Cycling visit to Nam Dee waterfall

Luang Namtha district is home to a number of hidden gems that can be easily accessed by short rides from the town. Along the main street you’ll find a number of agencies from which you can rent bicycles or motorcycles, depending how far you’d like to go and how fit you’re feeling that day.

It takes no more than 30 minutes on a bicycle to get from the main street to Nam Dee waterfall (about 15 minutes ride on a motorcycle), passing through rice fields and scenic views of the mountains that surrounds Luang Namtha. To get there you must head north in the main street until an intersection that leads to Muang Sing on the left and Boten on the right. Turn right following the directions to Boten and cross the bridge over Nam Dee river, keep going for less than one kilometer and turn left on a sign that says ‘Waterfall 4km’.

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Nam Dee waterfall

From there it will take around 20 minutes to the waterfall, and you’ll know you’ve arrived when a stream of water crosses the road you’re following. There will be lots of kids playing in the water, and a small bamboo bridge to the right that will lead you directly to the waterfall entrance. Foreigner entrance fee is 10.000 kip per person, and there’s also a 1.000 kip fee for your bicycle.

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Don’t forget your clothes!

You can climb to the top of the fall and enjoy the view or refresh yourself in the pool at the bottom, deep enough for one to stand with water up to the neck. Just remember to wear clothes that cover your knees and shoulders, instead of trunks or bikinis, or you might shock the fellow locals who are there with you.

Just before Nam Dee waterfall you will find Ban Nam Dee village, inhabited by a Lanten ethnic minority known for it’s dark handmade traditional clothes. They don’t speak much english, but will welcome you with big smiles and curious eyes, and you’ll be able to help them by purchasing some of the beautiful handicraft they’ve been fabricating for generations.

From Chiang Rai (Thailand) to Luang Namtha in one day road trip

We woke up in Chiang Rai a bit later than we had planned and rushed ourselves to the bus station, centrally located right at the back of the Night Bazaar. Getting there we realized right away there was no need to rush, buses departing to Chiang Khong in the Thai / Laos border leave the station every half an hour from 6AM till 5PM and costs only 65 bath per person.

Since we arrived at 11:30 there was a bus about to leave that seemed to us to be already full, but in seeing our dumpish faces the driver jumped from his seat and made us room among not so pleased locals. The tension between us broke just after leaving the station, though, when two girls began pretending to be taking selfies while discretely taking our pictures. We gave them a big smile and enjoyed the two hours ride to the border.

Just before Chiang Khong we were left in the intersection that leads to the friendship bridge between Thailand and Laos, where a tuk tuk was waiting to take us to the border. A short bus ride now replaces the scenic boat trip over the Mekong foreigners used to take, now allowed only to inhabitants of the bordering countries. We cleared customs in no time and we’re finally making our first steps into Laos territory.

Once in the other side of the border we teamed up with a german family to share a tuk tuk to Huay Xai bus station, not more than 10km away. Arriving there they had an unpleasant surprise, the last bus to Luang Prabang, which they intended to catch, was already full. Our bus, on the other hand, was leaving straight away, as it had only been waiting to fill it’s last two seats (and it costed only 60.000 kip per person). We said our farewells and jumped in to enjoy our first trip through this new country. The journey to Luang Namtha takes around four hours through Laos northern mountains, covered by thick tropical forests and a few sparse wooden villages.

Captura de tela 2015-08-24 às 20.12.37

The Huay Xai – Luang Namtha express

The sun was almost setting when we arrived in Luang Namtha’s bus station, located another tuk tuk ride away from the town center. When we finally arrived in our destination, Koly, Bamboo Lounge’s Training Restaurant manager waited us with a welcoming smile and a delicious fresh made meal that sealed a perfect day of adventures.

Bamboo Lounge Training Restaurant needs YOUR help!

All of the information you see here on Luang Namtha Guide is brought to you for free, by Bamboo Lounge Training Restaurant.

Due to the political unrest in Thailand, Bamboo Lounge is currently seeking help to keep our training restaurant and free information service running.

Please spare $1 for us to keep Luang Namtha Guide and Bamboo Lounge Laos alive.

