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.
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.
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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