The North of Laos


Global Mark : 10.61

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Minor. Market Relax Fiesta 


3 4 1 1 4 2 4 1 3 10.22

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend  Range AVER.
7 71% (5) 43% (3) 57% (4) 6 to 13 11.00

This is basically a transit point from/to somewhere else. The North part (Bus Station) look somehow more like an overgrown village than a town. The airport is in the south part, 8km away.

There aren't much to do in Luang Nam Tha itself but it is not an unpleasant place and the surroundings mountains & villages (still unspoiled by visitors) would be worth exploring on bike (B30 per day).

Where to stay ?

bulletOpposite the station, Loming GH looks more like an hotel : good clean rooms with balcony & cold shower with western toilet B75(1) or B100(2).
bulletContinue and turn left (North direction): this is the road of all the guesthouses. Alinya GH, the first one on the right has got basic dorm (3) B30 and rooms without shower B75. Not a bargain. You should be able to find better with the five or so following guesthouses (last one Sing Savanh GH at about 1km from bus station)
bulletThe Boat Landing GH is an ecotourism lodge by the Nam Tha River, the National Biosphere Conservation Area and tribes villages. It is located 6km from town or 1km from the airport. Cozy rooms with solar-heated hot water cost B250 or B300 depending on the size. More info at the below site.

    Great Info about the area

How to leave ? 
If there is no direct bus to Boten or Udomxai by the time you arrive, you could first take a tuk-tuk to Na Toei (B30, 1.5 hour) and wait there for a connecting bus (usually until 4pm)
By plane, there are flights once or twice weekly to Vientiane (US$80), Luang Prabang (US$37) & Huay Xai (US$41)

Backpacker's Tips : Andrew Curtis, New Zealand (Oct 08)
« There is a brand new road from Huay xai to north of Laos…. The road is the best in Laos… wide, smooth and no traffic, it cost 400BHT to get a minivan up there (which leaves between 8am and 11am once full) much easier to take and organize than any boat! Also if you are the last in the minivan you can get it cheaper. We arrived on the first morning bus from Chiang Rai and got a minivan no problem.
A town with not a lot in it. But A LOT to do around it. Trekking is more common there now and so villagers etc are more used to seeing you (and selling you) their products. But organized treks do put the money back into the village so a great way to help. Much MUCH better and more legit than Thai trekking. Because of improved roads much easier to get around in the north now!

Backpacker's Tips : Stefan Westerheide, Germany (Jan 05)
« Darasavath GH dbl (br,hw,mosquito net (mn),friendly,clean) 4 $ very good value. Internet is very expensive. Best food at Panda´s. Day trip with bike or motorbike through the surroundings villages is very rewarding. Also lots of organized tours possible. Bus to Udomxai (3.5 h, 2.5 $, bad road until Nateuil, then good tarmac road) »

Backpacker's Tips : Oren, Israel (Dec 04)
«There is, starting a month ago, a direct bus from Menga (China), to Nam Tha (Laos). the bus lives at 9:00, but be sure to be there about an hour ahead to buy tickets (which apparentaly are being sold only at the same day you want to departure, as weird as it sounds..) »

Backpacker's Tips : Chayut Pihakaendr, Thailand (Jan 04)
« Luang Nam Tha bus station schedules daily
Nam Tha -- Muang Sing leave at 8 / 9.30 / 11 / 13 / 15 / 16 / 12000 Kip /road O.K.
Nam Tha -- Borten ( International Chinese Border ) leave at 9 / 11 /13 /15 /12000 Kip
Nam Tha -- Vieng Phukha leave at 9.00 / 22000Kip / road is very road
Luang Nam Tha bus station schedules ( other states ) daily
Nam Tha – Oudomxai leave at 8 / 11.30 / 21000 Kip /120 Km /road is bad
Nam Tha – Huay Xai Leave at 9.30 / 11 .30/ 65000 Kip road is bad to good
Nam Tha – Phou khun ( 70000 Kip ) – Luang Prabang( 45000 Kip ) – Vang Vieng (80000 kip) – Vientiane leave at 8.30 / 90000Kip
This is a real nam Tha bus schedule ( DEC 2003 ) I think traveller needed it first I didn’t have the schedule so I missed bus and I had to stay a night here to catch the bus to Muang Sing .
I stay at Saikhonglongsak ( 35000 K ) Gh near museum don’t stay there it is very bad/ dirty so second night I moved to Phengthavi Gh ( 30000 K ) on the 2nd Km road on the way to airport / good room / clean/ don’t bargain at this price. Other one is Parun Gh ( 50000 Kip ) opposite Saikhonglongsak Gh  / inside bathroom /clean / with balcony / expensive
I think in Nam Tha it is hard to find the Cheap Gh like Muang Ngoi the price range is 3 – 40 Usd the most expensive one is the boat landing gh is 24- 40 Usd it is very beautiful area near to Nam Tha pier if you can stay there just go for a meal it has a nice restaurant with good food other one is House Laos Restaurant it give you a delicilous food in town.
I stayed in Nam Tha about a week and a half I think there are 8- 10 interesting things to do here:
1. Visit Luang Nam Tha
2. Rent a bike and explore
3. Explore the Ban Nam Dee waterfall
4. Visit a Buddhist temple( Wat Luang Kone )
5. The boat trip to Nam Ha National Biodiversity Comservation Area .
6. Discover That Phoum Phouk
7. Visit Fresh Foods market near the bus station
8. Luang Nam Tha Museum
I did all of above so I knew it is nice opportunity to go there and do it on the town itself there aren’t much to do I think
Unfortunately , There is only one internet café where will charge you with the highest price I have not been in my life 600 K / min so 60000/ 20 min so I think I better check mail before come here
Before I planned to take a plane back to Vientiane but with the ticket price ( 74 Usd ) I cancelled it but the local py only 49 Usd anyway the plane always leave at 15 .00 sharp it takes two hours fly . Telephone is (082 ) 312180.
So I think Luang Nam Tha is O.K. but it so exciting place like vang Vieng »

