I was totally looking forward to go trekking at remote countrysides of Laos. Visiting the riverside villages of Northern Laos seemed like a perfect fit. I traveled to Nong Khiaw from Luang Prabang by bus and got on a scenic boat ride along the Nam Ou river to off-beat Muang Ngoi Neua.

I stayed the three days in Muang Ngoi Neua, wandering around peaceful rice fields surrounded by picturesque limestone formations and then spent another night in Nong Khiaw just to see a bit of the town.

The boat ride from Nong Khiaw to Muang Ngoi Neua alone was worth the trip! I totally dug the local feel and the majestic riverine views. The weather was cloudy the entire time I was there, which made the trip less photographically rewarding but it also provided a captivating off-beat vibe throughout my journey.

This part of Laos is famous for steep forest-covered limestone cliffs jutting out from its winding river system. There were trekking and waterfalls tours offered but it was low season at the time, so I didn’t think there would be a high chance I could just join one. Instead, I followed the trails leading out of the main village and walked my way to farming communities just a few kilometers away.

Itinerary Rundown

  • Luang Prabang
Day 1
  • Muang Ngoi Neua
  • Luang Prabang to Nong Khiaw
  • Nong Khiaw to Muang Ngoi Neua
  • Muang Ngoi Neua Hostel Search
  • Phanoi Cave and Viewpoint
Day 2
  • Muang Ngoi Neua
  • Muang Ngoi Neua Walk
Day 3
  • Nong Khiaw
  • Muang Ngoi Neua to Nong Khiaw
  • Nong Khiaw Hostel Search
  • Nong Khiaw Walk
Day 4
  • Nong Khiaw
  •  Nong Khiaw to Luang Prabang
  • Vang Vieng
  • Laos from North to South
  • Indochina

Trip Date — September 2012

Itinerary Notes & Tips

Day 1

Luang Prabang to Nong Khiaw

  • 8:00am – Ride jumbo (pick-up truck) from Luang Prabang city center to the north-bound bus station – K20,000
  • 8:20am – Buy bus ticket to Nong Khiaw – K40,000
  • Ride bus from Luang Prabang to Nong Khiaw (5 hours)
    • 8:30am – Departure from Luang Prabang
    • Bus trip was delayed for around 30 minutes because of ongoing road repair caused by a landslide along the highway.
  • 1:30pm – Arrival at Nong Khiaw bus station
  • Ride tuktuk from bus station to ferry landing – K5,000
  • Discovered the last boat trip to Muang Ngoi Neaua leaves at 2:00pm
  • Buy ferry ticket to Muang Ngoi Neua – K25,000
  • Walk to the working only ATM in town to make a withdrawal
  • Late lunch at restaurant beside the ferry landing
    • Grilled chicken with sticky rice – K25,000

Nong Khiaw to Muang Ngoi Neua

  • Ride ferry from Muang Ngoi Neua to Nong Khiaw
    • 2:45pm – Departure from Nong Khiaw
  • 4:00pm – Arrival at Muang Ngoi Neua

Arrival and hostel search

  • 4:00pm – Arrival at Muang Ngoi Neua ferry landing
    • Yali from Alonhe Guest House greeted me at the top of the steps and offered to let me see their guest house nearby.
  • Check-in at Alonhe Guest House
    • Fan bungalow with double bed and private TB – K30,000 per night
    • Beautiful view of the Nam Ou river and surrounding mountains from the balcony right outside my room. Cheapest hostel I stayed in Laos so far. Rooms at Alonhe Guest House was definitely great value for money. Yali, one of the super friendly staff made my entire stay highly enjoyable. Yali and her family also served delicious meals at Skybar restaurant.

Hike to Phanoi Cave and Viewpoint

  • 4:30pm – Started the trek
    • Got off track a few times
  • 5:45pm – Reached the viewpoint
  • 6:30pm – Went down from the viewpoint
  • Dinner at skybar – K35,000
    • Chicken steak, steamed rice, watermelon shake
    • Bang for buck with the plateful chicken steak

Day 2

Laos Countryside Solo Trek: around Muang Ngoi Neua

  • Eat at Skybar
    • Omelette with sticky rice – K15,000
  • Start trekking northwards to Ban Na village
    • Pay Tham Kang Cave and Farming villages admission fee = K10,000
    • Nothing much to see at Tham Kang Cave
    • The wooden bridge and rice fields near the cave mouth was one of the most beautiful parts of the trek
    • Didn’t get to reach Ban Na village because I didn’t know the way and it was already getting dark. The trek nevertheless was a worthwhile experience because of the views and the enchanting off-beat vibe of Muang Ngoi
  • Eat at Skybar
    • Eggplant, omelette, sticky rice – K25,000
  • Grocery run at local store – K20,000

Day 3

Muang Ngoi to Nong Khiaw

  • 8:00am – Buy ticket to Nong Khiaw – K25,000; Walk to ferry landing
  • Ride Muang Ngoi to Nong Khiaw ferry
    • 8:30am – Departure from Muang Ngoi
  • 9:30am – Arrival at Nong Khiaw
  • Walk to other side of bridge

Nong Khiaw Hostel Search

  • Check-in at Bamboo Guesthouse
    • Bungalow with private bathroom – K30,000
  • Brunch at Alex restaurant
    • Mushroom ear with pork – K20,000; Steam rice – K5,000; Lao coffee – K6,000
    • Totally recommendable! The food tasted great and the staff were super nice.

Nong Khiaw Trek

  • Trek to dirt trail past riverside resort
    • Rained heavily
  • Grocery run at local store
    • 500ml bottled h20 – 4,000kip
    • Iced tea + milk – 12,000kip
  • Dinner at CT restraunt
    • Chicken Lap – 40,000kip
      • Really salty and expensive. I did not enjoy the meal. The only good thing about this restaurant was the great view, which I also didn’t get to enjoy since it was raining.
    • Rice – 5,000

Day 4

  • 8:30am – Breakfast at Alex Restaurant – 26,000kip
    • Farmer’s breakfast – 20,000kip
      • Omelette, Cabbage (seamed), Eggplant dip, Sticky rice
    • Lao Coffee – 6,000kip

Nong Khiaw to Luang Prabang

  • Walk to bus terminal
    • Took me around an hour’s walk. Did not realize it would be such a long and tiring.
  • 10:30am arrive at bus terminal
    • 10:00am already left (last bus on the schedule).
    • Fortunately, there was an 11am songthaew headed to Luang Prabang.
  • Ride Nong Khiaw to Kuang Prabang songthaew – 40,000kip
    • 11:00am – Departure from Nong Khiaw
    • 3:00pm – Arrival at Luang Prabang North Bus terminal