Southeast Asia Rock Climbing and Exploration Overview
This program allows you to completely immerse yourself in the stunning scenery, traditional culture, and adventurous side of Laos. Although this country is rapidly modernizing, the old lifestyles here are still predominant and this trip provides a rare glimpse into a way of life which has been practiced for thousands of years. On your rest days from climbing, you will get to explore exquisite temples, visit welcoming traditional villages, and enjoy delicious local food. Or you can take the more active route on your days off, and explore profound caves and trek through the dense, lush jungle.
The climbing here is the main attraction! Rock climbing is a must do in Southeast Asia, and Laos offers some of the best and most unique climbing in the world. Flanked by remarkable limestone mountains, the areas of Thakhek and Vang Vieng offer exceptional limestone sport climbing featuring big holds on textured rock, with plenty of variation for climbers of all skill levels. The climbing here ranges from 5.6 slabs to 5.14b roof climbing, with hundreds of pitches available, and plenty of new routes yet to be established.
The best time to climb in Laos is when the weather is cool and stable between November and January, making it an excellent winter escape. We will stay in bungalows and guesthouses in small cities and towns in the abundant jungle of Laos. We will sample the amazing cuisine of the area, which is mostly harvested in the jungle outside the towns, and is quite literally farm to table.
This program truly is an eye-opening experience and the atmosphere in Laos is warm and welcoming to all climbers. Along with the exceptional climbing experience, you will get to delve into the unique culture in Laos and learn about the way of life in this fascinating country. Southeast Asia Rock Climbing and Exploration Itinerary
Exploring and Rock Climbing in Thakhek
Thakhek is the premier climbing destination of Laos and has some of the best climbing in all of Southeast Asia. This town has retained much of its French heritage which can be seen as you walk around the town and explore the local markets, coffee shops, and restaurants. On your days off from climbing, you will get to visit various temples, explore caves, and trek through the surrounding jungle. Just over the border from Thailand on the Mekong River, Thakhek is a gateway town to unbeatable climbing and is not to be missed.
Day 1 - 2: Travel to Vientiane - The trip will begin in Vientiane, the charming capital city of Laos, where we will recover from our jet lag, and check out the city and visit the art museum of Haw Phra Kaew, before we prepare to travel to Thakhek.
Day 3 - 4: Rest and Travel to Thakhek - If everyone is ready to travel, we will be picked up by our driver in a private van and taken to Thakhek to begin our climbing adventures. There is an option to stay in Vientiane another day if more recovery time from travel is needed.
Day 5 - 11: Climb and explore the area of Thakhek - We will spend 7 days climbing in Thakhek, staying in bungalows within walking distance to the crags. On rest days, we will have several activities that we can choose from, including visiting traditional villages, trekking through the jungle, visiting temples, exploring caves, or just relaxing in the hammocks at our bungalows and enjoying the scenery!
Day 12: Travel back to Vientiane - After an action-packed 7 days of climbing in Thakhek, we will travel back to Vientiane.
Day 13: Get organized to fly - This day is set aside to have an extra day before the international flight to make sure the group is organized and ready to travel home.
Day 14: Travel back home from Vientiane - We will say our goodbyes, and travel back home.
Exploring and Rock Climbing in Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang
Our more immersive trip to the area will include not only rock climbing in the adventure hub of Vang Vieng, but also an overnight homestay at a traditional village that requires a trek through the jungle to get to. We will truly immerse ourselves in a village that still lives in a completely traditional way, as well as have some time to visit the charming city of Luang Prabang, known as the cultural hub of Laos.
Vang Vieng Itinerary:
Day 1 - 2: Travel to Vientiane - The trip will begin in Vientiane, the charming capital city of Laos, where we will recover from our jetlag, and check out the city and visit the art museum of Haw Phra Kaew, before we prepare to travel to Thakhek.
Day 3 - 4: Rest and Travel to Vang Vieng - After everyone has recovered from jet lag and traveling, we will travel a few hours north by car to the town of Vang Vieng, which is an amazing area for climbing and trekking along the Nam Song River.
Day 5 - 10: Climb in Vang Vieng - We will spend 6 days climbing around Vang Vieng on limestone walls that rise straight out of the river valleys. On rest days, you will get to explore Vang Vieng and experience the local culture in the unique town.
Day 11: Travel to Luang Prabang - We will travel a few hours north to Luang Prabang, a charming little city on the banks of the mighty Mekong river.
Day 12: Luang Prabang Sightseeing - Luang Prabang has some of the most stunning temples in all of Laos, excellent food, and beautiful views of the Mekong river. We will spend this day experiencing all Luang Prabang has to offer!
Day 13: Travel to Luang Namtha - We will head even further north to the town of Luang Namtha, which is on the edge of the massive NamHa Conservation Area, and serves as the hub for many tiny traditional villages scattered through the dense jungle of the region.
Day 14: Rest in Luang Namtha and Sightseeing - This day will be spent visiting temples and waterfalls, eating amazing food, bicycling, and resting.
Day 15 - 16: Nalan Village - We will meet our local guides and travel to the Nalan village, a traditional village that lives truly off the grid and learn about their way of life by spending 2 days and 1 night with the villagers.
Day 17: Travel to Luang Prabang - We will then travel back to Luang Prabang to prepare for our international flights back home.