Backpacker's Tips : Hans & Greet, Belgium (Nov 02)
« Darasavath Guesthouse & Restaurant. In main street. Bungalow , prices from 15.000 Kip, 30.000 with private bathroom, 40.000 Kip for a bungalow with hot shower / Besides The Bus Station Guesthouse is a new (not a name yet) guesthouse, 15.000 Kip for a very beautiful room, shared showers. 
Food: Panda-restaurant, near bus station, cheap and good  / House Lao Restaurant: In main street, in the direction towards Muang Sing. New, looks like Swiss chalet-building. More expensive than average, also better food than average ! 
To visit: Daolith Tourist Guide (French speaking guide !) : 20 dollar /day – maybe 15 if you tell that we send you - (same price for 1 > max. 10 persons), brings you to a weaving and some Lenten-villages. “Monsieur Daolith” lives at 100 meter from the Boat Landing Guesthouse. Do not contact him via official canals (Tourist information or others), just take a tuk tuk (3.000 Kip / person) to the guesthouse and ask around. 
Boat Landing Guesthouse (room is 8 to 10 dollar in low-season) organizes trips. Their website looks impressive, but once there, there doesn’t happen a lot…. / Every Saturday you can walk with the Luang Namtha Ecotourism Training Centre. Info in their office, around the corner of the Saykhonglongsak GH. / More recommended are the 1-2 or 3 days rafting trips (Not dangerous !) on the Nam Ha of Nam Tha -river with Wild Side Eco Group. Especially the 2-day-trip on the Nam Ha (22 dollar per person, incl. Food, and accomodation in the Khmu -village Ban Nalam !) is an absolute must !!! More info on »

Backpacker's Tips : Robert Shaw, UK (Sept 02)
« We went on one of the UNESCO sponsored eco-treks for 3 days (USD 35) which went into the protected area and stayed at hill tribe villages. The walk was fantastic, passing through some beautiful forest valleys and along the river. In places the path was very muddy and slippy so it would be hard in wet weather, but well worth the time taken to get up there and see some very remote, off beaten track scenery.
One thing to note about the area, the electrical power is only available from about 7pm to 10pm, when the whole town is plunged into darkness. The hotels also lock up around that time too. However, one internet cafe there uses solar charged batteries to power laptops to provide internet a price of 650 kip per minute!

Backpacker's Tips : Peter Christiaen, Belgium (March 02)
« For me one of the highlights in Laos, especially the eco trekking is worth doing / Hotel : Boat Landing Guesthouse :12 USD : probably one of the best places in Laos; a lot of charm, originality; not cheap, but very nice; great restaurant with local specialties. Hot water / Luang Nam Tha Guesthouse : 30.000 kip : new, clean place. Private bath room, no hot water
Trekking : 2 day trek with the eco-trekking project : 24 USD/person (if you have less than 5 or 6 people, the price will go up accordingly). Good trekking, not too difficult. Interesting villages of different minorities (Khmu, Lanten). Overnight stay and all the meals in one of the villages. Part of the money goes to the villages (there's a lot of information on this in the booking office in Luang Nam Tha).

Bus Schedules : 

From Luang Nam Tha :

To Price Road Duration Time Nb Freq.
Muang Sing B40 ok 2.5 8,9,11,13,14,15 6 na
Na Toei B30 ok 1.5 8 to 15 a few hour
Boten B40 bad 2 8,9 2 na
Udomxai B75 bad 5 morning a few na
Huay Xai B250 very bad 8 to 12 8:30 1 na

Note : To Boten, more options if people

From Na Toei :

To Price Road Duration Time Nb Freq.
Luang Nam Tha B30 ok 1.5 8 to 16 a few hour
Boten B15 bad 30mn 8 to 16 a few hour
Udomxai B60 bad 3.5 8 to 16 a few hour

Note : To Boten from Udomxai / To Udomxai from Boten

The trip to Udomxai : SSSS + SSS / B30 + B60 / 1.5 hrs + 3.5 hrs / Tuk-Tuk + Minibus
Arriving too late for the direct bus, I was told to go first to Na Toei : this was a pleasant tuk-tuk ride on a beautiful countryside road with plenty of villages. The road was excellent at the beginning but was soon to be replaced by the usual "Emental" road. Once at Na Toei, I waited 45mn for a minibus coming from the Chinese border to materialize. It was full of friendly old Chinese smokers (there is a repetition here) so the ride was linguistically interesting but it somehow lacked oxygen. The road was quite bad as well so my plastic chair in the alley quite unstable. The scenery was just OK : there was some very photogenic villages but, most of the time, the countryside was hidden by high "talus". Also, I did not get the best seat in the theatre... Arriving at Udomxai at night, my new Chinese friends insisted that I share their meal. A great way to end a long day on the road...

See also the trip from Muang Sing


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