The covid confinement caught us recently landed in Laos. And what was going to be a two-week trip turned into 4 weeks until we got permission to return to Spain. We complain? Not at all! We made the most of our time to enjoy an almost virgin country, and explore other places that we had not originally planned for, such as the town of Muang Ngoi Neua, a remote town, lost between mountains that can only be accessed by boat from Nong Khiaw 3 hours from Luang Prabang or by remote dirt roads.
If you dare to explore the most authentic Laos and want to add a different destination to your trip in Laos, don't miss this post that tells you about what to see and do in Muang Ngoi Neua, how to get there and where to stay.
VISIT MUANG NGOI NEUA, LAOS
HOW TO GET TO MUANG NGOI NEUA
The first thing you should know is that Muang Ngoi Neua is a remote area of Laos with difficult access. It is a quiet town, with dirt streets, surrounded by limestone mountains full of nature, a beautiful valley and bathed by the waters of the Nam Ou River.
In order to get to Muang Ngoi Neua you must first take a transport that will take you to Nong Khiaw from Luang Prabang. The tour time is about 3 and a half hours.
Once here, you must take the local boat to Muang Ngoi Neua. It has daily departures 2 times a day going and twice coming back. Departures from are at 11am and 2pm. It costs around 25,000 kips.
I recommend taking the 11am boat and visiting the town in those three hours, to return with the 1:30pm boat. It will give you plenty of time. (so, I keep in mind to leave Luang Prabang at the latest at 7am).
To go from Luang Prabang to Nong Khiaw, I recommend you pre-book transportation.
WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN MUANG NGOI NEUA
The village is really small. You can visit it in a couple of hours. It is a rural town with houses built of wood in an environment surrounded by nature. The most common thing to do in the area is trekking. You have many that go into the plantations or the jungle. For any of these treks I recommend that you book the tour with a local guide so as not to get lost since there is nothing marked. As soon as you arrive in Muang Ngoi there will be people who will offer to give you a tour of the town and its surroundings for very little money. It's a great way to contribute to the local economy.
There is a great variety of rice fields. The scenery is beautiful, with rice fields growing and limestone mountains in the background. You can walk among the trails, taking into account not to disturb the day laborers and enjoy the surroundings. Always carry mosquito repellent, you will need it. They didn't ask us anything to walk through the rice fields, perhaps because we were in confinement and there were few foreigners who had stayed locked in the country, but I had read that it was necessary to pay a small fee to access the rice fields.
One of the most popular places to visit in Muang Ngoi Neua is Tham Kang Cave. The cave houses a natural pool of crystal clear water where you can take a bath. The water is cool and the contrast with the tremendous humidity of Laos is great.
Laos is a country where elephants are used as a tourist attraction. For the most part, they are already opening sanctuaries where they are cared for or released, but there are still places where they offer you to take a walk on them, feed them or give them a bath. I recommend that you look for a sanctuary where they are cared for and are not exploited as such to carry out these types of activities. In the Muang Ngoi Neua area we were able to see some elephants in the river. According to what they told us, they belonged to one of these “companies” that use them to give tourists rides, but with the arrival of the covid, it was impossible for them to feed them and take care of them without the help of income from the tourists and the had been “released” in the area. I don't know if when you go to travel you will find that this continues to happen, but I encourage you to be a traveler committed to the environment and animals and not frequent these types of activities of dubious legality.
On our walk through rice fields, back from visiting the Tham Kang cave, we came across a beautiful bamboo bridge. It is possible to cross it, although they already tell you that only one at a time because as soon as you start to cross it staggers brutally. You also have the option of taking off your shoes and crossing this barely covered stream.
Throughout the valley where the town is located there are several viewpoints, the most popular and the one that is signposted is the Mt Phaboon viewpoint and to get to it, you must cross this bridge. Access to the viewpoint and crossing the bridge costs around 20,000 kips.
The town itself doesn't have much else to visit. It is a quiet place, great to disconnect (literally because the internet here is terrible) and enjoy the rural environment of Laos.
WHERE TO STAY IN MUANG NGOY
There are quite a few accommodation options considering how small the place is. All accommodations are small houses or rooms in private homes. Although there is also some simple “hotel” type accommodation. We decided to stay in Nong Khiaw because it was recommended to us, but the truth is that both towns offer more or less the same services and accommodations. So I leave you accommodation options in both:
Great accommodations in Muang Ngoi Neua:
Great accommodations in Nong Khiaw:
Mandala Ou Resort 4* (Our accommodation option)
PLAN YOUR TRIP STEP BY STEP
I hope you enjoy your trip to Laos and that this article has been useful to you. You can continue readingmany more related articles on the blog.
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A hug and see you soon!