Muang La

Muang La

A great spot

Only 28 kilometres north of bustling Udomxai, Muang La is a picturesque town nestled beside the Nam Pak River, a settlement of tranquil farmland and Khmu villages wrapped by rolling mountains. Once an off-the-grid spot, it has gracefully made a name for itself, no doubt helped by the opening of a luxury lodge.

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Muang La’s main attraction is the natural hot springs. Picture yourself soaking sore muscles in piping hot water while taking in the river scenery. The experience is tonic for both the body and soul—and it’s free. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Quite lovely. : Cindy Fan.
Quite lovely. Photo: Cindy Fan

Aside from the hot springs, there’s not much to do—and that’s the charm. Head up the road, cross the bridge to the other side of the Nam Pak and stroll through the Khmu village for gentle pastoral scenes and glimpses of daily life. Return via the endearing 10,000 kip-a-ride bamboo “ferry” built by an enterprising local.

Visit Wat Pha Singkham, a pilgrimage site home to a sacred 400-year-old Buddha, one of the most important in Laos. Ask a local restaurant to catch and prepare fresh fish from the river. Otherwise, content yourself with rest, relaxation and taking it all in.

Simple pleasures. : Cindy Fan.
Simple pleasures. Photo: Cindy Fan

The challenge with lingering in Muang La is the lack of desirable cheap accommodation and food. Hotel Lhakham, the once recommendable riverside budget hotel, was closed in 2017 due to flood damage. If pricey Muang La Lodge is out of reach (they wouldn’t even let us in the front door to pick up a brochure!), there’s only a couple of basic guesthouses. The restaurant at Muang La Lodge is not open to outside guests, so food is limited to some mediocre shops doing noodle soup ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 500 words.)

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