This article was originally published on The Culture Trip. To read the original, click here.
Laos’ natural beauty is a draw for many travelers who want to experience the remote mountains, vistas along unpaved roads, secret waterfalls and meet members of ethic minorities. These 10 curated ecotourism experiences will not disappoint.
BOKEO GIBBON EXPERIENCE
The Gibbon Experience is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Hike through the jungle of the most northwestern province of Laos and sleep in the treetops in the world’s tallest treehouses 30-40 meters high, which are accessible by zip line. Listen to and look for the elusive and endangered gibbons in the forest. Two and three-day tours are available with children between eight and 12-years-old paying half price. Unplug away from electricity, two-and-a-half hours outside the city of Houayxay in Nam Kan National Park.
FairTrek focuses on responsible tourism including hiring Lao staff, minimizing environmental impact, being culturally sensitive and connecting visitors to local people. FairTrek offerings include one to three-day adventures in and around Luang Prabang and Nong Khiaw, including cycling, trekking, Hmong and Khmu village visits and homestays. See the mountains, waterfalls and meet the people of northern Laos knowing your money is getting reinvested in local communities.
NAM NERN NIGHT SAFARI
The Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area, in the north-east of Laos, is the largest of its kind in the country. The Nam Nern Night Safari is a 24-hour tour that takes visitors on a traditional long-tail boat ride during the day and offers some great nature activities that include birdwatching, wildlife tracking, nighttime wildlife spotting, medicinal plant exploration and easy hiking. Winner of ‘World Responsible Tourism Award’ in 2013 and 2014, the Wildlife Conservation Society has been developing ecotourism products since 2009 to connect tourists to local people who will be incentivized to protect endangered species.
MotoLao offers guided motorcycle and 4×4 tours of Laos from one to 12 days for all levels of riding experience from beginners to experts on manual motorcycles on dirt roads. Participants can help plan the itinerary or join in on a pre-planned tour. The 10-day Historic War Trails Tour takes riders 1,100 km through sections of the Ho Chi Minh trail, transversing the length of Laos from Luang Prabang to Pakse.
Nakaranth Travel offers a variety of tours from four to 14 days, with a focus on responsible travel. Benefiting the local communities, the country as a whole, and the environment of Laos, the company has a paperless office and works closely with hotels and local people focused on sustainability. Check out their 12-day Phongsaly loop to the remote northern-most province that includes trekking, a private boat trip down the Nam Ou, a Mouchi hilltribe homestay and lots of waterfalls.
In addition to bike rentals and repairs, BikingLaos organizes a whole host of cycling tours to see the Lao PDR at a slow pace with zero emissions. No matter your experience with cycle touring, the experienced team will make sure you have a great time whether it’s a one-day tour around Luang Prabang, a 10-day overland tour from Thailand or to Vietnam, or the 17-day Vientiane to Luang Prabang cycling loop that includes Nam Ngum, Vang Vieng, Kasi, and Xayaboury.
GREEN DISCOVERY LAOS TOUR
Green Discovery Laos focuses on Corporate Social Responsibility and visitor safety to bring travelers to rural and protected areas with the least possible environmental impact. Green Discovery offers private and group eco excursions and tours throughout Laos. Check out their offerings in Khammuane Province including a two-day Cave Kong Lor adventure full of kayaking, trekking and cycling. Their three-day Limestone Forest experience takes visitors to the Hin Namno National Protected Area, including kayaking 11 km through Xebang Fai Cave. Other one and two-day excursions including homestays, caves, trekking and kayaking are available.
STRAY TRAVEL ASIA LAOS TOUR
Stray Travel is a tour company focused on giving backpackers flexibility while also providing organized excursions to tourist hotspots and off-the beaten path local experiences. Their Long Laos Pass offers 14 days of travel from north to south, with the ability for travelers to hop on and off to explore Laos on their own pace. Starting in Chiang Mai, Thailand, take a two-day slow boat to Luang Prabang. Next up is Vang Vieng, then Vientiane. Head south to Khammouane Province to see Kong Lor Cave, visit the Xe Champhone wetlands and end up in 4000 Islands at the southern end of Laos.
KHIRI TRAVEL LAOS TOUR
Khiri Travel was the 2015 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards finalist in the category of Most Inspiring Responsible Tourism Operator. Have their knowledgable staff help you plan a custom private tour, or take in one of their signature experiences such as cycling 4000 Islands, partaking in a traditional Baci ceremony or visiting the caves of Viengsay where the Pathet Lao camped out during the war. Khiri also offers home cooking classes in Luang Prabang, promotes reducing single-use plastic, and partners with local businesses and hospitality schools.
TIGER TRAIL TRAVEL TOUR
Tiger Trail is based out of Luang Prabang and along with its affiliate companies: FairTrek, MotoLao, and BikingLao, they have have an incredible number of offerings for travelers of all sorts. The Tiger Trail Impressions of Laos Tour takes visitors on a seven-day northern loop or a 10-day loop that includes the Bolevan Plateau, Pakse and 4000 Islands. Both tours include Luang Prabang, waterfalls, the Plain of Jars, local spirits, Vientiane and local markets. Never worry about accommodations or transportation and have all your questions answered by knowledgeable guides as you see the best Laos has to offer.