Luang Prabang is a popular base for community-based ecotourism to trek and homestay. Even a typical tourist destination Kuang Si Waterfalls, you trek with a local guide and visit from the back side by a route used only by locals, and you will get close to nature with a different look.
Laos is a multi-ethnic country with about 50 ethnic minorities living in mountainous areas with low population density. The mountainous region of Luang Prabang is also home to many ethnic minority villages that are economically poor but surrounded by rich nature. The people live a hardy life amid nature. The Lao National Tourism Administration and international organizations develop and support ecotourism to help reduce poverty and preserve the natural environment and cultural landscapes while respecting the culture and livelihoods of these people.
Compared to Western society, which strictly separates nature and culture, in Asia, nature and culture are united in both thought and reality. Laos has one of the richest natural environments in Southeast Asia, and ecotourism in Laos provides an excellent opportunity to introduce visitors to the life and culture of Asia in harmony with nature. It can be a journey for Westerners to encounter different societies and for Asians to find their roots.
If you plan to stay in Luang Prabang for a little longer, hire a local guide to visit ethnic minority villages through our tours. Our local guides have in-depth knowledge of the plants, wildlife, and local culture. You will learn about the life of the Laotian ethnic minorities through homestays. We promise that your journey will be a marvelous experience for you as well as support responsible tourism.
American anthropologist James C. Scott offered a new perspective for understanding the highland people of Southeast Asia. Ancient Southeast Asian states historically opened rice paddies on the plains to produce rice, and the tax revenues from these paddies formed the state. The state enslaved people from surrounding areas to increase production. Their output is monitored and taxed by the state. However, some people did not like this and fled to the mountains, abandoning the lucrative cultivation of the plains. People living in mountainous areas are not people left behind by civilization. but are ancient anarchists who dared to escape state control. (James C. Scott, The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia, Yale University Press, 2009)
They had stopped paddy rice cultivation to prevent their harvest monitor by the state. They made a living by securing food through slash-and-burn farming adapted to mountainous regions while changing their residence from place to place and trading various products from the mountainous areas with the inhabitants of the plains. They did not have a clear family tree. If they did, they were fluid and easily recombined according to the political situation of the time. Therefore, they cannot be considered members of a tribal society. Nor can we classify them by language. It is common for all family members to be bilingual, and it is not even possible to identify which is their mother tongue. They also had a system of rituals and customary laws that prevented certain rulers within their community. They lived as free people, so to speak, under a culture of egalitarian principles, keeping a certain distance from the ancient state, without being rulers themselves.
The Lao Government currently recognises 160 ethnic sub-groups within 50 ethnic groups. Apart from the Lao (Thai ethnic group), who are Buddhist believers in the lowlands and rice cultivators in the plains, there are countless ethnic minority groups in the highlands. Today, even in the remote villages of the highlands, different ethnic groups are congregating and living together in new villages, mainly for reasons of education and welfare, but visiting and homestaying in the villages offers a glimpse into the free world of ancient Laos.