Revel in the adventure of an epic overland trip. Travel from China to Laos, covering the lands between Kunming and Luang Prabang. Discover spectacular landscapes that only intrepid tourists get to see, from remote villages with colourfully-costumed residents to nature reserves brimming with exotic animals.

Trip Highlights

Overland Yunnan to Laos

Venture through Yunnan province

Experience the cultural diversity and spectacular scenery of Yunnan, hitting its highlights and some hidden gems.

Be immersed in Laos’ culture and nature

Explore Northern Laos with treks to remote hill tribe villages, kayaking trips down rivers and meeting with the locals.

Cross overland from China to Laos

Step from one country in to another, noticing instantly the differences in the cultures and peoples of these neighbouring countries.



Arrival in Kunming

Kunming airport–Kunming city (approx. 27km) : 40 min*Depends on local situation (the weather/construction/traffic jam, etc…), may take longer

Be welcomed by the guide and transfer to the hotel.

Welcome to Kunming, the capital of the Yunnan Province of southern China!

The day begins with a short walk in Green Lake Park (also known as Cuihu Park), which provides a great feel for the atmosphere of Chinese parks. The real early birds start their day with tai chi or qigong, both are types of physical exercise which locals consider vital to their health and well-being. Others engage in a friendly game of Chinese chess, go (an ancient Chinese board game), or mahjong: a piece of true theatre on the banks of the lake which, in summer, is covered by lotus-flowers and flooded with seagulls in winter.

Overnight in Kunming



Kunming city – Stone forest (approx. 100 km): 1h30Stone forest – Yuantong temple (approx. 95km): 1h20*Depends on local situation (the weather/construction/traffic jam, etc…), may take longer

After breakfast in the morning, head to the county of Lunan to discover one of the major attractions of the region and a must-see, Shilinor, which literally translates as Stone Forest. Due to its proximity to Kunming, Shilin can become a bit crowded. However, only a small part of the 26,000 hectare site is crowded and it is easy to escape the hordes of package holidaymakers. Instead of joining the hordes, head to the quieter and less-frequented Black Stone Forest, which is roughly 10 km away from the main site but just as impressive.

Shilin is an endless maze of rocky peaks in an intriguing array of shapes and sizes that are a result of chemical erosion of the rock over time caused by rain and wind. Depending on the weather,

Enjoy a picnic lunch in the middle of the ‘forest’ which provides an opportunity to enjoy the scenery and avoid the unusually high prices of food at the on-site restaurants.

On the way back to the hotel, visit Yuantong Temple (literally meaning “the Temple of Understanding Everything”). Founded during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the temple is one of the oldest Buddhist monuments in Kunming and is known for its stunning location.

Overnight in Kunming


Kunming – Jinghong

Jinghong airport - Sanchahe national reserve (approx. 28 km): 45 minSanchahe national reserve – Jinghong city (approx. 25 km) : 40 min*Depends on local situation (the weather/construction/traffic jam, etc…), may take longer

Transfer to Kunming and fly to Jinghong, the capital of Xishuangbanna whose name is derived from Thai and means “12 rice-producing countries”. The region is considered one of the significant rice granaries of Yunnan. Located near the border with Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar, Xishuangbanna is the most tropical region in China. With its forests, lush jungle, fields of sugarcane, and dense bamboo groves and more than 1,000 animal’s species of animals ranging from elephants to tigers, this is one of China’s most biologically rich areas. Additionally, the area is inhabited by unique ethnic minorities including the Dai, Hani, Lahu and Yao Blang which, together, comprise two-thirds of the local population.

Xishuangbanna also has a long and rich history of tea production. This reputation dates back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) when teas from Xishuangbanna were chosen to become imperial tea. Pu’Er tea is now one of the most famous teas in China.

