Muang Sing lies 58 kilometres north of Luang Nam Tha on the Chinese border and it rates as one of our favourite spots in Laos. It has gorgeous pastoral scenery and considerable ethnic diversity – nine tribes within one town dramatically nestled in a valley surrounded by rolling mountains. While we strongly urge you to stay overnight, a day trip by motorbike is possible. It’s worth it for the drive alone and we consider it one of the prettiest drives in the country.
You’ll want a good motorbike (NOT a made-in-China Zongshen), a full tank of gas, a helmet and some previous motorbike riding experience. Let the rental shop know you are going to Muang Sing so they can set you up with a reliable bike.
The first part of the drive follows the Nam Tha river. Here rubber tree plantations now dominate entire slopes of the surrounding hills. It isn’t the most appealing sight though the area still has its scenic moments. The second half of the drive through the Nam Ha NPA is truly spectacular. You’ll wind your way through the narrow valley with sheer cliffs drowning in primary forest towering above. There are moments when fresh, cool mountain air sweeps down and the sun angles over the ridgeline and filters through the jungle – and suddenly it feels like a prehistoric lost world. The most difficult part is trying to concentrate on your driving.
It should take you two hours at a leisurely pace to reach Muang Sing. Head straight north on the main street, then Highway 17. The road is paved but crumbling in parts and dotted with potholes. There are a few tricky parts and narrow hairpin turns – slow down and give a few honks as transport trucks and buses do frequent the route. If you are doing a daytrip, we recommend you allow for enough time to return to Luang Nam Tha before dark.