Situated in the northern mountains, Luang Namtha is a relatively short distance from the border with China. This is a perfect destination for the tourist on the Laos tour packages that is interested in exploring the country's natural wonders. This region is seeing a great increase in popularity for its outdoor and trekking activities, which is most favoured in the Nam Ha National Protected Area. Kayaking, rafting, and mountain biking are the preferred methods to enjoy the local wilderness and scenery.
The majority of the Luang Namtha region is mostly flat which makes it really easy to explore on foot or bike. A motorbike or bicycle is perfect for exploring further out from town. One of the finest destinations to explore on a motorbike is Muang Sing, which is one of the most stunning in the entire country. Plus, there is the Ban Nam Dee waterfall which is just 5 km from town. For the most relaxing time, the Nam Tha River is great for a slow and lazy boat trip.
The climate in the Luang Namtha region is quite pleasant year-round with nice sunny days and cool nights. The temperature in this region rarely gets too hot because of the high altitude (nearly 700 m above sea level), and a lot more comfortable to travel on the Indochina tour packages compared to the southern parts of the country that experience the most intense heat.
How to get there
Luang Namtha is relatively easy to get to with a choice of air or road transport. The quickest option to reach town is via air (Lao Airlines) which provides a daily direct flight from the capital city Vientiane. The local air service from the capital costs in the region of $125. Use a tuk-tuk outside the airport to reach the local hotels or guesthouses.
The local area of Luang Namtha has a choice of two bus stations. The interprovincial destinations are serviced by the provincial bus station, which is found on HW route 2, and practical for trips to destinations like Luang Prabang, Udomxai, and Huay Xai.
The other station is perfect for travellers planning to explore locations within the province like Muang Long and Muang Sing.
Where to stay
For a relatively small town, the hotel and guesthouse accommodation is quite plentiful and affordable. Most places to stay are clustered within a short distance of each other. Plus, the best hotels and guest houses get booked up quickly in the high season, so it makes sense to organize a place to stay as early as possible.
The Thoulasith Guest House is a quite new establishment and one of the finest guesthouses to stay in Luang Namtha. While the rooms aren’t the largest, they are very comfortable with nice modern beds and real bedding. The rooms and bathroom (including Western toilet) appear to be kept clean. The cost per night is affordable at $8-$10.
A stay at the Phou Iu III is certain to appeal to the traveller that wants to get away from city noise, by still within an easy walking distance to the main attractions. There are several bungalows on site that give a very peaceful and natural setting with a well maintained lawn and garden area. Even though the bungalows are near the Nam Tha River, there are unfortunately no clear views of the river. Phou Iu III is midrange accommodation and costs about $20-$50 per night.
Eat and drink
Even though Luang Namtha is a relatively small town, there are still several worthwhile places to stop and eat for the local dishes, while a few restaurants also able to serve Western food.
The Luang Namtha night market is perfect for those on the Laos tour packages wishing to try the local food stall scene. Plenty of food options are served up including spicy papaya salad, fresh spring rolls, barbecue chicken, pork belly and roast duck. Even though the market is still open throughout the rainy season, there are a lot less food options and stalls.
The warm and relaxed vibe of the Bamboo Lounge is a popular destination for the tourist with its western food, free Wi-Fi, fresh juice and cheap beer. The menu is quite varied and includes pizzas (starting at $6-$7), salads ($2-$3) and pasta ($5). Plus, the menu includes a choice of gluten-free and vegan options.
For a fine breakfast, there are a few low-cost cafes serving a delicious bowl of noodles or pho. Plus, other places are around to serve baguette sandwiches, fresh baked bagels and cream cheese
A great place for the tourist in search of gifts or souvenirs for the family includes Panfa Art. This small textile shop is perfect for textiles like wall hangings and scarves that are designed using the traditional techniques and made in silk by the local workmen and artisans.
Things to see and do
Luang Namtha Museum
The Luang Namtha Museum has a very diverse collection of artefacts on display, such as currency, Khmu bronze drums, religious items, and ethnic clothing. Most of the items date from the colonial period to the revolution. A visit to the museum is perfect for the tourists that really want to immerse themselves in the natural resources and rich culture of the local area.
Road to Nal
Hire a bicycle for the day and go explore the surrounding countryside. Most of the guesthouses make it easy to hire a bicycle for the day with costs in the region of $4-$5 (top-quality mountain bike). Plus, there is the option to organize a bike tour of the valley with a local English-speaking Laos travel guide.
Lanten Sister & Brother
A visit to Ban Nam Dee is certain to appeal to the traveller interesting in exploring the local waterfall. The waterfall is approx 6 km from town which makes it easy to reach on foot, but to avoid getting tired before arriving at the fall, it may benefit to hire a tuk-tuk for the journey, which also gives more time to see the village.
A further point of interest in Ban Nam Dee on the Indochina tour packages is to watch the local techniques used in the production of bamboo paper.