Trekking in Luang Namtha
Meeting lost mountain tribes, skirting the Chinese frontier, immersing yourself in river life…Luang Namtha treks offer it all. And, there’s plenty of local tour operators and guides working with the province’s Sustainable Tourism Network (STN) to ensure everyone gets a piece of the revenue pie.
Luang Namtha Town & Nam Ha NPA: The Adventure Begins
Select a trek in the Nam Ha National Protected Area (NPA), and embark on an adventure in pristine wilderness. You can pick a path that climbs to peaks overlooking green mountains, or a trail requiring bamboo rafts to cross streams. At night, stay in an ethnic village home or lodge, camp under a jungle canopy, or sleep in a forest retreat. The Luang Namtha Eco-guide Unit and STN tour operators offer one- and multi-day treks for everyone.
Lanten Experience & Ancient Trail
Take an easy 4-hour trek through a mountain forest on narrow paths to Ban Nam Dee (Lanten) and its waterfall near Luang Namtha Town. Get an early start at Ban Hua Na, and head deep into a preserved area with a view of the Luang Namtha Valley and the Nam Dee Waterfall. Your guide explains natural products found in the primal forest such as types of bamboos, wild rattans, and cardamoms. He also shares info about traditional medicine and points out animal tracks and edible leaves. Arrive at Nam Dee Waterfall and village to participate in activities including weaving, bamboo papermaking, and natural dyeing.
Embark on a moderate day-trek in the Nam Ha NPA’s mountains and ancient forest, and visit the Khmu people. A morning start takes you up Doiluckkam (Gold Mountain) deep in the NPA. As you walk, listen for wild animals, look for their tracks, and spot birds. Your guide explains the traditional use of medicinal plants, edible leaves, and native skills for hunting. After a picnic lunch, the trail turns flat, and then goes downhill to Ban Nam Ha to visit a Khmu village before returning to town.
Take an easy day-trek through rice fields and into the NPA’s forested foothills with stops at four ethnic villages to observe their traditional ways of life. Along the way, check out local farming practices, silk weaving, and distilling potent lao khao rice whiskey. Visit Ban Nam Hoi (Hmong) Ban Don Kone (Tai Yuan), and Ban Piang Ngam (Tai Daeng), where you’ll have a local lunch. Continue to Ban Nam Ngean (Tai Dam) to see That Poum Pouk Stupa before a ride back to town.
Ban Nam Yang Nature Trek
This 1-day easy trek into the Nam Ha NPA winds through forest and upland fields to vistas of the area. Along the way to Nam Yang Village (Akha), you will see villagers collecting forest products, tending livestock, or working their highland fields. You’ll search for animal tracks and spot birds with an Akha hunter. Before returning to the valley, visit an Akha village, and stop at That Poum Pouk Stupa on the drive back to town.
Nam Ha River Trek & Bamboo Camp
Trek along the Nam Ha River and through the jungle to a Khmu village with a night in a campsite made of bamboo. Start your 2-day adventure at Ban Nam Ha with a moderate trek, while your Khmu guide explains edible and medicinal plants. Hike uphill through 100-year-old trees as you look for monkeys, wild goats and pigs. Then, you’ll head to the river and the campsite, where you can swim, fish for dinner, or rest.
Awaken to the sounds of bears, monkeys, barking dears, gibbons, wild pigs, and jungle fowl, and walk around the camp to try and spot them. After breakfast, cross the river and a field to Ban Nalan, and experience the Khmu lifestyle. Hike uphill into the forest and gather jungle food and tea for lunch made with bamboo implements like spoons, cups, and tubes for cooking. After eating, trek 2 hours down the mountain to Ban Chalernsouk and transportation to Luang Namtha Town.
Nam Ha River Journey
Jump on a 3-day moderate guided trek with short hill climbs, forest trails, overnights in a survival jungle camp, and Ban Nalan homestay. Commence the 1st day of trekking through secondary forest to upland rice fields with great valley views. After 5 hours of hiking, you’ll reach the trail descending to Ban Nalan. Look for a 1960s gunnery emplacement on the way. Overnight at a Ban Nalan homestay with a Khmu family.
