Laos and Vietnam holiday, Luang Prabang to Hanoi

“A two week, small group holiday to explore remote northern Laos and Vietnam, meeting ethnic hill tribes and soaking up this region’s unspoiled, dramatic scenery.”

Highlights

Laos: Luang Prabang | Kuang Si Waterfalls | Plain of Jars at Phonsavan | Mines Action Group | Mouang Khoun (formerly Xieng Khouang) | Hmong and Khmu settlements | Sam Neua | Vieng Xai Caves | Black Tai villages | Vietnam: Pu Luong National Park | stay at White Tai village | Tonkinese Alps | Mu Cang Chai rice paddies | Pa So | Sapa Hill station | Fansipan Mountain | Cat Cat waterfall | sleeper train to Hanoi

Description of Laos and Vietnam holiday, Luang Prabang to Hanoi

Our exciting and unique 2-week Laos and Vietnam tour – Mountains and Hill-tribes – begins in the ancient Lao capital, now World Heritage Site, Luang Prabang and takes you overland through the remote and rugged highlands of northern Laos and Vietnam to finish in Hanoi’s vibrant and colourful Old Quarter.

Little over 100 years ago much of this remote region of Indochina was a still just a complete blank on the map and even today, despite possessing some of Southeast Asia’s most spectacular scenery and traditional minority villages, remains unknown to much of the outside world.

Our tour begins with an exploration of the ancient temples and colonial architecture of charming and well-preserved Luang Prabang, nestled in the mountains aside the mighty Mekong River, before taking you across the mountains to another World Heritage site, the enigmatic Plain of Jars, and Vieng Xai’s highly unusual ‘Hidden City’ – a vast underground complex dating to the 70s Indochina war. Crossing the Vietnam border we’ll stay at a delightful eco-lodge amid the spectacular limestone scenery of Pu Luong National Park and explore the magnificent landscapes, myriad traditional minority villages and iconic rice terraces of one of the most picturesque yet little-known regions of Southeast Asia.

Wonderful landscapes, varied activities, local markets and rural life as well as plenty of opportunities to met the particularly friendly residents and sample the sumptuous local cuisine make for an enthralling and unforgettable tour.


Features:

1. Explore the ancient temples, colonial architecture, narrow lanes and bustling markets of World Heritage Luang Prabang
2. Visit the picturesque and enigmatic 'Plain of Jars' archaeological site in northeastern Laos
3. Hike through the magnificent karst landscapes of Pu Luong and the myriad spectacular rice terraces of Mu Cang Chai
4. Journey through some of Southeast Asia's most dramatic mountain scenery in northern Vietnam's Tonkinese Alps
5. Explore Hanoi; its historic old town, Hoan Kiem Lake, museums, markets, cafes and fascinating street-life
6. Discover the delicious and contrasting cuisines of Laos and Vietnam in restaurants, local cafes, street markets

Optional extensions

1. Add on our 2-day extension to fabulous World Heritage Halong Bay
2. Take the train to mountain-top Sapa for more alpine scenery and hilltribe minorities
3. A domestic flight could whisk you off to a beachside resort on the stunning tropical island of Phu Quoc

Note groups sizes are 2 to maximum 12 persons with most meals (local-style) included and accommodation in 3 to 4* hotels.

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

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Date
Price
Basis
27 Jan 2021
£1930
excluding flights
Available
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24 Feb 2021
£1930
excluding flights
Available
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23 Mar 2021
£1890
excluding flights
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18 Apr 2021
£1890
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18 May 2021
£1890
excluding flights
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20 Jun 2021
£1890
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20 Jul 2021
£1890
excluding flights
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18 Aug 2021
£1890
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19 Sep 2021
£1890
excluding flights
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19 Oct 2021
£1890
excluding flights
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15 Nov 2021
£1930
excluding flights
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21 Dec 2021
£1970
excluding flights
Available
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Vouchers
Accepted
Holiday type
This is a genuine small group adventure tour with group sizes limited to a maximum of 12 persons. Experience has taught us that smaller numbers are less intrusive to local cultures and environments whilst allowing more interaction with local people. Furthermore, it means greater flexibility on a day to day basis and on a social level has proved to be more fun as you make new friends and share your experiences with like-minded people.

Minimum numbers are either 2 or 4 so, while in low season in particular, sizes can be small, there will be plenty of opportunities to meet both locals and other travellers along the way.

The tour price is based upon 2 persons sharing, twin or double rooms, while single room supplements are also available should you prefer. The intention is to travel as a group of friends rather than a typical tour group, so don't expect stick-on name badges or any following the umbrella. Please note that all activities are fully flexible and most age and fitness levels can be accommodated.

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

Environment
Our aim is to provide a genuinely small group, low impact tour including a mixture of popular and off the beaten track sites on our itinerary. By limiting groups to small sizes (maximum 12 persons) we aim to reduce the impact on both local communities and the environment whilst allowing for greater interaction with said communities.
It also results in a higher guide/customer ratio thus greater facility for supervision and individual assistance and allows us to use smaller hotels and restaurants and employ the services of more genuinely ‘local’ operators perhaps not otherwise well equipped for larger groups.

