Frequently Asked Questions

How do I join from Vientiane?

Daily flights to Houayxay are momentarily rerouted to Louang Namtha due to airport upgrading.

Flights take 50 minutes and costs around 700,000 kips.  Check exact flight schedule with Lao Skyway  or Lao Airline  as departure time may vary. Board the bus to Houayxai upon landing in Luang Namtha.

Check “How do I join from Louang Namtha” tab for more information.

Alternatively daily buses leave at 5 pm from Vientiane Northern bus station; it takes about 22 hours.

How do I join from Louang Namtha?
  • Direct bus / minivan to Houayxai. Regular bus from Louang Namtha leaves 3 times a day (9:00am, 12:00pm and 3:00pm) and takes 3 to 4 hours.
  • Minivans from Luang Namtha airport will take you to Houayxai in 4 hours.
  • Outside Nateuy train station a minivan will take you to Houayxai in about 5 hours.
Are the tree houses the world highest?

Yes, we take pride in building so high, 30 – 40 metres (100+ ft), that you can observe the forest canopy from your bed. Only Irian Jaya Papoo natives build that high up in the trees. However, our construction techniques are quite different.

What is the price for each option ?

The price for each trek is around 100 USD per day, with seasonal variations. You will know the exact fare for the period when you enquire for a booking.

Is there a special price for kids?

Yes, we offer about 50% discount for children under 12.

In short, what is the difference between the Classic and the Express options?

Classic: two nights, more relaxed overall schedule, with chances of gibbons and wildlife sightings.

Express: one night only, steeper initial walk, more zip lines, the biggest tree in Laos, and no gibbon sighting.

For this price, will I get luxury accommodation?

No. Environment is jungle and service is local. You will get exceptional canopy setups, friendly escort and natural outdoor conditions. No five-star hotel… but sometimes a thousand stars at night!

You will be sleeping in canopy level tree house only accessible by ziplines and share your tree house with other guests from your group. Each mosquito net provides semi-private room for 2 people. When a tree house is at full capacity, solo travelers may end up sharing a mosquito net.

Is the water drinkable in the tree houses?

Yes, tap water comes from a nearby spring and is filtered for drinking.

What is included?
– Exclusive access to the Nam Kan National Park
– Your local guides will show you the way
– Accommodation in a canopy-level treehouse with running water; accessed only by zipline
– Beds under a tent-like mosquito net (2 mattresses per mosquito net), pillows, sheets, blankets, towels and your personal harness and pulley (“roller”)
– 7 fire-cooked meals for the 3-day program, 4 meals only for the 2-day program, local fruits and snacks
– Clean drinkable water, as well as tea and coffee
– Access to an extensive canopy cable-gliding network for exploring the treetops escorted your guides
– Transportation to and from Houayxai
What shall I bring?
Required
– Outdoor footwear and a small rucksack: you can leave your excess luggage in Houayxay (or in Bann Donchai if you choose to continue on to Luang Namtha)
– A bottle of water (at least 1L): Keep your bottle of water with you during your entire journey in the forest. You can refill it in each tree house. If possible, bring a plastic bag with you to take back your garbage to Houayxay: the more you take back to the city, the less we process in the forest.
– A Flaslight/ Headtorch
Optional
– Mosquito repellent
– A camera: remember to charge the batteries ahead of time, as there is no electric plug in the tree house
– Binoculars for bird watchers
– Toilet paper, if you need, as we only use water spray
– Playing cards: cards can be useful during relaxing time
– Earplugs for the light sleepers (because of unusual jungle noises)
– A small first aid kit
* Please let us know if you are vegetarian or have any special dietary requirements.
Will I see gibbons?

Gibbons are wild and free in the National Park; we are visitors in their environment. It is not guaranteed that you will see gibbons. Gibbons are relatively easy to spot in the morning at any season because they “sing”. Heavy rain, severe cold or mood, will discourage them from calling even though they remain in the same area.

For chances of gibbon sightings, you should choose the Classic option (including Honeymoon) as the pace is calm and you have more time to be on the lookout for wildlife in general.

You will not see any gibbons during the Express tour as they very rarely come to that area.

What other wildlife lives in this forest?

Sambar deer, barking deer, leopard/golden/clouded cats, wild pigs, over 100 species of birds, civets, giant squirrels, Asian Black bears, langurs, macaques, loris, snakes, lizards, etc. Our inventory keeps expanding…

However, it is difficult to observe them due to low density and shyness of the species, as a result of human hunting throughout South-East Asia. Still, the Classic Gibbon Experience program is one of the best options to spot wildlife in Laos.

Do I need to be in good physical condition?

