One of Nong Kiaow’s best
Visitors to Nong Kiaow looking for upscale comforts are limited, and Nong Kiau Riverside is one of only two options that cater to the higher end market.
Located at the south end of the bridge, 15 bungalows cantilever along a most generous stretch of riverfront that does not directly face any development. Every one of the rooms will have a view of the Nam Ou and towering forest clad karst. The reception and breezy restaurant terrace has a sensational wide open view. This is one of the loveliest dining spots in town and is where the included buffet breakfast is served.
The standalone bungalows, which are spaced a fair distance apart so you shouldn’t be able to hear your neighbours, are classic Lao in style with an emphasis on natural materials. Don’t expect anything flashy. The roof and walls are covered with bamboo thatch to give the illusion of rustic but it’s all sturdily built and furnished with solid hardwood. Rooms feature a four poster bed topped with a Hmong bedspread and mosquito netting, a desk, an old-timey fan and glass double doors that open out to the riverfront porch. Many hours can easily be spent here gazing at the boats puttering by—no need for TV.
There are of course some modern comforts such as the electric kettle with tea/coffee, minibar, safety box and air-con that can also provide heat, something anyone in Nong Kiaow from November to February will greatly appreciate. The bathroom has a modern feel, the hot water shower partitioned with a shower curtain. WiFi is available (in theory) at the restaurant but keep in mind that internet and phone in Nong Kiaow can be unreliable.
It can be a little noisy now that there’s a road running right behind and the bungalows did show some wear and tear, looking a little tired when we inspected in 2018. While some TLC would not go astray, this is still excellent value compared to what the same amount would fetch in Luang Prabang. The low season rate here is a steal.
The only other comparable property in Nong Kiaow is Mandala Ou. However, they are quite different from each other and they would appeal to different folks. Mandala Ou is isolated away from the main town and rooms are concrete rather than wood. It also boasts a pool and sauna, which may explain why it’s slightly more expensive. Both properties are western owned and managed, and staff speak good English. They represent the best the town—that is, until the owner of Nong Kiau Riverside opens a new high end retreat a few kilometres outside, construction already underway as of mid 2018.
One thing’s for sure, with so few higher end options in town, both these properties are booked solid during the high season, from around November to March. Tour groups will have most of the rooms any given night. If you need a little bit of luxury during this time, you need to book well in advance to avoid disappointment.
Address: South end of the bridge, Ban Souphoun
T: (071) 810 004; (030) 587 8099;
Coordinates (for GPS): 102º37'2.54" E, 20º34'13.37" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Room rates: US$20 to 50
What we were quoted as a walk-in.
|Superior double room||US$35||US$52|
Cindy Fan is a Canadian writer/photographer and author of So Many Miles, a website that chronicles the love of adventure, food and culture. After falling in love with sticky rice and Mekong sunsets, in 2011 she uprooted her life in Toronto to live la vida Laos. She’s travelled to over 40 countries and harbours a deep affection for Africa and Southeast Asia. In between jaunts around the world, she calls Laos and Vietnam home where you'll find her traipsing through rice paddies, standing beside broken-down buses and in villages laughing with the locals.
Our top 10 places to stay in and around Nong Kiaow