- Encounters with locals
- Hiking / Trekking
- Off the beaten track
Arriving from Thailand via Houeisai, Luang Nam Tha was the first town I crossed during my trip to Laos. Don't make the same mistake a me - stay for a while, don't just stop to withdraw some cash. Although I just passed through on my first visit, I had a fun day when I returned from my trip to the northern mountains.
At first sight you may think there's nothing to do in this little town, whereas there are, in fact, numerous walks and trails in the area. At the town's market, the sellers were friendly and welcoming. And you can eat there too! The local soup's called 'pho' and it's served with sticky rice; simply delcious. To end my day I played petanque (or boules to us Brits) at the police station with the local bobbies.
It was an excellent way to feel at home! When it's time to leave Luang Nam Tha, depending on which direction you're heading, you can fly, catch a bus or hop on a boat.
The great thing about Luang Namtha is its nightlife... Apart from some pleasant walks along side streets that lead to the river, there's not much else to do during the day! You'll need to rent a moped if you want to get out and about...
When night falls the town springs to life with Luang Namtha's nighttime market, where a small square is filled with tables, chairs and foodstalls. The menu is impressive - kebabs, rice, fried noodles... You'll also be approached by 'grannies' selling crafts such as bracelets, hats, necklaces and - be forewarned!- drugs including weed and opium! There are also big Laotian restaurants where you can enjoy a karaoke session and get your fill from a Laotian style BBQ.
The upside? The town remains traditional, despite the influx of tourists. There are also some easily accessible long mountain hikes.
The downside? Not a lot to do in town - best hire a vehicle and explore the surroundings. The bus station is quite far from the town, so hop on a tuk-tuk!