Photo: Local fabric, Muang Sing.


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The small town and district of Muang Sing sits nestled in a wide-open valley ringed by a fortress of green hills and mountains, just 58 kilometres northwest of Luang Nam Tha. It has all the makings of a star destination: gorgeous scenery, relaxed atmosphere and an astonishing number of ethnic minority villages living side by side.

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Within 10 kilometres of the town centre live nine distinct groups: Akha, Tai Lue, Tai Neua, Lolo, Hmong, Tai Dam, Khmu, Phou Noi and Yao. Men and women in traditional dress are a common and brilliant sight and this high concentration of minority groups is almost unparalleled in not only Laos, but all of Southeast Asia.

Oh so pretty. Photo taken in or around Muang Sing, Laos by Cindy Fan.

Oh so pretty. Photo: Cindy Fan

Six years ago a German development NGO primed Muang Sing for tourism success. The tourist office was well set up, tourist maps and brochures printed, good community-based trekking itineraries and village homestays created. But the NGO left and the boom never came. Over the years the tourist numbers have steadily declined and now it has all but dried up. People are just not coming and we’re baffled as to why. It’s only a two-hour stunning scenic drive from Luang Nam Tha, a route that follows along the Nam Tha River valley through the Nam Ha National Protected Area. If you’re looking for challenging trekking and real cultural experiences in Laos, this is the place.

The town itself is relatively attractive, a tidy grid of dirt roads that you can easily wander by foot. Some Tai Lue-style wooden buildings remain and the whole place feels reminiscent of a bygone era. The surrounding area is unwaveringly flat, making it an ideal place to explore by bicycle. It’s as easy as hiring one in town, buying a map at the Tourism Information Office and striking out to see the villages and peaceful pastoral scenery. Of the small number of people who do make the journey to Muang Sing, most come between November to February. But rainy season reveals Muang Sing’s true beauty: Rice paddies cover the entire valley and it’s one of the most beautiful landscapes we have ... Travelfish members only (Around 900 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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