Bamboo Lounge currently supports the local community by employing uneducated ethnic minority people and teaching them English and how to work in the tourism industry.

Additionally their profits (when they have any) support Luang Namtha’s Books In Schools program.

Please view our Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign here:  http://igg.me/at/bamboolounge/

Northern laos best pizza

Help us keep our ethnic minority staff employed and making you authentic woodfired pizza!

Luang Namtha’s Nam Ha river

The most common river people kayak down in Luang Namtha is the Nam Tha river. This river has many small rapids and villages to visit and is an easy (grade 1) river to kayak.

Kayaking in Luang Namtha

Ryan readies himself to tackle the Nam Ha river!

If you kayak with a company that really goes into the Nam Ha NPA (i.e. not behind Luang Namtha township where there is not enough water for kayaking in dry season!) you can kayak all year round, the water in dry season, October to June, is crystal clear and lovely for swimming and fishing.

Kayaking in Luang Namtha

Kayaking is a great activity for northern Laos

The Nam Tha river has many ethnic minority tribes including Lanten, Khmu, Khmu Rok and Tai Lue  dotted along its length all on one side and the dense jungle of the national protected area on the other.

This makes kayaking or rafting down it a good activity to explore local culture as well as see a panorama of the jungle. This is a great option to combine with the more challenging trekking tours.

Trekking in the Nam Ha NPA

There are HUGE trees along the Nam Ha river

However, if you want to experience a more challenging river with jungle on both sides overhanging the whole way the Nam Ha river (similar name; different river ;)) is the best option.

The Nam Ha has very few villages along it and is mainly primary forest and jungle. It has some submerged rocks so requires a little bit of experience and in wet season is wild and dangerous, after June. In dry season, which is also high season for tourism, the Nam Ha can be kayaked or rafted down for only a few months.

The Nam Ha river is about to become available to more experienced tour providers in the near future.

A few weeks ago some staff of Forest Retreat Laos decided to venture down the untamed Nam Ha river to check it out as a future kayaking route. It is very beautiful, with dense forest, lots of birds and big trees to look at. There are often glimpses of forested mountains deep in the NPA too.

Nam Ha river in nam ha National Protected Area

The Nam Ha river from the mountain view camp trek

Forest Retreat Laos already offers a homestay at Ban Nalan which is a Khmu village on the Nam Ha river usually reached by trekking for 3-4 hours into the National Protected Area. This village was the original model homestay community based eco-tourism village in  the national park. There is also a less cultural and more jungled camp over-nighting option at Forest Retreats “Fisherman Camp” on the river amongst dense forest on a quiet spot of the river perfect for swimming.

Kayaking in Luang Namtha

The exotic, mysterious river in Luang Namtha

Where to eat – Baw Pen Yang Art Gallery & Restaurant

I’d been in Luang Namtha almost two weeks before I stumbled upon Baw Pen Yang. A town with an indiscernible lack of easily obtainable ‘go here to eat!’ Lonely Planetesque advice (that’s where we come in); this is one that would be altogether too easy to miss lest you’re the sort prone to explore the back streets of each new place you find yourself.

It’s not just its positioning but its entire lack of online presence, even the website displayed on their sign is currently under construction, that makes Baw Pen Yang somewhat of a mystery.  Add in the fact that it’s Luang Namtha’s sole art gallery/restaurant and the air of mystery is intensified yet further.  Then couple this with the charming and welcoming disposition of the outdoor dining area, and it was enough to disengage the auto-pilot setting which was taking me to the Forest Retreat Bamboo Lounge in search of breakfast.

It boasts an extensive, stylish menu with English translations for every dish and drink. I went for a hearty breakfast and, having had lunch there too, I’d say this is what they do best.  My morning-long longing for a pancake saw me fight against every fibre of my body and order the French breakfast, ignoring the English option with its notable bacon and sausage inclusion. These set breakfasts, of which there’s also the choice to go American, are priced between 25,000 and 30,000 kip (around 3 to 4 US dollars).

