One of the most adventure treks explores the colourful of ethnic groups; enjoy stunning view in the GOLDEN TRIANGLE of north Laos (Laos-Myanmar-China). Adventure-trek-laos.com organizes adventure trekking in various areas of Xieng Khaeng Region (the GOLDEN TRIANGLE), has been a popular destination for the adventure seekers visitors.
Xieng Khaeng is a largely unexplored, stunning region only a couple of hours from Muang Sing town away. Due to its remoteness embedded between mountains and the Mekong River, its 13 villages (Akha and Tai Lue) are still very traditional and have remained largely isolated. As the Mekong rushes out of China into the Green Triangle bordering Myanmar, it makes its way through steep canyons before slowing down further south. This section can be accessed by boat from Xieng Kok in Long District, but also by gravel road which was recently rebuilt and leads over the mountains from Muang Sing. Travellers will find beautiful green mountains with waterfalls and caves, and remote villages with still kept traditions and culture. From scenic Xieng Khaeng village, a beautiful stretch of the Mekong can be explored by boat.
How to Get
The Real Adventure Trek in Golden Triangle of Laos discovery since 2007-until now in Xieng Khaeng Region, Luang Namtha, Laos we share our spirit of adventure trek with stunning of mountain funder by: Phou Iu Travel and Ecotourism with support by: Luang Namtha Tourism Administration.
We propose a wide range of well organized adventure trekking tours, with emphasizing on stunning of green triangle and physical effort, rather than “visiting the hill tribes” as many other tour company offers. Some of our adventures trekking are visiting hill tribe families and villages. When we do that, the aim is to give the client a perspective on the life and customs of these people. Our guides are very familiar with the village or the family we bring our guests.
The guide will be an interpret and will help you understand your host family. He will be also your cook which is often recognized as a highlight of the trip for many participants. The guide will share his passion and his knowledge with participants to make sure they have a memorable time during the trek.
We aim to make your experience as comfortable as possible and we stay overnight with Akha or Tai Lue families. A local style breakfast, lunch and dinner are always provided to make sure participants have a good meal before the long day.
What to Bring on a trek?
It depends well or the season, and the area you are going to trek. It will says in the itinerary if the village has vehicle access or the trekkers are totally independent of a vehicle. Here is some basic guidelines: when packing for a trek, keep it simple, the less luggage you have to carry around the more you will enjoy yourself.
This is what we can recommend to pack in your rucksack, for a basic 3 days trek:
This list is not exhaustive, and depending the season additional equipment can be added.
For most of our programs, while going on a trek your main luggage/suitcase can be kept with your hotel or at our office.
Packing according to the season
The adventure treks only open from October to next year month June. During the cold season from December and January, we recommend a fleece and long pants as temperatures can drop down a lot at night. In the hills and mountain of Northern Laos especially Xieng Khaeng Region, Luang Namtha temperature can drop down as low as 5o Celsius (40 o Fahrenheit) at night or early morning hours, so be prepared!
For the Difficulty Level of the Adventure Trek
All of 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 days adventure trek in Xieng Khaeng Region most short but steep sections-good shoes needed, the tours will be good for strong people and expect to walk 6-7 hours during tour.
Price Does Not Include
Why is the adventure trek more expensive?
Compared to the tour around in Laos especially Luang Namtha, the adventure trek in Xieng Khaeng are more expensive. The major reason is that transport (only truck) is more expensive, the second reason is that we pay a little bit more to the villages, for example for accommodation 30,000 kip/person/night goes to the home stay family, as opposed to 15,000 kip at another tour office. Also, our guides earn a bit more (double paid), as the treks in mountainous Xieng Khaeng can be quite challenging and steep.
You will be invited to stay with the villages in their homes, which is a unique opportunity to learn about the fascinating cultures of the ethnic minorities of Laos. However, please note that their lifestyle and standard of living is very different to what you might be used to. Instead of having running water, you will get the chance to shower in the river or village well with lots of giggling kids are around you. The toilet will also be nature style. There will be no electricity, only candle light. From Xieng khaeng area, don’t even think about sending a text massages to your mom, as this region does not have mobile phone coverage. As we said a few times already: Xieng Khaeng is remote, and we mean it.
