The remote highlands of northern Laos are dotted with villages that are home to Laos’ ethnic minorities. Trekking and cycling tours from Luang Prabang offer a chance to immerse yourself in rural life, learn about diverse cultures and traditions, or enjoy a homestay experience with a village family. Here are your options.
Yuan Village (Ban Pickngai)
The Yuan people, who once ventured from northern Thailand to farm the rice paddies in the lowlands of Laos, populate this village in the plains outside of Luang Prabang. The community’s agricultural culture is a nod to old Thai traditions, and visitors can learn about the day-to-day lives of these farmers and their families.
Khmu Village (Ban Na Tan)
Home to the Khmu people, one of the largest ethnic groups in northern Laos, Ban Na Tan is known for its inhabitants’ rich tradition of hunting, gathering, and fishing. Villagers work together to accomplish daily tasks, and elders and shaman hold the most respected positions in the community.
Hmong Village (Ban Long Lan)
An organic coffee plantation and impressive vegetable farm make this local mountain village a charming stop. About an hour and a half from Luang Prabang, the area offers visitors the chance to interact with members of the Hmong tribe, and learn about traditional medicine practices and herbal remedies used by local shamans.
Hath Hient Village
Visitors to this tiny village just outside of Luang Prabang can learn about age-old techniques used to fashion the traditional iron knives of this tribe. Villagers have perfected the craft over centuries and passed it down from generation to generation, making for high-quality works of art. Travelers can meet the artisans and watch the creation of these famous tools by traditional blacksmiths.
Ban Xang Khong (Ban Sang Khong)
Located about 3 miles (5 kilometers) outside of Luang Prabang, this small village is known for its woven textiles and silk. The locals also produce Saa paper, which is made from mulberry trees.
Ban Xang Hai
Often included on tours of Laos’ hill tribe villages or the Pak Ou Caves, Ban Xang Hai is nicknamed the Whisky Village because it’s famous for producing LaoLao, Laos’ traditional rice whisky. Visitors can learn about the ancient distilling process, sample the potent spirit, or purchase bottles.