I’d planned to take photo of the omelette as well but I was too hungry

Mine consisted of a toasted baguette, an omelette, a pancake with chocolate (other toppings available) and a coffee. All were saep lai (delicious) and what’s more, the pancake arrived freshly made within one minute of having finished the omelette – the chef had forecast my eating habits down to a tee.

The cushions and plants made for a relaxing seated area and a suitable place to while away the hours and watch the world go by. The world in this instance narrowed down to one of many small Beer Lao distribution centres across the road.

The waiter was friendly and spoke good English, this is a business which only opened its doors in 2014. With the town’s burgeoning tourism/trekking appeal bringing in more and more people each year, it’s one place which can be sure of an increase in customers should it continue in the manner in which it’s begun.

The charms of Baw Pen Yang do not stop there however. As I cleverly inferred from the name of the place this was no ordinary restaurant but an art gallery and restaurant. The decor was suitably colourful and picturesque with vibrant nature scenes adorning the walls.

The art, all of which is by a local artist, is available to view at the gallery. Prints can also be bought for very reasonable prices.

Well worth a visit for just a drink and a glance at the artwork, or, if you’re nearby and hungry, then you’re in luck.

Baw Pen Yang – go now before there are queues out the door.

Key Points:

– Fairly priced Western & Lao Mixed Menu in English        – WIFI

– Set breakfasts (incl. drink) start at 25,000 kip       – Efficient & friendly service

(Note: Ignore the hilarious toilet sign)

Where to find Baw Pen Yang:

This restaurant can be found down a side road off the main strip. On the corner of the road are Lai’s place and Green Discovery, turn down this road and it’s about halfway down the initial line of restaurants and shops on the left hand side.

The Road to Muang Sing

Although I would love to be able to tell you all about what I am sure is the beautifully quaint, friendly town of Muang Sing, I’m afraid I can’t. I never made it that far. The farthest I got was the stupa, which sits upon a hill watching over the town, giving an incredible view allowing you to look into both Myanmar and China.

You are probably wondering why I didn’t go into the town if I was so close, and I have two reasons for that:

1. I was dangerously low on petrol, and was worried I may not make the return journey without having to beg, borrow and steal in order to get back to Luang Nam Tha.

2. The ‘Road to Muong Sing’ is all about the road, you don’t go on it for the destination, instead you go on it for the journey.

 

I, or in the wonderfully descriptive words of Drei “George the intrepid explorer,” set off from Luang Nam Tha at 11am; a little later than I had hoped because it was my first day on a semi-automatic motorbike and I needed to get used to it before the hours of riding that lay ahead of me.

The 30 minutes of necessary training had stood me in a very mediocre position as I grappled with the gears getting up the hills leaving Luang Nam Tha, but after another half an hour I was feeling much more confident and happy riding.
The scenery is spectacular as you snake your way through the jungle and villages, so spectacular in fact that you often have to stop to truly appreciate your surroundings (and also importantly have some water and apply more sunscreen). A word of caution though, these narrow winding roads are used by large trucks and reckless drivers, so always be aware and stay far to the right hand side of the road.
After almost two hours of riding I arrived at the Stupa outside Muang Sing, a temple with a viewpoint that rivals some of the best I have enjoyed in Laos
This is me having just arrived at the Stupa and I decided to Journey on a little further, and why not if you can get a view of 3 countries like this:
After my journey up to the Stupa it was time to turn round and head home, but not before a bite to eat and stopping by one of the most picturesque waterfalls I have ever been to.
I attempted to buy lunch at a restaurant  near the Stupa, but when my attempted miming for a menu and food fell through I thought I would just concede and get a coke. Everyone knows the word coke right? Wrong, and all I could keep saying was the word coke in more accents I imagined possible and probably looked like an absolute buffoon. I even started pointing to the pepsi sign and started to say pepsi but then quickly gave up and realised this naive ‘falang,’ myself, couldn’t be more British- so I thanked them, even more British, and left.
It took about half an hour on the return to get to the waterfall as I carefully watched my petrol needle go up, as I traveled down-hill, and down, as I traveled-up hill, moving either side of the half-way mark. ‘I will make it’ I thought, even though I knew I would be cutting it incredibly fine.
The waterfall itself is stunning, and for 10,000 kip it is well worth a visit as long as you are prepared for the potential leech. I would recommend having a swim and, do I dare say it, take a ‘selfie’ if you’re enjoying your own company because, if you’re as lucky as I was, you have the pleasure of the waterfall all to yourself.
After some good food and chatting to travelers at the nearby cafe, I began my long journey home, hoping that my fuel would last the hour ride back. After about 20 minutes of watching my needle drop closer and closer to empty, despite the hills being in my favor, it eventually hit the dreaded E. I thought well, no point worrying now, I might as well ride till it till it gives up on me or I make it to the closest petrol station minutes out of Luang Nam Tha. Miraculously despite being empty for more than half an hour I made it back in the nick of time with no problem save some very sunburned forearms and knees.
As I was arriving back into town Drei recommended I take a left at the roundabout and keep driving for another 15 minutes, and I highly recommend this to anyone as dusk approaches.
One of the most beautiful sights I have seen so far on my travels.
by George Wilcox
p.s. and remember always wear sunscreen

