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Northern Laos Itinerary Advice

NYC
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Northern Laos Itinerary Advice

hello--looking for advice on our Oct 09 trip.

We start by staying 4 nights in Luang Prabang-this part of the itinerary is pretty much fixed because we want to be there for Boun Ok Phansa festival in early October-- The two other things we are really keen on doing are a river trip up the Nam Ou with overnight (and maybe a one day trek) in Muang Ngoi. After- or before-- that we would also like to head up to Luang Nam Tha for a couple of days guided trekking in Nam Ha protected area.

My question is how best to get between these places--we only have 7 days before we have to be back in LP to fly out. Is that doable? If so would it better to visit Luang Nam Tha first, and then get over to Muang Ngoi somehow and take a boat back to LP? If anyone knows details about traveling btwn Luang Namtha and Muang Ngoi/Nong Khiaw that would be very helpful. Money is not a huge object here---is it possible to hire a driver? Thanks!

Luang Prabang, Laos
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1. Re: Northern Laos Itinerary Advice

It sounds like you've already booked your roundtrip flights into Luang Prabang for October.

But if you haven't yet, then I'd recommend flying on a budget flight from Bangkok to Chiang Rai, and from there head on east to the Chiang Khong/Huay Xai border (2.5 hours from C. Rai) and then it's a 4 hour busride up to Luang Namtha from Huay Xai.

Then after your trek with the Nam Ha Ecotourism Project, it'll take you a full day to get to Nong Khiaw, first by taking the 8am bus from L. Namtha to Oudomxai and then transferring for a bus/songthaew to Nong Khiaw. If you miss the last songthaew for Nong khiaw, you can catch one for Pak Mong and then transfer from there to Nong Khiaw. You might be too late to catch the last boat to Moung Ngoi (one hour boat up to MN) but Nong khiaw is still a picturesque rivertown to spend the night.

Then return to NK after Moung Ngoi for the bus/songthaew to Luang Prabang.

HOwever, IF you're already locked into roundtrip flights to LP, then it really doesn't matter whether you go to Namtha first or Nong Khiaw/Moung Ngoi first because either way, from either you're still at most, a day from L. Prabang unless you're unfortunate enough to encounter mechanical bus/songthaew problems. The only differences is that you're closer to LP from N. Khiaw (only 4 hours by bus/songthaew) whereas L. Namtha is closer to 8-9 hours. If you're cutting it close to get back to L. Prabang, then I'd recommend visiting Namtha first and then NK/MN after because you'll be that much closer to L. Prabang.

If you're wanting to take a boat down to Luang Prabang from either Nong Khiaw or Moung Ngoi, then upon arrival at either, let the boatlanding master who's hut is above the boats know so that he can help organize the trip for you to share with other travelers headed in the same direction. That time of the year, there are far less travelers unless you're lucky enough to meet other travelers while in Luang prabang who also want to head up to NK or MN by boat. Generally, your best bet is right after the Boun Ok Phansa festival since there's a considerably larger pool of tourists in LP than anywhere else you'll be able to meet in Laos.

NYC
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2. Re: Northern Laos Itinerary Advice

Thanks for the extremely useful reply.

It turns out that we are only going to have 5 full days post-LP as we have to catch a flight to Siem Reap.

It seems like traveling all the way up to Luang Namtha and back would consume one full day in transit and so may not be worth it with our limited time.

Let me know if you are familiar with any of the trekking options in the Nong Khiaw/Muang Ngoi area and how they stack up against Nam Tha--or any other suggested destinations further along the river---really appreciate the help.

Luang Prabang, Laos
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3. Re: Northern Laos Itinerary Advice

Well, there's a big difference between trekking in Moung Ngoi or Nong khiaw and up in Namtha area. MN and NK are predominantly Hmong and Khamu villages nearby whereas Namtha area has large concentrations of Akha, Lanten, Dzao/Yao, and Thai Dam.

But since you've only got 5 days, then I think it's best spent in the MN/NK areas. You can easily hike to villages from MN on your own and it takes a little over an hour following a creek most of the way (you'll pass several caves en route) to the first village of Ban Na.

If you want to get off the beaten track, then head east along Route 1 from Nong khiaw to Viang Kham and do some hikes from there. Or even continue on into Nam Et biosphere.

NYC
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4. Re: Northern Laos Itinerary Advice

Thanks again--sort of confirms my instinct about trying to get up to Nam Tha in such a short visit. Hopefully they'll add more flights to Siem Reap by Oct and we can stay longer in Laos.

Santa Cruz, Cal
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5. Re: Northern Laos Itinerary Advice

Green Discovery in Laos does a couple of Nam Ou river treks out of Luang Prabang, they have a website that describes the trips, I think its greendiscoverylaos.com

6. Re: Northern Laos Itinerary Advice

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