After breakfast, follow a local guide along the Nam Ha River, before a 2-hour challenging mountain climb. The trail leads through 500-year-old trees, with a dense canopy rich in birdlife, to the heart of the NPA. After lunch, march for 3 hours to the forest camp and prepare a jungle dinner. Wake up to the sounds of the forest, before trekking uphill and preparing a survivalist meal in the jungle. After lunch, hike 2 hours down the mountain, cross the Nam Ha River, and arrive at Ban Nam Ha for a ride back to Luang Namtha Town.
Spend 4 days on the trail, meet Akha and Tai Dam people, and learn to live off the land. Day 1 starts by heading north with a guide to the Akha village of Ban Kham Kao for a short visit. From here, climb into the NPA’s mountains and try to spot monkeys, deer, and birds, while collecting “jungle food” for dinner. Stay the night in an Akha lodge near Ban Lak Kham Kao.
Walk with a Khmu bird-caller at dawn, and then head deeper into the NPA. Reach a mountain ridge before descending to the Tai Dam village of Ban Nam Kon for an overnight homestay, where you’ll learn how to cook a traditional dinner. The next morning, head out on a full day of trekking in the NPA with a Tai Dam guide. Stop at the Nam Kon Waterfall in the jungle and take a dip in the natural pool at its base. After lunch, climb through primary forest up Phou Chang Pa (Wild Elephant Mountain) and on to Ban Nam Leuang to immerse yourself in the “Akha Way” and spend the night. The final morning starts with a walk along a forested stream for 6 hours until you reach a Hmong village and a ride to town.
Nam Ha Forest Experience
Embark on this 3-day odyssey at Ban Sin Oudom after crossing the Nam Tha River by boat. As you climb steep slopes, collect wild herbs and vegetables, while the guide explains the plants and wildlife in the forest. After 6 hours of trekking, you’ll reach the camp where you’ll cook dinner in bamboo tubes, before a night under the stars. Wake up early to spot birds, before trekking deeper into the NPA. You’ll see a variety of tree species, hear and see monkeys, and find signs of bears, civets, and wild boars.
After a steep descent, arrive at Ban Namkoy (Lanten) or Ban Nalantai (Khmu), where the hosts prepare a local-style dinner while you swim in the river and tour the village. Interact with the folks after dinner, and spend the night. The next morning, take an easy walk along the river and through rice paddies, before heading back into the forest. Stop at a Khmu village for a traditional lunch, and then start the final descent to Ban Chaluensouk and a ride back to Luang Namtha Town.
Three Peak Mountain Hop
Spend three nights on Sam Yot (Three Peak Mountain) and stay with three different ethnic groups. Kick off your guided trek at Ban Kok Mee with a hike through rubber plantations, fields, and forests to the top of Sam Yot. Overnight in Old Sam Yot Village (Hmong). The next day dives deeper into the surrounding jungle and down into a valley to Ban Nam Talan, where you’ll dine on Khmu dishes, sample lao hai rice wine, and spend the night.
On Day 3, follow a mountain trail under a forest canopy, and have a picnic on the path with Khmu and Lanten villagers. Continue to Ban Nam Khon for an overnight stay in this ethnic Lanten village. The next morning, participate in collecting forest products, feeding livestock, and pounding rice. After lunch, return to the base of Sam Yot and on to town.
Nam Ha 5-day Excursion
Immerse yourself in the nature and culture of a remote corner of the world. Hike deep into the NPA, as your local guide transfers his knowledge of edible, medicinal, and poisonous forest plants. Continue to a waterfall and climb up a mountain to Akha farming areas and views of jungle-coated mountains. Arrive at Ban Phou Varn (Akha), where you’ll learn to cook a traditional dinner and get an Akha welcome massage. The next day, follow a jungle path along the mountains for 6 hours to Ban Nam Ha (Khmu) and join in a baci ceremony, husking rice, and a Khmu sword dance before a night in a homestay.
