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Laos forum

landscape and trekking in northern laos

Posted by gawe on 7/1/2011 at 01:34

I can't decide whether I sould stay around Luang Namtha /Muang Sin or go up to Phongsali. I love beautiful landscapes, flowers, trees, rice paddies, and I like trekking to small villages. I am not interested in seeing too many tourists.
In my opinion, the positive thing about Muang Sing would be, that I could walk on my own to small hilltribe towns. My concerns about Phongsali: maybe it will be rather cold and foggy in mid of january? ... and to be honest, I travell to Laos, because I want to escape from europeanwinter and stay in warm and green area ;-)

In toal I will spend three weeks in Laos and the other spots I will visit, are: gibbon experience, Muang Ngoi/Khiaw and Luang Prabang (at the end)

would be great to read your recommandations.

Kind regards, Gabi

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Posted by Bluefrog on 7/1/2011 at 21:43

I'm planning on visiting similar places in Feb and also having troubles deciding exactly what to do (I've only got 2+ weeks and want to make the best of it).

From what I've read It's not really worth the time and effort to go up to Phongsali, so if I were you I would do a bit of research here on the other two. Also factor in how easily they will fit with the other places you're visiting.

Finally there is quite a bit of trekking involved on the gibbon experience, and also trekking opportunities around Luang Prabang.

Hopefully somebody who has actually been to Laos can give you some better advice!

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Posted by gawe on 7/1/2011 at 22:21

Hi bluefrog, thanks for input. I also think, that it is rather time-consuming to reach the area of Phongsali, but it's not that dramatically and there are some offers and the reason why I didn't skip it right now, is, that because this area is so remote, there are fewer tourists. Enjoy your stay!

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Posted by wanderingcat on 8/1/2011 at 02:07

near Luang Namtha/Muang Sing + fewer tourists = Muang Long
excellent description here:

there's also trekking from Oudomxay, an area which is 'heavily ignored' or even 'studiously avoided' by most tourists just because guidebooks describe the town as boring...but Oudomxay is not just one town but an entire province...

likewise, Phongsaly is not just one town but an entire province that includes Muang Khua & Boun Tai...there is trekking from both places, just that for Boun Tai you'll have to contact the tourism office in Phongsaly town (check contact info here to make arrangements. MK is ~3+h from Oudomxay town by relatively good paved road, Boun Tai is ~6h from Oudomxay town (roughly 2/3 of the journey from Oudomxay to Phongsaly town). from MK there's a beautiful boat trip down the Nam Ou river to Nong Khiaw.

many places in northern Laos are cool & foggy in January, but the fog is only in the early morning...once the sun is up it's gone & by lunchtime it can be really sunny (so-called 'T-shirt temperatures').

I could walk on my own to small hilltribe towns.

perhaps better to be accompanied by a local guide esp if you don't know much about the culture & beliefs of the hilltribes. quite a number of 'dos & don'ts'. & you can get a very different reception & experience when you go to a village alone as a total stranger vs. when you go with a local guide (i.e. no longer a stranger but an acquaintance of someone familiar to the villagers).

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Posted by gawe on 8/1/2011 at 02:40

Dear wanderingcat, I was hoping that you would reply, because you seem to have very special knowledge. Thank you!

Muang Khua sound a very good advise, because I already thought about going there to enjoy a beautiful boat trip down the nam ou river ;-)
Bouan Tai also sounded nice

I already have found the blog about Muang Long and this encouraged me going there.
I only can do that, if gibbon expericence can change my reservation (my fault but I originally booked to start on jan. 20th and so I only have 5 days, because I would start from Chiang Kong in the morning of jan. 15th and I would loose a lot of time with travelling. So Muang Long maybe is to far to reach with public bus, Muang Sing e.g. would be o.k.).

If you would have a camera, would love good views and nice people ... where would you head to?

kind regards gabi

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Posted by LaoNow on 8/1/2011 at 10:11

I agree with Cat that it's best not to just wander around in the hills and walk into villages alone, they have spirit gates sometimes and if you don't go through it you can bring bad spirits into the village and they will have to charge you a fee for the ceremony to cleanse the village (buy a pig maybe). But if a village is on a well travelled road like those on the dirt roads in the flatlands around Luang Namtha you can ride a bike thru with no problems and see a bit of hilltribe life that way. The waterfall outside Luang Namtha isn't much to see but the village there has hand crafted products for sale and you can walk there from L. Namtha town. You might even be lucky to see the women making paper and washing it in the river.

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