Frequently Asked Questions

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, kids under 12 pay half price only.

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

Classic: most relaxed overall schedule with maximum gibbon and wildlife sightings.

Waterfall: more trekking and zip lining in a stricter schedule, you swap tree houses overnight, and have slightly less gibbon encounters.

Express: one night only, steeper initial walk, maximum zip lines, the biggest Lao tree, and no gibbon.

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 with open roof!

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 canopy.

Is the water drinkable in the tree houses?

Yes, tap water comes from a nearby spring and is drinkable.

What is included?
– Exclusive access to the Nam Kan National Park
– Your local escort will show you the way
– Accommodation in a canopy-level tree house complete with running water; access only by zipline
– Beds under a mosquito net canopy (2 mattresses in 1 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 running water, as well as tea and coffee
– Unlimited access to an extensive canopy cable-gliding network for exploring the treetops escorted by a guide or solo
– Transportation to and from Houayxay or Baan Donchai
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 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 or severe cold will discourage them from singing even though they remain in the same area. To maximize gibbon sightings, you should choose the Classic option as the pace is quiet and you have more time to be on the lookout for wildlife in general.

What other wildlife lives in this forest?

Sambar deer, barking deer, leopards, tigers, 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 the best option to spot wildlife in Lao.

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.

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

Yes
Classic and Waterfall options: 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 many cables are there?

Classic: 23 cables or 4, 53 km

Waterfall: 23 + 7 = 30 cables or 6,3 km

Express: 21 cables or 6,73 km

How long are the cables?

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

How many tree houses are there?

Classic 4 – Waterfall 2 – Express 2

Can I bring my dog?

Our team is dedicated to wildlife conservation, we therefore accept your pet for free as long as it has no hunting behavior.

What about transportation to the National Park?
For Classic and Waterfall options (which are located in the same area of 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 (which is closer to Houayxay), 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 guest house to stay at in Houayxay?

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

How do I join from Louang Phrabang?

From LP, you may only fly via Vientiane. Instead, you may either join Houayxay by bus or by boat. The bus leaves LP bus station at 7pm and also sometimes at 5pm. Travel time to Houayxay is about 12 hours and the fare is around 150 000 kips. As the bus goes through Louang Namtha, you may refer to the next paragraph if you plan to stop in Ban Donchai and spend less time in the bus.

If you cruise up the Mekong River with slow boat (about 200 000 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 and the fare per passenger is 280 000 kips; 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 Vientiane?

Daily flight to Houayxay takes 55 minutes and costs 400 000 (early birds) to 900 000 kips. Check exact flight schedule with Lao Airlines (daily flight usually) or Lao Skyways (on Fridays and Mondays) as departure time often varies.

Daily buses leave at 5 pm from Vientiane Northern bus station; it takes about 24 hours and costs 260 000 kips.

How do I join from Louang Namtha?

Regular bus from Louang Namtha leaves 3 times a day and takes 3 to 4 hours. Price is approximately 70 000 kips.

How do I join from Chiang Mai?

Bus ride from Chiang Mai bus station to Chiang Khong (opposite Houayxay) takes 6 hours and costs 200 to 300 bahts.
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 bordercrossing in Chiang Kong, regardless what bus drivers may say! The new bridge over the Mekong River closes at 8pm but service is not regular yet.

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 Houayxay.

How do I join from Chiang Rai?

Regular bus leaves Chiang Rai central bus station to Chiang Khong (opposite Houayxay) every hour or so. Fare: 70 bahts. You may easily double this price if your bus takes you through the bridge over the Mekong River (service currently under development).

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 Houayxay.

Where is The Gibbon Experience office located in Houayxay?