The Best Ecotourism Experiences in Laos

The Mekong at Dusk
The Mekong at Dusk | © rmac8oppo / Pixabay
Photo of Regina Beach
22 May 2018

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 Tour

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Campfire, Laos | © FairTrek / Tiger Trail Travel

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

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Nam Nern Night Safari leaping sambar
Nam Nern Night Safari leaping sambar | © Nam Et Phou-Louey manager / WikiCommons

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 Tour

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Motorcycle Tour of Laos | © MotoLao / Tiger Trail Travel

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 Tour

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Phongsaly Tea Trade_preview
Phongsaly Tea Trade | © Nakarath Travel

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.

BikingLaos Tour

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Cyclist in Luang Prabang
Cyclist in Luang Prabang | © BikingLaos / Tiger Trail Travel

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

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Rice Fields in Central Laos | © R. E. N. / WikiCommons

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

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Luang Prabang | © JoelleLC / Pixabay

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

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Vientiane, the capital of Loas, lies on the banks of the Mekong river | © Tiger Trail Tours

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.

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel – and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Epic Trips, Mini Trips and Sailing Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travellers and friends who want to explore the world together.

Epic Trips are deeply immersive 8 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and enough down time to really relax and soak it all in. Our Mini Trips are small and mighty - they squeeze all the excitement and authenticity of our longer Epic Trips into a manageable 3-5 day window. Our Sailing Trips invite you to spend a week experiencing the best of the sea and land in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm – and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

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