Northern Laos Village Visits & Homestays
Bokeo: Stay awhile in Houay Xay or travel on the Tea Caravan Trail to Luang Namtha and stop at an ethnic village. Nam Keung’s Bokeo Social Enterprise specialises in ethnic Lahu forest products such as ginger candy, herbal medicine, and banana liquor. Ban Pa Na opens the door to the Nam Nyon Waterfalls and the Phou Pha Houng Mountain Trek to “Eagle Peak”. Watch Lanten women produce bamboo paper in Nam Chang, and purchase Hmong embroideries and Tai Lue woven household goods at Don Chai. To discover more about Bokeo’s Village Visits, click here.
Houaphanh: Hop on the “Bike Loop” around Xam Neua Town and meet the locals. Stop at Ban Poung and Ban Kan to watch villagers distil rice alcohol near the ruins of an ancient temple. Further along, a series of “Bamboo Villages” house some of the province’s most skilled rattan weavers. And for a cup of tea you’ll never forget, stop in Ban Kang, where the Phou Tai started planting red tea plants in 1828. To discover more about Houaphanh’s Village Visits, click here.
Luang Namtha: Journey to the home of some 20 ethnic groups, who open their remote doors for an immersive experience. Looking for pure authentic? Join a trek that wanders through forested mountains to Akha, Hmong, Lahu, and Yao villages, where you can dive into their traditional lifestyles. Closer to Luang Namtha Town, take a ride to the Lanten village of Ban Nam Dee to observe bamboo papermaking, taste local meals, participate in their daily work, and enjoy a homestay. About 3 km south of town, the Tai Yuan of Vieng Neua hosts baci ceremonies, cultural performances, meals, and cooking classes in their traditional community house. To discover more about Luang Namtha’s Village Visits, click here.
Luang Prabang: Step outside the UNESCO World Heritage city and meet the ancestors of its original inhabitants. Head to villages that have specialized in particular trades for generations: Ban Hat Hian (Blacksmithing), Ban Chan (Pottery), Ban Xang Hai (Whisky), Ban Xang Khong (Mulberry Paper), and Ban Muang Kham (Riverweed). Visit Hmong and Khmu villages on a trek to Kuang Si or Tad Sae Waterfalls, or immerse yourself in local culture on a 2-day trek and homestay. Those venturing to Muang Ngoi can spend the night with a Khmu family on a hike to waterfalls and caves. To discover more about Luang Prabang’s Village Visits, click here.
Oudomxay: Catch the culture at a choice of villages within an hour of Muang Xay Town. Drive to Ban Thameun and learn how villagers use forest products for food and medicine. A tuk tuk ride away lands you at the 1,000-year-old Tai Lue village of Ban Yor, known for their pottery work. Just down the road in Pasak Village, you’ll uncover beautiful samples of dyed cotton handicraft products. Take a 1-hour drive from town to the forested hills and Khmu Village of Ban Faen, and an easy walk to Nam Kat Waterfall before an optional homestay. To discover more about Oudomxay’s Village Visits, click here.
Phongsaly: Hit the trails to discover isolated ethnic villages and their inhabitants untouched by time. Explore the Chinese border with stops at Tai Lue, Akha, and Haw villages with an overnight in Ban Tha. Then, climb higher up the mountains to meet seldom-seen Yao and Kher people. A 3-day trek encounters eight different minorities including little-known Laoseng, Mouchee, and Tai Yang, who welcome you with homestays. Delve into Akha life on a 3-day trek and a pair of overnights for an authentic interactive experience. Head deep into the Nam Lan Protected Area, and immerse yourself in Lao Bith and Tai Yang culture on overnight stays. To discover more about Phongsaly Village Visits, click here.
Sayabouly: Village visits take a twist in Sayabouly. Hop on a riverboat to Ban Kaengeng for a taste of traditional Khmu lao hai, a rice wine served in a large jar for communal drinking through bamboo straws. Drive to Ban Nangoua, the only village in Laos outside Luang Prabang that continues to produce pottery the traditional way. Roadside Ban Bi Mi presents a cotton production hub, where you can watch, learn about, and participate in the entire multi-step process from cultivation to weaving cloth. The Houay Namsai Herbal Spa Centre offers a 2-day package with a Nam Houng River boat ride and overnight homestay at Ban Phakoun. To discover more about Sayabouly Village Visits, click here.
