The North of Laos


Global Mark : 14.89 (up)    Top Five : No2

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Minor. Market Relax Fiesta 


5 5 1 1 4 1 5 1 5 12.44

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend  Range AVER.
9 100% 100% 100% 15 to 20 17.33

Description :
A charming one street village in the middle of nowhere.

Comments : This is Laos as it probably was couple of years ago : not so touristy, cheap and very hospitable & smiling. But of course, do not expect luxury... 

What to do ? Smile back at people "Sabaidy" ! / Teach the local kids some English / Imitate the pending garlic : bask in the sun / Become a speleologist / See how lao-lao spirit is distilled / Watch plenty of butterfly / Test new fruits / Watch fishermen / See new ways to use bomb shells (as fences for example) / Above all, relax & enjoy !

What you may not like ? That this place become spoiled soon : a few kids were already asking for money after showing a short dance / Not bringing a powerful torch for the cave / The expected crowd soon (I already heard some bad news...)

How long ? From one day to much more if you wish to extend that relaxing experience

Where to stay ? 

Three places offer bed space in Sgl or Dbl for K4.000 (update August 03: rooms reported to cost now K10.000)

bulletLattanavongsa GH, just up from the pier / The most comfortable one with lights (generator) and bathroom / Good upstairs rooms 
bulletBoupha GH, turn right, direction South for 200m / The most basic one : no electricity, outside shower and bamboo rooms 
bulletKhamleck Philasouk GH, after the above, a bit off the road / Mattress on the floor in upstairs rooms & bathroom

Backpacker's Tips : Stefan Westerheide, Germany (Jan 05)
« Boupha GH (1 $,basic bungalow, mosquito net, good food, very friendly owner) good value. At least 20 places to stay here, no big differences in price and comfort. Boupha is one of the slightly better choices. Best thing to do is to walk to Ban Na (1.5 h easy walk) and stay there for a night, both villages are extremely nice, but Ban Na has only one GH, so it´s much easier to soak up the rural atmosphere if you need a beach, walk over to the island in the river, it´s accessible by foot, if you go down at the end of the village. Although full of tourists Muang Ngoi is still a picturesque place with a strange vibe, recommend going there. Boat to nong khiaw 1h, 1.5 $ »

Backpacker's Tips : Tam Chiwai, Hong Kong (Sept 00)
 There seen to be a lot of traveler going to Muang Xing just to smoke opium. And that's not very good. So, please, don't encourage the opium business there. I felt sad when a 5 years old kid come to ask me if I wanted to smoke opium.»  Note : I support Tam 200% on that one !  Beside, it is dangerous to buy anything there as the sellers often go straight to the police to report their sales. A lucrative business indeed  : the sellers will get their shit back and the police will get money from the travelers... 

Where to eat ? At noodle shops for K1000 or at any of the above guesthouses. Prices are about the same as in other places (actually cheaper than in Luang Prabang) so there is no need for provisions

A bit of Speleology ? There is a nice big cave (Tham Kang) at about 30mn from Philasouk GH : go straight pass the school and walk for 15mn. At the river, take the path straight inside the vegetation and continue for 15mn. You will find the river again and the cave. The main entrance is in fact a bit high : climb the path on the left of the river cave and, if well equipped & cautious, start exploring. If not claustrophobic, it is also possible to crawl your way inside another section, on the right of the ground floor river cave. If you need more, there are other caves in the area : ask around !

 << Discover a good reason to visit

Backpacker's Tips : Andrew Curtis, New Zealand (Oct 08)
« To further back up what people are saying, this place is now full of tourists of all ages on over night trips up from Luang Prabang. Most of accommodation is the same and so is most of the food (slightly more expensive than far north). Definitely not a quaint old Laos feeling anymore, this place is made for tourism….this is compared to our experiences in the north. Still most people do not venture far from Muang Ngoi and so easy to get out and stay in the surrounding villages. The boat ride up there is beautiful and if you explore you will be rewarded. » 

Backpacker's Tips : Jesper Andersson, Sweden (March 01)
« A small but pretty beautiful waterfall two hours walk from Muang Ngoi old, ask the English teacher Kong Keo in the village for guide, I was the first one to see it.»

Leave Muang Ngoi ?
To Muang Khua : 2pm, 5 hrs, K25.000 if 8 people or local boat. From there, boat upriver to Phongsali at 8am. 

Backpacker's Tips : Peter Christiaen, Belgium (March 02)
« Muang Khua : I liked this place. Busy town centered around the Nam Ou river. A lot of normal life going on : barber shops, fishing, washing in the river, pig slaughtering, ferry boats,… I believe this is Laos like it was like everywhere only a few years ago. / Hotel : Sing Savanah Guesthouse : 25.000 Kip for a big room with private bathroom (Chinese toilet + cold shower). / Slow boat to Nong Khiaw (5 hours; 45.000 Kip)

The trip to Nong Khiaw :
SSS / L&R / B35 + B55 / 1 + 3.5 hrs / Boat + Tuk-Tuk
A notable exception : I had been told that the boat would leave at 8 but some were actually leaving earlier. This was bad news for my relaxing breakfast but good news for my connecting bus. After being quoted the right price, I was shown to an empty boat : the day would indeed be unusual ! Indeed, it left soon after with only a few people on board : the boatman would most likely make his business from Nong Khiaw. Maybe also from selling the huge fish which had been caught during the night and was pending alongside the boat before a girl finally noticed it. The morning was foggy and this added to the mystery... Going downstream, we reached Nong Khiaw within an hour. 

See also the trip from Nong Khiaw


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