Cycle the grand loop

Duration: 13 Days / 12 Nights
Route: Luang Prabang - Nong Khiew - Sam Neua - Nam Neun - Xieng Khouang
Features:

See the real Laos in this cycling journey through remote mountain villages to discover Laos' ethnic diversity, Plain of Jars & Pak Ou Cave.

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Day 1: Luang Prabang
You will be greeted at the airport and transferred to your hotel. Depending on when you arrive, we are happy to arrange activities for the rest of your day. In the evening, you may wish to explore the town’s night market, where dozens of vendors sell clothing, food and handicrafts.


Day 2: Luang Prabang
Today, explore many of this former royal capital’s cultural highlights. You’ll visit Wat Xieng Thong, a lovely example of architecture, and Wat Mai, one of the city’s largest and best-decorated temples. From there it’s on to the Royal Palace, a commanding structure in the centre of town that until 1946 was the heart of the Lang Xang Kingdom. Today it is the National Museum, and its halls contain rare religious and cultural artefacts. From here travel to Mount Phousi and climb 328 steps for panoramic views of the city. After lunch, travel to the stunning Kuang Si Waterfalls, which cascade over calcified limestone cliffs toward a series of turquoise pools. The water has a blue-green tint because of its high mineral content, which gives the area a magical quality.


Day 3: Luang Prabang – Nong Khiew (75km Cycling)
Begin your cycling adventure by heading north from Luang Prabang into the surrounding countryside. You will then explore the Pak Ou Caves, which are jammed packed with statues of Buddha left by pilgrims hoping for good fortune. After the caves, continue north through rolling mountains to Ban Huay Pene, a Leu ethnic-minority village. Visit the town’s beautiful temple before continuing on to the village Nong Khiew, where you will spend the night.


Day 4– 6: Nong Khiew – Vieng Kham – Vieng Thong – Sam Neua (205 km Cycling)
This three-day journey spins through sleepy villages and the forests of the Nam Et-Phou Loei National Protected Area. This almost 6,000-square-kilometre jungle preserve was developed by the Lao government in partnership with the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society as a way to protect nature while sustaining villagers’ livelihoods. You’ll finally arrive in Sam Neua, a town near the Vietnam-Laos border. Rest those legs and treat yourself to a beer!


Day 7 – 8: Sam Neua – Vieng Xay – Sam Neua – Nam Neun (70 km Cycling)
Cycle to Vieng Xay known as the cave city, where up to 23,000 people sheltered from American bombing raids in 480 caves! Wander through the amazing karst landscape in the middle of town and visit some of the caves that were used as hospitals, schools and even a theatre during the war. The night will be spent in a local guesthouse. Cycle back along the same route and pass by small villages on the way to Nam Neun.


Day 9: Nam Neun – Muang Kham (cycling 96 km)
Today’s 96-kilometre journey covers especially remote terrain. Begin with a stop in Hintang, where mysterious stone pillars protrude from the ground – like the Plain of Jars, an archaeological mystery in a nearby province. Your next stop is Tham Piu, a vast cave with a tragic story from the so-called Secret War. A single rocket from an aircraft killed approximately 374 people who had taken refuge in the cave. Their bones are still buried in the rubble.The day ends with a visit to nearby Muang Kham, where you can soak in the hot springs and rest your tired muscles.


Day 10: Muang Kham – Xieng Khouang (53 km Cycling)
This morning spin over to the Plain of Jars, a world-famous archaeological site that has stumped curious scientists and historians for decades. Scattered across the plains lie giant stone vessels – some as high as three metres – that are thought to be thousands of years old.


Some international scientists think the vessels are linked to burial practices of ancient communities that once lived in this area. However, no one knows for sure who created the vessels, how old they are or what their exact purpose was. You’re in the middle of a mystery! And you would be hard-pressed to find a site remotely similar to this in Southeast Asia – or, for that matter, the world.


Then cycle to Muang Khoun, the one-time capital of Xieng Khoang province that was destroyed by bombs during the Vietnam War. Although the bombing raids reduced the former royal kingdom to a handful of temple ruins, traces of its colonial grandeur are still visible.


Day 11: Xieng Khouang – Phou Khoun (50km cycling)
Enjoy a shorter ride today, cruising from Phonsavan to Muang Soui with its wealth of Buddhist sites including historic temples and caves. Then continue by vehicle to the Phou Khoun to spend the night in a local guest house.


Day 12: Phou Khoun – Luang Prabang (90km cycling)
Explore the local market before cycling to Kioukacham. In the afternoon, begin your final descent to Luang Prabang. Enjoy spectacular scenery as you zip past H’mong and Khmu villages, arriving in Luang Prabang by late afternoon. Hit the town for a celebratory dinner!


Day 13: Depart Luang Prabang
Today is a cycling free day! Sleep in or explore the town before you are transferred to the airport for your onward flight.

Day 1: Luang Prabang

Day 2: Luang Prabang

Day 3: Luang Prabang – Nong Khiew (75km Cycling)

Day 4– 6: Nong Khiew – Vieng Kham – Vieng Thong – Sam Neua (205 km Cycling)

Day 7 – 8: Sam Neua – Vieng Xay – Sam Neua – Nam Neun (70 km Cycling)

Day 9: Nam Neun – Muang Kham (cycling 96 km)

Day 10: Muang Kham – Xieng Khouang (53 km Cycling)

Day 11: Xieng Khouang – Phou Khoun (50km cycling)

Day 12: Phou Khoun – Luang Prabang (90km cycling)

Day 13: Depart Luang Prabang

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