Trekking in Phongsaly

Phongsaly Town and Muang Khua are the bases for numerous treks and adventures. The most difficult decision a visitor makes is on which one to embark.

 

You can take a 1-day sightseeing tour, mountain treks to remote Akha villages, and a 5-day jungle expedition. Sample tours below reflect itineraries you can book at the Phongsaly Visitor Centre and with local tour operators.

Phongsaly Nature & Tea Trek

Take a trail past tea plantations, and forests, before following a trail to a mountaintop and Ban Phayasy. After exploring the village, the 1-day trek continues along a dirt road to Ban Phongsek and lunch. The path drops through rice fields and forests to Nam Phan stream and on to Ban Nongkinnaly’s tea plantation to close out the 8-hour trek.

2-Day Phongsaly Trek

Board a bus and take a Nam Ou boat ride through mountains to begin a trek at Ban Watai to Akha villages. Trek for 5 hours to Ban Chakhampa where you’ll spend the night with a family. The next morning, explore the village, and then trek along the Nam Ou to a boat, and cruise to Hatsa and a ride back to Phongsaly Town.

3-Day Trekking in Phongsaly

This trek explores Akha hill villages north of Phongsaly Town. Trek to Ban Khounsouknoy (Phou Noi), famous for producing green Lao whisky. Continue to the Nam Long River and a war-time French trail, and have a picnic lunch at Nam Long River. Ten, trek through thick jungle and upland rice fields to Ban Changtern (Akha) for the night.

In the morning, trek 6 hours to Ban Sopngam (Lao Seng) and into the mountains to Ban Peryenxangmai (Akha) and Ban Peryenxangkao for a homestay. Hit mountain trails to Ban Chakhampa and continue along the Nam Ou River and a private boat to Ban Hatsa and bus to Phongsaly Town.

3-Day Trek to Explore Nam Lan Protected Area

Take a morning bus to the Chinese border at Ban Pakha before a trek to Ban Thao Duang (Lao Bith) for the night. Day 2 is a 6-hour trek in Nam Lan and a night at Naten Village (Tai Yang). Continue to Ban Chalongly (Akha) and a tractor ride to Ban Bountai for an overnight homestay.

1-Day Pakha Trail Trek

This moderate 5-hour trek, starting at Muang Khua, climbs and descends hills through bamboo forests with herbal plants to visit Akha and Tai Yuang villages, with residents, who still wear traditional garb. You’ll experience their lifestyle and participate in activities such as growing rice and distilling Lao whisky. 

1-Day Jungle-Nam Ou River Trail

This moderate excursion starts with a 2.5-hour trek from Muang Khua through forested hills to Ban Thuang Kok (Khmu). After lunch and a visit to experience the local lifestyle, board a boat and head back to Muang Khua on the Nam Ou.

Mountaintop Journey

Hard-core adventurers will love this challenging 7-hour trek to a distant mountaintop, while stopping at an Akha village, where they maintain traditional ways. Start with a 1.5-hour bus ride from Phongsaly Town to Bounneua Town and the trail to Ban Moxoxang. Encounter rice fields, deep jungle, and small streams as you climb to the peak and an unbridled panorama. Descend to Ban Moxoxang, an Akha village where women wear traditional garb. A trek through upland rice fields and jungle ends at the main road and ride to town.

Whisky Trek

This 4 to 5-hour easy trek stops at two whisky distilling villages. The hike begins on a dirt road and through a tea plantation to Ban Khounsouknoy and Ban Khounsoukluang, where they produce Lao whisky, which they are happy to share. After lunch, follow the trail along a mountain ridge with great valley views. Stop and see villagers pick tea leaves on the way to Ban Sailom and a ride to town. 

Green Whisky on a Mountain

Drive to Ban Chicho and the path through primary and bamboo forests to Ban Bakanoy, famous for green Lao whisky. Continue the 5-hour trek to Ban Sala, an elusive Akha Oma village, to learn about their way of life. Climb higher to the mountain’s summit, before descending to the road and ride to town.

