Nong Khiaw has not been paid much attention by the tourists over the years. A sleepy town 3-hours North from Luang Prabang on the banks of the Nam Ou River, Nong Khiaw boasts a gorgeous backdrop of imposing limestone mountains, picturesque river views and genuine local color. Its extremely laid-back vibe is a perfect destination for those looking to do treks, enjoy sunsets, or just relax.
Read More: 9 Incredible Things To Do In Luang Prabang
Getting to Nong Khiaw
From Luang Prabang, you can catch a bus from the Southern Bus Station for about 50,000 Kip (US$5.60) or get on a mini bus for about 55,000 Kip (US$6). Even though Google Map states the journey is about 3-hours, expect longer travelling time.
There are many budget guesthouses in this town. I chose this place called Sunrise guesthouse right in the centre of Nong Khiaw, next to the main bridge. My private room came with a balcony looking onto the river costs 50,000 Kip (US$5.60).
What to do
Honestly, there isn’t a whole lot going on here but to me, that is the beauty of this place. Nong Khiaw is still unspoiled from tourism, a place get you off-the-beaten tourist path in Laos. But I’m pretty sure a town this charming won’t be a secret for long.
Stroll across Nong Khiaw Bridge
Straddling the Nam Ou River, the Nong Khiaw Bridge connects the more popular touristy side of Nong Khiaw to the opposite side where most locals stay. The bridge was built in 1964 as a gift from China, which offers a great view of the river and the surrounding mountain.
Take a boat ride to Muang Ngoi
Muang Ngoi is a tiny village only reachable by boat which is 90-minutes from Nong Khiaw. The public boat leaves at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. from Nong Khiaw every day. Tickets are sold at Nong Khiaw Pier (near the Coco Home Bar) at 25,000kip (US$2.80).
Hike up Pha Noi Viewpoint
Most travellers’ highlight of Nong Khiaw is climbing to the top of the Pha Daeng Peak viewpoint. There are actually quite a few viewpoints to admire the Nam Ou River. Pha Noi is situated at Muang Ngoi, one of the three viewpoints to climb.
It is quite a straightforward steep hike on a hillside trail: 30-minutes up to a bamboo platform and around 25-minutes down via a different path. The trail-head is at the north end of the village behind a temple. On the way back you may find a hidden waterfall to cool down after a sweaty climb!
Open Hours: 08:00 – 17:00; Ticket Price: 10,000 kip (US$1.20)
Note: The reason why you need to pay to climb viewpoints and engage guides for most hikes because you are in the heaviest bombed part of Laos. The money goes to the local community whom helped to provide a safe path, so it is super important that you do not stray from the path. There are still many active bombs and land mines have not been recovered and are still scattered in the hillsides.
Kayak along Nam Ou River
One of the most fun things to do is kayaking along the Nam Ou River that cuts through Nong Khiaw. From the water, the area looks very different and you can stop at small villages along the banks at any time. This is a much better option than taking the local boat ride.
Lastly, if you want to keep a track of all my photos and travels, remember to follow @wanderrsaurus on Instagram!