girls smiling

Days 1-2

Mai Chau

The journey from Hanoi to Mai Chau is packed with panoramic views. Simply sit back, gaze out of the window and take it all in. On arrival, you’ll be served a tasty lunch by your local White Tai hosts and stay in a stilted house with basic amenities. While it’s far from fancy, it’s high on charm. On day 2, you’ll hop on the back of a motorbike and head for Pu Luong Nature Reserve, a jumble of thick forests, towering limestone mountains and rice terraces.

local woman with black teeth

Day 3

Mai Chau - Vieng Xai - Sam Neua

Setting off early, you’ll travel towards the remote Vietnam-Laos border-crossing. You’ll arrange your visa on arrival (between $30-$45 and you will need one passport photo) before meeting your Laos driver on the other side. From the border, you’ll head for Vieng Xai, a narrow valley that plunges between limestone peaks. The mountains here are criss-crossed with caves that were once the headquarters of the Pathet Laos leaders and over 23,000 of their followers. Finally, you’ll continue to Sam Neua and stay in a simple guesthouse.

rice paddies of Phonsovan, Laos

Day 4

Sam Neua to Phonsovan

From Sam Neua, you’ll take a gorgeous twisting trip towards Phonsovan, capital of the Xieng Khuong Province. Known for producing maize, it’s a patchwork of yellow and green fields broken up with forested hills and deep valleys. This is some of the most rarely-visited scenery in South East Asia, often described as a “journey of a million turns”. The road winds all the way to Phonsovan, where this part of your adventure ends.

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A peek at your accommodation

sapa homestay simple accommodation
Sam Neua to Phonsovan
roosts on the floor

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Where to next? This trip goes together perfectly with this:

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Hanoi

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