Experience life in Laos as only Stray can show you, during a homestay at a remote Lao village on the banks of the Mekong River. No other groups visit this village, so it's as off-the-beaten-path as you can get. Follow the local kids to their favourite swimming hole, play petanque in the packed dirt village square with the locals, and witness a welcoming baci ceremony during the evening (followed by country karaoke under the stars, of course!).
Vibe: The vibe at the Mekong Homestay is welcoming, friendly, and warm. The local people in this cluster of three tiny villages appreciate the little tourism that they get, and you’ll instantly be made to feel at home as you walk past people’s homes and they greet you with a ‘sabaidee’ and a smile.
Must Do: The Baci welcoming ceremony is a real highlight. This special Lao ceremony consists of prayer, drinking Lao whiskey, and the people of the village tying 32 cotton bracelets (representing the 32 components of your soul) around your wrist. The ritual is thought to protect you, bring you good luck and health, and leave a small piece of you wherever you go in your travels.
Known for: Being so off-the-beaten-track that it’s not known at all! However, Stray travellers know it for its authentic home stay experience, and a chance to gain real insight into rural Laos. Stray is the only group that visits this special village.
TOP THINGS TO SEE AND DO
Should it not be a weekend or the holidays, make sure to visit the village school. The children are thrilled for the company and enjoy practicing their English with visitors. It is a truly eye opening experience compared to what you have at home, but these children are a breath of fresh air with their gratefulness and appreciation.
There is a small football pitch at the school and it is great fun to play a match – football is a universal language! Teams usually work out as the locals versus the tourists. If playing football isn’t your thing, it’s equally entertaining to cheer from the side line.
Not being situated in a capital city or a wealthy area, the small, quaint and unglamorous local temple gives authentic insight into Laos’s temples and how villagers practice their religion as part of their daily lives.
Take a dip in the Mekong River
With very limited amenities available, the Mekong River plays a central role in village life. It is where the villagers bathe, wash their clothes and where the children play. There’s no better way to embrace village life than by taking a dip in the river. Not ideal for hair washing, but it is refreshing and fun, especially when watching the children in their element.
Walk around the Village
There is no harm in simply taking a walk around to observe a very different way of life from what you know back home. The village is developing and there is always construction of sorts going on. It is interesting to see the changes being made. Some houses are colourful, and the view of the river is breathtaking. Take a minute to soak it in!
EATING AND DRINKING
Not exactly swarming with restaurants, all eating is done at the home stay. A delicious, traditional Lao group meal is prepared, and they do cater for vegetarians. They will encourage you to eat more and wash it down with some local beer. Consider taking a beer down to the river bank for a stunning sunset over the Mekong. And don’t forget the whiskey! During the ceremony you’re given a shot of Laos whiskey, measured at a whopping 50%. If there’s any left over, another shot may be on the cards! There are also some local stall-like businesses where you can purchase soft drinks.
How to get here
The Mekong Homestay is the overnight stop on our two day slow boat cruise of the Mekong River.
Cruise from Houay Xai on our private slow boat up the Mekong River to this secluded river side village. Sit back and soak up this incredible journey as you wind your way through lush farmland, thriving jungle and rugged mountain scenery; drifting past water buffalo, locals fishing, and kids splashing in the shallows. We arrive at the Mekong Homestay in the late afternoon so you can make the most of this incredible experience.
The next morning we jump back aboard our private boat and head downriver to the famous limestone Pak Ou Caves. Here you will see thousands of Buddhist images that have been placed throughout the caves over hundreds of years. Jumping back on board our boat a short trip takes us to the UNESCO World Heritage town, Luang Prabang.
"On the boat ride to the Laos homestay our group of 16 chatted about the chance to finally swim in the Mekong. Some were excited about the chance, others a little hesitant..."