Remote Asia Travel

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Indochina Laos to Vietnam Overland

9 days, 8 nights

Introduction

Our discovery tour takes in the mysteries of Laos and tales of Indochina starting from the World Heritage City of Luang Prabang to the mysterious Plain of Jars with glimpses of hidden cities constructed in remote cave followed by local experiences of the Indochina War.  We continue on with our voyage into one of Vietnam’s most beautiful natural reserves and protected areas by trekking and enjoying home stays with seldom visited minorities and finishing with our arrival in the Capital of Vietnam, Hanoi.

This tour combines a unique road tour from Luang Prabang - the World Heritage City of Laos to Hanoi, the charming City of Lakes in Vietnam.   Our tour takes in the highlights along the way and gives you a land based view of the region.  You may choose to start your journey from either Vientiane or Luang Prabang.  Optional tours of Luang Prabang, Vientiane and Hanoi can be added to this trip. 

Brief Itinerary:

Day 1: Luang Prabang or Vientiane – Phou Khoun - Phonsavan
Day 2: Plain of Jars Tour
Day 3: Phonsavan – Sam Neua - Vieng Xai
Day 4: Pathet Lao Cave Tour
Day 5: Vieng Xay - Na Meo border - Pu Luong/Vietnam (Sai Village)
Day 6: Pu Luong National Reserve - Trekking in the reserve and remote minority villages
Day 7: Pu Luong National Reserve - Trekking in the reserve and remote minority villages
Day 8: Pu Luong - Ninh Binh - Cuc Phuong National Park
Day 9: Cuc Phuong - Hanoi

Day to Day Itinerary:

Day 1: Luang Prabang or Vientiane – Phou Khoun - Phonsavan

Departing from Luang Prabang, the former Capital of Laos or Vientiane, the current Capital, the first part of drive follows Highway number 13.  The ride offers beautiful panoramic views over the stunning mountain lines of Northern Laos. We stop for lunch at Phou Khoun or Kasi (depending on departure point).  With so many photo opportunities along our path, we stop as you desire to capture the landscape and maybe mix a little with local people.

After lunch, we continue East and the road serpentines along while offering striking views.  If time permits, we stop to visit some of the local villages along the way (Khmu and Hmong ethnic minorities) and we arrive in Phonsavan in the late afternoon.  If our arrival in Phonsavan is early enough, we’ll take time before checking into our hotel to visit the local MAG (Mine Advisory Group) office for information on the dangerous remnants of the Indochina War.

Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our list
Transit
: 7 hours by mini bus or car
Meal plan:
L

Day 2: Plain of Jars Tour

After breakfast, we drive to Site 1 of Plain of Jars for our first look at what many archaeological investigations can not reveal, the real purpose for the massive jars scattered on a remote plain in Laos.  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 and learning a little history about the Indochina War, we drive to Muong Khoun for lunch.

Muong Khoun was once the capital of Xieng Khoang Province. There are temples to visit 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 buildings in town. On the way back to Phonsavan, we make a last stop at a village where local people collect scrap metals which arepartly from UXO and bomb shells, a dangerous occupation!

Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our list
Transit
: 2 hour by mini bus or car
Trekking time
: 3 hours
Trekking
difficulty: Easy
Meal plan:
B, L


Day 3: Phonsavan – Sam Neua - Vieng Xai

Departing early from Phonsavan, we drive east with our first stop at Tham Piew Cave. The cave was used by local people during the Second Indochina War as a bomb shelter but unfortunately became a site where over 400 villages were killed in a US air strike against supposed insurgents from Vietnam.  From the cave entry is a great view of the forest and plains below with a stream and small irrigation dam at the base of the cliff completing a stunning view.  We continue on to Hing Tang (Suan Hin), a collection of standing stones often compared to Stonehenge.  This archaeological site remains a mystery but is believed to be related to the Plain of Jars.  Our last stop is made at Saleuy weaving village, where you may purchase handicrafts directly from the maker and keep you money in the area.

Lunch stop is along the way. The very scenic drive toward Lao – Vietnamese border leads us to the former Pathet Lao Revolutionary headquarters with its famous hundred limestone cliffs and caves from the Indochina War.  The journey from Xam Neua is possibly one of the most picturesque in Laos. We arrive in Vieng Xai in late afternoon, check into hotel and wander around the town.

Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our list
Transit
: 6 - 7 hour by mini bus or car
Trekking time
: 1 hour
Trekking
difficulty: Easy
Meal plan:
B, L

Day 4: Pathet Lao Cave Tour

After breakfast, we spend the entire day visiting Pathet Lao caves. The setting of the caves - inside a narrow and steep limestone-walled valley surrounding the town of Vieng Xai - is truly impressive. We first visit Khayson Cave, the office and residence of the Pathet Lao chief with its various rooms inside. We continue to Souphanouvong Cave also called Red Prince Cave, the office and residence of royalty and Prince Souphanouvong.  Our last visit before lunch is Nouhak Cave, named for Nouhak Phoumsavang who served as Lao PDR president from 1992 to 1998.  We break for lunch at Thavyxay restaurant.

After lunch, we continue to visit Soldier Cave and Hospital Cave. The Hospital Cave is one of the deepest caves, which was used for hospital facilities.  If time permits, we can visit other caves which housed weaving mills, printing press and other facilities needed by the Pathet Lao to remain self-sufficient while under siege.

Vieng Xai was named literally Hidden Cave City.  The caves are the birth place of the modern Laos People’s Democratic Republic.  They have been recently open to public allowing people to discover a once secret history, formation and difficult times of the birth of today’s Laos.

Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our list
Trekking time
: 4 - 5 hours
Trekking
difficulty: Easy
Meal plan:
B, L

Day 5: Vieng Xay - Na Meo border - Pu Luong/Vietnam (Sai Village)

We depart early to the border and entry into Vietnam at Na Meo in Quan Son district, Thanh Hoa Province.  We will walk across the border (.5 km) and be met by our Vietnamese driver for this portion of the trip.  We start our descent from the border mountain range passing many Vietnamese villages and our lunch destination is a stilt house in a Lac Village of Thai Ethnic Minority.

After lunch, we wander around the village to see the daily life of local people.  They specialise 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 15km and board a rowing sampan to paddle along the Ma River. We can stop en-route to visit some of the nearby ethnic minorities villages. We dock and hike to Sai village where we overnight in a traditional stilt house.  Dinner tonight is at the home stay and will reflect local life, no pizza!

Accommodation: Home stay
Transit
: 2 - 3 hour by car/1 to 2 hour by boat
Trekking time
: 1 - 2 hours
Trekking
difficulty: Easy
Meal plan:
B, L, D

Day 6: Pu Luong National Reserve - Trekking in the reserve and remote minority villages

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 local green tea. After a short break, a hike through pristine scenery will take you to Eo Ken village, well off the beaten track and high on a slope of a mountain.  The hike up is a small test for our legs but the experience is well 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.

Accommodation: Home stay
Transit
:  1 hour by mini bus or car
Trekking time
: 4 hours
Trekking
difficulty: Moderate - Strenuous at moments
Meal plan:
B, L, D

Day 7: Pu Luong National Reserve - Trekking in the reserve and remote minority villages

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, good non-slip shoes, and follow the guide’s instructions in full.  We continue our path through the forest and villages to our lunch spot among the trees. 

From here, 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
Trekking time
: 5 to 6 hours
Trekking
difficulty: Moderate
Meal plan:
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 karst limestone mountains.

In the afternoon, we drive to Cuc Phuong Forest National Park, Vietnam’s first national park most important protected area.  Here, we spend time visiting the Endangered Primate Rescue Centre and the Botanical Garden.  Our overnight stay will be in a the park guesthouse.

Accommodation: Your choice of hotel from our list
Transit
: 2 hour by mini bus or car/ 2 hours by boat
Trekking time
: 2 hours
Trekking
difficulty: Easy
Meal plan:
B, L, D

Day 9: Cuc Phuong - Hanoi

Following breakfast, we hike through a subtropical forest, rich in flora and fauna with thousand-year-old trees and hanging vines.  On the way back, we visit an archaeological site of Cave of Pre-historic Man, a cave where prehistoric graves and relics have been found.

Later in the afternoon, we start our journey to Hanoi arriving later in the afternoon.  You check into your hotel and wander around the old quarter to get used to being back among a city and its sights, sounds and vibrancy.

Accommodation: Your choice of hotel from our list
Transit
: 3 hour by mini bus or car
Trekking time
: 3 hours
Trekking
difficulty: Easy
Meal plan:
B, L

Our trip includes

  • English speaking guide
  • Accommodation as indicated
  • Meals as indicated
  • Transportation by car or minivan
  • Tour as indicated
  • Entrance fee

Our trip excludes

  • Domestic and international flights
  • Visa & visa arrangement
  • Meals not indicated
  • Drinking water, soft drink and alcohol
  • Tips & personal expenses

Prices contact info@remoteasia.com

 

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