Where to eat – Zuela Guesthouse and restaurant

The Zuela Guesthouse is rated number one in Luang Namtha on Tripadvisor but, quite understandably, most reviews focus almost entirely on the rooms. The accommodation, almost all agree, is clean, comfortable, very reasonably priced (around 80,000 kip per night at the time of writing) with friendly staff and a relaxing atmosphere. There are hot showers and passable WIFI (a solid and reliable internet connection can be elusive in Luang Namtha). Overall though one of the best guesthouses in Luang Namtha. It’s advisable to book early as they fill up fast especially in busier seasons.

Bikes and motorbikes/scooters are also available to rent (with a discount for guests) and they also offer a variety of trekking options as well as the option to book your onward travel out of Luang Namtha if you so desire.

 

Full House

Enough of the hearsay. Having been to the restaurant we can offer a first hand review! Tucked away down an alleyway just off the main street in Luang Namtha it would be easy to miss the Zuela Guesthouse or just choose to eat somewhere else. This would be a mistake. They offer an extensive, varied menu with both Western and Lao food at quite reasonable prices. You can also choose for more local Northern Laos delicacies such as Laap (minced meat, spices, dry fried and crushed rice grains and broth eaten with vegetables and sticky rice) and Jeow (a special chilli sauce which many dishes can be prepared with).

 

 There’s a chilled atmosphere and you can choose to sit either inside or in their well designed outdoor seating area. Staff are very friendly and speak good English with the menus too in excellent English – somewhat of a rarity in this province at this point.

I went for the vegetable spring rolls with a garlic dip as a side and a chicken and green bean stir fry. Both were great and service was faster than many places (Laos in general is pretty relaxed, eating especially is a slow paced affair though often the better for it). With a large Beer Lao to drink the bill came to just over 50,000 kip (about $6). With the portion sizes (the spring rolls were definitely a side to share) this was a bargain and I will definitely be back.

 

Advice: Go to Zuela on an empty stomach

Night Market Sessions – Auntie La’s Whiskey

Even at first glance it’s clear that the night market in Luang Namtha has a lot to offer. Once drawn in by the noise and smells erupting from the many stalls, you quickly become a part of the vibrant communal atmosphere which sees everyone seated in the centre of the market tucking into whichever of the many traditional Lao dishes they saw fit to choose (most pick more than one..).

Intense Negotiations

Whilst you may think having someone attempt to flog you bracelets and bags you don’t really want might be taxing on your patience, for us it made the meal. Having been seated for no more than 5 minutes we were swarmed by four (one sitting by each of us) local Akha women from the surrounding villages who flawlessly began their well practised routine.

One took up my offer of a sip of coke with more enthusiasm than I’d ever have expected, whilst the others revealed their latest bracelet and bag designs on the table for us to peruse. They whispered in ears, they sang ‘Only 2000 kip’ (English translation: ‘Only 15 Pence’), they laughed knowing full well we didn’t want anything but that that wasn’t going to stop them. In short it was some of the best salesmanship I’ve ever come across, I ended up with two bracelets (after buying one from one I was guilt tripped into buying another), neither of which I wanted or even liked, and yet I came away laughing and happy.