By combining the well-known tourist sites with rarely visited destinations this diverts tourist revenue and contact with responsible tourism into areas not usually benefiting as well as providing a more authentic view of the region visited. Rarely visited sites and districts on this tour include: Luang Nam Tha, Nam Ha Protected National Biodiversity Area, Xieng Khouang ancient city, Sam Nuea and Viengxay Caves, (all Laos) plus Pu Luong National Park, Tu Le and Nghia Lo districts, Vietnam.

Providing suitable, relevant information for our customers; to help them to gain a wider understanding of our style of tourism that focuses on learning, genuine interaction with the local communities, reciprocity and cultural exchange processes is also a key element of this tour.

As with all our tours national park visits are included and activities such as birdwatching offered which we hope will encourage protection of the natural environment and provide financial incentives for doing so.

All hotels are small and independently owned with proven responsible travel credentials and all (fully-licensed) guides and drivers are locally employed.

Meals are provided in either locally-run restaurants or local-style cafes, market and street stalls. All products are locally sourced and all staff are local residents. The emphasis is also very much on traditional Thai, Lao and Vietnamese food which we hope increases an interest and pride in the region’s cuisine.

Additional food products - for takeaway lunches, picnics etc – are deliberately purchased from local bakeries and /or fresh produce markets rather than chain supermarkets.

All transport is locally owned – whether minibuses or boats and tuk-tuks for shorter journeys.

With regards souvenirs our clients are also encouraged to buy from either markets or outlets attached to aid and educational organizations such as Luang Prabang’s Ock Top Pop for example rather than the large, purpose-built souvenir stores.

We ensure to the best of our ability that all accommodation used on this tour employs sound environmental and social practices in terms of recycling, water conservation and product sourcing as well as employment policies.

By explaining our methods and the reasons behind them local agents, guides and hotels are encouraged by us to adopt further responsible tourism practices themselves and guides and drivers are provided with additional training in this respect.

This tour covers a lot of kilometres - from Luang Prabang in northern Laos via Sapa to Hanoi – without, we’re happy to say, using a single domestic or regional flight. All journeys are either by road or rail and in the former case we use, where available, vehicles run on LPG. All road vehicles are hired at the destination points to avoid long haul journeys.

Furthermore, accommodation is specifically chosen with location in mind so that at any given destination on the tour most key sites are within easy walking or cycling distance thus keeping vehicle use to a minimum on the itinerary. This also negates the need for any form of taxis during free time as guests can walk or cycle to any points of interest.

To reduce transport all staff are locally employed. Lunches and dinners are all Vietnamese style and taken in local eateries which use 100% locally sourced products. Again, any inclusive meals consist of traditional Vietnamese fare so are heavy on vegetables and sustainably-sourced fish, light on meat and lack any dairy products.
Community

The Impacts of this Trip

This tour includes visits to the following projects: Free the Bears and Ock Top Pop (both Luang Prabang) and Mines Advisory Group (Phonsavan).

Entrance fees and/or donations help the following aid projects: Free the Bears (Luang Prabang), Ock Top Pop sustainable silk weaving organisation, Mines Advisory Group (Phonsavan) while a portion of ticket fees at: The Plain of Jars, Luang Prabang Fine Arts Centre, Luang Prabang National Museum, Kuang Si Waterfall, Viengxay Caves and numerous other sites goes towards restoration, conservation and local development as well as providing revenue and employment.

On a general level, leaders and guides provide suitable, relevant information for our customers; to help them to gain a wider understanding of our style of tourism that focuses on learning; genuine interaction with the local communities, reciprocity and cultural exchange processes. To be aware of the potential impact of tourism on the local society, culture and environment, and to behave and dress appropriately with a respect and appreciation for local customs, mores and traditions and a respect for the ecology of areas visited. Our guides and leaders thus facilitate communication of our values to both travellers and local communities, educating them in sustainable tourism practices.

Climate

2 Reviews of Laos and Vietnam holiday, Luang Prabang to Hanoi

4 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 09 Dec 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Drinking home made "Happy Water" with our guide at his Homestay in a tiny village amongst the Sapa rice terraces.
Sitting in the remote Golden Buddha cave temple near the Nong Thao Lake when 4 monks came in and chanted for some time.


2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Be prepared for long stretches of time spent on the road in Laos due to the distances between the key stopovers with not much opportunity to exercise

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Difficult to say. Certainly the cash we were spending went directly to local people.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Laos does not have the "Wow" impact that Vietnam and Cambodia have on first visiting . However it is very easy and safe to travel and the people are
incredibly friendly and welcoming. They do not (yet) see tourists as walking ATMs :-)

Reviewed on 28 Nov 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Visiting a cave which had become a shrine due to a tragedy that happened there during the Vietnam war.....the place was thickly populated by the most incredible butterflies it was a deeply spiritual and moving experience. Our guides were lovely kind thoughtful and patient

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Don't bring too many clothes you won't need them and laundry can be done easily and cheaply in Laos and Vietnam

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes we were pretty Eco and ate with locals everywhere which was a big part of the fun

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


AWESOME

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