Northern Vietnam Trekking To Laos - 14 Days

Northern Vietnam Trekking To Laos - 14 Days
Tour Itinerary

From the steep valleys and rice terraces of northern Vietnam to the thick jungles and jagged karsts of Laos, this is a journey through some of the most majestic mountain scenery in Asia — bookended by two strikingly different historic capitals. Be prepared to sweat it out as you conquer peaks and valleys, raft and kayak on rushing rivers, cool off under waterfalls, and hunker down for the night at rural homestays and jungle camps. This one’s for the adventurous at heart.


Explore Luang Prabang’s World Heritage wats and French colonial shophouses on a guided walking tour

Meet rescued elephants at the wonderful MandaLao sanctuary

Go trinket-shopping at Luang Prabang’s excellent night market

Day 1 :  Hanoi Arrival

With one day in the capital, you’ve just enough time for our favourite alternative tour: a full-day crash course in the historical and cultural life of the city. Start with the maze of streets known as the Old Quarter, where the locals breakfast on pho and sweet iced coffee, then swing by the imposing Gothic Revival cathedral — one of the oldest French-built buildings in Vietnam. Today is more about daily life than tourist sites, so be prepared to head down unexpected alleys, mingle with commuters on a train ride, and drop in on a family who’ve lived in the same old colonial townhouse for generations. Be sure to get a good night’s sleep in preparation for tomorrow!

Day 2 - 3 : Mai Chau & Hang Village

Leave Hanoi bright and early for the four-hour drive through mountains and fertile scenery to Mai Chau — a broad, flat valley dotted with villages, surrounded by rice paddies and ringed with spectacular karsts. Ease yourself in with some light trekking in the valley on your first afternoon, then relax at a performance of Thai music and dance at your hotel in the evening. In the morning, you’ll drive further into the reserve and begin your trek to the minority village of Hang. Here, away from the more well-trodden parts of Mai Chau, you’ll spend the night with a Thai family in their traditional stilt house and get to know more about this unique minority culture.

Day 4-5 : Pu Luong

Pu Luong just might be our favourite trekking destination in all of Vietnam. Less well-known than Mai Chau yet just as beautiful, this is a landscape of rippling rice terraces, corn and cassava fields, bamboo waterwheels and the thatched villages of Thai and Hmong minorities. From Hang, it’s around six hours of challenging hiking to reach Pu Luong, half on dirt paths and half on old, unpaved French roads. You’re not roughing it here, with two nights at a boutique eco retreat, so you’re sure to be rested and raring to go for a full day of guided trekking in this truly idyllic region. Get ready for steep climbs, stream crossings, river rafting and chance encounters with locals!

Day 6 : Pu Luang - Crossing border to Laos - Sam Neua

It’s time to leave Vietnam behind and cross the border into Laos, where your first overnight stop will be the town of Sam Neua. You’ll break up the car journey in Vieng Xai, where the mountains are riddled with a honeycomb of limestone caves. During the Vietnam War, 20,000 people sheltered from illegal US bombing raids in these caves, building a “hidden city” complete with schools, markets, hospitals, a radio station, and communist headquarters. Your guide will tell you all about what life was like in the caves before you continue on to Sam Neua – a remote town whose rather unpicturesque veneer belies a certain distinctive charm and thoroughly un-touristy vibe.

Day 7 - 8 : Nam Et-Phou Louey - Nam Nern

It’s a two-hour drive through gorgeous mountain landscapes to the jungles of Nam Et-Phou Louey, where you’ll begin your adventures at a Khmu minority village. Here, jump in a longtail boat and head downstream on the Nam Nern River, keeping an eye out for monitor lizards and birds as you go. With two nights in the jungle, you’ll stay at a Lao-style bungalow and a local guesthouse, and spend your days hiking to salt licks, cruising on the river, chatting to your guides about Khmu culture, and learning about the local wildlife (including rarely-sighted tigers). A highlight is sure to be the night safari, where you might spot otters, loris, porcupines or owls under cover of darknes

Day 9 : Nam Et-Phou Louey

Your next trek begins at the Khmu village of Nam Poung, where you’ll jump in a tok-tok (two-wheeled tractor) and ride through corn fields and rice paddies to a local farmer’s hut. Fuel up with a picnic lunch before continuing on foot, spotting medicinal plants, animal tracks and exotic birds as you go. After four hours’ walking through the jungle, arrive at camp: a cluster of cosy, spherical baskets hanging from the trees. There’s just time to splash in the river and tuck into an early dinner before it’s off again to the Poung Nied Salt Lick, where sambar, civets, bears and dhole come out to feed after dusk. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot some from the watchtower as you wait quietly above.

