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Chiang Mai to Luang Namtha in 1 day?

Montreal, Canada
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8 posts
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Chiang Mai to Luang Namtha in 1 day?


My girlfriend and I will be visiting Thailand, Laos and Vietnam next month.

So far our itinerary is a as follows:

-We land in Bangkok and visit the city for a few days.

-We take the train up to Chiang Mai and visit the city and trek around for a few days.

-Next we want to head to northern Laos and spend few days visiting and trekking.

-Take a boat trip on the Mekong to LP

-Book a bus trip to Vientiane then fly to Hanoi.

From what we've read, Huay Xai and Luang Namtha seem to be the hotspots in West Northern Laos. I know it's possible to book a bus trip from Chiang Mai to Huay Xai in 1 day, but I was wondering if it's possible to do the same for Luang Namtha.

Basically, we'd rather only visit 1 place in Northern Laos and minimize wasted transportation time. Luang Namtha seems like the most interesting place for us (lots of trekking, wildlife, beautiful landscapes and eco-friendly tours), but it's farther away and we'd have to come back to Huay Xai to take the boat to LP.

What do you think would be the best options for us? Feel free to suggest alternate routes and comment on tours you took and activites you did in Norther Laos.

Wanaka, New Zealand
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1. Re: Chiang Mai to Luang Namtha in 1 day?

You could easily get from CM to LN in a day. We did the trip in reverse as far as Chiang Rai, but could have easily taken a bus onwards. One tip, you don't need to go into Chiang Kong (Thai border town itself). There is a big intersection that goes to the border about 5 minutes from town. You should get off the bus here. There were lots of tuk tuks waiting there to get to the border itself. There are probably direct buses through to LN also.

Another suggestion is to go directly to LP, but use your extra time to go to Nong Khiaw instead. We thought that the Nong Khiaw area was more beautiful and interesting than Luang Namtha (which honestly didn't grab us, although we enjoyed the trek we did). Nong Khiaw is 3-4 hours north of LP. We took a boat upriver for the day (private charter) as far as Sop Jam (a weaving village). It was a great day out. We wished we'd had more time in Nong Khiaw to do some of the walks and other activities in the area.

Another really good thing we did was going to the Elephant Conservation Center in Sayabuli (3 hours south of LP). It was a fantastic experience. We did the 3 day package. Getting a bus to and from LP is very easy to Sayabuli. The ECC checked all the boxes for us in terms of ethical treatment of the elephants. We learned so much about Laos' domestic elephants and the issues facing them.



We also did the Living Land Rice Farm experience in LP. So interesting and informative about the rice growing process. It's hands on - you get muddy! - but so much fun. Well worth it.



Cologne, Germany
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for Cologne, Laos
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2. Re: Chiang Mai to Luang Namtha in 1 day?

If you leave CM very early, you should be able to get a late mini bus to LN. Te last public bus leaves at 12:30 from Huay Xai, and you won't that one. The journey from CM to Chiag Khong is around 8 hours, so if you take the bus at 7am, you arrive in the afternoon, and should get the minibus.

I agree with Telly, Nong Khiaw (and more so Muang Ngoi is more beautiful than LN, however, I there are much more choices for overnight treks in LM as far as I was aware.

Somyou could head to Huay Xai, stay overnight, and yake the slow boat to LP, stay there for a few buses, take the minibus to NK (apparently no more boats go to NK from LP), and either stay there for a few days, or take the boat one hour upriver from Nk, to Muang Ngoi, and stay there. Muang Ngoi is ne of the most beautiful places, and probably my favourite place I have visited in Laos (and there are many that are contenders for that). It is def getless visitors than LN.

If you decide to head to LN, I would highly recommendthe Forrest Retreat to book any hikes.

3. Re: Chiang Mai to Luang Namtha in 1 day?

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