Getting there and away
Luang Nam Tha airport is five kilometres south of town. Lao Airlines flies between Luang Nam Tha and the capital city Vientiane once daily. At the time of writing, the flight from Vientiane to Luang Nam Tha departs at 14:20 and Luang Nam Tha to Vientiane at 15:45. It takes an hour and costs US$129 one-way. Lao Airlines frequently have promotional rates not advertised or available on their website. Check the Lao Airlines booking office, located at the southern end of the main drag. It’s open Monday to Friday, 08:00-12:00, 13:00-17:00. T: (086) 212 072, (086) 212 073
The less reliable Lao Skyway flies Monday, Wednesday and Friday; Vientiane to Luang Nam Tha departs at 14:50, Luang Nam Tha to Vientiane at 16:30, with a one-way fare US$46.
Luang Nam Tha has two bus stations. The provincial bus station is located on the main highway Route 3, 10 kilometres south of town. It serves interprovincial destinations including Huay Xai, Udomxai and Luang Prabang. Tuk tuks are organised: expect to pay 10,000 – 15,000 kip per person for a shared shuttle to/from town.
The district bus station, serving locations within the province such as Muang Sing and Muang Long, is in the southern part of town, 300 metres south of the main drag. Head down the main road, down the slope and look for the Beerlao branded “Dragon Night Club Karoke” and “Tow Sister Restaurant” sign.
Provincial Bus Station
Buying a bus ticket through an agency in town should include a tuk- uk transfer to the station.
Huay Xai (187 km) departs 9:00, 12:30, 16:00, takes 4 hours, 60,000 kip
Udomxai (120 km) departs 08:30, 12:00, 14:30, takes 4 hours, 40,000 kip
Pak Mong (for Nong Khiaw) (180 km) departs 08:30, takes 7 hours, 80,000 kip
Luang Prabang (300 km) departs 09:00, takes 9 hours, 90,000 kip
Vientiane (700 km) departs 08:30, 14:30, takes 18 hours, 200,000 kip
District Bus Station
Boten (60 km) departs 09:30, 12:00, takes 1 hour, 25,000 kip
Muang Sing (58 km) departs 08:00, 09:30, 11:00, 12:30, 14:00, 15:30, takes 2.5 hours, 25,000 kip
Muang Long (110 km) departs 08:30, takes 5 hours, 50,000 kip
Three motorbike rental shops are clustered together across from the night market. They have a few automatics in the mix and pretty good mountain bikes (30,000 kip), which you’ll need if you want to explore the outlying area and Nam Dee Waterfall, five kilometres away.
The cheap Chinese Zongshen (30,000 kip/day) is okay for local travels but anything further afield such as a day trip to Muang Sing, you will definitely want a reliable Honda or Suzuki (50,000 kip/day). The shops will ask for your passport or cash as a deposit. They provide a free photocopy map marked with places of interest.
Sanajai rental shop at Zuela Guesthouse has a wide selection, everything from zippy automatic Yamaha Fino (80,000 kip) to some serious off-road motocross bikes (100,000 – 280,000 kip). You can also drop off the rental at their shop in Luang Prabang or Vientiane. It is 100,000 kip per day, with a passport or a hefty $800 as a deposit delivered back at your final guesthouse. It goes without saying but it must be said, you should be a seriously good motorbike driver to tackle that road trip.
Sanajai Motorbike Rental at Zuela Guesthouse: T: (020) 2206 3888, (020) 5696 6449; http://zuela.asia/bike-rentals/
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