Luang Prabang Sports & Outdoors Tips by sieffron
Luang Prabang Sports & Outdoors: 13 reviews and 19 photos
The easy part of the trek.
The mountains surrounding Luang Prabang provide excellent opportunities to trek through some of the finest scenery in Laos. The outdoor adventure companies in town have your ticket to visit welcoming hilltribes subsiting in the rugged jungles.
Possibilities range from day trips to multi-day hikes with overnights in villages. I did my trekking through White Elephant Adventures. I went on a three-day tour; the first day was mountain biking, the second was nearly nine hours of trekking from one village in a valley to another up in the mountains, and the third day we trekked for about four hours down to the Nam Seung River, where we transferred to kayaks and rafts for a few more hours before riding back to town in trucks.
The cost of the tour was $90 and it included all meals, water, use of equipment, two overnights in villages, and motorized transfers.
The day of hiking was the most physically taxing thing I've ever done. The mountains of Northern Laos are incredibly steep and the heat and humidity were, even in mid-October, unrelenting. We bushwacked through vertical cornfields and pumpkin patches, and crawled through thick brush tunnels. Our reward was an overnight in a bucolic Khmu village that was having only its second contact with Western people. For more details, please see my Luang Prabang travelogue.
Equipment: I wore my Tevas throughout the three days. They held up well for each portion of the excursion. I would recommend that you wear convertible pants (the ones that zip away to become shorts) and a moisture-wicking shirt. Bring socks and a light jacket for the evening as it can get cool in the mountains. Insect repellent, sunblock, and hand sanitizer are also recommended.
Rahh! I am rugged outdoorsman!
One of the best ways to get some exercise, but stay cool at the same time, is to go rafting or kayaking. There are three rivers around Luang Prabang: the Mekong, the Nam Khan, and the Nam Seung. I kayaked for a few hours on the Nam Khan with Green Discovery and the third day of my trip with White Elephant Adventures included rafting and kayaking. I was on the rivers at the end of the rainy season, so the rapids were moderate. I imagine there's not much activity in the height of dry season.
The kayaking I did on the Nam Seung was more exciting than the Nam Khan. The section of the Nam Khan I kayaked was lower flow and more of a relaxed float in an inflatable kayak. The Nam Seung proved a bit more perilous as my partner and I were each tossed from our sit on top hard shell kayaks on numerous occasions. It made the outing a lot more fun though. The large raft was much more stable, taking some of the adventure out of it, though we didn't have to paddle as much in it.
Equipment: If you wear sunglasses, make sure you have a leash for them. You probably already figured that out, but I didn't.
Other Contact: www.greendiscoverylaos.com
I finally learned how to ride a bike!
Mountain biking is a prime activity in Luang Prabang due to the... well due to the steep jungle mountains surrounding town. There are many ways you can go about arranging a mountain bike excursion from Luang Prabang. You could rent the bike yourself and try to navigate the homogeneous dirt roads passing through practically identical villages without getting lost. It's really not the ideal place to stop and ask for directions.
The other option is to choose from a plethora of adventure tour companies in Luang Prabang. I opted for a daylong excursion with Green Discovery. I paid $24 and the itinerary included about 3 hours of cross country biking in the morning with stops at a silk and cotton weaving village and the grave of Henri Mouhot (the Frenchman who red-discovered Angkor Wat) before transferring to inflatable kayaks. We kayaked to the Tad Sae waterfall, where we swam and ate lunch for over an hour, and then proceeded to kayak for another two hours to meet up with the truck that transferred us back to town.
The following day I left on a three day tour with White Elephant Adventures. The first day comprised of about 6 hours of cross country biking, with numerous stops in local villages.
I'm usually averse to bikes and the discomfort they cause me in my nether region, but I really enjoyed these trips. The pitches weren't too steep, though the uphills could be strenuous at times, especially in the heat. The scenery of Northern Laos is fantastic, with sharp mountains everywhere and villagers yelling encouragement (at least that what the guides said) along the way.
I road on 9 speed bikes (Gary Fisher and Trek, respectively) on each trip. Everyone got helmets and plenty of water and the guides spoke English well in addition to acting responsibly towards their groups. There were plenty of other non-bikers on both outings and no one had any problems meeting the physical demands.
Equipment: Bring some sunscreen, sunglasses, preferably some kind of wicking material clothing, and a camera. I rode in Tevas, so sneakers aren't necessary.
Other Contact: www.white-elephant-adventures-la
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