The easiest and most popular adventure sport in Laos is trekking, with new routes opening up across the country all the time. Trekking is rapidly becoming a major money-earner for Laos, with a range of one- to five-day treks (usually with an environmentally conscious twist) attracting visitors from around the world.
The far north has mountain scenery, forest areas and colourful ethnic hill tribes living in traditional villages. There are excellent tourist facilities available in many northern towns, and Guide Service Offices are gradually being opened throughout the north to support tourists who want to take part in guided treks that are both environmentally friendly and have a low impact on the local peoples.
For visitors interested in hill tribes and organized trekking, the best towns to head for are Luang Namtha, Muang Sing, Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng, all of which have developed programmes for travellers wanting to make a series of day-trips based out of town or take part in multi-day treks involving camping and village stays.
If you want to take a more independent, DIY approach, other towns highly suitable for independent trekking opportunities using self-hired local guides include Muang Long, Xieng Kok, Houayxai, Vieng Phoukha, Muang Khoua and Nong Khiaw, all of which have guesthouses and are close to tribal areas.
In South Central Laos, new companies have been set up to allow visitors to discover sacred lakes, trek through ancient forests and interact with diverse local tribes. The tours have been built to foster development and improve the lives of local people without destroying the region’s natural beauty.