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Day Trips/Excursions Around Luang Prabang?

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Hello travelers!

We are a young couple (mid-20s) currently traveling in Laos. We are in Vientiane at the moment, leaving for Vang Vieng tomorrow (where we'll spend a couple of nights), then onward to Luang Prabang, where we will spend the final 6 days of our trip.

Would be so grateful for any travel suggestions from those who have been to Luang Prabang about unique side trips/excursions into the surrounding countryside: we would love to see hill tribe villages, or any other places of natural beauty/cultural interest. In the 6 or so days we have planned in LP, we're thinking maybe 2-3 days exploring LP (is that enough time?) plus another day or two to visit Kuang Si Waterfalls and Pak Ou Caves (would love to hear thoughts on that as well). That leaves us with an extra 1-2 days, during which we'd love to go more off-the-beaten-path experience any must-see places!
While we're not opposed to a tour, we have a strong preference to travel independently, and in our experience, tours (at least those within our budget) seem to rarely stray from the tourist trail.

Many thanks in advance for anyone generous enough to offer their suggestions!

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