Who We Are

Who we are and what we stand for. Since 1999 we have been travelling the Mekong River in Laos, providing educational support for village children and building new schools. In some cases we were the first westerners to ever visit these villages, and we’re continually amazed by the incredibly warm welcomes we get wherever we go.


Old school at Ban Lad Khammune for 100+ students

Who we are – Old school at Ban Lad Khammune for 100+ students

In our spare time we raise money and build schools in Laos through Bridging the Gap Mekong Trust, a not-for-profit, New Zealand based charity whose prime purpose is to improve the education and potential employment prospects of underprivileged, isolated, village children along a stretch of the Mekong River between Pak Beng and Luang Prabang in Northern Laos.

You can read more on Who we are and what we stand for in a Gizmag / NewAtlas story http://newatlas.com/laos-mekong-river-kayaking-adventure-travel/39207/

or on the official Mekong Tourism site at  https://www.mekongtourism.org/news-and-media/kayak-paddling-mekong-river/

or in the NZ Herald at http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10715119


No other tour company has either the experience or trusted relationships with the village people along this stretch of the river than Mekong Kayaks


Classroom had a wall missing and a blackboard at each end with 2 teachers. Students had to move around the room to stay dry when it rained

The classroom had a wall missing and students had to move around the room to stay dry when it rained

The Trust has no religious or political affiliations, and the trustees draw no pay or management fees. All money raised goes directly to the purchase of building materials and teaching aids. (Our only operating expenses are river freight to get construction materials to the schools and translation services).

The villagers live a subsistence life style in isolated villages sandwiched between the river and the jungle and have only river access to the outside world.




Replacement 6 room school opened in 2009, built by the villagers, with support from Bridging the Gap Mekong Trust

Replacement 6 room school opened in 2009, built by the villagers, with support from Bridging the Gap Mekong Trust

Digital Detox

There are no roads, no cars, no phones, and no distributed electricity. Villagers are self sufficient growing rice, vegetables, pigs, chickens and catching fish in the river. They trade wood and food for limited cash to buy essentials.

Many kids currently use a piece of slate the size of a CD case and a stub of chalk to record the day’s lesson which is totally inadequate and inexcusable in the 21st century.





That’s where you come in

In partnership with the villagers we are now developing sustainable tourism as a way to maintain and supply these schools with their essential needs.

For every tourist who stays a night in a village we donate US$10 to the school building trust we created that administers the program. Check out Bridging the Gap Mekong Trust


Who we are. Mekong Kayaks is owned and operated by Xangnoi Vongsichan &  Geoff Collins


Guide Xangnoi

Professional guide and ex monk Xangnoi surrounded by the rolling Laos mountains

Xangnoi on BMW tour

Xangnoi (Means Little Elephant and is pronounced Sarngnoi) is our Operations Director and one of Luang Prabang’s leading and trusted professional tour guides.

He’s often appointed to look after visiting country presidents, prime ministers, VIPs, dignitaries, and travel magazine editors.

A fluent English and Thai speaker, Xangnoi was a monk for 12 years before becoming a guide.



He’s assisted on several of our Laos movie and documentary shoots and frequently stars in them.

He has a wicked sense of humour, is a mean guitar player, and motorbike rider.





Xangnoi lives in Luang PrabangLinkedIn:  https://linkedin.com/in/lanexang-vongsichan-81126291



Geoff Collins is a Kiwi who has worked across Asia for over 20 years running advertising, data and digital companies. A keen biker for over 50 years, he has ridden all over SE Asia, much of it off-road. 19 years ago while dirt tracking in Laos with his brother, they visited some isolated Mekong River villages where they saw first hand the appalling school conditions.


1,000 BC Menhirs or standing Stones, N Laos

1,000 BC Menhirs or Standing Stones, Houaphanh Province, Laos

They decided to help and improve them, and formed the Bridging the Gap Mekong Trust, a New Zealand charity that raises money to build and maintain schools along an isolated section of the Mekong River in Laos, and then sustain them with educational materials.

Today, we donate US$10 to the Trust for every Mekong Kayaks’ client who stays overnight in a village, to support these schools.

Geoff juggles his time between Auckland,  Chiang Mai and Luang Prabang, is passionate about adventure sports (has all the broken bones to prove it!) and spends  his spare time trail bike riding in Thailand and Laos.

LinkedIn: https://linkedin.com/in/geoff-collins-8814478


Family motto is: “Do one thing every day that scares you”

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