lao Military Base that was seriously damaged by American bombs. On the way back to Phosavan, we can stop by village where local people collect scrap metals which are partly from UXO and bomb shell. Accommodation: Mali Guest house. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 3: Phonsavan - Sam Neua. After breakfast, we drive along isolated mountain areas and today’s destination is the Sam Nuea. If time permits, we may stop at scraps villages, recycle factory (America bomb, Russian tank) and Tham piew Cave where 373 people were killed during Indochina War. Lunch at local restaurant in Nam Neun and we arrive to Sam Nuea in the late afternoon. Accommodation: Dansam Guest house. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 4: Sam Neua - Vieng Xay - Cave Tour - Vieng Xay. Early get up to visit Samnuea mar ket, after break fast at local restaurant, we visit Samnuea market nearby. We then drive toward Vietnam border. Landscape is very scenic. We arrive in Vieng Xay, visit Khayson Phonvihan Cave, Red Pine Shouthanokvong Cave, Nouhak Cave. We stop for lunch at Thavyxay restaurant. After lunch visit Soldier Cave, Friendship Hospital Cave. Vieng Xay was named literally Hidden Cave City. The caves are birth place of Laos PDR. They have been recently open to public that allows people to discover the secrete of one of the most important historical sites in Laos Accommodation: Lao Hung Hotel. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 5: Vieng Xay - Na Meo border/Pu Luong (Sai Village). Pick up at the Na Meo border in Quan Son district, Thanh Hoa Province, we’ll then be driven to Pu Luong, a natural reserve area. On arrival, we have lunch in a stilt house in Lac village, the home of a Thai ethnic minority group. After lunch, we can wander around the houses to see the daily life of local people. They specialize in weaving brocade products and are happy to show visitors their skills. The village is operated as a community co-operative, set up by the people themselves. We then drive a further 15 km and board a rowing sampan to paddle along the Ma River stopping en-route to visit some of the nearby ethnic minorities villages. We dock and hike to Sai Village where the night is spent in the stilt house. Accommodation: Home stay. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 6: Pu Luong (hiking through minority villages in the Nature Reserve area). After breakfast, we set off Hang Village, about a three-hour walk. It’s a small Thai minority community where we can stroll around, visit local families in their stilt houses, and drink green tea. After a short break, a hike through pristine scenery will take you to Eo Ken village, well off the beaten track high on a slope of a mountain. It’s a stiff hike, but the effort is worth it. Lunch will be prepared by a local family, after which a short hike takes to meet a waiting land-cruiser for a one-hour drive. When we step down, we stroll downhill to reach Kho Muong village where the night is spent with a family in a traditional house built on stilts, where our bathroom is a natural stream.
We will be surprised when we sample the villagers’ hospitality and their competence in serving and preparing meals. The explanation is that the Pu Luong trekking route is a good example of effective collaboration between foreign NGOs (non-governmental organizations), mainly Flora and Fauna International (FFI - a UK based environmental charity), local authorities and individual communities. Apart from assisting families to convert their homes to be able to host visitors, they are taught recipes, cooking techniques, and other hospitality requirements. We are pleased to be involved with this community-based development project. Accommodation: Home stay. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 7: Pu Luong (another day of hiking). After an early breakfast, we explore a large limestone cave near the village. The cave is worth visiting, but as the route can be dangerous in some places, it’s important that you wear suitable clothing and stout non-slip shoes, and follow guide’s instructions in full. From there, we continue your route through the forest and villages. Our guide will prepare a picnic lunch. Our dinner and overnight stay will be in another stilt house. Accommodation: home stay. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 8: Pu Luong - Ninh Binh - Cuc Phuong National Park. In the morning, we drive to Ninh Binh. On arrival, we visit Tam Coc where we will be rowed along a river meandering through rice paddies and caves in a peaceful valley between limestone ‘karst’ mountains. In the afternoon, we drive to Cuc Phuong Forest National Park to visit the Primate Rescue Centre and the Botanical Garden. Our overnight stay will be in a guesthouse in the Park. Accommodation: Guest house in Cuc phuong Nation Park. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 9: Cuc Phuong - Ninh Binh - Ha Long. A long day traveling through the rich farming land of the Red River Delta to Ha Long Bay but you can make stops as you please, to stretch your legs and visit many farmers at work. Overnight in Ha Long. Accommodation: Hotel in Ha Long Bay. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 10: Ha Long - Ha Noi. A 5 hour boat trip to visit Ha Long Bay, listed as a World Heritage Area of outstanding natural beauty. This picturesque “Dragon descending to the sea” Bay has 1,969 limestone islets rising from the sea, many of them containing beautiful grottoes. During the boat trip, visit of a grotto and seafood lunch on board. Drive back to Ha Noi. Overnight in Ha Noi. Accommodation: Hotel in Hanoi. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 11: Ha Noi. The morning city tour to visit the Temple of Literature well known as Vietnam’s first university. Then visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Tran Quoc Pagoda and Quan Thanh Temple. In the afternoon, after visiting the Ethnologic Museum and the peaceful lake of Hoan Kiem with its sacred Ngoc Son Temple, a short walk in the old quarter streets will give you the opportunity to do shopping. Evening: Water puppets show, the unique Viet Nam traditional art. Overnight in Ha Noi. Accommodation: Hotel in Hanoi. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 12: Ha Noi - Noi Bai Airport. At leisure until transfer to Noi Bai Airport for departure flight, check out hotel before 12:00. Includes: (B).
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Asia Laos Vietnam Outdoor: Land Rambler Hiking & Trekking Cultural Journey
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