Published/Last edited or updated: 2nd June, 2018
Udomxai’s forte is its pastoral beauty rather than wilderness and hill tribes in traditional dress—if looking for that, head to Phongsali to the north. As an economic link between China, Vietnam and Thailand, Udomxai continues to develop and grow. However, try to reach places like Chom Ong cave and you’ll quickly realise how rudimentary and remote villages are just because they are off the main road.
As of 2018, the only Udomxai based company offering trekking is the Provincial Tourism Office (open Mo–Fr 08:00–11:30 & 13:30–16:30) on the main street directly across from the market. The walls display tour information, photos, bus and boat schedules and suggested things to do. A free photocopied map is also available.
Dusty pamphlets outline what can be found in each district: wats, waterfalls, caves, ethnic groups, shopping and temples. The staff speak English and can explain the treks: 1-day to 3-day programs to Muang La, Chom Ong Cave, waterfalls and rural villages including some that specialise in traditional handicraft.
The programs have not changed in many years and it can be prohibitively expensive. The price depends on the group size and since few travellers stop into explore Udomxai, it’s highly unlikely that you will find others to join. Sample itinerary: a 3-day, 2-night trek to Ban Tanongpor and Ban Phavie, two Khmu villages in Muang La district, costs 1,310,000 kip per person, based on two people. Treks include transport, guide, food and water.
Once “just” a waterfall, Nam Kat is now part of an eco-tourism experience where nature has been packaged up with different ways to reach the falls. The standard is to take a transfer to the trailhead and get there with a kilometre walk featuring 13 bridges in the forest canopy. The trek option means walking through the jungle for six kilometres with a guide. There’s no need to prebook but you have to arrive to set out before 12:00 as it takes six hours. It’s US$30 for one person, US$20 per person based on two, US$15 per person with group of three.
Cindy Fan is a Canadian writer/photographer and author of So Many Miles, a website that chronicles the love of adventure, food and culture. After falling in love with sticky rice and Mekong sunsets, in 2011 she uprooted her life in Toronto to live la vida Laos. She’s travelled to over 40 countries and harbours a deep affection for Africa and Southeast Asia. In between jaunts around the world, she calls Laos and Vietnam home where you’ll find her traipsing through rice paddies, standing beside broken-down buses and in villages laughing with the locals.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.