Meet the "people of heaven"
A mosaic of traditional ethnic tribes, Laos is home to 130 different recognised groups divided into 4 main language groups. Some of these tribes only have a few hundred people and some are only found in Laos. The minorities that do not have a written history are at the biggest risk of disappearing completely.
At Muang La Lodge, we designed some of our excursions to allow you to meet and learn about the typical ethnic communities of the region. Originally from Yunnan in China & Tibet, these tribes of "hunter-gatherers" are called the "people of heaven" by the Lao people living on the plains. Their villages are found above 1,000m above sea level, built on the side of the mountains and where the villagers retain their centuries old, traditions and customs. Among these groups are the Ikhos, Akha and Hmong peoples.
Access to the villages can be difficult, so we use a 4x4 to follow the twisting mountain trails with some breathtaking views of the valleys and mountains. Some of our excursions include a walk of between 30 mins. to an hour, which is a small price to pay to experience a different world of small, teak houses where tourists are hardly ever seen!
05Full day duration: 6h | depart 09:00 | with guide | level of difficulty: 5 Experienced hikers will choose this excursion of around 6 hours to meet the Khamu people. A trek of 2½ hours, along a forest trail to an isolated village where the houses are built on stilts. The remote villagers' traditions and beliefs include respect for the wisdom of the elders, the innocence of youth and the solidarity of the community. The trek continues to some immense caves.
06Half-day duration: 4h | depart 09:00 | with guide | level of difficulty: 1 Easier to reach, the villages of the Ikhos seem as if they are in a different world! Meeting this ethnic group reveals a way of life centred on belief in the spirit world, time-honoured customs and people in traditional dress dyed with plant extracts harvested from the forest.
07Full day duration: 6h | depart 09:00 | with guide | level of difficulty: 1 includes a stop in an Ikhos village and a picnic lunch before a short (20 mins.) walk to an abandoned Hmong village with a stunning 360° panorama. The excursion finishes in a village of the Hmong people and you have time to learn about their way of life and the importance of their livestock (pigs, buffalos...) before returning to our Lodge.
7AFull day duration: 7h | depart 09:00 | with guide | level of difficulty: 3 is a full day spent in the Phouhipi National Park. Roughly 17km from our Lodge, are Khamu and Hmong villages set in the luxuriant forests of the mountains. There are plenty of great photo opportunities. The last village is reached after a 1½ walk through the forest and you can climb the huge rocks for some more stunning views.
16Evening duration: 1h | start: 19:00 Back at our Lodge, you can enjoy a display of traditional Khamu music and dance. The villagers may ask you to join in!