Nong Khiaw - light adventure in remote rural Laos
Spectacular yet accessible, the charming village of Nong Khiaw is about 60 miles north-east of Luang Prabang, on the bank of Nam Ou River. The remote settlement is surrounded by a stunning rural landscape that offers excellent walks, trekking, climbing and caving, while the broad Nam Ou, flanked by forest-covered crags and flowing placidly towards the Mekong, is ideal for kayaking and boat trips.
What to expect in Nong Khiaw...
Despite being deep in remote Laos countryside, Nong Khiaw is wonderfully accessible - certainly in terms of getting there, but also for different fitness levels, with activities that range from riverside ambling to strenuous treks, tranquil longtail boat trips to lengthy kayaking excursions.
All of this takes place against a superb mountain backdrop, with dramatic limestone peaks and hazy jungle-filled valleys that are occupied by diverse tribes, grazing buffalo and (certainly in nearby protected areas) tigers, gibbons, guar, deer, otters, reptiles and many bird species.
Depending on where you're travelling from, as you enter the region you will drop in to visit H’mong and Khmu hill tribe communities, and on arrival at Nong Khiaw you will be left to your own devices for a few hours, free to wander to nearby tribal villages and explore the surrounding countryside. Later in your stay, cruise upriver along one of the most beautiful stretches of scenery in the entire country, to visit communities that are only accessible by boat.
‘Home’ for the duration of your stay will be the Mandala Ou - a sweetly stylish, ecologically-designed wooden bungalow right on the banks of the Nam Ou. The views are superb, with mountains in the background and forested limestone karsts just across the river, and can be enjoyed from your bungalow’s balcony or - our particular favourite - from the lovely pool, with its infinity edge mirroring the tremendous natural vista.
Location: Northern Laos
Duration: as long as you like
Accommodation: a riverside lodge
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'It's certainly an ideal stop-off between Luang Prabang and Luang Namtha or Muang La, but I think Nong Khiaw is well worth an extra day in its own right, and even deserves to be made into a side-trip from Luang Prabang.'