The northern area of Laos is a haven for trekking and is home to one of the country’s most famous treks, the albeit somewhat misleadingly named 100 waterfalls trail, a one day adventure which involves scrambling up the prolonged series numerous small cascades and pools, the ascent of which, quite unsurprisingly, will get you fairly wet. An unusual and fun trek for those who want something different to a long hike!

Nearby Luang Namtha and its National Protected Area is the premier trekking destination in Laos and features a number of interesting forest trails varying from 2-4 days around the Nam Ha and Nam O rivers where you can enjoy a close encounter with the various ethnic groups who inhabit the region.

Of particular interest are the forest forays into the realm of the Akha culture. Visiting their villages and learning about their customs, beliefs, agriculture and refined hunting skills is a popular focus for hikers.

Another highly rewarding and challenging trekking possibility is taking the 2 or 3 day Vieng Phoukha trails, utilising the skills of Akha and Khmu guides to seek out the last remaining wild colony of Black-cheeked Crested Gibbons. Another unusual trek in the Nam Ha Protected area is the Old Falangs trail, an old historic French army trail through the forest, ethnic minority villages and uplands of the park.

Vang Vieng is a highly scenic area to explore and the short trails to its caves are a popular pursuit and worth visiting if you want to combine walking with the area’s other numerous activities, such as climbing, rafting, kayaking and mountain biking.

The countryside around Luang Prabang is also a popular trekking area, exploring its ethnic villages, forests and waterfalls and can be combined with other activities such as elephant riding and kayaking. Instead of taking the drive, the one-day trek to Kuang Si is a healthy alternative for visiting the cascades.

Near Champasak, in southern Laos, there are a number of trails along and around the Mekong River, including the 1 - 3 day trails to see the indigenous wildlife, including the Yellow-cheeked Gibbons in Xe Pian National Protected Area. Another 3 day trip in Champasak will take you up to Phou Khong, for its mountain views and orchids.   

If you are trekking in this area, a visit to Champasak’s Treetop explorer with its thatched tree houses interconnected by zip wires and featuring an awesome zip line traverse across the face of the 100 metre high Kamet waterfall is a must if you enjoy rare and stunningly visual adventurous opportunities.