Where You Will Sleep
Every village has a ‘communal house’, often the house of the village chief, for our group to sit together and relax and where the meals will be cooked by the home stay families. We will all eat together in this house. After dinner and maybe some songs and stories, when you are tired you will go with your home stay family to their house. If your group has more than 3 people, you will get several home stay families. Some houses are simply too small to host large groups, we hope you understand. Although some houses might be small, they are very cosy with their open fireplace inside. When we discussed this project with the villages, it was decide that this way we could use a rotation system so that every family could be host. Rest assured that your home stay family is very happy to have you as their guest and will try their best to make you feel comfortable-although they will not be able to talk to you in English. Please be patient and culturally sensitive-it is very likely that you will be the first foreigner to ever sleep in the house, as tours only started in May 2011.
Do’s and Don’ts
Please take the time to read through the do’s and don’ts of culturally sensitive behavior in the villages. Some of the most important things to remember are to dress moderately. Always cover your shoulders, and girls must use a ‘sin’ (sarong/piece of clothing from shoulders to knees) when taking a bath. Don’t wear your shoes inside a house, never touch the ‘spirit gate’ or graves, and always ask before taking photos, Also please don’t try to use the villages ‘swing’ which is reserved for use on a special day in the year. (Do’s and Don’ts in Laos)
Do Not Do in Akha Villages
Widow or divorced women were not allowed to die in the village. If they did die in the village, the deceased’s family had to move and resettle in another place.
Gifts for the Kids
Please don’t bring any candy into the villages or hand out ‘freebies’. Tourism should be an exchange: of mutual learning but also material gains. It should not create dependence.
Yet if you do wish to bring a gift, you could consider buying some school books, seeds (e.g. pumpkin seeds), toothbrushes and soap-the effect will be more lasting than that of candy.
If you really want to support the villages please create some extra income for them buy buying handicrafts or extra activities. You can buy some beautiful small gifts, such as embroidered bags, special dark bamboo steamers for sticky rice (only in Ban Loku!), Akha key rings or tea from Ban Padeng, As part of a GTZ development project, a few products from Xieng Khaeng are also sold at the old market.
Safety and Security
Although your guide and host family will try their best to keep you happy and healthy, there are a few risks you should be aware of. The villages have a different standard of hygiene which makes the spread of bacteria more common. Importunately there are cases of typhoid in Northern Laos, so always wash your hands and you might consider using an antibacterial wipe on dishes if you really want to make sure.
During raining season, the treks may be very difficult and slippery, so be careful. Also, some of the treks are rather challenging as they lead through the mountain or only partly cleared forest. Leeches might also bite you. Xieng Khaeng is a very remote region, so please be aware that if worst comes to worst it might be difficult and costly if you are in good health and make sour that you have current health insurance cover; we and the villagers cannot accept responsibility. However, our guides are all trained first aid and the villagers and village police know what do in case of an emergency. If you are nonetheless worried, you could consider to go on the day trip to Ban Meuto Kao, which is accessible by 4 –wheel-driver.
You will be served traditional Akha food-without some of the more interesting fare such as dog or bush rat. Your meal might consist of different kinds of greens often fresh from the forest, maybe some chicken, rice and the obligatory ‘Jeao’ (Chili paste). Food is eaten communally out of shared bowls, rather than divided into portions ‘Western style’.
The villages might not know how much a hungry trekker cam eat-don’t be shy to ask for some more vegetable and rice if you are not full. Please understand that the region in very remote and it is not possible for the villagers to serve you a great variety of dishes. You can decide to buy some special meat for a meal (this will cost extra) just let your guide know in advance if you would like to have some pork, or something even more unusual. But please don’t buy any endangered species or wildlife, as food or souvenirs.
Compared to food in Muang Sing, you might find the food very scarce and expensive if you choose to buy anything extra. We decided we would like to assist the villages in selling some food for extra income, so we do not bring our own food from town. It’s fine if you wish take your own snacks into the villages, but please don’t bring any pork, as the Akha fear the introduction of diseases.
The Tour Generates Income on Village and on Household Level.
There are many villagers earning money through this tour. This includes: the guides, the housekeepers, the cooks, the managers, the villagers leading the activities, the villagers producing your ‘village gift’, the people providing the food (vegetables, chicken, rice) and the women massaging you.