Ethnic expedition with Mzungu to the tribes of Northern Laos and to the "flying gibbons" of Nam Kan National Park


November 10 – 24, 2024
Tour Laos and Northern Thailand

tour to Laos expedition Northern Laos tribes Flying Gibbons Nam Kan park Akha Hmong people Mekong Luangprabang Phongsali travel Asia Indochina

Dassanech Karo tribe Bulls jumping ceremony Assale Afar
This expedition combines two outstanding features of Northern Laos: authentic tribes of Muang Sing, Oudomxay and Muang Boun Tai and "flying gibbons" in Bokeo province.
We start from amazing White Temple in northern Thailand and along Mekong and Ou Rivers explore Northern Laos to reach the pearl of Indochina – Lao royal capital of Luang Prabang.

This expedition combines two outstanding features of Northern Laos: authentic tribes of Muong Sing, Oudomxay and Muang Boun Tai and "flying gibbons" in Bokeo province. We start from amazing White Temple in northern Thailand and along Mekong and Ou Rivers explore Northern Laos to reach the pearl of Indochina – Lao royal capital of Luang Prabang.

Dates: November 10 – 24, 2024

The program is consistent with the expedition to Nepal from 2 to 9 November 2024
Expedition to Nepal

Duration: 15 days / 14 nights

Number of participants: 6 – 12

Cost per person:
– 2 790 USD subject to 11 – 12 participants, or
– 2 940 USD subject to 9 – 10 participants or
– 3 190 USD subject to 6 – 8 participants, based on TWIN/DBL accommodation.

10% early booking discount (in case you book before June 10, 2024)

Everything is included (including full board meals) except for:
- international flight to Chiang Rai, Thailand (CEI) and back from Luang Prabang, Laos (LPQ)
- international medical insurance
- visas of Laos and Thailand (not required for Russian citizens).

Estimated cost of flight Moscow – Chiang Rai and Luang Prabang – Moscow (via Bangkok, Hanoi or another city): from 1300 USD (Usually bought on your own, we consult you).
Estimated cost of flight Dubai – Chiang Rai and Luang Prabang – Dubai (via Bangkok, Hanoi or another city): from 1000 USD (Usually bought on your own, we consult you).
Estimated cost of flight Kathmandu – Chiang Rai one way: USD 300 (Usually bought on your own, we consult you).

Single supplement: 385 USD (single accommodation available throughout the itinerary, except for 2 nights in a tree house).

TRAVEL PROGRAM: tour to Laos and Thailand

Day 1. November 10, 2024 (Sunday). Chiang Rai (Thailand) – Chiang Khong – Houeixay (Laos) (107 km, about 2 hours driving)
Early morning arrival by air in Chiang Rai, Thailand. Meet the guide. Visit Wat Rong Khun, better known as White Temple, with the guide. In fact Wat Rong Khun is a privately owned art exhibit in the style of a Buddhist temple. City tour, and transfer to Chiang Khong situated right on the border with Laos. Upon arrival at Laos border, check out the Thai immigration, then cross the Friendship bridge to Lao Immigration, check in Lao immigration, visa formalities. Meet Lao guide in Houeixay, Laos. Transfer to Houayxai Riverside hotel on the river bank of the Great Mekong. Dinner, overnight.

Meals included: lunch, dinner
Accommodation included: Houayxai Riverside Hotel (Deluxe)

* Recommended flights:
flight from Moscow with Turkish Airlines and Thai Airways with 4 hours stopover in Istanbul and 3 hours 25 minutes stopover in Bangkok, departure from Moscow at 7:15 am on November 9, arrival in Chiang Rai (CEI) at 9:40 am on November 10, or
flight from Bangkok (DMK) with Thai Lion Air, departure at 8:20 am, arrival in Chiang Rai (CEI) at 9:45 am, or
flight from Bangkok (DMK) with Thai Airways, departure at 8:10 am, arrival in Chiang Rai (CEI) at 9:40 am, or
flight from Kathmandu with Thai Airways via Bangkok with 3 hours 20 minutes stopover, departure at 00:05 am on November 10, arrival in Chiang Rai at 9:40 on November 10,
any other flight from any city with arrival in Chiang Rai before 10:00 am on November 10.