Be welcomed by the local guide and transfer to Sanchahe Nature Reserve for a visit to Wild Elephant Valley, where a small hotel has been built on top of trees, providing the perfect vantage point for observing wild elephants who usually come out at night. A two kilometre-long cable way in the park enables guests to enjoy rainforest views “from the air”. With a bit of luck it’s possible to spot wild oxen, green peacocks and monkeys!
Afterwards, have a chance to admire the Mange Buddhist Temple, which was built in the 15th century and is a perfect example of Dai architecture.

Wrap the evening up with a Dai barbecue dinner on Menghai Street (including fresh passion fruit juice, fried banana flowers, pineapple rice made with purple rice).

Overnight in Jinghong



Jinghong city– Xiaojie (approx. 45km): 1hXiaojie – Damenglong (approx. 15 km): 30 minDamenglong – Jinghong city (approx. 55 km): 1h30*Depends on local situation (the weather/construction/traffic jam, etc…), may take longer

Start the day with a visit to Dongfeng Market where different ethnic groups come daily to sell their goods. This is a colourful place where a rich variety of traditionally-dressed locals can be seen. 

Afterwards, head to the neighbouring village of Xiaojie and meet with the Lahu and Bulang ethnic groups. Lahu number around 500,000 people. Men usually wear a black turban while women wear different clothes to show which branch of Lahu family they belong to (Black Lahu, Yellow Lahu or White Lahu).

Elder women still follow ancient traditions and continue to shave their head. Lahu villages can be found in Thailand, Laos and Vietnam as well.

Bulang are fewer than 100,000 people and are culturally very close to Dai people. Mainly located in Xishuangbanna, most of them are Buddhist. Women wear black turbans with fish or shellfish-shaped silver ornaments.

Then head to Damenglong for a visit to two pagodas: Manfeilong Pagoda, located in the middle of the jungle, and Black Pagoda.  Manfeilong Pagoda was built in the year 1204 and is a famed stupa complex in Xishuangbanna. It is also known by two other names: White Pagoda and Bamboo Shoot Pagoda. These descriptive names are derived from the fact that the pagoda is white while its overall shape resembles a bamboo shoot. It is dedicated to Hinayana Buddhism (a small, conservative branch of Buddhism).

Afterwards, visit the Black Pagoda, located at the top of the hill overlooking Damenglong. After taking in the stunning views here, head back to Jinghong

The day concludes with a blind massage in Blind Masseurs parlours! For centuries, blind people have found work as masseurs; it's claimed that their heightened sense of touch makes them better therapists. In 2006, the Chinese government, under the auspices of the China Disabled Persons’ Federation, started an initiative to help blind people find work as masseurs and it's estimated there are now more than 110,000 around the country working in this industry (this massage takes about 1 hour).

Overnight in Jinghong


Jinghong – Jinuo – Menglun – Mengla – Mohan – Boten

Jinghong city– Jinuo (approx. 30 km) : 45 minJinuo – Menglun (approx. 50km): 1hMenglun – Mengla (approx. 100 km) : 2h30*Depends on local situation (the weather/construction/traffic jam, etc…), may take longer

After breakfast in the morning, leave Jinghong for Mengla, the last stop in China!

On the way, stop in Jinuo, which is named after the Jinuo minority. With only around 20,000 members, it’s one of China’s most rare minorities. The expression “Jino” refers to a tradition that respects the mother's brother as a prominent person in the family. The uncles' ideas are highly regarded as well. They also respect their seniors, especially older women. Upon the building of a new house, or when worshiping in an Adult Ceremony, they hold the highest position. This is a vestige of ancient matrilineal clans.

The next stop is in Menglun for a visit to Tropical Botanical Garden, the largest tropical botanical garden in China. It was established in 1959 by Chinese famous botanists including Professor CaiXitao, who devoted his entire life to scientific research in the field of botany. The garden boasts more than 3,000 species of tropical plants covering an area of 900 hectares. The garden has 13 special sections for plant growing such as the tropical fruit tree section, shade-growing plant section, palm plant section, water plant section, national plant section, medicinal plant section, etc.

