Laos inspirations

Back to Laos

An introduction to Selective Journeys

Once known as the 'Land of a Million Elephants', Laos offers a refreshing change from the modernity of the rest of the world. There are no trains to rush for, traffic lights are seldom seen outisde of the capital and the pace of life remarkably slower. It has a long and fascinating history of royalty, occupation and struggle for independence, awe inspiring ‘vats’ (temples) and a unique mix of French colonial and traditional architecture.Laos is still unspoilt – a less touristed and relatively undiscovered country packed with beautiful scenery, relaxed and friendly people, great food, stunning sights and, relatively speaking - still ‘off the beaten track’ of mainstream tourism.Our series of Selective Journeys captures the essence of Laos and will enrich your visit with memories, an experience and an education and most importantly discover the true meaning of getting away from it all.

The Living Land

The Living Land is a community enterprise run by local people to support the children of poor farming families. Amazingly fun and educational, this is the best insight in to traditional rural lifestyles that you can have in half a day. The Living Land Community Farm is an entirely organic farm in a beautiful rural setting, flanked by rice paddies. Enjoy a guided walk through the organic vegetable farm and learn all manner of trades, from thatched-roof making and basketry to noodle production and extracting the juice from sugarcane. You will experience the life of a farmer and try your hand at various activities, including ploughing the rice fields with the resident buffalo called Susan! Please expect to get muddy and you might wish to bring a change of clothes! Rice is the most important crop throughout Laos and you will learn about the 13 steps of rice production today. The 14th is eating and that comes at the end with a range of rice-based snacks!

The Shangri-Lao Experience

Located in beautiful Luang Prabang, Laos, Shangri-Lao Classic Explorer Camp & Expedition, invites you to re-live the adventures of Dr. P. Neis, an historic French explorer from the 19th century. Re-trace his footsteps along the very same tranquil streams and dense jungle as he did in 1883. Laos was once referred to as ‘The Land of a Million Elephants’ and today is a great chance to get up close with these gentle animals. The highlight of the day is a trek on a elephant’s back through the jungle, over rivers, and passing beautiful waterfalls. At a nearby jungle Sala, by a secluded waterfall, enjoy a luxury lunch with traditional Lao food and wine. Depending on the water level you may swim in the natural pools. The adventurous trail crosses bamboo bridges and passes fantastic limestone formations and turquoise blue pools in the dense jungle. Finally board a luxury bamboo raft and slowly float downstream.

The Baci Blessing

Baci ceremonies are an integral part of Lao culture. Held to celebrate a special event, it is based on an ancient belief that the human being is a union of organs and the soul watches over each of them. The Baci ceremony calls the soul from wherever it may be roaming back to the body and re-establishes equilibrium. At the end of the ceremony, the village elders wrap a white cotton thread around your wrist while chanting an invocation to strengthen the power of the blessings. The ceremony is set up at a 115–year–old rustic house situated by a lotus pond. Enjoy traditional music and dance after taking part in this ancient practice.

Culinary Delights of Laos

For most, local food forms lasting memories from a trip to Southeast Asia. Lao food shares many characteristics with the more famous flavours from neighbouring Thailand, but also combines them with influences from approximately 160 different ethnic groups who contribute to the complex ethnology of Laos. This tour starts in the mid-afternoon and runs into the evening. The focus is on food, but this is also a fascinating insight in to the culture of Vientiane and Laos as a whole. At the rustic Lam Pai-Bay Tong cookery school join the experienced Head Chef, Chandra and learn how to create dishes using traditional ingredients and techniques. There is no need to take notes because you will be given your own recipe book to take home, enabling you to recreate your favourites and remember your time in Laos for years to come.

The Laos Mekong Expedition

Embark on the Laos Pandaw for a fascinating 10 night river cruise expedition travelling deep into the Laos mountains, through stunning remote scenery and gorges, visiting local tribal villages and Buddhist temples along the Mekong River. From Vientiane, the old French capital, and so redolent of L’Indochine the Laos Mekong will be the first river expedition since pre-war days to cross all Laos. Enjoy two nights at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang with its dazzling wood carved monasteries and then sail deep into the mountains, through rapids and gorges to the border of Laos, Thailand and Burma at the once notorious Golden Triangle.

