Luang Namtha in Laos (also named Luang Nam Tha) belongs to Luang Nam Tha Province, in the north of the country. The city is located on banks of the Nam Tha River, explaining for its name that means “The area around the Tha River.” If asking for a trekking and cultural mecca in Laos, then come to Luang Nam Tha!
About Luang Namtha in Laos
Luang Namtha is the largest city in the province of the similar name. The stopover of Luang Namtha is much comfortable and touristy. The city itself is dotted with guesthouses for trekkers, which make Luang Namtha ideal for hill trekking. Also, the Luang Namtha Museum in the town teaches the visitors much information about the land’s history and culture. The tourism infrastructure of this destination has been improved much, predominantly for trekking and various outdoor activities, for instance, in Nam Ha National Protected Area, to learn about the well-protected primary forest as well as the minority culture and custom. Some other wonderful things to do in the forested and tranquil environment include mountain biking, rafting, kayaking, and enjoying homestay hill-tribe villages. Geographically, Luang Namtha in Laos has proximity to Chinese border (Boten) and Thai border (Chiang Kong). From there, it’s feasible for onward travel.
Luang Namtha Things to Do
Luang Nam Tha Trekking
As noted, trekking is the best highlight of Luang Namtha; it is the reason why we call it “the trekking mecca.” This destination owns the natural elements for trekking, from the impressive trekking routes through the waterfall, mountain and hill-tribe villages, to the fresh and pristine rivers. There are lots of companies running the trekking tours of days and nights. Some do offer the “jungle experience” in which you enjoy hiking and sleeping in the jungle or experiencing homestay and communicating with the ethnic people. Luang Namtha trekking gives you an idea of the primitive jungle where to spot the wildlife and stunning scenery.
Exploring Namha National Protected Area
Namha National Protected Area (Namha NPA) is perfect for rafting and kayaking to discover the surroundings of various remote hill-tribe villages, the mixed deciduous forests, and the large rivers draining to Mekong River. This protected area is 222,000 square hectares and is also home to the endangered wildlife including clouded leopards, Asian elephants, gaur, etc. With the natural forest and river, the Namha NPA motivates you to trek and kayak. And then if you look for forest retreat in Laos, homestay in the local villages lets you see the lives connected to the jungle for decades.
Enjoying the favorite journey to Muang Sing
Around 60km north of Luang Namtha is the location of Muang Sing. To get there, you pass through the spectacular, dense jungle and mountains of the Namha National Protected Area. Thanks to the clear signpost, you can easily find Muang Sing where is famous for the scenic and laid-back landscapes of several ethnic minority villages. You can briefly describe Muang Sing as this: it owns the beautiful pastoral area where some tribes live peacefully in a scenic valley encompassed by the mountains. Things to see in Muang Sing Laos are Muang Sing morning market, That Xieng Tung, Lao Whiskey Distilling, Akha Villages and Traditional Yao Crafts. Schedule the time adequately so that you are advised to return to the town before the dark.
Walking – Green discovery Luang Namtha
First, take a 5-minute walk out of the town towards Nam Tha River. You’ll cross the bamboo bridge to visit the traditional Tai Dam village, and enjoy sightseeing the lush crops. The Tai Dam minority people are good at weaving, and it’s easy to meet some women weaving or getting the silk off the silkworms. The further walking might bring you to the sticky rice fields. Behind the town is the new golden Stupa nestled on the hill which can be reached via the 15-minute walk. Also, the Stupa is where to see the best sunrise and sunset. From the Stupa, you see a trail going up the rubber plantation. The reward of the climbing is the panoramic views of Luang Namtha, the amazing jungle, rice paddies, and mountains.
Bicycling and Riding
Rent a bicycle or a motorbike to ride around 6km out of the town to Ban Nam Dee – the special Lantern minority village with the thatched bamboo houses and the traditionally-dressed people. Hand-made skill is great here, as you might see the hand-made bamboo paper, the indigo blue clothing, etc. Nearby the village, through the jungle, is the little stunning waterfall. Around 2km north out of the town is the spacious ride paddies encompassed thoroughly by the magnificent mountains. It is the stunning picture dotted with the bamboo huts, the ecological system of wildlife and rice fields. The whole scenery is ideal for reading, having a picnic, or just watching the twilight and dawn over the mountain ranges. You might need the maps to spot the good routes for either Luang Namtha biking or riding!
Visiting minority villages
It is a memorable experience to spend time exploring some minority villages and learn the local culture. Just spend one day visiting the villages of several different ethnic groups like Ahka, Black Thai, Lantern, Khmu, Tai Lue and Pounoy. When you get there, expect to watch the different styles of clothing, housing, and cooking. Also, the language is different; for example, some children might say “sabai di” which means “hello” as you pass by. More than 20 hill tribes live together in a peaceful way in Luang Namtha; they create the friendly community and diverse cultures.
The Namtha River is suitable for boating to watch the nice riverscape and to relax along the banks. Boating in Luang Namtha, the passengers see the primeval aspects of the town via the thatched bamboo houses, the lush trees, and the laid-back ambiance, in general. It is the pastoral landscape calms you down and refreshes the minds.
Experiencing Lao sauna and massage
There must be something new and intriguing about Lao sauna and massage. After hours of trekking, think about sauna and massage in Luang Namtha; it is the best way to relax. A variety of massages combined with the welcome post-trek foot massage wins the customers’ praises.
Trying the local food
The food in the trekking destination of Luang Namtha is appetizing and exotic. Some of the best of the Lao cuisine is preserved in the forested northern site. In particular, the most famous dish is Kao Soi, referring to the noodle soup with the minced pork and fermented peanut paste.
Best Time to Visit Luang Namtha
- The rainy season goes from May to October, when it is best to visit Luang Namtha via a boat trip along the Mekong River.
- The dry season lasts from November to April. Amongst these, March and April are the two hottest months when the temperature can even reach 400
So, due to your preference for either the dry and hot condition or the cool and rainy one, pick up the most satisfactory months to go! Luang Namtha itself is pristine and gorgeous all year round.
How to Get to Luang Namtha in Laos
There are Lao Airlines flights between Luang Namtha and Vientiane. Once getting to Luang Namtha Airport, take a tuk-tuk from there to the preferred place.
You can take buses from the Chinese border at Boten/Mengla (60km) or Thai border at Huay Xai/Chiang Khong (197km) to reach Luang Nam Tha. Particularly, the bus between Luang Namtha and Jinghong (nearby Boten/Mengla border) takes around 8 hours to arrive at the destination. Surely, you can get the visa on arrival.
In addition, from Luang Namtha to Luang Prabang by bus takes about 6h30 min (310 km) via Route 13.
During the rainy season (May – October), Luang Namtha can be best seen via the boat trips. In the short distance, you can book the boat journey between Huay Xai and Luang Namtha if wanting to explore the laid-back water world of Namtha River.