Day 2. November 11, 2024 (Monday). Houeixay – Gibbon ziplining in Nam Kan National park (156 km, about 3 hours driving)

This morning, we check out early and go to Gibbon Office to reconfirm our booking (before 8:00 am) and we start our day of Gibbon Experience. Travel time from Houeixay to the village of Baan Toup is about 2.5 hrs. The 83 km road trip can be quite rough depending on road condition. In the last village, local guides will welcome us and take care of us. From the village, it is a one-hour, mostly uphill hike to get to the canopy infrastructure. When we arrive, we will split up in small groups, put on a harness and glide across the first cable. You will then alternate gliding and trekking all the way to your tree house (1 to 3 hours depending on your tree house location).
This program takes you deeper into the National Park, with a two-to-three hour trek each day along the Nam Nga River and through a fresh-water swimming pool and a charming waterfall. One tree house gives upon the river while the other shows sunsets overlooking several valleys.
While on your Gibbon Experience you will be asked to keep your personal items to a minimum as you will be required to carry your personal items throughout your trip in the jungle. Bedding and towels are provided in your canopy level tree house. You will need a daypack, gloves or old socks, water bottle, mosquito repellent (and long sleeved shirt and pants to avoid bites and stings), a camera and a head torch. For safety reasons we do not allow people over 110 kg.
Overnight is in a canopy-level tree house.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation included: tree house (standard bed)

Day 3. November 12, 2024 (Tuesday). Gibbon ziplining in Nam Kan National park

Enjoy using the cable system to soar through the rich canopy, surrounded by nothing but peace, mountains and trees. You can also just relax in your tree house or go for short hikes on your own to observe the interesting wildlife in the area. Dawn is the best time for wildlife encounters and the jungle offers the possibility of viewing the black gibbons (Nomascus concolor lu). On most days you can hear their territorial hooting, an experience unlike any other. You may be lucky enough to see them interact in their natural setting. However, sightings of the endangered black gibbon cannot be guaranteed. The Gibbon Experience is truly unique. There is nothing else like it in the world.
Two groups of 8 people depart on alternate days soon after 8 am for two nights in the Bokeo reserve, swapping tree houses on the second night. The Gibbon Experience is relaxing and peaceful. You choose how you want to spend your time, there is no strict schedule; food will come when you are hungry though, and the guides will escort you to your tree house and around. This option usually enables gibbon encounters with little effort. Overnight in a canopy-level tree house.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation included: tree house (standard bed)

Day 4. November 13, 2024 (Wednesday). Gibbon ziplining in Nam Kan National park – Houeixay (156 km, about 3 hours driving)

You will have the better part of today with the Gibbon Experience before being transferred back to Houei Xay by Gibbon Experience bus at around 03.00 pm.
After a short rest, you can start wandering along the main street to visit a local market and the ruins of the French colonial-era Fort Carnot and enjoy the sunset view overlooking the Mekong River.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation included: Houayxai Riverside Hotel (Deluxe)

Day 5. November 14, 2024 (Thursday). Houeixay – Ban Ta Fa – Bansod – Luang Nam Tha – Muang Sing (240 km, about 6-7 hours driving)

This morning, start early in order to travel to Muong Sing via Luang Nam Tha town. The driving is long via mountainous road and it takes about 6-7 hours. On the way to Luang Nam Tha, in about 70 km, we will stop at Ban Ta Fa to see the weaving village of Lao Lue ethnic group. After that, in about 10 km we will stop again at Bansod village to see the real life of Kammu (Khmu) ethnic group and see the viewpoint (if time permits). Khmu is the oldest ethnic layer in the North-East of Indochina, occupying the middle belt of mountains. In Northern Laos, the people are settled over a large area, but very scattered. They occupy the middle belt of the mountains, leaving the very peaks for Mao and Yao.
We will stop at Luang Nam Tha town for short relax. The quiet town is located near the border with China and Myanmar. We have lunch at Namngern bridge, before we continue to Muang Sing. We check in at the hotel, have dinner and have time to explore the town at night.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation included: Phou Iu Bungalow (Standard)

Day 6. November 15, 2024 (Friday). Muang Sing – Trekking to the villages around Muang Sing

