the Chomphet hike: hidden temples + trails in Chomphet District, Laos

While Luang Prabang may not be known for its hiking the way that Vang Vieng is, it only takes a ferry ride across the Mekong to find quality trekking in Chomphet. The ferry ride to the “Chomphet Hike” trailhead takes only a few minutes, but the difference between the city and its neighbouring village will make you feel like you’ve traveled hours. Chomphet’s side of the Mekong is much less developed and significantly less visited, making the hike an easy detour from tourist congestion. Though you won’t find tourists on the hike, you will discover five different temples, including Wat Long Khoune, and side of local life in Laos many visitors miss out on.


READ ON for the hidden hike in Chomphet


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GETTING To chomphet

To get to Chomphet District from Luang Prabang, you will have to take a boat across the river. You can pay for a private long boat and haggle with the owner on a suitable price. However, the cheapest and most time efficient way to get to Chomphet is to take the local ferry. Trucks, motorbikes, and pedestrians alike load up on the wide ferry boat for a ride across the rive at only 5,000 kip {roughly USD $0.58} per person. You will need cash to buy your ferry ticket, and have to buy a ticket each way on that stint of the journey— meaning you must buy your ticket to Chomphet and returning to Luang Prabang separately.

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getting to the trailhead

Once you’ve reached Chomphet, you will walk up a sloping concrete road. At the top of the road, turn right and head over a wooden bridge into the village. You will walk through a residential area and are likely to get some looks from locals, as tourists don’t frequent Chomphet and are a bit of a surprise when they do. The trail is easy enough to follow thanks to this map by HoboMaps.

CAN’T FIND it? I’VE PINNED THE “TERMINAL” + trailhead BELOW

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WHAT TO EXPECT on the trail

Heat, mosquitoes, temples, and child begging can all be expected on a hike through the village and its surroundings.

TRAIL DISTANCE- The trail can lead you on a trek from 1 kilometer to 10 kilometers long. It simply depends on how lost you get or what loop you decide to take. My advice is to follow the HoboMap and make decisions about which loop you do depending on the weather and how you feel on the day. The trail goes from gravel and paved roads to full dirt paths. There are slight uphill gradients at parts, but the hike itself is very well suited for beginners or those who aren’t massive hiking enthusiasts.

TRAIL CONDITIONS- A lot of the trail is unshaded and Laos is known for its extreme heat and sun. If it’s too hot, you should opt for a shorter hike or come prepared for the conditions. Along with the sun, you can expect mosquitoes. The mosquitoes in Laos can pose the threat of dengue, so please take precaution.

TEMPLES- The Chomphet Hike will have you passing by temples. If you would like to stop at these temples, you are required to pay a small entry fee. Locals sit at small tables near the entrance to collect 10,000 kip {USD $1.17} and to ensure you are wearing appropriate attire {covered shoulders, cleavage, and knees} before entering.

CHILD BEGGING- As uncommon as this is in Luang Prabang, over in Chomphet you will find many kids selling bracelets or flowers in the residential parts of the trail. It’s also common to have little children come up to you with their hands out asking for food. Please do not perpetuate this! As tempting as it can be to buy a bracelet from these gorgeous kids, that’s not how poverty alleviation works.

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What to bring

  • decent walking shoes- The hike can be done in sandals, but I wouldn’t recommend it since snakes are common and mosquito bites on feet are the worst.

  • plenty of water- This is especially important if you are hiking in peak heat!

  • snacks- There are little shops at the beginning of the trail that sell snack foods for cheap, though they are all wrapped in plastic. I brought nuts and sweets in my backpack to avoid buying along the trail, though I ended up picking up some banana chips.

  • mosquito repellant- Dengue fever is a threat in Luang Prabang, so always being diligent with bug spray is vital to your health.

  • appropriate clothing {for temples}- If you would like to visit the aforementioned temples that line parts of the hiking trail, you should either come dressed with your shoulders and knees covered, or do like I did and bring a long skirt to chuck on if you feel like. The heat often makes wearing conservative clothing uncomfortable, so bringing something you can easily throw over your hiking clothes makes the journey cooler and lighter, while also preserving local custom.

  • sunhat + sunglasses- Again, the sun here is nothing to mess with in Laos and you’ll want to keep it off your face if you can.

  • HoboMap - Print it off or saved to your phone just in case you feel like you might get lost.

  • cash in the local currency {Lao kip}- You’ll need cash for your ferry ticket, snacks you decide to purchase along the way, and temple entrance fees if you want to stop and enter the inside of the many temples that dot the trail.

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the hidden hike in Chomphet district near Luang Prabang, Laos
a guide to the hidden hike in Chomphet District, across the river from Luang Prabang, Laos