Day 3 starts with training as a blacksmith and in making bamboo baskets and toys. Then, hit the trail through rice paddies and up mountains to look for birds, monkeys, and deer, while learning about forest products and traditional medicine. An easy afternoon hike lands at the Khmu-hosted forest camp, where you’ll look for signs of wildlife and collect plants for a dinner. Awaken to jungle sounds and a hardy breakfast before tackling steep mountain paths. Make a survivalist lunch with forest products and bamboo cookware. Continue to Ban Nalan (Khmu), chat with the locals, and overnight in their lodge.
In the morning, follow the Nam Ha River through hardwood forests to ethnic Lanten farmland. Face the challenge of a steep trail through ancient forests with a thick canopy to a mountain ridge and distant views of Luang Namtha Town. The final descent reaches Ban Namlue, inhabited by Lanten and Khmu people, and the ride back to town.
Muang Sing: History, Culture & Nature Converge
Sing District holds historical significance, serves as home to a diverse ethnic population, and presents pristine natural beauty between mountain ridges and peaks. A group of tour operators, all members of the Sustainable Tourism Network (STN), conduct treks around Muang Sing. These take in enlightening village visits, homestays, and nights at a jungle camp dining on self-cooked “forest food” meals.
Huaylong Kao Village Walk
Spend a full day visiting seven ethnic villages on an easy to moderately difficult trail through the Muang Sing Valley. You’ll meet Hmong, Akha, and Khmu people as you walk on paths through forest and fields on this moderate trek. Have lunch along the way and be back in Sing Town in the late afternoon.
Journey to Pawai Kao
Choose a 1 or 2-day moderately challenging trek to Ban Pawai Kao with visits to Tai Lue, Tai Neua, Akha, and Hmong villages. Spend a full day trekking up inclines to the mountain top, with stops to meet ethnic groups along the way. Enjoy the view from Ban Pawai Kao and return to Sing Town in the late afternoon, or overnight at Pawai Kao and spend more time at the villages during a 2-day trek.
The Old Falang Trail
Step into the past on a secret trail from Luang Namtha to Muang Sing, which offers a 360-degree view of the surrounding landscape. Depart Luang Namtha Town for Ban Nam Yang (Akha) on the first morning, and after a short visit, head out on the “Old Falang Trail” for 6-7 hours. Hike deep into the Nam Ha NPA to explore untouched nature. The trail continues to your tented campsite for a great sunset view, while your guide cooks dinner. The next morning, trek into the heart of the NPA’s green mountains with a variety of plant and tree species. After lunch on the trail, hike down to Xieng Tung Stupa and a ride into Sing Town.
Xieng Khaeng Stops the Clock
Be among the first to explore the isolated Xieng Khaeng Region along the Mekong, where diverse ethnic groups have been living off the mountain forests for more than 500 years. Local tour operators offer multi-day programs that include mountain treks, Mekong boat rides, and Akha homestays.
Take a 2-day trek that starts at mountaintop Ban Mom for glimpses of China’s peaks. The trail leads to Ban Say on the Mekong across from Myanmar’s mountains, and an Akha homestay and Mekong boat ride. Another 2-day option kicks off at a 1,800-metre-high peak near Ban Pakham and journeys through steep, dense forests to Ban Done Chai on the Mekong. A 5-day Akha experience tackles the mountains around Xieng Khaeng with homestays at four Akha villages.
Delve into the Green Triangle
Head out on a challenging 4-day trek through raw nature in Laos’ north-western frontier with China and Myanmar on the “Chao Fa Trail”, and spend your nights in Tai Lue and Akha homes. Start at Ban Mom and trek to Ban Say (Tai Lue) on the Mekong for a riverside walk, sunset view over the Myanmar-mountain horizon, and overnight homestay.