Start at 9:00 am by tuk-tuk (local transport), visit Tai Lue village Ban Don Chai, walk around the village, visit Tai Lue temple "The Tai Lue traditional style temple", 40 minutes' walk to Akha village of Ban PhaKha, an hour walking through agricultural field visit Ban Sai Leck, Ban Jong Ka and Ban Nam Mai. They are Yao ethnic groups to see how they are making traditional clothes. Lunch provided on the trail.
15 minutes' walk to visit other Akha village of Ban Nam Daet Mai. Akha is a mountainous agricultural Tibeto-Burmese people inhabiting Laos, Myanmar, China and Thailand. Presumably, the Akha came from the territory of Mongolia, where this people formed about 1500 years ago. Their traditional territories – the mountainous valleys of Yunnan – fell under the rule of the Ming Dynasty loyalists after the Manchus took Beijing in 1644, causing significant Chinese migrations to the south. In Thailand, it is believed that Akha came to Thailand from China at the beginning of the 20th century. Migration from China continues even nowadays.
While visiting villages, we get acquaintance with the Yao traditions, cultures and daily lifestyle of the tribes. We will have personal interactions with the villagers and have the opportunity to experience firsthand from the Yao themselves. Yao came to Southeast Asia no earlier than the 13th century. Yao retained many archaic cultural features. Until the middle of the 20th century, "feudal" relations were intertwined with primitive communal ones.
Finally by tuk-tuk get back to Muang Sing town.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation included: Phou Iu Bungalow (Standard)

Day 7. November 16, 2024 (Saturday). Muang Sing – Oudomxay (200 km, about 5-6 hours driving)

After breakfast, at 8:15 am checkout and meet your guide and driver at the hotel, short tour to visit waterfall.
This morning say goodbye to Muang Sing and transfer to Oudomxay (200 km, around 5-6 hours driving). We have some stops to stretch our legs. We arrive Oudomxay in the afternoon, transfer to visit the village and local market, then transfer to check in Namkat Yorla Pa hotel for overnight.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation included: Namkat Yorla Pa Resort (Standard)

Day 8. November 17, 2024 (Sunday). Oudomxay – Namkat Waterfall – Muang Boun Tai (180 km, about 5 hours driving)

This morning after breakfast, we will drive towards Namkat waterfall about 5 km. When reaching the entrance, we will trek pass the jungle and walk over 13 flying bridges (about 1 km). Take our time at the waterfall, trekking to the entrance and driving back to the Tour's Information Center.
Check out from the hotel and transfer to Muang Boun Tai located 180 km northeast from Oudomxay. We will arrive in the afternoon. Transfer to guest house for check-in. Overnight in Muong Boun Tai.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation included: Seanphaxay Guesthouse or similar

Day 9. November 18, 2024 (Monday). Muang Boun Tai – Villages around Muang Boun Tai

Breakfast at the hotel. At 8:30 am meet the guide and driver. We visit the village of Akha people in the area of Muang Boun Tai. Aka is one the minorities' ethnic group that moved to Laos from China in 20th century. They inhabit the north of Laos, areas around Luang Namtha and Oudomxay. We will get into acquaintance with Akha culture.
Come back to the hotel and relax.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation included: Seanphaxay Guesthouse or similar

Day 10. November 19, 2024 (Tuesday). Muang Boun Tai – Ban Arya – Ikorlaoly – Muong Khua (116 km, about 3 hours driving)

Breakfast. At 8:30 am by car transfer to Muong Khua (about 3 hours driving). On the way to Muong Khua we will stop at Ban Arya Hmong village.
Hmong is one of Lao ethnic minority, who usually settle on the top of the mountain. The first Hmong migrated to present-day Laos in the 1810s and 1820s. Despite the fact that they tried to settle in remote areas, armed clashes took place between them and the Khmu people for the right to cultivate the land on the Xieng Khouang plateau.
Then we will stop in Boubphan local market where they are selling their handicraft. Before we arrive Parknumnoy local market, we will stop at Ikorlaoly village.
Arrive Moung Khua in the afternoon, overnight in Muong Khua.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation included: Phongpadith Guest House (Standard)

Day 11. November 20, 2024 (Wednesday). Muang Khua – Muoang Ngoy (about 5 hours by boat)

