TOURCODE 71537 (SWT-6) Description
During the Secret War in Laos there were many places of significance, with Long Tieng being the most famous. Luckily for us it is recently open to the public, and this tour will head straight for this mountain outpost that served as the command and control center of the counterinsurgency here during the 1960's and early 70's.
We will visit many other important Lima Sites and talk about their history. And in between we will see stunningly beautiful landscapes, eat wonderful meals with extremely hospitable hosts, and visit some of the most popular destinations in Laos.
This tour can be accommodated with minivan, 4x4 truck, or motorcycle.
Day 01 Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng (L)
We start our tour by leaving Luang Prang and heading south through twisting terrain to Xiang Ngeun and up into the mountains to the Kasi Pass. From there it’s all downhill and we will pass by Lima Site 25 near Kasi and Lima Site 16 which served as the airstrip runway in Vang Vieng, where we stay overnight.
What used to be rice fields set amongst some of the most scenic mountains and surroundings turned into a backpacker haven fifteen years ago. It became famous for its tubing down the river, rows of bamboo huts selling Lao and western food and showing "Friends" reruns on TV. This vibe is still there, but now the town is starting to asstract a more sophisitcated traveller coming for the beautiful landscapes, hiking and and light adventure. Vang Vieng is a fun place, and great for our first night’s stop. (200 km)..
Day 02 Vang Vieng to Long Tieng (B/L)
Today's journey takes us climbing up and around the Nam Ngum Lakes. Reaching those Lakes gives us some great, not to be missed views of the surrounding countryside. Then we hit the new road, and ride down into Long Tieng. Long Tieng was a military base, which during the Lao Civil War, served as a town and airbase operated by America’s Central Intelligence Agency.
During the Secret War in Laos from 1964-73 no place stood out more than Long Tieng. Only years prior it was all but uninhabited, only to become Laos' second largest city and one of the busiest airports in the world. Filled with 40,000 Hmong fighters dressed in traditional clothing, Khmu and Lao Teung in military unfiforms, Thai mercenaries and American pilots and advisors, all in a valley perched on top of a mountain range and surrounded by dense jungle accessible only by plane.
We will tour the airbase site known as Lima Site 20A, visit General Vang Pao’s House along with the King's Palace, Skyline Ridge, the Runway and for the fit amongst us we can climb the speed brake. We’ll see some of it today, and the remainder tomorrow morning.
Overnight stay at a local guesthouse.
Day 03 Long Tieng to Phonsavan (B/L)
After breakfast we will resume touring Long Tieng. There is a lot to take in, and we will cover anything we missed the day earlier and go over some areas again with a different light.
Then we leave for Phonsavan, which we will reach in the afternoon passing through Xam Thong Lima Site 20 which played a major role in the war. A new school stands on the old Hospital base, and the Air America bunk House Chimney is still standing.
Upon arrival in Phonsavan we will visit the Plain of Jars; a huge site of stone urns, some with lids. What the jars were used for isn’t known, but there are many guesses. The most popular guess is that the jars were used as a ‘burial ground’. Time permitting we will visit the 1000 step Mountain and the spoon Village. That evening we will enjoy a nice local style Lao meal in town and then back to our guesthouse.
Day 04 Phonsavan to Xam Neua (B/L)
We set off on another early start and head north to our next destination, Xam Neua. On the way you will be constantly treated to spectacular views that will leave you speechless.
40 Kilometers north of Phonsavan is the town of Muang Kham, where the road from there to Nong Haet is noted for its Thai Dam funerary shrines with white tombs, prayer flags and offerings. Further up the road is the Tham Piew cave, where on 24 November 1968, at the height of the Secret War, a US fighter plane fired rockets into the cave used by farmers from the surrounding villages for shelter. The first three rockets missed, but the fourth hit, killing all 374 men, women and children who were sheltering within the cave.
Today there is a small museum and statue near the cave with a man holding a deceased child to remember what happened there. This is a rare scene in Laos where the past is not usually brought to light.
From here we again head north right through two protected bio diversity areas; the Nam-Et Phou Louey and the Nam Xam area. The Nam-Et has until recently had the last living group of south east Asia tigers.
After arriving in Xam Neua in the early evening, we will settle into our guest house. We’ll need to rest up as tomorrow will be a busy day of sight seeing. In particular, the Vienxai Underground Cave Complex, which the Phatet Lao used to run their war effort during that historical conflict. (230 km)
Day 05 Viengxai Cave Complex to Viengtong (B/L)
We head into the Hills for another full day, and drive to Lima Site 85. Supported by a 210 meter runway in the valley below, this site was upgraded in 1967 to one with an all weather night bombing radar unit allowing the Lao and US airforces to lead accurate raids and made flying safer. The North Vietnamese retaliated by launching many attacks on the site and finally after a ferocious battle took it over in March, 1968, and destroyed all the equipment. This battle took over 42 Hmong lives and 12 Americans.
Fifty years later, we take the steep climb to that mountain top, and are now rewarded with breathtaking views. We leave the site, and head for Muang HIam, (Veingtong). There, we enjoy the Hot Springs, and stay overnight in a local guest house.
Day 06 Viengtong to Luang Prabang (B/L)
Today we will visit Lima Site 36, a TACAN site near the village of Ban Nakout. Just outside the Village the airstrip is still visible. From 1965 Lima Site-36 was used as a forward base for U.S. Air Force combat search and rescue helicopters of the 38th Air Rescue Squadron. Two squadron helicopters would deploy at dawn from Udorn Royal Thai Air Base to LS-36 and the crews would then pass the time awaiting distress calls from aircraft on missions over Laos or North Vietnam. At the end of the day the helicopters would return to Udorn.
The Village itself is testament to that time, as war scrap can still be seen everywhere. Yet now the main focus is weaving and selling souvenirs. After we tour the area we will head back to Luang Prabang for a wonderful meal in one of Southeast Asia's most scenic and favorite towns. (193 km)
Included Travel Services
- All sightseeing as described in program above
- Transportation in private vehicles (4x4 or motorbike)
- Transfer from airport and back
- Accommodation in hotels (twin shared)
- English speaking guide
- Admission fees to sights described above
- Meals: B= breakfast, L= lunch, D= dinner
- Lao PDR governmental tax and service charge
- Luggage Handling
Not Included Travel Services
- International air tickets to/from Lao PDR
- Visa fee (approximately US$30/pax, depending on nationality)
- Travel insurance of any kind
- Meals not mentioned in itinerary
- Tips, drinks, personal expenses and other expenses not described in the program above
- Single room surcharge on request
Accessibility: Our trips are generally unsuitable for people with reduced mobility and other disabilities. Please contact us to discuss if this trip is suitable for your specific requirements.