Day 2 begins at an ancient Buddhist stupa before embarking on a rugged mountain climb to 1,500 metres. Continue to Ban Eula, an Akha village, where you’ll eat dinner with the locals, get a traditional massage, and spend the night. A rigorous march over the mountains through primal forests on Day 3 leads to remote villages and ends at Ban Pha Daeng for an overnight homestay. A final 4-hour trek ventures to a buffalo farm and ride back to Sing Town.
Camp on the Elephant Trail
Learn to live in the forest on the “Elephant Trail”, a 2-day trek tracing the path of wild pachyderms between China and Laos. Start with a hike up and down a mountain pass to a waterfall, while seeking signs of elephants, bear, tigers, monkeys, and other animals. Continue to an Akha-hosted campsite, where you’ll learn to cook dinner with forest plants and herbs by using bamboo utensils, before sleeping in a banana-leaf and bamboo shelter.
Wake up to gibbons calling, before the hike to Ban Nam Daet Mai (Akha) for lunch. Your local guide explains Akha history, traditions, and culture as you stroll through the village. You’ll meet the people, examine their structures, and learn how to make baskets and weave. An afternoon trek reaches Ban Done Chai near the Chinese border and a ride back to Sing Town.
Hugging the Chinese Frontier
Take off towards China on this easy 2-day trek that stops at the villages of five different ethnic groups and includes an Akha overnight homestay. Kick off the trek at Ban Nam Mai near the Chinese border, and learn about the Yao’s culture and lifestyle. Continue to an Akha village for lunch, and on to Ban Sop Ee to experience the Akha way of life and try riding a buffalo.
You’ll have plenty of time for cultural interaction during dinner, after which you’ll be blessed at a baci ceremony, listen to Akha songs, get a traditional massage, and sample lao khao rice alcohol. The next morning, climb a mountain trail while your guide explains life in the forest and the medicinal herbs that grow there. Stop for a picnic lunch, and then continue to That Xieng Tung Stupa.
The Akha Experience
Immerse yourself in the “Akha Way” on a 3-day experiential trek. Start with your guide at That Xieng Tung Stupa, and follow the trail to a deserted French military camp. After a 3-hour mountain climb, you’ll reach Ban Lao Khao for a traditional lunch prepared by villagers and served at the Nam Keo Noi Waterfall. Spend the afternoon hiking in the surrounding forest to gather food with the locals and inspect the old village site. Return to Ban Lao Khao and feed the animals, before listening to traditional Akha musical instruments, stories, and legends. After a post-dinner massage, visit the courting grounds, and then sleep in the village lodge.
The next morning, follow a forest trail and learn about the spirits in the old trees and see animal tracks at a watering hole. Arrive in Ban Phou Yae for lunch with a family, and then continue to Ban Houeinagang to participate in cotton spinning, making toys, pounding rice, and feeding pigs. Venture further to Ban Eula and learn about upland rice farming. The day’s trek ends at Ban Tamee to try riding a buffalo, play instruments, sing Akha songs, and taste lao khao rice alcohol before bedding down.
After breakfast and participating in village life, trek to Ban Nam Hoo and try your hand at paddy rice farming. Then, head to Ban Mona and enjoy a mountain view of Sing Town along the way. The final stop is in Ban Piyer, where you can buy Akha handicrafts before a short drive to town.
Vieng Phoukha District: Adventure’s Rising Star
Vieng Phoukha once thrived as a trading centre on the “Tea Caravan Trail” due to its location about halfway between Siam and Sipsongpanna in today’s southern China. After sitting idle for more than 200 years, it is re-emerging as a southern gateway for trekking in the Nam Ha NPA. Check with the Vieng Phoukha Eco-guide Service or local tour operators for available treks.
Ancient Ruins Hidden in Nature
Take an easy 1-day trek starting near Vieng Phoukha Town in Ban Nam Mang, where your Khmu guide leads you up tiered rice fields to the top of Phou Moht (Ant Mountain). The fig trees at the summit attract several bird species, and your guide will identify and call them. The trail then enters the forest, where the guide starts collecting plants to add to the picnic lunch.
