As you turn off the road, you will see a small stupa and a dirt path down to the Nam Long.
Head there in the late afternoon and you’ll probably be joined by locals washing their clothes and bathing in the river.
In the dry season, the river is not deep and easy to wade across. As the rains fall the river gets deeper and swifter, and crossing is less safe but still doable. Locals who live on the other side use a small boat stored in the bushes, or wade chest deep to get across. There is no bridge.
If you do venture to the other side, you'll find a small settlement and some crop fields. And closer to the base of the cliffs, you'll reach the Nam Ma.
If you're looking for a thrill, join the local children for a swim in the rapids of the Nam Long. Use your judgement about safety but the river tends to be shallow and the fast flowing section only runs for a couple of hundred metres. On our trips here we have seen locals floating downstream on inner tubes a la Vang Vieng and it may well be possible to ask someone further up stream if they can lend you one.
By Cindy Fan.