Phongsali is the northernmost province of Laos which might meet your desire to run away the bustling life. If you’re seeking for a peaceful and authentic destination to hide from hassle and bustle, then think if you are interested in traveling to this rustic off-the-beaten-track province. The following information is to convince you of the beauty of Phongsali.
About Phongsali in Laos
Phongsali (or Phonsaly) is a capital of a province of the same name in Laos. It is located in the northernmost of Laos, at the height of 1,430m on the slopes of Mount Phu Fa which is 1,625m high. Due to the high elevation, the destination experiences the comfortable temperature of 25-30 Celsius degrees. The provincial capital of Phongsali shares its international border with Dien Bien (Vietnam) and Yunnan (China). The site is famous for a fascinating view of the endless mountains and the mystic canyon of Nam Ou River. The ethnic highlight of Phongsali is first expressed by the exceptional houses constructed in the Yunnanese style with beautiful wooden fronts. This is home to around 28 different ethnic groups who make the province ethnically rich. Besides, a landmark in this rustic area refers to the 400-year-old tea plantation in Ban Komaen Village where preserves some of the oldest tea regions in the world. The long-lasting tea tradition makes “Phongsali tea” extraordinarily aromatic and tasty. The green land of Phongsali also covers the abundant flora and fauna, and some are new to science. More and more trekking tours are organized in the lush forests to give travelers authentic feeling about the original Laos world. For culinary joy, remember you enjoy Laos rice whiskey and some regional dishes made of the wild forest ingredients in the Laos and Yunnanese styles.
What to See in Phongsali
Museum of Ethnic Group
Rich in ethnic culture, costume, and language, Phongsali has the competent Musem of Ethnic Group which functions as the great local landmark. Visiting this site, the travelers can cherish lots of distinctive local textiles, handicrafts, and artifacts. The short stay in the museum brings various new feelings about the “hidden” spaces where people protect their ethnic traditions regardless how the world is changing rapidly. With no bustle and hassle of the city life, Phongsali and the ethic museum offer you the stress-free moments when you take it easy to smile, learn, and experience. There must be something makes you interested here! The sightseeing of the ethnic textiles, artifacts, or handicrafts can attract numerous foreign guests who find them new, exclusive, and special on their own. The culture, costume, language, and tradition of various ethnic groups like Khmu, Tai Lue, Akha, and Hor are available to see here.
Phou Fa Mountain
With the height of 1,625m, Phou Fa Mountain offers Phongsali provincial capital with the pleasant and refreshing climate. The mountain itself is also a great attraction to see. It is ideal for hiking through the forest to reach the stupa on the top of the mountain and enjoy the wonderful panorama of the town beneath. You’re free to spread the eyes toward the far-off mountains as well as every site in the town from the top location. Make sure you bring a camera to capture the bewitching moments! The exciting hiking journey lets you meet lots of remote villages on the way. Stop by any of villages that interest you, interact with the locals, and take some pictures of them. It is a happy experience as some of the friendliest people are living in this remote destination.
Ban Komaen Village
The 400-year-old tea plantation in this village receives the international recognition for its great quality, fantastic aroma, and appetizing taste. Visiting Ban Komaen Village, it feels like you are stepping into the authentic tea world which is totally fresh, green, romantic, and fragrant. The spacious tea field has the fertile soil which supports the tree to develop and meet the world-class standard. As a result, “Phongsali tea” is one of the nicest highlights that the tourists can expect in this off-the-bean-track destination. Note that the fertilizers and chemicals have NEVER been used in this wild tea area! That ensures the tea here is 100% natural and healthy enough to keep your body feel good, reduce fat, and have a positive mind. Spending time to savor cups of tea here!
From the provincial capital of Phongsali, you might want to move further to the nearby district-Gnot Ou to visit Wat Luang. This is an impressive Buddhist monastery in Tai Lue style whose history could be dated back to 1445 AD. The short spiritual visit in this Wat can calm your mind and give you some new feelings about the revered monastery which is mysterious and set in the new found world. The residents in Phongsali are often ready to move past distances to reach Gnot Ou District and spend time worshipping in Wat Luang. The experience deserves your efforts to move and explore.
How to Get to Phongsali
The Phongsali Province is served by Boun Neua Airport which facilitates the travel to this province day after day. The direct flights between Phongsali and Vientiane are made twice a week. The Laos airlines run these flights on Tuesday and Saturday. It’s 1-hour-and-40-minute flight which arrives at the airport in the town of Boun Neau. This town is 41km away from Phongsali, so it means you have to take a bus to the preferred provincial capital. For the up-to-date flight service, please contact agents in Vientiane to get the latest information.
The road to Phongsali has been improved much for driving from the other neighboring provinces or Vietnam or China as well. In the case of the international border crossing, make sure you have a valid passport! For driving within the nearby districts, such as from Boun Neau, Udomxai, Luang Namtha, Vientiane, or Luang Prabang to Phongsali, there are services of the bus, coach, and taxi for your uses.
The boat trip along Nam Ou River to Phongsali is the favorite choice for many passengers worldwide. It is a scenic boat which is for sightseeing lots of picturesque villages, mountains, and houses along the riverside. You might even notice some kids smiling and waving hands to greet you from afar. Some hours later, the boat arrives at Hat Sa river port. Here, you are ready to begin an exploration of Phongsali.
When to Visit Phongsali
- May – October: These months are put in the category of the rainy season in Phongsali. In particular, July to September offers the highest amount of rain. The rain might interrupt your outdoor travel because some of the unpaved roads in this region might become impassable. Hence, you’d better bring an umbrella to ensure you can handle the weather disadvantages. But the rain makes the natural settings in this province fresh and lush indeed.
- November – April: These months belong to the dry season, of which the hottest months are March and April. In general, November to January should be the best time to visit Phongsali with the agreeably warm daytime temperature and quite chilly night. Nonetheless, the dry condition might make the river too low to navigate. On the other hand, the outdoor exploring of the ethnic villages and hiking through the dense forest become greatly memorable and interesting.