An afternoon descent leads to a forest that hides the ruins of Vat Mahapot Temple, and an ancient city dating to the 1300s. The civilization flourished as a 16th-18th-century trading hub between southern China and Siam. Some historians believe Mahapot once oversaw hundreds of villages and temples in the Vieng Phoukha plains. A series of khou vieng (earthen ramparts) surround the ancient city, and you can still see the dirt mounds used as kilns to create kong bang (bronze drums).
Cultural Mountain Climbing
This 2-day trek starts at Ban Nam Kap Nuea for a Lahu village visit, and Ban Tha Luang to meet your local Hmong guide. Climb a mountain through thick jungle, as the guide teaches you about forest products such as herbs for traditional remedies. After a lunch of “forest food”, continue to mountaintop views of the Nam Ha NPA, before arriving at the Akha village of Ban Tah Soom, and a traditional massage.
Roam around the village, meet the locals, and work with them as they go about their daily activities. During dinner, you’ll learn more about Akha culture, before an overnight stay in the village lodge. After breakfast, embark on a 30-minute climb to a waterfall and natural pool where you can bathe. The path continues to a Lahu buffalo farm, and then it’s a 90-minute walk to Ban Nam Kap Nuea and ride to town.
Vieng Phoukha Explorer
Take to Vieng Phoukha’s trails on a 2-day slightly difficult trek with a local guide, who explains the plants and wildlife on the way to remote ethnic villages and overnight stay in a Lahu lodge. The trail begins at Ban Pa Daeng (Khmu) and works its way through a sacred forest until you reach a giant strangler fig tree. After a rest and photo-op, continue to a limestone crag for a Lao lunch. Then, climb through a narrow rocky passage to Ban Nam Paman and Ban Nam Noi, a pair of Lahu hillside villages. Eat dinner with villagers and spend the night in the local eco-lodge.
The next morning, follow a path through upland rice fields, while enjoying views from hilltops and learning traditional farming techniques. The trail descends to the Nam Fa River for a swim, and continues to Ban Vieng Mai, a Tai Lue village, for a ride back to town.
Vieng Phoukha Hill Tribe Trail
Launch your 2-day guided trek at Ban Tha Luang (Hmong), and follow a trail up the mountain and through the jungle as the guide explains the non-timber forest products. The path continues into the Nam Ha NPA and offers great views of the landscape before reaching Ban Tah Soom (Akha). Here, the villagers prepare dinner, take you on a village tour while explaining the Akha lifestyle, and give you a traditional massage. Overnight in the village lodge.
Start Day 2 with a 30-minute walk to a waterfall and natural pool. Continue to a Lahu buffalo farm, visit their farming fields, and eat a Lahu lunch on the trail. A 90-minute hike from here leads to Ban Nam Kab Nuea and a ride back to town.
Camp at a Jungle Cave
This 3-day trek starts on a trail that cuts through rock walls as you climb the mountains to Tah Long. After a Khmu village visit, head through thick jungle, old forests, and bamboo groves to the Maamaint Cave and your campsite. The guide prepares a dinner of local food and mountain rice, before a night in a banana-leaf shelter or tent.
The next morning, explore the cave. Then, hit the trail, and learn how to cook soup inside bamboo tubes, make spoons and cups from leaves and bamboo, and brew tea from forest herbs. Continue to Ban Tah Leng for a traditional Akha homestay and dinner, when you learn about their culture. The next morning, watch villagers feed their animals and help them work in the fields. Finish with an easy 3-hour hike and lunch on the trail, before returning to Vieng Phoukha Town.
Long District: Remote Mountain Adventures
Long District is a short drive from Muang Sing, and presents adventure programs for all levels. You can take short and easy treks for a day or two, or longer, steeper hikes. Visit and overnight in ethnic villages, take in mountaintop vistas, and look for birds and wild animals. You can learn to fish, and even motorbike to meet Mekong riverside ethnic groups.