Depending on the option you choose, in the dry season, you should be able to walk uphill at least one hour per day (200 – 300m denivelation). We welcome guests aged 8 to 80 in the Classic Option. If you know you have a certain allergy or weakness, please bring your medication and further enquire with our office.
In the rainy season, treks are more slippery and our guests are usually younger and in good physical condition.

I am subject to vertigo: should I join?

When we started operation, we used to discourage people with strong vertigo to join our treks. However, and surprisingly, most of our guests suffering vertigo who actually joined confessed their vertigo had lessened while living in the treetops.

Usually each year, one of our guests has to sleep at ground level and occasionally some people completely overcome their fear of heights.

Is there a minimum age to join The Gibbon Experience programs?

Yes
Classic (3 days 2 nights): 8 years old.
Express (2 days 1 night): 12 years old.

What sort of guide will I get?

Your guides were generally born in the village nearby. Most of them have helped building the Gibbon Experience project. Some have a good English level while others don’t and should rather be referred as escort. We strive to bring the level up and value your feedback forms on that aspect.

What are the working conditions of my guide or the cook in the kitchen?

Gibbon Experience staff all have proper working contract, a work insurance, regular holidays, flexibility to choose to work 10 to 30 days a month depending on farm work, gets a mix of monthly salary, daily allowances, efficiency bonus and annual bonus. This adds up to 180 – 330 USD on a monthly basis and is much higher than average Lao or even Thai rural salaries. Tip is always welcome but please don’t reward someone pretending he’s exploited!

Where does the money go?

How long are the cables?

Shortest : 50 m – Average : 235 m – Longest : 570 m

How many tree houses are there?

We are operating 3 treehouses in the Classic at the moment and 2 in the Express tour.
More treehouses are under maintenance and will be opened soon.

What about transportation to the National Park?
For the Classic tour (which is located deep in the National Park), the car travel time from the office to the village is about 2 ½ hours. It is a difficult 83km trip that is either dusty or muddy depending on the time of the year. Where the car stops, you will meet your guide who will show you the way. On the last day, you should arrive at the office at around 3 pm (an additional 1 or 2 hours during the rainy season).
For the Express option, the car travel time from the office is about 1 hour. Road access is easy and initial walk takes 1 ½ to 2 hours. On the second day, you should arrive at the office at around 3 pm (an additional 1 hour walk out is likely to occur during the rainy season).
You will be driven to the National Park in a “songtaew-style” pick-up with open-air seating in the back. The road condition in certain areas is not the best and may result in a bumpy ride, sometimes shared with other villagers. Additional walking time may be added during the rainy season if the car cannot make it to the end of the road.
Is there a good hotel to stay at in Houayxayi and should I book one ?

There are plenty of guesthouses (hotels and hostels) with prices ranging from 70 000 – 100 000 (Little Hostel, BAP, Oudomphone, Sabaidee, Thaveesinh…) to 200 000 kips (Boat landing, Houayxay Riverside) per night.

You rarely need to book, especially during this post-covid time.

How do I join from Louang Phrabang?

From LP, you may only fly via Vientiane. Instead, you may either join Houayxai by bus or by boat. The bus leaves LP bus station at 7pm and also sometimes at 5pm. Travel time to Houayxai is about 12 hours and the fare is around 150 000 kips.

If you cruise up the Mekong River with slow boat (about 300 000 kips), travel time is two days with overnight stay in Pak Beng where there are plenty of guesthouses to choose from. The speedboat option takes only 6 hours; it leaves with a minimum of 6 paying passengers. Make sure you join the pier (located 10 minutes upstream LP) at 8 am to maximize your chances to share the boat with enough fellow passengers.

How do I join from Chiang Mai?

Bus ride from Chiang Mai bus station to Chiang Khong (opposite Houayxay) takes 6 hours.
Schedules as follows: Chiang Mai 6H30am / Chiang Khong 12H30pm – Chiang Mai 8H30am / Chiang Khong 2H30pm – Chiang Mai 1pm / Chiang Khong 7pm.

We advise you to take the bus in Chiang Mai in the early morning. If you take a bus at noon, you are likely to arrive too late at the border crossing in Chiang Kong, regardless of what bus drivers may say! The new bridge over the Mekong River closes at 8 pm.

From the border crossing, on the Lao side, you will have to take a tuk-tuk to come to our office in the center of Houayxai.

How do I join from Chiang Rai?

Regular bus leaves Chiang Rai central bus station to Chiang Khong (opposite Houayxai) every hour or so.

From the border crossing, on the Lao side, you will have to take a tuk-tuk to come to our office located right in the center of Houayxai.

Where is The Gibbon Experience office located in Houayxay?

Google Map location: here