Southern Explorer

Southern Laos is known for its highlands and plateaus, waterfalls, temple ruins, Mekong Islands, relaxed ways and its sense of timelessness. Highlights of Southern Laos includes the Bolaven Plateau with its pleasant climate, tea and coffee plantations, waterfalls and ethnic minority villages, Wat Phu Champassak – a Khmer temple ruin and UNESCO World Heritage site, and the Si Phan Don (‘Four Thousand Islands’) area of the Mekong River near the Cambodian border with its many islands, rapids and waterfalls with small traditional villages, and the incredibly endangered freshwater dolphins that still remain in this part of the Mekong River. Southern Laos is still unspoiled and relatively undiscovered, and this unique adventure has been designed to show you a special part of Indochina that few people get to experience.

The Gibbon Experience

Whizzing through the jungle on zip lines, sleeping in the forest canopy in multi-level tree houses, hunting for critically endangered apes – the Gibbon Experience in northern Laos offers its guests a rainforest sojourn like no other. Bokeo province, in the far northwest of Laos near the border with Myanmar and Thailand, has one of the last remaining populations of black crested gibbons in Laos – and of this particular subspecies in the world. The Gibbon Experience, a three-day excursion into a protected habitat in the Nam Kan Provincial Protected Forest, offers the only opportunity to see or hear this endangered lesser ape.

The Vat Phou Adventure

This breathtaking 3 day journey includes stops at two of the Mekong River’s best-kept secrets – the World Heritage site of Wat Phou and the Oun Moung Temple. The UNESCO-protected Wat Phou dates back more than 1,000 years and is widely regarded as one of the most outstanding examples of Khmer architecture, while Oun Moung is the remnants of a city lost in the jungle for centuries. Cruise leisurely south from Pakse aboard your ‘boutique river home’ passing through the timeless landscapes of Southern Laos. Other highlights include Si Phan Don, the 4,000 Islands and Pha Pheng, considered by many to be South East Asia’s largest waterfall. This luxuriously converted rice barge ensures both comfort and convenience throughout your journey whilst gaining you access to some of Laos, perhaps Asia's, best kept secrets.

Discover Muang La

Situated in the heart of northern Laos, the small town of Muang La beckons travellers eager to experience its unspoilt natural beauty and numerous ethnic groups that dwell between rice paddies and mountains. Surrounded by rainforest, the region’s many treasures await discovery. Enjoy hot springs at the scenic Nam Pak River. Visit the sacred Buddha in the Pha Chiao Sing Kham temple. Listen to the sounds of the jungle whilst trekking on small winding paths. Learn the way of life of traditional local communities that inhabit the region—the Hmong, Ikhos and Khmu peoples. Meet local farmers to see how they cultivate their land, fish and hunt for small game. A river cruise from Muang Khua to Nong Khiaw down the Nam Ou River to embrace the impressive limestone formations rising majestically from the water is a breathtaking experience. For those in search of new pleasures—Muang La.

The Luangsay Experience

Laos is perfectly situated to be combined with a visit to Northern Thailand, and the Luang Say Cruise down the mythical Mekong River is a relaxing, comfortable and increasingly popular way to link these two destinations. This is a journey through a remote, forested, mountainous region where small ethnic minority villages dot the riverbanks, and slow boat travel is the ideal way to appreciate the beauty of the landscape and timelessness of this land. This unforgettable journey commences near the Golden Triangle at the Laos border town of Huay Xai, and finishes on arrival in Luang Prabang. The Luang Say is a comfortable purpose built river barge, and stops are made along the way to visit riverside hill-tribe villages and the sacred Tham Ting Caves at Pak Ou. Lunches are served on board, and dinner and overnight is at the Luang Say Lodge, built of wood in traditional Lao style on the banks of the Mekong at the small riverside town of Pak Beng.

What our clients say

Firstly let me say that I am back after a most fulfilling and amazing time in India! I have had the most incredible time from start to finish! I explored places, spoke to and interacted with local people, searched palaces, forts and temples, watched birds and wildlife....in short I had the most stunning and memorable holiday of my life! I want to thank you for…

V Kendall - India Holiday