In a nutshell
Enjoy the stunning scenery around dusty, remote Luang Nam Tha by going trekking in the Nam Ha Protected Area. Or try mountain-biking, rafting or kayaking; this is eco-tourism at its most authentic. Visit the ethnic museum. Shop for handicrafts.
Nestled in the north of mountainous Laos, just a hop, skip and a jump from the Chinese border, Luang Nam Tha has a remote, cowboy town feel to it but makes an excellent base for exploring the many natural wonders of the province of which it is capital.
Formed by three long, straight and flat roads, the town and its life centres around its two markets. Tourism infrastructure in recent years has improved dramatically here and places such as the excellent Forest Retreat cafe offer fantastic information about the entire region, expanding the options for those looking to forge a trail into the jungle.
Trekking, mountain-biking, rafting and kayaking are among the growing number of ways to enjoy the stunning scenery surrounding Luang Nam Tha. As many argue, tourism here can help send a message to locals that their culture and forests are important and valuable in their own right. Cash you spend on access permits goes to wildlife and forest conservation projects.
Luang Nam Tha itself is home to an ethnic museum, which is worth a pop in if you can find someone to let you in, as well as a small selection of places to buy handicrafts, though you can also explore the surrounding villages for unique finds.
Rent a bicycle to get around town and also to explore the outlying areas. The waterfall at Ban Nam Dee is just a few kilometres outside town and an easy trip using pedal power. More serious explorers should head to the Nam Ha Protected Area, reputed to be home to large mammals such as tigers and elephants (don't hold your breath!) as well as a myriad of colourful birds and frightening reptiles (if you ask us, anyway).
You can take a trip by boat along the Nam Tha River to see some of the area. Guided trips can be arranged by the tourism office. Green Discovery also offers one- or two-day trips along the Nam Tha. For advice and the very latest information, head to Forest Retreat Laos.
There are ATMs and money exchange facilities in town and very fast 3G internet through Unitel and ETL but the best guesthouses have free WiFi anyway.
Download your Luang Nam Tha PDF guide
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Text and/or map last updated on 26th November, 2012.
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