Nong Khiaw is a lovely little town at the bank of the Nam Ou river that is squeezed in between into huge limestone mountains. Immediately on arrival you will rub your eyes and not believe this fantastic view to be real. The setting of that town surrounded by rough but stunningly beautiful nature is just breathtaking. This town was one, if not our Highlight on our tour through Laos. Don’t think twice about going, and plan to spend a few days there, because you will not want to leave.
How to get there:
Luang Nam Tha – Pak Mong – Nong Khiaw
From Luang Nam Tha you need to take a bus to Pok Mong, because there is no direct bus going to Nong Khiaw. Usually one bus leaves at 8.30 from the bus station out of town. Even the agents in town that also sell you tickets will not know until the same morning if it will be a normal (VIP) or sleeper bus until the morning the bus actually leaves. So don’t believe otherwise – and don’t pay a few days before for the more expensive sleeper bus. Conclusively, the best and much cheaper choice is to get very early to the bus station on the morning the bus is leaving (Tuk-Tuk transport is 10.000 per person) and buy the ticket there – the price should be in between 90.000 and 110.000 Kip depending on the bus. If you come early you will get a ticket for sure, because all locals do the same.
From Pak Mong a transport (usually minibus) has to be chartered – prices vary depending on your bargaining skills and the amount of people going there. It should cost in between 20.000 and 30.000 Kip per person. Make sure the bus brings you inside the city and does not stop at the bus terminal, if you don’t want to pay extra for that last 1-2 km.
Udomxay – Nong Khiaw / Udomxay – Pak Mong – Nong Khiaw
From Udomxay buses are scheduled 3 times daily (3-4 hours) to Nong Khiaw, but can be less frequent in low season. Just ask around. Another option is again to get on a bus to Pak Mong, from where you have to charter a transport to Nong Khiaw, look above for more details.
The Bus Station in Nong Khiaw:
The Bus station is tiny and only 1-2 km out of town, so the town is in walking distance. Motorbike taxis will await your arrival if you prefer not to walk. Price should be around 5000 Kip.
For a more detailled information check out the Wikitravel Nong Khiaw page!
Nong Khiaw is split in two by the river, the nicer locations to stay at are on the other side of the river, this part is called Ban Sop Houn. We recommend you to pass the town and thus cross the bridge to Ban Sop Houn. On the riverbank are several guesthouses and bungalows with great view over the valley.
Vongmany Guesthouse and Restaurant
The rooms are clean, spacious, quite new and located in a white two-level building in the back of the restaurant. The restaurant is the third building on the right hand side after crossing the bridge. Make sure to get a room in the upper floor which has a balkony around the entire building and offers great views from there. Room rate is only 70.000 Kip for a normal room and 140.000 for the ones with view over the river from their window, which is completely unnessecary considering the balkony.
The restaurant is also very recommendable and serves great lao dishes!
Food and Drinks:
The Restaurant of the Guesthouse we mentioned under accommodation. Serves great and tasty Lao and a few western dishes for little money.
Chennai Indian Restaurant
A new restaurant on the opposite side of the other well known inidan place Deen. But when we passed by, Chennai restaurant was always packed while the Deen place was empty. Probably not without reason, the food in Chennai is cheaper (mains start at 15.000) and is really tasty.
For a general overwiev of restaurants in Nong Khiaw: Restaurants in Nong Khiaw on Tripadvisor
Must Try dishes:
Cashew Nuts with Vegetable and Tofu + Sticky Rice
Baked Egg Plant Curry
The viewpoint in Nong Khiaw
The steep trail to the viewpoint begins on the Ban Sop Houn side of town. After crossing the bridge, follow the main road for around 500 meter and just follow the signs. You are expected to pay 20.000 p.P.
Make sure to get up there at or shortly after sunrise which is roughly around 7.00 am. At that time the valley is still covered completely with clouds. We would recommend to stay on the viewpoint and watch the clouds being dissipated over time by the sun and listen to the awaking town.
Sabai Sabai Herbal Steam Bath
The herbal Sauna at the Sabai Sabai Place is a welcoming change of activity, best after a day of hiking or climbing up to the viewpoint. For only 20.000 Kip you get a free towel and sarong, free tee and can go into the steam bath as often as you like.
3 day Kajak Tour with Green Discovery from Nong Khiaw to Luang Prabang
Instead of torturing you with long and late bus rides, consider doing the trip to Luang Prabang by Kajak. Green Discovery offers a 3 day tour with two nights in homestays on river villages. No further expenses, meals and waters are included. With a group of four it costs 130 US Dollar p.P. which still is quite expensive but well worth the money. Do it before the dam is finished in summer 2014, it won’t be possible anymore afterwards or a much shorter trip.
Rent a Mountain Bike
Rent a Mountain Bike for 50.000 Kip a day and cycle eastwards towards relatively remote hill tribe villages (Hmong and Khmu).
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