Breakfast in the guesthouse. At 8:30, transfer by boat to Muong Ngoy. The small town that only can be reached by boat. The journey will take around 5 hours, includes transfer on land to pass a dam. We will have picnic lunch on the way, on the beach of Nam Ou river. We arrive in Muong Ngoy in the afternoon, transfer to hotel, check-in.
Then we explore the nearby caves, Tham Kang and Tham Pakeo where the Lao people were hiding and protecting themselves from the bombs in US war in 1960–1973. Nearby we may visit (if we have time) weavers' village to see how they do the handmade weaving. Overnight in Muong Ngoy.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation included: Ning Ning Guest House (Standard)

Day 12. November 21, 2024 (Thursday). Muong Ngoy – Sopkhong – Huay Hoy – Nong Khiaw (about 2 hours by boat)

After breakfast, at 8:00 am meet our guide and boat driver. Then we take boat trip to Nong Khiaw (2 hours), upon arrival, check in at the hotel. Then we take a boat trip, boat with a roof to shade against the sun and any rain, driving upstream Nam Ou Riverfor 40 minutes. Surrounded by mountains and passing villages nestled in the forests, we will see buffalos bathing in the river, people fishing and often children swimming in the river. It is an idyllic location and will give us a sense of peaceful serenity.
We will visit the small Sopkhong village of Khmu people where we can learn about their way of living. Then we'll trek through local farmland and rice paddies to the start of the jungle and discover the beautiful limestone Tadmok waterfall. We can relax and enjoy a refreshing splash in this perfect setting where the lunch will be served. After spending 30-40 minutes here we head back to the village along a small dirty road arriving at the river where we take a 5 minute boat ride to another small Khmu village, Huay Hoy.
We then take the boat for 35 minutes back to Nong Khiaw for overnight.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation included: Mandala Ou Resort

Day 13. November 22, 2024 (Friday). Nong Khiaw – Ban Pak Ou – Ban Xanghai – Luang Prabang (125 km, about 3 hours driving)

Breakfast at the hotel. At 8:30 am start traveling to Luang Prabang. We arrive at Ban Pak Ou around noon. Lunch at Manivanh restaurant. After lunch we crossing Mekong to visit Pak Ou Cave or Thamting Buddha cave, 25km away from Luang Prabang. There are two caves: Tham Thing (lover cave) and Tham Phoum (upper cave).
These caves contain a thousand of Buddha images and are of great religious importance to the Theravada Buddhists in Laos. These caves were converted into Buddhist temples in 15th century and are used as a site for Buddha images that can no longer be venerated in a temple.
On the Laos New year, pilgrimages of Lao people go by boat to the caves and perform the washing ceremony of all the Buddha images. Previously this was performed by king and members of the Royal family but now is performed by the governor of Luang Prabang and local families.
On the way back to Luang Prabang we stop at the village of Ban Xanghai where they make the local rice wine, rice whisky.
We transfer back to Luang Prabang, visit Ban Xang Khong, famous for Saa paper making and weaving village. After that continue the trip to Luang Prabang.
In the afternoon, upon arrival in Luang Prabang, meet the driver at the boat pier and transfer to hotel for check-in and free time at leisure.
Luang Prabang the cultural and religious capital of Laos, and was also the royal capital until 1975. Between 13-16 centuries Luang Prabang was also the administrative capital of Laos instead of Vientiane.
In 1995 UNESCO made Luang Prabang a world heritage city to try and preserve the old French Indo-Chinese architecture.
It is possible to watch people making sa (mulberry bark) pepper, silver jeweler and plates, rattan baskets, wood carvings and textiles in many small shops all through the little alleyways of Luang Prabang.
Overnight in Luang Prabang.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation included: Sanctuary Hotel (Superior)

