I'm arriving to Luang Namtha somewhere in mid-end September this year and I'm planning on spending 5 days in LN and MS combined
In Luang Namtha I'm looking for spending about 2 days in the NPA which would leave me 3 days for the villages located around Muang Sing
Question is - are the villages around MS doable independently(bicycle+map) or taking an organized trek through an agency is a must? also I would like to travel along and watch the Chinese border how are the sights around there and is there an easy way to reach it?
Also as a part of the trip I'm planning on going for a half day/full day visit around the Wats in Luang Prabang and I've read there's 32 of them , are they closed to one another and which are the must see wats?
Thanks in advance !
#1 grishgori has been a member since 4/5/2013. Posts: 9
We did it on our own a few months ago and had a great time. If you can rent a motorbike, head up to Muang Sing and stay at Adima Guesthouse, which is a five minute walk from the nearest minority village. The most interesting thing about the Chinese border is the amount of trucks heading there from Laos, loaded with trees.
Our trip report is here with more details: http://erohisms.com/northern-laos-the-land-of-limestone-cliffs-calm-rivers-ethnic-minority-groups-and-insane-roads/
#2 erohisms has been a member since 17/3/2013. Posts: 10
The report looks awesome - exactly what I was looking for
I've got a concern though - how hard/possible was talking with the village locals without the help of a guide/translator? the phrasebook was enough? Also the chinese border has some nice scenery or it isn't worth the visit?
As a part of the trip to northern laos ill be heading for 4 days in nong khiaw and muang ngoi will they suffice?
#3 grishgori has been a member since 4/5/2013. Posts: 9
mid-Sept is rainy season. be prepared for delays if there are landslides along roads, though these days they are cleared relatively quickly. & expect muddy conditions (& maybe leeches) on treks. for many in the villages in that area, Akha (or Yao, Tai Lue, Tai Dam, Khmu, etc) is their first language, Lao is at most a second language for those (usually younger people) who had the chance to go to school. some near the border might speak a bit of 'market Mandarin'.
beautiful photos! btw the trucks heading to China in the photo are loaded with sugarcane stems, not timber. but of course, large areas of forests were cleared to make way for sugarcane plantations. saw large areas of sugarcane planted for export to China in other border areas too, like Ou Tai district in Phongsaly. & on the Mekong one will see large boats laden with timber heading upriver to China: http://laomeow.blogspot.com/2010/02/311206-pak-beng-timber.html
the more famous & well-visited wats in LPB are concentrated in the central area, within walking distance. these are what most consider the top two must-sees for the art & architecture:
1. Wat Xieng Thong (most would say that if you only visit one, this should be it)
2. Wat Mai
i visited many more & some repeatedly over a few trips cos i have a particular interest in Buddhist/Tai/Lao art & architecture, but for most people, just a few of the 30+ should be enough, so that each of the few will stand out as highlights in your trip, rather than your day becoming a weary blur of wat-after-wat-after-wat...to me, LPB is also about exploring the little alleys & quieter side streets between the many wats, the markets, the other side of the two rivers, etc.
have a look at the maps on hobomaps.com - there's more to LPB than just the central tourist area (maps there might give you ideas for your LNT & MS plans too).