Laos travel notes from Eric Kareus, Asia Transpacific Journeys’ Travel Specialist
Greetings from Laos. Traveling overland from Northern Thailand to Luang Prabang has afforded some amazing cultural experiences, including visits to many minority villages including Lantean, Khamu, Hmong, Akha and Tai Dam. It’s much more traditional and unvisited than anything I have seen in Northern Thailand and very similar to remote areas of Shan State in Burma, but with much better access.
From Thailand we crossed to Ban Huoy Sai and then drove to Luang Namtha to spend the night. From here, we drove to the Muang La Resort which was our base for the next 3 days. There are numerous villages to visit via 4WD or hiking and biking excursions. The resort is phenomenal. With only 6 rooms, it’s very intimate in an area not frequented by many travelers. It has a riverside hot springs, ‘hot tub’, that they fill up each evening. From here you can observe children play and fish, while families come down from the hillside after working to bath and swim. If you were to take a picture in black and white you could pass it off as a scene from a century ago. The food is interesting and for the most part extremely tasty, except on the occasion that they attempt to introduce you to some traditional Laos specialties like frog, fish heads and snails.
From Muang La you can drive directly to Luang Prabang, however, we drove Northeast to Muang Khua. From here we enjoyed a 3-hour private boat trip down the Nam Ou River to Nong Khiow. The scenery is absolutely stunning with limestone mountains and primary growth jungle for a good portion of the journey. We also stopped in a couple of villages (Khamu and Tai Lu) that have no road access and were very pristine. One in particular wove beautiful textiles that were available at a fraction of the cost that you’d find them for once reaching Luang Prabang.
After spending a night in Nong Kiow, we drove to Luang Prabang where I am now heading off for lunch at L’Elephant and a bottle of Louis Jadot Beaujolais.
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