Day 14. November 23, 2024 (Saturday). Luang Prabang – Khoang Si waterfall

At 5:30 am meet your guide at the hotel and head by van to the center of Luang Prabang town and/or attend alms giving. At 6:00 am long lines of monks and novices stroll the street of the town center to collect their daily food subsistence from the worshippers. This ancient ritual is called "Tak bat". After Tak bat, we return to the hotel for breakfast.
At 8:20 am guided visit of National museum that used to be the former Royal palace. Many items nicely displayed, including rare furniture, traditional costumes, arts, jewelry, ornaments as well as working tools and utensils of the early part of the 20th century.
Then visit to the holy Wat Mai temple. Located next to the Royal Palace, the Wat Mai was the temple used by Laos Royalty. It is one of the few temples that survived the destruction by Chinese invaders in 1887.
Then visit Wat Wisunalat – the Luang Prabang's oldest temple. The temple, also known as Wat Visoun and Wat Visounnarat was founded in 1512 and houses an important collection of ancient Buddha images. Visit small temple Wat Aham and temple Wat Xieng Thong, emblematic temple in Laos. It is located at the top of the peninsula, where Mekong and Nam Khan rivers meet. The Golden City Monastery, which dates back to the 16th century, is considered to be the finest in Laos.
Lunch at the Kaipean restaurant. After lunch we drive to visit Living Craft Center, a short tour to visit the center and learn more about Lao handicraft product.
Then continue to the beautiful Khouang Si waterfall where you can splash around in the pools or walk along the forest paths. We will visit the Black Bear Rescue Center at the entry gate. On the way back from Khoung Si waterfall we will stop and visit the Hmong village and come back to the city.
Evening is free to visit Night market.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation included: Sanctuary Hotel (Superior)

Day 15. November 24, 2024 (Sunday). Luang Prabang – Return flight

After breakfast, check-out from our hotel and transfer to the airport to catch out flights back.

Meals included: breakfast
Accommodation included: no

* Recommended flights:
flight to Moscow with Lao Airlines and Emirates with 5 hours 50 minutes stopover in Hanoi and 4 hours 15 minutes stopover in Dubai, departure from Luang Prabang at 17:25 on November 24, arrival in Moscow (DME) at 13:55 on November 25, or
flight to Bangkok (DMK) with Thai Air Asia , departure from Luang Prabang (LPQ) at 15:20, arrival in Bangkok (DMK) at 17:20, or
flight to Hanoi (HAN) with Lao Airlines, departure from Luang Prabang (LPQ) at 17:25, arrival in Hanoi (HAN) at 18:35, or
any other flight from Luang Prabang (LPQ) to any city with departure from Luang Prabang (LPQ) any time on November 24.

* The order of visits and excursions can be modified according to local conditions (i.e. state of roads, market days, ceremonies etc.). If some visits and/or tours could not be done due to external conditions, they will be replaced when possible.

Cost includes:

• accommodation in hotels based on DBL or TWIN rooms
• accommodation in tree house in Nam Kan NP
• full board meals (3 times a day) along the route
• drinking pure water throughout the whole program and cool towel
• all transport with experienced drivers and working A/C along the entire route: minibus Toyota Hiace (each bus for up to the group of 6+1)
• all airport transfers
• all boats along the route with experienced pilots
• all permits for visiting protected areas, National parks,
• all activities, visits and entrance fees along the itinerary,
• all equipment for ziplining in Nam Kan
• financial support of local communities/tribes
• photo- and video shooting allowance
• governmental taxes
• experienced English-speaking local guide along the whole itinerary
• Russian-speaking and English-speaking team leader Mzungu

Cost excludes (to be additionally paid):

• international flight to Chiang Rai, Thailand (CEI) and back from Luang Prabang, Laos (LPQ),
• international medical insurance,
• visa of Laos (not required for Russian citizens), visa formalities and airport taxes (if any),
• visa of Thailand (not required for Russian citizens), visa formalities and airport taxes (if any),
• beverages and personal expenses,
• tips,
• single supplement

To take with:

- sets of clothes suitable for the weather conditions, including lightweight clothes (shorts, T-shorts), and one set of warm clothes (hoody or light jacket), long sleeve clothes
- sun hat/panama
- swimwear
- raincoat
- comfortable trekking footwear, light footwear (sneakers)
- sleeping bag for warm weather
- mosquito net for sleeping place (is a must!)
- personal hygiene items (towel, wet tissues, soap)
- individual medical kit (analgesics, antiseptic, antibiotic, antiviral, intestinal, multivitamins, rehydration, court plaster, your personal medications)
- anti malaria prevention pills (up to you to decide)
- sunblock set (cream, spray)
- various repellents (is a must!)
- sunglasses
- big backpack for stuff (up to 70 l)
- small backpack for radial walks (25 – 30 l)
- head torch
- photo and video camera, tripod
- power bank, batteries
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