Day 10 - 11 : Nong Khiaw

Return to the salt lick early this morning to look for animal tracks and check the camera traps for nocturnal visitors. Then, after breakfast, head back to Nam Poung village the way you came, for the five-hour drive to Muang Ngoi. This red-roofed village is spread along the banks of the chocolate-coloured Nam Ou, with lush and lofty mountains rising steeply on either side. The best way to see the region is from the water, so you’ll be exploring by longtail boat and kayak, stopping to hike to caves, villages, and waterfalls hidden in the jungle. Back in town, you’ll be staying in comfort at a riverside lodge, rounding off your evenings with dinner and drinks overlooking sunset on the river.

Day 12 -14 : Luang Prabang

With no more hiking left to do, there’s nothing for it but to relax — and Luang Prabang is the place to do it. Recognised by UNESCO for its unique blend of traditional Lao architecture and French Colonial style, this laid-back riverside town is the kind of place you could easily stay forever. After you’ve toured its glittering wats and magnificent Royal Palace, then cruised on the Mekong with a sundowner in hand, head out into the jungle for one last adventure: the MandaLao elephant camp. Here, rescued elephants live out their days in peace and quiet. Visitors can feed them and walk with them through the jungle — but never ride them.

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Departure date:  Based on your inquiry

Group Size: From 2 to 25 pax

Tour cost: Contact Us

Logictics and journey times

Day 1:
Car transfer from Hanoi airport to city (30 minutes)

Day 2:
Car transfer from Hanoi to Mai Chau (4 hours)

Day 3:
Car transfer from trek starting point (30 minutes)
Trek to Hang Village (3 hours)

Day 4:
Trek from Hang Village to Pu Luong (6 hours)

Day 6:
Car transfer from Pu Luong to the Lao border (3 hours)
Car transfer from the border to Vieng Xai Caves (1.5 hours)
Car transfer from Vieng Xai Caves to Sam Neua (2 hours)

Day 7:
Car transfer from Sam Neua to Ban Son Koua (2 hours)
Shared boat transfer from Ban Son Koua to Nam Nern in Nam Et-Phou Louey (1.5 hours)

Day 8:
Shared boat transfer across Nam Et-Phou Louey from Nam Nern to Muang Hiem (1.5 hours)
Day 9:
Car transfer from Muang Hiem to Ban Nam Poung (30 minutes)
Hand tractor (tok tok) from Ban Nam Poung to trek start point in Nam Et-Phou Louey NPA (1 hour)
Trek to the Nests campsite (4 hours)

Day 10:
Trek from the Nests back to trek start point (4 hours)
Hand tractor (tok tok) from trek start point to Ban Nam Poung (1 hour)
Car transfer from Ban Nam Poung to Nong Khiaw (5 hours)

Day 12:
Car transfer from Nong Khiaw to Luang Prabang (2.5 hours)

Day 14:
Car transfer from town to Luang Prabang airport (15 minutes)

Tour included :

  • Breakfast every day
  • Ten lunches: one in Mai Chau; two on the trek between Mai Chau & Pu Luong; one at the Pu Luong Retreat; one on the way to Sam Neua; one on the Nam Nern Night Safari; two picnic lunches on the Nests trek; one by the waterfalls in Nong Khiaw; one at MandaLao elephant sanctuary
  • Eight dinners: one in Mai Chai accompanied by a traditional Thai dance performance; one at the Thai village homestay; two at the Pu Luong Retreat; one in Sam Neua; one campfire picnic on the Nam Nern Night Safari; one at the Nests camp; one in Nong Khiaw
  • One full-day experience: trek around the rice terraces of Pu Luong
  • Six half-day experiences: city tour of Hanoi; half day tour of Mai Chau; visit the Vieng Xai caves; explore Nong Khiaw by kayak & trekking; walking tour of Luang Prabang; visit the MandaLao elephant sanctuary
  • Two evening experiences: Thai minority dance performance with dinner in Mai Chau; shared sunset cruise on the Mekong River
  • Overnight trek from Mai Chau to Pu Luong
  • Overnight jungle stay in Nam Nern, Nam Et-Phou Louey with a night safari and jungle activities
  • Overnight trek in the Nam Et-Phou Louey NPA to the Nests
  • All entrance fees to sites included in guided experiences
  • All internal transport & accommodation

Tour not included :

  • International flights
  • Meals not mentioned
  • Entrance fees to any sites not included in guided experiences
  • Tips for guides & porters
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