Vang Vieng

Discover the different facets of Lao’s Vang Vieng – meet Hmong and Khmu hilltribes, learn about their livelihoods, make and taste rice wine, and soak up simply breathtaking scenery

This cluster of hilltribe villages, home to about 600 households, sits on the rural rim of the Laotian town of Vang Vieng. Reaching the villages takes a 20- to 30-minute drive from the centre that at times navigates bumpy rural roads – but that all forms part of the experience. Gasps aplenty await, as the villages that belong to the Hmong and Khmu people sit amid shimmering emerald paddies at the feet of striking limestone karsts capped with halos of wispy clouds.

The tour started with a stroll through the Hmong village, where our guide led us along dirt tracks flanked by small wooden and concrete houses. Along the way, we were introduced to villagers, who happily offered us a peek into local life. At one, a man showed us how he hand-carves hunting tools.

Strolling through the Hmong village

At the neighbouring Khmu village, we met the local blacksmith who hand-forges mainly agricultural tools for the predominantly farming villagers – and he’s happy to let us try. Next, we met a group of women who showed us how to make Lau Hi rice wine before we sampled the signature Laotian alcohol.

Having opted for the half-day tour, our adventure ended here. However, the full-day option includes a lunch of local food, followed by a scenic three-hour trek across Nam Song River and through lush paddies and farmland that sit in the shadows of spectacular karsts. There are different difficulty levels offered, as well as the option to cycle and kayak through the countryside.

Women making Laotian rice wine

Meeting villagers and learning about rural life in a spectacular natural setting provides a truly memorable and immersive experience – a great way to spend the morning or day out. This is the perfect way to immerse yourself in Vang Vieng’s rural life while learning about Laotian culture and the livelihoods of two of the country’s hilltribes. All of the villagers are warm and welcoming, and eager to engage in a cultural exchange.

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