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Treking in northern Laos

Cologne, Germany
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Treking in northern Laos

Over the last few month I am planning my trip to Laos, and by reading trip reports reviews etc I changed my itinerary a few times. One thing I definitely want to do is some trekking in northern Laos. After dismissing my idea of going to Phongsali due to the time it takes to get there I am undecided if I should head to Luang Namthe, Muang Sing or Muang Long. Reading about these places didn't make it any easier I must admit.

The plan is to arrive in Houayxai on Thursday morning mid of October, and head the same day to one of the above places. On Friday I want to take it easy, exploring the area by bike of canoe (where possible) to enjoy my birthday (with one or two driks in the evening). This would give me 4 days time to do a three day trek, as I would like to head either to Muang Khoua (to take the boat down to Nong Khiaw) or directly to Nong Khiaw (any suggestions?) on Wednesday.

The trek should include homestays, and maybe have the possibility to stay a bit longer in the tribe village on the second day to experience of the local life and have a shorter walk that day. I am aware that it might be a bit more difficult or expensive to do this as a single traveller, but it would be a nice thing to do.

I would appreciate any comments or suggestion where to go and what to do, and I am open minded about travelling off the beaten trek.

Vientiane, Laos
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1. Re: Treking in northern Laos

Luang Namtha is the main trekking base in northern Laos. From there you can also organise treks in the Sing and Long districts. You can also go directly to M Sing (2hrs on bus from LN) and M Long, and there are trekking agents in both these places too, but less options.

You'd be better off heading straight to Namtha and speaking to some of the agents on the main strip before deciding what you want to do. More people pass through LN too - so you can share costs if you want to and join some others.

You can also organise kayaking in the Nam Ha protected area from Namtha.

Cologne, Germany
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2. Re: Treking in northern Laos

Thanks Bluecramp, sounds like a great idea.

One other question I have is regarding the correct footwear, I usually wear boots with ankle protetcion for longer hikes, but obviously the one I have are far to heavy. What kind of footwear should I use in Laos for trekking?

Vientiane, Laos
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3. Re: Treking in northern Laos

I just wear closed toe fabric sandals for day walks (15km or so) - Teva, Keen or similar. They keep your feet cool and you can get them wet. I've never seen anyone wearing proper hiking boots in Namtha.

Cologne, Germany
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4. Re: Treking in northern Laos

Thanks, didnt consider sandals because of leeches, but see the point of drying easily etc. The Teva ones do look nice and comfortable

Vientiane, Laos
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5. Re: Treking in northern Laos

I do a lot of walking in rural areas round the country whilst surveying etc and have only ever picked up leeches 3-4 times in 6 years. Even with boots on they can still easily get to your feet (and worse places) without you noticing.

Cologne, Germany
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6. Re: Treking in northern Laos

Thanks for your help Blue, got myself proper hiking sandals now.

One other questions (and more to follow, sorry ;-) ). When I went to Cambodia last year I brought my mosquito repellent from the UK, but had to buy some in SR, which worked fine (and apparently helps against other crawlers as well) Would it be better to buy the repellent either in Bangkok or Laos, or should I bring it along from the UK?

Vientiane, Laos
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7. Re: Treking in northern Laos

Wait till you get to Laos.

All minimarts in Vientiane, and general stores in main centres, sell a wide range of different brands for a fraction of the cost of the UK. There must be 10 different brands available now - most are produced in Thailand and contain 15-25% DEET. You can also get low DEET stuff for infants. I use Soffell brand and it works well.

Cologne, Germany
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8. Re: Treking in northern Laos

I will go straight from Thailand to LM, can I buy this recommend repellent un Bangkok as well (sorry if this is a rather stupid question)?

Also, you said that there are quite a few agents for treks in LM, any advise which one are quite good, or which one should be avoided (if any)?

Vientiane
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9. Re: Treking in northern Laos

You can get Deet pretty much at any 7-11 in Thailand. Also mini marts here stock brands of insect repellent with Deet.

Vientiane, Laos
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10. Re: Treking in northern Laos

The brands for sale in Lao are mainly Thai brands, so yes you can get them in both countries. Soffell brand is Thai.

Some of the agents in LN are:

"Namtha river experience eco tourism",

www.namtha-river-experience-laos.com

ph. (856) 86212047

"Ethnic Travel eco-guide service" a few doors down

"The jungle eco-guide services"

www.thejungle-ecotour.com

ph.(856)86 212025

There is another place across the street a few doors down from the Dokchampa hotel that is ran by a young falang couple, which is very popular and they have had good reviews.

It will pay to search through this forum, as a couple of people have reported getting ripped off by one of the main street agents - I don't remember which one.