Arrive in Mengla late afternoon and spend the rest of the day exploring the sprawling grounds of this garden.

Note: Customs in Mohan close at 18:30. It’s possible to clear customs in time if stops in Jinuo and Menglun are skipped.          

Overnight in Mengla


Mengla – Mohan – Boten – Luang Namtha

Boten – Luang Namtha (56 km): 1 hour

Head to Mohan to cross the border to Laos!

After clearing border formalities receive the visa on arrival for Laos (2 passport photos and $20 - $40 per person required in cash, depending on nationality). Be met by the Lao guide and transfer by road to the town of Luang Namtha, taking approximately 1 hour.

Arrive in Luang Namtha and check in to the accommodation on the banks of the Nam Tha River. A short orientation tour will introduce the peaceful town before dinner at the hotel.

Overnight in Luang Namtha


Luang Namtha – Kayaking

Luang Namtha – Kayaking starting point (8 km): 20 min

After breakfast drive off into the beautiful countryside of northern Laos.

The day begins with a basic paddling brief and familiarisation of before entering the river in single or double kayaks.

The Nam Tha River meanders through changing forest types, inhabited by animals such as tiger and barking deer and a great variety of birds.

The border of the Nam Ha Protected Area is reached in the Lanten village of Ban Sope Dute. Various sets of exciting but safe rapids lead up to a lunch break on banana leaves near the riverside.

This river is suitable for kayaking year-round, with rapids being gentle during the dry season (Nov – May) and more challenging in the wet season (Jun – Oct).

After a typical Lao picnic, there is time for relaxation and a refreshing swim. The next paddling stretch takes the group to the Khmu village of Ban Sop Sim Noy. Kayaking ends after the confluence of the Nam Ha and Nam Tha Rivers, from where a pick-up awaits for the return to Luang Namtha.

Approximate kayaking distance: 20km (this is flexible and can be discussed with the your guide)

Overnight in Luang Namtha


Luang Namtha – Trekking – Oudomxay

Luang Namtha – Oudomxay (115 km): 3, 5 hours

After breakfast, depart from Luang Namtha at 08:30 and drive for 30 minutes southwards to Ban Jaluensouk (Khmu village) which is the starting point of the trek. On the way, pick up a village guide who is very familiar with the area. This trek of about 8-10 km is not too difficult. First, go uphill for a while before the terrain gets more flat. During the rainy season the route may be a little slippery from time to time. Cross a few small and beautiful streams during the trek. The dense canopy provides shade and keeps the temperatures comfortably cool and the hike enjoyable.

Stop and spend some time at anywhere that catches the eye and the local guide will provide an explanation. At noon, enjoy a rustic picnic lunch with traditional Lao food, accompanied by music of chirping birds and singing cicadas. After lunch, walk to the car and be transferred to some open rice paddy fields with some good views. On the way back to town and the hotel, stop by some villages such as a Lanten Village which is known for its paper made from bamboo pulp and Ban Pieng Ngam Village famous for its production of cotton and silk.

Freshen up before the drive to Oudomxay, which takes approximately 3.5 hours.

Check in to the hotel in Oudomxay and enjoy the evening at leisure.

Approximate trekking distance: 1 hour transfer & 3-4 hours trekking

Overnight in Oudomxay


Oudomxay – Muang Khua – Nong Khiaw

Oudomxay – Muang Khua (100 km): 3 hoursMuang Khua – Nong Khiaw by boat: 5 hours

After breakfast, be driven to Muang Khua, a small town on the banks of the Nam Ou River, taking approximately 2.5 - 3 hours.

Here, board a private longtail boat for a cruise down one of the most scenically beautiful stretches of river in Laos. Compared to the more famous Mekong, the Nam Ou is considered more dramatic and wild and also has far less traffic.

Enjoy a picnic lunch along the way and spot various local villages while cruising downstream.

