Two hours' northeast of Luang Nam Tha, the small town of Muang Sing has sprung up in the middle of nowhere. In days gone by it was popular with visitors for its gorgeous scenery, relaxed atmosphere and in particular its many local ethnic minority groups. Today the tourist numbers have dried up leaving you to explore this place almost on your own.
A wide variety of these ethnic groups are represented on the streets of Muang Sing: Hmong, Tai Dam, Akha, Tai Lue and Yao are all regulars in town. Men and women in traditional dress are a common and often spectacular sight.
The town itself is relatively attractive, with many largish wooden houses, built in the decorative Tai Lue style. Wander the back streets on foot or by bicycle and you'll find roads of orange-red dirt framed with lush tropical greenery, and beautiful wooden houses bustling with activity.
The town and its surrounds are flat, but ringed by distant mountains. Many choose to hire a bicycle for the day and head out to visit some of the surrounding villages, but an organised trip can be more rewarding.
Muang Sing's centrepoint and focal feature is its large morning market, which features a dry-goods market full of imported Chinese products as well as a cornucopia of fascinating foodstuffs, both ready to eat and market produce. The morning market runs all day, but hits its height at dawn, when people converge from all the neighbouring towns to do their shopping.
There's plenty to do as well as see around here. You can take yourself on a number of local walks alone, or guided trekking trips are available by the score.
Muang Sing's bus station is located in the north of town a 10-minute walk from where most accommodation is located. There are plenty of ATMs around and several money changing offices should you be running low on cash.
Text and/or map last updated on 22nd October, 2012.
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