Visiting Luang Prabang in Laos wouldn’t be complete without a tour to the countryside and going trekking in Luang Prabang.
There are waterfalls, biking trails and elephant shelters a few hours away from town but if you have no interest in such things, I’d recommend paying a visit to some nearby hill tribe villages.
Trekking in Luang Prabang to the hillside tribes
Three major tribes live in the hills surrounding Luang Prabang. The Hmong are descendants of the Mongolians and are able to withstand the cold, so they live in the higher hills. The Khmu on the other hand live in the mid-levels while the Lao live in the lowest levels.
Not only will a trek be a nice change from Luang Prabang, it’ll also allow you to learn more about this fascinating country and its people.
Dos and Don’ts:
1. Before you go on this hike, do seek out a not-for-profit organisation called Big Brother Mouse based in Luang Prabang which publishes children’s books. Many Lao children have never seen a book and if they have seen one, it’ll probably be a school book. If you’d like to donate these books to the village children, buy a few and bring them on the hike.
Remember though that the books are in English and Lao, so they might not be of much use to Hmong or Khmu children, who speak completely different languages.
2. The villagers are extremely gracious and friendly, but don’t take advantage of their kindness. As with all village folk, seek their permission if you’d like to take photographs of them. I didn’t have to ask for permission from the children, though- kids all over the world love a camera.
3. Don’t leave your litter behind; take it with you.
4. Do have fun and breathe in the fresh air! Enjoy the scenery- the Lao countryside is lush and beautiful.
What to bring while trekking in Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang is in north Laos, which can get chilly if you visit during winter (December-March), more so if you venture into the highlands. If you visit Luang Prabang during that time, bring a light jacket which you can slip on when necessary and take off when you reach the low levels.
The Luang Prabang trek isn’t very demanding but I would suggest proper footwear (either walking shoes or a good pair of sandals) and not flip-flops or slippers. The ground could be slippery. Read our blog post for more trekking essentials.
There are lots of companies along the main street in Luang Prabang, but I recommend the company I took, Green Discovery. The guides were helpful, pleasant and well-informed. I took the one-day tour but there are several multi-day options for treks into the countryside.
Other options include:
Whichever tour you choose, have fun!