But anyway; onto the whiskey.  To my considerable surprise of the 20 something stalls at the night market (note: there are normally more but May is low season) one of the first you see is Auntie La’s. This is a stall which produces its own Lao whiskey infusions; they do a variety of different flavours from coffee, to scorpion or mint and lime. At 2000 kip (no song this time) a shot it’d be a travesty to have just one – I opted for one honey whiskey and one cinnamon. The honey was great and not too sweet – I’ll also go on record and state I think Auntie La was making honey whiskey long before Jack Daniels. The cinnamon was another experience entirely. Unless you’re a fan of taking the cinnamon challenge this, frankly, is not the whiskey for you- the flavour is more than a little overpowering. Still at 15 pence for a shot I wasn’t complaining and will be back to try more. Back to try them all in fact; I’m here for a month after all.

You can also get a bottle of your favourite to take home for a very reasonable 25,000 kip which makes for a great gift or two. Oh and they also do beer towers. Go tonight.

P.S. : Also look out for upcoming Forest Retreat Auntie Lao Whiskey Infusion cocktails which should be at a Forest Retreat near you in the near future.

Luang Namtha’s Jungle Food Challenge

Masterchef in the jungle? Food in northern Laos gets serious…

Recently Bamboo Lounge Training Restaurant was lucky enough to get 2 volunteers for a month, who not only taught the Lao staff there a lot about hospitality but were so excited by the abundant fresh produce available at Luang Namtha’s famous morning market, that they decided to put their cooking skills to the test and embark upon Luang Namtha’s first “Jungle Food Challenge“!

Laos most unique and fresh selection of ingredients

The main cause of Jack (from Spain) and Cass’s (from Australia) excitement was the fresh seasonal produce from the jungle (which you can read many posts on), which Luang Namtha is famous for, many of these fruits, berries, seeds, nuts, roots, leaves, shoots and flowers cant be found ANYWHERE ELSE in the world!

Northern Laos food challenge

Jungle food Challengers: Jack and Cass

So essentially Jack and Cass wanted to try cooking fusion dishes using ingredients that most likely no other westerner in the world has used before, and the results were delicious! This challenge went on for 6 days, usually Bamboo Lounge being full of customers, that were skillfully being wined and dined by the Lao staff at the same time this challenge was going on (one of the rules was the customers come first!).

Jack Cosson has trained as a chef in Europe and Cass Hay is a “foodie” from way back and has managed cafe’s in Australia. Jack with his professional training and euro-cooking style ‘vs’ Cass with her Asian heritage (her mum is Chinese-Malaysian) and life long passion for creating good food…an excellent match!

Challenge 1: Tomato theme:   who can come up with what amazing Tomato themed dish using Luang Namtha delicious local Tomato?

The results: Jack came up with a ultimate gazpacho featuring stuffed tomato and Cass came up with a play on choo chee fun (a Chinese dish of steamed, filled fresh rice paper rolls); fresh rice paper filled with tofu, mushrooms, lentils, a tomato lemongrass and lime leaf sauce, and banana flower, tomato, Thai basil and balsamic garnish

Luang Namtha Tomato dish

Cass’s tomato Choo Chee Fun

Luang Namtha Tomato dish

Jack’s Ultimate Gazpacho

Challenge 2: Mushroom theme:   Luang Namtha has an amazing array of mushrooms, with a constantly changing seasonal stock from the jungle as well as shitake, wood ear, oyster, enoki, straw and many other species available all year round. So who can use what mushrooms to create the most interesting and tasty dish?

The results: Jack came up with a mixed mushroom terrine, spiced pumpkin and sesame tofu. Cass created a tofu steak, bed of lentils and tsi mushroom, fried enoki, roast oyster mushrooms, shitake sauce and kim chee combo.

Northern Laos mushroom jungle food dish

Cass’s mushroom combo

Luang Namtha jungle food dish

Jacks mushroom creation

Challenge 3: “Childhood memories”  theme:  this nights concept was to come up with a dish that you remembered or were influenced by in childhood, an inventive one!