Ancient Tea Trek

Take a 7-hour trek through tea plantations and forests, and up streams to the mountaintop village of Ban Komaen. Here, you’ll inspect 400-year-old tea trees, and taste the fresh hot brew. Head downhill on a dirt road with views of Phongsaly, until you reach Ban Chaphou and Ban Phouxoum and the hike to town.  

Akha Overnight

Combine a Nam Ou boat ride with 8 hours on the trail to an Akha homestay in the mountains. Drive from Phongsaly Town to riverside Ban Hatsa and a private boat upriver to isolated Ban Watai (Lao Seng). From here, climb higher into the mountains to Ban Chakhampa for an evening with an Akha family. Explore the village in the morning, before a 3-hour descent to Ban Hatsa and bus ride to town. 

Remote Akha Immersion

Trek north of Phongsaly Town to Akha villages accessible only by a mountain trail. This 3-day expedition starts with an easy walk to Ban Khounsouknoy to watch green Lao whisky production. The path then follows the Nam Long River and an old French military trail that passes through thick jungle and upland rice fields. The 7-hour Day-1 trek ends at Ban Changtern for an Akha homestay.

The 2nd day spends 6 hours trekking along mountain ridges with endless views of green. The trail enters thick jungle and bamboo forests to Ban Sopngam, and then climbs higher into the mountains to Ban Peryenxangkao and an Akha homestay. The final day descends to Ban Chakhampa and a Nam Ou River trail to a Ban Hatsa-bound boat and bus to town.  

Hidden Phou Den Din

Travel to the Chinese border and spend 3 days in the Phou Den Din National Protected Area (NPA) meeting rarely visited hill tribes. Drive north from town to Ban Pakha and a 4-hour trail through fields to an Akha village, and on to Ban Thao Duang (Lao Bith) for a homestay. The next day, continue through flatlands and small stream to Ban Chakhamdeng and Ban Speu (Akha) to explore their lifestyles. The path leads to the Nam Lan River and into the NPA and Ban Naten for the night. Spend an optional day exploring Phou Den Din or go to Ban Naten and a ride to town.

Ethnic Odyssey

Hop from village to village on this 3-day trek in the mountains. After a drive from town to Ban Hatsa, jump on a boat, and motor up the Nam Ou to Ban Watai (Lao Seng). From here, the climb grows steeper to the mountain ridge and distant views on the way to Ban Paicho (Akha) and on to Ban Naperxangkao (Akha) for a homestay. Spend time the next day learning about the Akha culture, stopping at villages on the 4-hour trek to Ban Peryenxang and Ban Chakhampa for the night. The final day follows a trail to the Nam Ou and boat to Ban Hatsa.

The Akha Up Close

There’s no roads to the Akha villages you’ll visit along Phongsaly’s rugged trails on this 5-day trek. Start with an easy walk to Ban Khounsouknoy, known for its green Lao whisky. From here, follow the Nam Long River along an old French trail, and cut through thick jungle to an upland rice field. After 6 hours of trekking, stop at Ban Changtern (Akha) for a homestay. Spend Day 2 in the mountain tops, walking along ridges with postcard views. The trail enters the forest, and reaches Ban Sopngam, before climbing back up to the peaks and Ban Peryenxangmai (Akha) for the night.     

The next day spends 4 hours hopping between Akha villages. A path through young forest reaches Ban Peryenxangkao. A trail further through rice fields and thicker jungle arrives at Ban Naporxang and on to Ban Paicho for a deeper cultural immersion during a homestay. A trail along a jungle stream starts the next morning, before climbing up the mountain through primary forest to Ban Phou-yot and the night. The next descends the highlands to Ban Phouxoum and a boat to Ban Hatsa.    

 

Phongsaly: Land of Green Tea
Phongsaly: Land of Green Tea

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