Our first visits into Laos began more than ten years ago, but our operations stepped up significantly when we acquired bases in the village of Na Som and on the banks of the Mekong River in Luang Prabang. We now employ eighteen full-time staff in Laos. In 2011, we were proud to announce the opening of our new Luang Prabang Service Base, located on the Mekong River and adjacent to the UNESCO World Heritage area in Luang Prabang.
We custom design our Journeys to meet your school’s requirements, so please contact us to discuss the type of experience you are looking for. As a general guide, here are some of the potential elements of your Journey through Laos:
Rustic Pathways has developed various long-term partnerships with communities and local organisations in Laos.
Some of our service projects that you could support include:
English tutoring: Participate at an English camp, where you will have the opportunity to teach and play with kids at the local school.
Travelling Soccer: Travel to remote villages and run soccer camps for local kids that work on leadership, social skills, English vocabulary and of course soccer skills!
Community rebuilding projects: These projects will vary from week to week depending on the needs of the village. In the past we have re-built classrooms, built a bathroom, and repaved roads that washed away in major floods from storms.
Cross-cultural interaction: Village children will gather in sweet excitement to meet and interact with you, and you will help them improve their English skills, play volleyball or soccer with them, or swim together in the nearby river.
Elephant Conservation: You will be assigned an elephant to work with for a few days. You will work with the mahouts to learn elephant safety and basic commands, before giving the elephants some exercise on a ride around the ECC grounds. Every afternoon, the elephants are taken to bathe in Namtien Lake, where the centre is located. Trekking in and out of the forest of a morning and night your primary focus, as is the centres, is understanding conservation practices and caring for these majestic giants.
With 50% of Laos’ demography being of ethnic minority, it has a very rich and diverse cultural makeup. Learn about the history and culture of the people of Laos while exploring places most foreigners never come close to seeing. You may like to incorporate some of the following experiences into your Journey:
Luang Prabang: This resilient UNESCO World Heritage site is world renowned for its richly artistic architectural styles, which pay tribute to both classical Lao style and French influences from its colonial period. Luang Prabang is a spiritual centre for Lao Buddhism, and its clergy have shown dedication to their city’s value and beauty by passing building restoration techniques down to younger generations of monks.
Vientiane city: Sample some French pastries and coffee at Joma café before visiting Wat That Luang, a national symbol, to get an introduction to Buddhism. Take a lotus flower and joss sticks in your hands as you walk three times around the stupa for best wishes for your journey.
Morning Alms: Rise early to the sound of the gong calling the monks to morning prayer, before heading out to the main street to give morning alms. Each day, the hundreds of Buddhist monks that live in the many temples of Luang Prabang file around town to collect offerings from townspeople looking to receive some good merit.
Cooking Classes: You can have the chance to learn a new skill and dive deeper into local culture through a Lao cooking class! Learn about traditional ingredients and preparation methods as you try your hand making dishes in your wok. You’ll be surprised the difference one extra chilli can make to the seasoning!
Photo Expeditions: Discover the sights and sounds of Laos while honing your photography skills under the guidance of professional photographers.
Temples galore: With hundreds of temples around Laos, there will never be a shortage of temples that take your breathe away!
Adventure and challenge is inherent to every Journey, however, if you are looking to physically challenge your students through a specific activity, you may opt to include:
Local Night Markets: Test your bargaining skills while you try to pick up a good deal on some local handicrafts and souvenirs.
Kuang Si waterfall: Hitch a 4×4 ride up to Kuang Si waterfall. This is one of the best swimming holes in all of Southeast Asia, with cascading pools and brilliant turquoise water.
Kayaking: Hop in a kayak for a trip down the winding Nam Khong River.
Elephant rides: Head into an elephant camp to take a ride through the jungle and learn about these majestic animals.
Futsol & Soccer Matches: Visit a couple schools and universities to play a game of futsol or soccer with the local students.
Blue Lagoons: Just outside of the village Na Som you can soar on a rope swing and swim in milky blue water and explore limestone caverns.
Rice & Buffalo: Learn how to plant rice and till the land with water buffaloes.
Pak Ou cave system: Climb aboard a slow-boat down the Nam Khan River to explore the Pak Ou cave system. Set in the side of a limestone crag, these caves hold thousands of Buddha statues that pilgrims have left over the years.
Kuangsi Waterfall: A gorgeous seven-tiered waterfall complete with beautiful views, a swimming area, a rope swing, and bear preserve.
There are various accommodation options that we can offer in Laos; it depends on how “rustic” you would like your Journey to be.
Hotels: A variety of 3, 4 & 5 star hotels in cities and towns
Homestays: Students can truly immerse themselves in Laos culture with a homestay experience.
Guesthouses/resorts: The most comfortable style of accommodation when in smaller towns and remote areas.
Stay at the tranquil Mekong Service Base during a week long mix of adventure and culture
Touch down in Luang Prabang, where ancient temples, French colonial architecture, rich history, and unmatched beauty have earned the town UNESCO World Heritage status. Your program leaders will be waiting to greet you at the airport and will take you to our base house to get settled in.
Sit down with local teens and university students to learn about their lives and swap stories as you help them improve their English fluency through practice with a native speaker. Bike through the side streets and back roads of Luang Prabang, stopping at temples, small shops, the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Center, and the UXO Lao Visitors Center.
Venture into the countryside to a Khmu hill tribe community, where Rustic students have worked to improve village infrastructure, build a primary school, and improve water access.
Dive in for another day of service, working hard as a team that includes locals who want to assist with the project. Afterward, relax with your new friends, play games, and start collecting your memories in a journal and settle into northern Laos living.
Leave the village for a three-hour hike through the surrounding countryside, passing small villages, farmland, and rice fields before you arrive at the stunning Kuang Si Falls. Take a refreshing dip in the bright blue pools or hike to the top and enjoy the sweeping views across the valley of Luang Prabang. Enjoy a traditional Lao massage before returning to the base for another delicious Lao-style dinner and service reflection discussion.
Rise early to the sound of the gong, which calls the monks to morning prayer every day before they give morning alms. Kayak to Tad Sae Waterfall for a dip and snack before continuing down the river. Close out your program with a special Laotian dance performance by a troupe of local women before they show you a few moves.
After one last French baguette and Lao coffee, head to the airport for your departing flight. You’ll no doubt leave with many amazing memories of your time in Laos!
Please chat to us if you have any special requests that you would like included in your Journey.
There is nothing too big, small, or out-of-the-box that we can’t handle.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to start designing your Journey!
We would be delighted to partner with your school to support the global education of your students.