The Eco Bungalow Project
Slow down your pace of travel and stay awhile
The Eco Bungalow project aims to create a perfect balance between relaxation and an interactive cultural experience. Here and in our other Eco Bungalow in Long Lao Mai you can live among the locals, learn about Hmong culture and gain a new respect for nature.
About Nong Khuay village
This Eco Bungalow is surrounded by beautiful mountains and view. Built in Nong Khuay, a Hmong and Khmu community only one hour and a half away of Luang Prabang. A total of 47 families live together in this community. 22 of this families are Khmu and 25 of them are Hmong. Like Long Lao Mai, this community also depends on their farms as their main income.
This village charm relays on the fact that it is still very traditional, most of the houses built with wood and bamboo with the occasional cinder block house.
Community-based tourism in action
Around April of 2013 the terrain in the village of Nong Khuay was being prepared to start the construction of the second Bungalow. For 2 years and a half, volunteers worked with the villagers to bring this second structure to life. By December 20th of 2016 the Bungalow was opened for tourists. The project’s concept was designed as a sustainable, income-generating initiative for the community. Construction was funded by the volunteers and private donors but the Eco Bungalow is fully owned and managed by the village.
As most villagers are subsistence farmers, they will now have supplemental income from your visit in the form of:
- Accommodation fees from the Eco Bungalow
- Service fees (cleaning, maintenance, cooking meals) distributed directly to those villagers carrying out those services
- Communal village fund from guests’ program fee
Unlike Long Lao Mai, this community is farther from the main road and has no tourists passing through. This is the most remote of all the villages we work with. The Eco Bungalow has impacted this community in particular by giving them a way of accessing tourism. Without the volunteers or tourists that are brought by Fair Trek, the community would not have this option. So far, the supplemental income generated by the initiative has helped villagers purchase mosquito nets, bedding, clothing, school materials and cover costs to travel to the city. It has also created invaluable experience for villagers and tourists engaging in cultural exchange.
We will continue to provide hospitality training and business development advice to villagers so that they are equipped with the tools to manage the operations of the Bungalow. Soon, the community will be prepared to take full ownership of the Bungalow’s long term development.
This program allows you to spend some time in the village to connect with the local community and experience Laos’ untouched natural environment. You can trek through Laos’ steep mountains and tropical jungles to Long Lao Mai and spend a few days in the Eco Bungalow.
For a truly experiential and memorable experience, get to know the villagers during your stay. Here are some tips on how you can get involved:
- Learn a few words in the local language
- Take a walk around the village and explore the diverse flora and fauna.
- Learn how to stitch a Hmong textile or other locally-made handicraft.
- Ask your tour guide to tell you more about how the Bungalow was built with clay.
The majority of this ethnic group live in northern part of Laos where they are the largest minority ethnic group.
Various subgroups make up the Khmu ethnic group. Traditionally, these subgroups are called Tmowy in the Khmu culture. These subgroups include the Tmowy Mea , Tmowy Ksak and Tmowy Rok. These subgroup’s main difference is the dialect they use to communicate and the location of their villages since some are used to living higher in the mountains than others.
Khmu villages are mainly animists and believe in spirits. Historically, each family had the protection of a totem usually as a form of an animal who had a connection with an ancestor and would continue to protect the family.There are 4 main festivities for Khmu communities: rice planting, rice harvesting, new year, and wash or get rid of sin festivals.
Among the most respected villagers you can find the shaman, the medicine man and the village chiefs, usually 3 in each village. The role of the shaman is to communicate with the spiritual and human worlds and practice rituals to maintain the balance between both worlds.