Peaks at Phou Pha Kham
This moderate-to-difficult 1-day guided trek gets underway with a morning walk to Ban Luang Pha Kham, a Tai Lue village. Then, walk over a suspension bridge and through rice paddies to Ban Lang Pha Mai to visit an Akha village. From here, the trail climbs Phou Pha Kham Mountain through primal forest and past massive boulders, while you look for signs of wildlife.
The ridge at the summit presents views of a river snaking through the Long River Valley and a panorama of mountaintops. You’ll have a Lao-style forest picnic near the peak, before making an hour-long descent to visit a Tai Lue village, where a van greets you for a ride to a Lanten village on the way back to town.
Nam Bo’s Twin Falls
Hike up the forested mountain through various forest types. Quiet walkers can hear and sometimes spot birds, squirrels, wild chickens, monkeys, and deer. After trekking more than five hours, you’ll reach Ban Nam Bo, a Hmong and Lahu village. You’ll eat dinner with the locals, learn about their lifestyles and traditions, and spend the night in a homestay.
The second day begins on a short trail that follows the Nam Long River. You’ll reach the base of Nam Bo Waterfall, where a pool catches a pair of chutes plunging over a 20-metre cliff. Another half-hour climb delivers you to the top of the falls, before a 2-hour trek to the mountain’s ridge. The trek ends back at Ban Nam Bo, where a van brings you down the mountain to town.
Trek around the Akha Loop
Kick off this 3-day trek on a steep trail to the Cogon Grass Mountain ridge and its view of endless green peaks. The path then heads downhill to the Akha village of Ban Cha Khuen Mai for dinner and an overnight stay. A more relaxing second day begins with a tour of the village to absorb the Akha’s daily regime. A late-morning departure wanders through old forest and a river, where you’ll fish for lunch.
Continue to Ban Mong La, an Akha village on the Nam Fa River, for a homestay. A local woman will give you a traditional massage, and you’ll eat an Akha dinner and sample some powerful rice whisky. On the final day, follow the Nam Fa, and cross back and forth on a bamboo raft. Take a moderate hike to a vista of the valley, before a short walk to the main road and the tuk tuk ride to Long Town.
Culture & Nature Circuit
Get an early morning start on this 4-day journey with a forest trek and chance to see birds and animals, before a climb to an endless mountain view. You’ll reach the Hmong and Lahu community of Ban Nam Bo for dinner, and immerse yourself in the villagers’ daily lives and age-old traditions, before a homestay.
A moderate second day walks through a bamboo forest and crosses streams before a few easy climbs and a break to bathe in a cool brook. The path reaches Ban Nam Hee, an Akha village, where a local guide explains the “Akha Way”, and villagers treat you to a traditional massage, dinner, and bed for the night. Day 3 is full of easy trekking to Chong Ka Mai for an overnight homestay. The final day leads up Phou Ya Kha Mountain and criss-crosses a creek to Ban Nam An, and a tuk tuk to a Lanten village.
Nalae District: Mountain River Life
Nalae Town has historically played the pivot point for transporting goods along the Nam Tha River, as it meanders 325 km from the Chinese frontier through the Nam Tha river valley. Ethnic villages on the banks rely on the river, with fish as their staple food and a source of income. Villagers are also skilled weavers and craft makers. Visits and homestays open the door to a first-hand experience into their lives
Nalae Mountain Adventures
Be among the first to scour the mountains around Nalae. Take a guided trek to caves hidden in the jungle near Ban Pha Hu and Ban Pherng, follow a trail to a waterfall on Nam Nuang Stream, or hike on a path to riverside Ban Vard.
Multi-day treks overnight in a mountain shelter or ethnic village homestay. Try a challenging climb through the limestone mountain landscape to Vieng Phoukha. An easy trail follows the river, and stops at a few Buddhist temples between ethnic villages. You can culturally connect with local people and learn about their everyday activities.