Xieng Khouang: Here’s your chance to meet the people, who live among the Plain of Jars and survived the heaviest bombardment during the Indochina War. Near Jar Site 2, Ban Napia introduces you to Tai Phuan villagers, who forge spoons from war scrap. Traditional architecture attracts visitors to Ban Naxi’s cluster of Tai Dam houses, led by a 2-story thatch-roof structure on stilts. Walk into the fairy-tale village of Ban Xang, with peculiar bridges crossing flower-and-plant-lined brooks, ducks waddling down dirt roads, and smiling Khmu and Tai Phuan women weaving and embroidering intricate silk patterns. Taste Tai Dam lifestyle at Ban Xieng Kio’s Cultural Hall, a small museum displaying and explaining their lifestyle. Head out on a Hmong-led trek to Ban Phakeo for a night in their village lodge. See innovation at its best at Ban Ta Jok, where Hmong villagers use bomb shells as vegetable planters, house and barn pillars, and fence posts. To discover more about Xieng Khouang Village Visits, click here.
Central Laos Village Visits & Homestays
Bolikhamxay: Looking for villages set in nature and near Vientiane Capital? Villagers at Ban Na and Ban Hadkai, in Phou Khao Kwai (PKK) National Protected Area, lead treks through orchid fields to waterfalls with homestay and camping accommodation and overnights at the Elephant Tower. You can also stay at the Ban Yang Kheua lodge in PKK, where villagers take you along the Yong River past rapids and a waterfall to a boat ride back. To discover more about Bolikhamxay Village Visits, click here.
Khammouane: A pair of villages straddle the popular 7.5-km boat ride through Konglor Cave. Konglor Village offers a lodge and Ban Natan has overnights for those who want a pleasant pause before the return trip through the cave. You can also find treks in the Phou Hin Poun National Protected Area that spend the night in remote villages surrounded by towering limestone karsts. To discover more about Khammouane Village Visits, click here.
Savannakhet: The Savannakhet Historic Trail hosts village visits that present insights into distinct handicraft production. Take a quick drive south of Savannakhet Town to the Laha group of weaving villages, where women hand-spin and naturally dye cotton textiles in traditional and modern styles. Stop in the Lao Silk-Cotton Weaving Centre at Ban Nong Kadaeng in the mountainous east, where descendants of the original Phouthai settlers continue to produce traditional hand-woven cotton and silk products. Watch the Phouthai women in Ban Non Yang near Phine Town brew traditional rice alcohol, and a concoction infused with herbs said to have the same effect as Viagra. Meet ethnic Bru, Tri, and Katang women in remote Nong District, as they weave distinctive textiles with highly complex patterns. To discover more about Savannakhet Village Visits, click here.
Southern Laos Village Visits & Homestays
Champasak: For those heading to Champasak Town, stop at Ban Nong Bueng and get a close-up look at traditional woodcarving using techniques handed down through generations of the ethnic Ta Oy. Staying on Don Khone or Don Det? Take a 2-day boat adventure and trek to small island villages on Don Sahong and Don Khone Yuak before a homestay at Hang Khone. From Pakse, a Mekong riverboat cruises the Mekong to weavers in Don Kho and Ban Saphai, who create silk garments in the shade under their houses on stilts. To discover more about Champasak Village Visits, click here.
Salavan: Easy to access, yet little known villages hold plenty of surprises in Salavan. Take a trip to Toumlan, where Katang weavers use odd looms. Nearby is Ban Heuan Nyao, a village started by Mr Lue, who had seven wives, and built a longhouse to accommodate them. Stop at Ban Saneum Nai, an ethnic Suay village, and observe the “mat mee” method of weaving, which uses compact laptop looms. Some of the villagers and nearby Katu communities are also seasoned musicians, who occasionally gather to play old folk songs on traditional instruments. A short drive from Salavan town lands at Ban Naxai, a village that evolved into a coconut capital, with stand after stand selling the giant fruit. And those on the 2-day Phou Tak Khao Trek will overnight at Ban Khanouan, a Suay village of expert crossbow archers. To discover more about Salavan Village Visits, click here.