Mini Guide to Luang Namtha

Everything You Need to Know About Luang Namtha

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    Luang Namtha is the capital of a province of the same name. The city is located on the banks of the Namtha River, in the northern part of Laos. Like Huay Xai, Luang Namtha is primarily perceived as a stopover point. 

    Luang Namtha has 2 distinct parts – the old town near the airport was bombed during the 1970s and the new town, which is 6 km north of the former. Travellers from China to Laos use this city as a starting point for trekking in the Luang Namtha National Protected Area. It’s also an alternative to the long (and crowded) boat ride between Luang Prabang and Huay Xai. 

    1

    Things to do in Luang Namtha

    Hiking is a common thing to do in Luang Namtha – you’ll find several authorised agencies offering guided treks to the Nam Ha Protected Area and surrounding hill tribes. You’ll get to experience the untouched forest and mountainous terrain, as well as paddy fields and the Lao countryside.

    Namtha Tourism Department is an eco-guide service that offers kayaking in the nature reserve.  Green Discovery is one of the largest trek agencies in Luang Namtha – you can enjoy multiple-day trips that also include kayaking.

    If you’re feeling rather adventurous, explore Luang Nam Tha’s ethnic villages by bicycle. The roads are decent with little to no traffic – you can even make the 120 km roundtrip between Luang Namtha and Boten.

    Villages such as Vieng Phouka, Muang Nalae and Muang Sing are some of the rural spots to cover during your cycling trip. You can even stop by the Nam Dee and Gneung Phou Ku Lom Waterfalls for a quick swim.

    foto: James Antrobus (CC BY 2.0) muudetud

    2

    Luang Namtha restaurants

    Luang Namtha restaurants mostly serve Chinese, Thai and Lao dishes, though you might find a few offering western food. Most locals earn their living by tending to their paddy fields, with some complementing this agricultural income by serving indigenous cuisine such as khao niaw (sticky rice), larb (minced meat salad), and or lam (Lao stew). Luang Nam Tha Night Market has several stalls selling Lao dishes, fresh fruit, noodles, and BBQ meat.

    foto: Prince Roy (CC BY 2.0) muudetud

    3

    Luang Namtha nightlife

    There aren’t many bars, pubs or discos in Luang Namtha, but most restaurants have local beers, whiskeys, and cocktails in their menus. Note that due to Laos’ midnight curfew, Luang Nam Tha’s nightlife dwindles by 11pm.

    foto: James Antrobus (CC BY 2.0) muudetud

    4

    How to get to Luang Namtha

    By air

    If you’re planning to get to Luang Namtha by air, Lao Airlines has scheduled flights from Vientiane about 4 days per week. Some tuk-tuks will take you to your hotel in town for relatively low prices.

    By  road

    If you’re travelling from China, there’s a direct bus to Luang Namtha from Jing Hong. The bus leaves from the north bus station at 10.40am and stops en route at the south bus station at 11am. You need to scan your luggage at the Chinese Customs Hall before crossing the border into Laos.

    By Water

    Boats depart from Huay Xai to Luang Namtha, but there’s no fixed regular service available. You may have to depend on cargo ships for this, which can be tricky and depends on your luck.  

    Green Discovery arranges for boat trips at steep prices ($170–$450), as it’s one of the few tour agencies offering this service. Travelling to Luang Namtha by water takes about 2 days, which means you have to spend the night at a nearby village.

    foto: Prince Roy (CC BY 2.0) muudetud

    Paul Smith | Reisifanaatik

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