In the late afternoon arrive at the destination of Nong Khiaw, famed for the dramatic limestone mountains which surround it. Disembark and check-in to the accommodation on the banks of the Nam Ou River.

Enjoy some time at leisure and don’t miss sunset over the river from the balcony.

Overnight in Nong Khiaw


Nong Khiaw – Luang Prabang

Nong Khiaw – Luang Prabang (134 km): 3 hours

After breakfast take a short and easy trek to the historical cave of Phathok. The Nong Khiaw villagers used this cave as a war shelter during the “Secret War”, to shelter people from bombs dropped in the region. It is about a 30 minute gentle walk from Nong Khiaw town through beautiful scenery. Learn more about a secret part of the Lao history and explore the historical caves with the guide. From the cave have a beautiful view of rice paddies and the valley. Walk back to Nong Khiaw along a small path through the rice paddies.

Return to the hotel to freshen up and check out. Lunch is served at the hotel before the transfer to Luang Prabang this afternoon, taking approximately 2.5 hours.

Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. There is the choice to visit the evening hill tribe market which is open from 17:00 daily on the main street.

Overnight in Luang Prabang


Luang Prabang – Half Day City Tour

This morning, be picked up by the guide from the hotel and go on a half-day guided tour of Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Start the city tour at the former Royal Palace, now the National Museum, to explore the history of Laos. Continue on foot to Wat Mai, a temple renowned for its golden bas-relief, and Wat Sensoukarahm, which features a beautiful dazzling golden façade. Finish the tour at Wat Xieng Thong, the most revered temple in Luang Prabang. Located at the end of the peninsula, close to the Mekong, this temple was built in 1560 by King Setthathirat and is decorated with ornate carvings and mosaics.             

Then transfer back to the hotel or restaurant for dinner. The rest of the day is at leisure to enjoy the shops, cafes and ambience of Luang Prabang.

Overnight in Luang Prabang


Luang Prabang – Half Day Cycling Tour

Be picked up by the guide at the hotel in Luang Prabang with the adapted bikes.

Start the morning ride with a visit to the Phosy Market and join the locals and support vendors by buying fresh products or fruit. The guide will be here to describe and encourage guests to taste some of the exotic flavours of the local fruits, and to identify new items not found in the grocery store back home!

Continue the morning ride to Ock Pop Tock. This non-profit organisation seeks to preserve traditional weaving techniques, a trade which was once an important source of income for many Lao families but is slowly fading out as modern technology has evolved. A short tour introduces the process of silk weaving from the initial stages of creating the dyes to the final process of loom weaving.

Ride along the Mekong back in to town for the final stop of the day. The Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre is dedicated to exploring the rich diversity of Laos’ ethnic minorities. Traditional costumes, tools, and artifacts are on display alongside in-depth descriptions and written histories. It is a great opportunity to gain insight in to the Lao people

(Note: closed on Mondays).

Return to the hotel or restaurant by bike.

Enjoy a final afternoon at leisure.

Overnight in Luang Prabang


Luang Prabang – Departure

Luang Prabang – Luang Prabang Airport (4 km): 15 min

Trip concludes after breakfast. Check out time is 12:00. Be transferred to the airport for the onward flight.

Important Information

Our Services Include:

  • Hotel accommodation in shared twin/double room with daily breakfast.
  • Meals as mentioned in the itinerary (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner).
  • Tours and transfers by private air-conditioned vehicles.
  • English speaking local guide (for other languages supplements apply) PLEASE NOTE ONLY ENGLISH SPEAKING GUIDE ARE AVAILABLE IN XISHUANGBANNA
  • All entrance fees as indicated in itinerary.

Our Services do not include:

  • International and domestic flights
  • Meals other than mentioned above.
  • Camera/video entrance fees.
  • Personal expenses
  • Travel insurance, tips, visa
  • Other services not clearly indicated in the package inclusions above.

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