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Photograph courtesy of Asia Transpacific Journeys
Laos
An Off-Limits Jungle

Traveling in Laos has always meant either a quick jaunt to Luang Prabang (the former royal capital city) or a monthlong expedition into terrain that wasn’t always worth the trip—think mosquitoes and a hothouse climate. But a new lodge in Laos’s hill country, north of Luang Prabang, is ushering in a fresh era of tourism. Reachable via the Ou River, Muang La Resort and its fleet of powerboats have transformed what was once a multiday water taxi ride to the region into a five-hour cruise. Guests can book rooms directly with Muang La or leave the planning to Asia Transpacific Journeys, the first (and so far, only) outfitter to run trips here. Eric Kareus, a Southeast Asia specialist with Asia Transpacific, likens the boat approach to a scene out of Apocalypse Now: “You don’t see anything but jungle and mountains.” The resort itself is a different story, with plush, hardwood cabins and an on-site spa. Spend four days exploring the region’s trails by bicycle, foot, or four-wheel drive, and venture into untouched Akha villages where the women still wear colorful headdresses adorned with silver coins.

Outfitter: Asia Transpacific Journeys; asiatranspacific.com
Price: $1,400 ($$)
Length: 5 days
Departs: October–March

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