The results: Jack decided to create an edible ode to his Granddad Rudi which was crispy potato pancakes, Bolognaise sauce and picked cucumber garnish. While Cass came up with 3 memories from her youth consisting of a ginger fragrant mushroom and sesame rice congee, followed by proper baked beans over sticky rice and coconut cream, and to finish, a caramelized sweet potato and jackfruit curry tucked inside and baked in banana leaf; Lao style!

Lao fusion cooking using Luang namtha jungle foods

Cass’s trio of congee, baked bean “pizza” and baked curry

Luang Namtha jungle food fusion dish cooking

Jacks potato pancakes, bolognaise sauce and cucumber

Challenge 4: Any 10 jungle ingredients, 20 minutes and no prep time challenge:  this means Jack and Cass could choose any 10 ingredients from the Luang Namtha fresh market, but the had only 20 minutes to do all the preparation and cooking!

The results: Jack created local watercress soup with fresh peas and tsi mushroom. Cass countered with coriander and mint pesto on fresh rice noodle sheets, toasted endamame (soy beans) and cherry tomatoes. Cass also made it with 30 seconds to spare on the clock, while Jack was over by 1.5 minutes. Not bad considering Forest Retreat was packed out with fascinated customers at the time!

Luang Namtha, northern Lao jungle fusion food

Jack: a simple watercress soup with all the trimmings

Lao fusion cooking using northern Lao jungle foods

Cass: pesto, noodles, beans and tomatoes

The Final Challenge: for the last competition, Jack and Cass would choose ingredients for the other to make an amazing dish out of!   This means the selection of a combination of ANY of the weird and wonderful ingredients from the Luang Namtha fresh market, including insects, internal organs, spices, Bamboo rats..the possibilities were endless. But Jack and Cass were kind to each other (kind of).

The results: Jack came up with the following from what Cass chose for him a cauliflower, roasted banana flower and tamarind puree, roasted baby eggplant, courgettes, sautee’d green amaranth pods, fried tofu and tofu noodles. And finally Cass created this from what jack chose for her: charred chili, garlic and mandarin sauce feat. jungle olives, sweet potato and dill mash, spiced roasted eggplant, bitter melon with garlic and banana chips.

Luang Namtha northern Lao jungle fusion food dish

Jacks final creation!

Northern Laos jungle foods

Cass’s final jungle food masterpiece

So this was it the end of Luang Namtha’s first ever jungle food challenge. Both Jack and Cass came out with some truly delicious dishes many times using ingredients they had never seen or cooked with before. There can be no clear winner; Jacks professional training and slick style was given a really good run for its money by Cass’s imagination and ability to put together some damn good flavors.

In conclusion, there really is some AMAZING fresh foods to be found in Laos, especially Luang Namtha. Go into Forest Retreat Laos and see what the changing specials of the day are!

15 Reasons Why Luang Namtha Province Is The Best Of Laos

After traveling all around Southeast Asia, Laos is definitely a highlight for many, but for us coming back to Luang Namtha really hits home that this northern province is the best of Laos! Here’s why:

1. We have the BEST roads in Laos making transit far easier than the rest of the country and self guided tours on mountain bikes and motorbikes much more user friendly;  think flat, well paved, wide roads…not rock strewn, cratered, dusty and uncomfortable dirt lanes (except in tiny villages).

2. We have the most accessible National Park in Laos , which is called the Nam Ha NPA = National Protected Area ( also abbreviated to NBCA = National Biodiversity Conservation Area) with a huge range of genuine, highly regulated eco-tourism adventure activities and cultural immersion experiences to be had. The Nam Ha NPA is one of the top 200 important eco-regions of the world with tropical rainforests in the valleys and cooler montane forests higher up making for staggering biodiversity of plants birds, insects and animals. The most interesting of which are the clouded leopard, tiger and leopard.

Kayaking in northern Laos

Kayaking in Luang Namtha’s NPA

3. The people are so nice! The nicest and kindest people in Laos. This is partly because of the ethnic diversity creating a culture of tolerance, but also because local attitudes are so laid back, westerners get treated the same as local people!

