InsideAsia Tours has launched two new trips that reveal the fascinating different sides of Laos: an active and adventurous trek through the northern Cloud Forests and a luxurious journey incorporating special ‘insider’ experiences and elegant accommodation.
NEW Active adventure: Trekking the Cloud Forests of Laos – from £1,175 pp
Take a hike to the summit of Phou Louey, ‘Forever Mountain’, a rare cloud forest in northern Laos that is visited by just 400 people each year. This nine-night adventure helps the region and its people, with over 20% of the trip cost going directly to the local community and their conservation efforts in the Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area.
A challenging five-day hike through the Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area:
Trek into the one of the densest forests of Laos, starting at Ban Nam Soy and passing through local villages overlooking agricultural fields to Ban Navene, a remote Khmu village. Stop at farmers’ huts along the way and learn about the local produce that sustains these remote communities.
Reaching the summit of Phou Louey:
Phou Louey, Laos’ third highest peak, is the country’s only summit that is accessible and provides a special challenge, both physically and emotionally. The night before the climb, enjoy a traditional Khmu campfire dinner prepared by the village cook around a campfire before settling down for the night. A climb takes you to the Cloud Forest, which offers breathtaking views of endless thick forests. It is these views that coined the name ‘Forever Mountain’ and that make this a truly magical location.
Glimpsing endangered wildlife:
There are ample chances to discover the abundant wildlife of the region. Collect photographs from local camera traps, listen to the calls of the rare white-cheeked crested gibbon in mountainous surroundings, learn about wildlife viewing at the Poung Nied Salt Lick – spot the sambar and barking deer, as well as various species of civets – learn about medicinal plants, and identify animal tracks.
Exploring the compelling history of Luang Prabang:
This adventure is bookended by stays in Luang Prabang, where a historic tour will provide insights into the ancient city. Embark upon a Petanque Tournament, the country’s greatest hobby, and a half-day walking tour which includes a visit to the Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre (TAEC), a museum dedicated to exploring the rich diversity of Laos’ ethnic minorities.
Experiencing an eclectic mix of accommodation:
The combination of accommodation on the trip is unique and special – stay in a hanging ‘nest’ in the forest – suspended from the tree canopy – overnight with local families in their rural homes, along with a traditional Lao bungalow, deep in the jungle.
Trekking the Cloud Forests of Laos is a fully-tailored itinerary, priced from £1,175 pp (two sharing), including nine nights’ full-board accommodation, transfers (including luggage transfer), activities and sightseeing tickets, as mentioned in the detailed itinerary, and expert guides. Flights extra.
NEW Laid-back luxury: Luxurious Laos – from £3,440 pp
Take an adventurous and stylish journey in this remarkable country, from its colonial cities, through its forested mountains and ethnic tribe villages to its ancient sites. Experiencing Laos on a luxury level features ‘insider’ experiences alongside local guides, beautiful and unique accommodation and ample opportunities to take in the dramatic landscapes – perfect for a honeymoon or a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
Discovering local artisans:
Meet a local weaver in her Vientiane workshop to learn about her life and work through a private tour. Carol Cassidy specialises in 100 percent hand-woven silk, and works alongside 40 Lao artisans to create exquisite wall hangings, scarves and custom fabric, blending her own artistry with ancient techniques.
Experiencing behind the scenes tours:
Visit Luang Prabang’s most beautiful temple, Wat Khili, to receive a special blessing from the head monk and take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Buddhist Archive of Photography through the backrooms in which it is housed. Meet the founder of the Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre for a private tour and a chance to learn more about the country’s incredibly diverse ethnic groups.
Taking an exclusive cooking class with a five-star chef:
Head out to the countryside for an open-air cooking class with a five-star head chef, against the backdrop of the beautiful Kuang Si Waterfalls. Travel to a local market to buy the ingredients and learn to cook four individual Laotian dishes, before sitting down to enjoy the Lao feast in the stunning natural setting.
Exploring dramatic natural landscapes and fascinating culture:
Travel into the countryside to visit weaving villages, beautiful lagoons and stunning cave formations. Deeper into the mountainous north, arrive at Muang La, Laos’ answer to the mythical Shangri-La. In this remote region, climb aboard a four-wheel drive to traverse mountain roads, hike through isolated hill tribe villages, and relax by sinking into natural hot springs.
Cruising the Mekong by sunset:
Enjoy a slow, decadent private river cruise on the Mekong, whilst sitting back with a G&T or Champagne in hand and watching the spectacular scenery all the way to Luang Prabang as the sun sets.
Staying in luxurious accommodation:
Discover a stylish century-old former French Governor’s mansion in Luang Prabang, a boutique riverside resort set against limestone karst mountains, an enchanting lodge on the banks of the Nam Pak River – with elevated baths to take advantage of the natural hot springs – and Settha Palace, Vientiane’s most historic hotel, set in a beautiful 1930s colonial mansion.
Luxurious Laos is a fully-tailored journey, priced from £3,440 pp (two sharing), including 11 nights’ B&B accommodation, four lunches, four dinners, airport transfers, and guided excursions and transfers as detailed in the itinerary. International flights extra.
For more information, call InsideAsia Tours on 0117 370 9758 or visit www.insideasiatours.com.
Mark Bibby Jackson
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