Day 18 - 19: Regroup in Luang Prabang - We will get ready to travel back home, and in between we will visit a 2000 year old buddhist cave as well as the beautiful waterfall area of Kuang Si. Day 20 - 21: Travel back home from Luang Prabang. Southeast Asia Rock Climbing and Exploration Dates and Details 2023/24 Dates
This program is also offered on a private basis. Please contact the AAI Office for additional information and availability: [email protected] or 360-671-1505.
Pricing: $5950 for Thakhek 14-day trip; $7995 for Vang Vieng 21-day trip; $13,945 for the 14-day trip and the 21-day trip
Max Ratio: 6 :1
Minimum Enrollment: 3
14-Day Program with only
two participants - $8,995 per person 14-Day Program with only one participant - $17,850 per person
21-Day Program with only
two participants - $11,995 per person 21-Day Program with only one participant - $23,985 per person
Good physical condition - We are happy to advise you on a conditioning program; more information is provided in the registration packet
Some previous climbing experience - Participants should be able to follow top-rope 5.8 or higher
Program Cost Inclusions and Exclusions
Inclusions: Lodging in hotels, huts, and bungalows on a shared basis for the dates of your program (available on a private basis by special arrangement, subject to availability, and at added cost); Admissions to museums and national parks; Group climbing equipment; Transportation during trip; Guide fee; Local assistant guides
Exclusions: Airfare; Personal climbing and traveling equipment; All food; Gratuities to guides; Government and airport taxes; Travel insurance; Excess baggage
Flight Information Flight arrangements should be made so that you arrive in Vientiane ( Wattay International Airport ) on the first scheduled start day of the trip, and you depart on the last day of the trip. Please email or call our Travel Coordinator, Lisa Greif , if you would like assistance with travel arrangements ( [email protected] or 509-972-4028). Southeast Asia Rock Climbing and Exploration Routes and Other Adventures
Climbing Route Suggestions for Thakhek and Vang Vieng
Laos offers phenomenal limestone sport climbing, with huge holds and amazing movement on uniquely featured rock. Some of the most notable climbs in Thakhek and Vang Vieng are listed below to give you a taste of the climbing in these areas. Each of the routes listed are available for private guided climbing depending on your previous experience.
Vegan Bier (5.7, Sport) - A great beginner lead climb.
Sissi (5.8, Sport) - This climb has a slippery start, but it leads to some nice, sustained vertical climbing.
Take Forever (5.9, Sport) - A long and fun endurance route.
Caveman (5.9+, Sport) - A unique and memorable traverse climb through a cave.
Saugeburt (5.10d, Sport) - This climb features big positive holds with lots of rests and a tunnel that you get to climb through.
From Dusk Til Dawn (5.10d, Sport) - This climb features technical stemming that leads to a juggy finish.
Aggro Yoga (5.11a, Sport) - Starts with a tricky boulder problem but awesome climb after the beginning.
Mon General (5.11a, Sport) - This route involves some technical movement along with big reaches up an overhang to make for some fun and pumpy climbing.
Money Can’t Buy Me Love (5.11a, Sport) - This route follows a vertical face with some tricky moves over and up a small corner. The crux of this route features a huge tufa/stalactite hanging in the middle of the route.
Schwitzerland (5.11d, Sport) - Slightly overhung and sharp, you begin on a slab and move to tufa pinches, then finish on a sequence of pockets.
Pit Viper (5.11d, Sport) - An amazing steep pocket and tufa climb.
Jungle King (5.12b, Sport) - This climb gives you a look into the monstrous roof section. Although the angle of the climb is fairly horizontal, the holds are everything you want.
No Knee to Worry (5.12d, Sport) - The most horizontal climb at the most horizontal crag, enjoy this grand roof climb with toe and leg hooks.
Der Grimmel (5.12b, Sport) - A great route with a boulder problem at the start that leads to pumpy climbing with a few big reaches and then a jug traverse near the top.
Dream Catcher (5.12d, Sport) - This route stands by itself on an incredible wall that overlooks expansive fields. Features tricky tufa and pocket climbing.
Shadow of the Wall (5.10a, Sport, 3 pitches) - A great multi-pitch climb in Laos that features climbing in the 5.8 - 5.11a range. The first two pitches are long, structured routes and the final pitch offers the crux of the climb but commands amazing views.
Chinese New Year (5.10c, Sport, 4 pitches) - This multi-pitch climb has a little bit of everything, with climbing ranging from 5.8 - 5.10c. With a nice warm up on the first pitch, you’ll reach the second pitch that has some overhanging climbing. Then the third pitch includes the cruxy face climb, and lastly the fourth pitch is a mellow climb to the summit.
Burnout Syndrome (5.12a, Sport, 3 pitches) - Another multi-pitch climb that offers climbing in the 5.7 - 5.12a range. With the most difficult moves on the first pitch, the second pitch then offers some nice chimney climbing, and the third pitch finishes the climb off with a mellow 5.7 climb.
Other Adventures in Laos
Bicycle rental and rides through charming villages and luscious jungles.
Explore the massive underground caves decorated with stalactites, stalagmites, and delicate helictites.
Visit quaint villages and meet the warm and welcoming local people.
Explore the beautiful waters by kayaking in the diverse nature and landscapes of Laos.
Take a cooking class and learn to make tasty authentic Lao cuisine using traditional methods.
Visit local temples and learn about Buddhist culture, architecture, and appropriate temple etiquette.
Trek through the magnificent jungle and delve into the unique flora and fauna of Laos.
Visit some of Laos’s most notable tourist attractions, like some of Southeast Asia's most spectacular waterfalls, including Tad Fane and Dong Hua Sao.
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