Luang Namtha ethnic tribal experience

Luang Namtha has the nicest people in Laos!

4. The climate is fantastic with perpetual cool nights and sunny days, because of the altitude (700m above sea level) it never gets too hot for comfort like southern parts of Laos.

5. Luang Namtha is a natural travel crossroads between Thailand (180km away), China (50km away), Myanmar (130km away) and Vietnam (the city of Dien Bien Phu is 280km from Luang Namtha), this makes overland travel (the best way to see Southeast Asia) the logical choice.

6. Luang Namtha has the best and most varied Lao food, and is famous for its quality and huge variety. More species of jungle fruits, nuts, roots, seeds and vegetables than you can shake a stick at, combined with delicious dishes from different ethnic tribes and the most lush growing conditions. Luang Namtha even has access to cold climate (as well as tropical) fruits and veggies like apple, pear, broccoli, cauliflower and potato all year round.

 

Amazing food in Luang Namtha

The blend of culture and nature in Luang Namtha makes the food the best in Laos!

7. Close proximity to Thailand and the brand new friendship bridge, make overland traveling from Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai to Luang Namtha (and south) much faster and more comfortable than ever.

8. One of the cheapest provinces in Laos. Most accommodation in town is 80,000 kip per night for a decent room with free water and WiFi, local food can very cheap from the night market and even award winning pizzas, salads and pastas from Bamboo Lounge Training Restaurant are much cheaper than they would be in Luang Prabang and Vientiane.

9. The most ethnically diverse province. There are over 19 different minority tribes in this province making it the most ethnically diverse part of Southeast Asia! Go and explore these villages, the people will be very happy to meet you. And walking through a village and being interested about the culture and their way of life is empowering to them and teaches them the importance of preserving their culture.

Visit to a Yao village in Luang Namtha

You can visit up to 19 different ethnic minority tribes in Luang Namtha

10. Chilled out atmosphere, lots of traveler interaction. Most people go to Luang Namtha to join groups for eco-tours, but when you’re not in the jungle, Luang Namtha is a great and scenic spot to chill for a while and meet some new friends if you want to.

11. Fastest internet in Laos; especially at Forest Retreat Laos! The proximity to China and Thailand and good infrastructure make for some of the fastest connections in Laos. Sweet!

12. Beautiful mountain and rice paddy scenery. The best place to see this is to head north out of town 2km, hang a right at the roundabout and cross the bridge, travel about 5km up this straight, flat, well-paved road and after you pass Thong Dee village (Ban Thong Dee) start looking for a good chill out hut on your right in the 30 square km “park” of rice paddies, completed with its own Eco-system! Walk out through the rice and witness an amazing sunset over 6 layers of mountains in every direction!

 

Luang Namtha rice paddies

Close to town, yet one of the most serene places I have ever been.

13. Get immersed into local tribes village life, Luang Namtha is the best place in Laos to base yourself then go and visit these tribes and experience different cultures and ways of life. Our record is 7 different ethnic tribes on 1 day on motorbike! In a small range of distance you will come across many different tribes living in separate villages, very cool to experience.

14. There are so many different eco-tourism tour options, all highly regulated by the local government using Luang Namtha’s award winning eco-tourism model. You can do: trekking, kayaking, cycling, rafting, motorbiking, cultural immersion experiences, fishing, cooking, homestays, forest retreats… Forest Retreat Laos is the only and most awarded eco-tourism company (other providers are agencies) who gives the most back to the local community and takes people deep into the Nam Ha NPA for amazing experiences.

Luang Namtha trekking

Trekking in the primary forest of Luang Namtha’s NPA

15. Amazing friends you will make when you do an eco-tourism tour in Luang Namtha. Nothing gets strangers bonding and makes fast friends like trekking around in the jungle for a few days! Many lasting friendships have been forged in the wilds of Luang Namtha…especially when topped off by a few cocktails when the group returns.

We hope you liked our reasons why Luang Namtha is so great, why dont you come and check it out for yourself!

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