Nong Khiaw Travel Guide

A Complete Guide To Nong Khiaw, Laos

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A charming village nestled among the mountains on one side and the gushing waters of the Nam Ou river is the Nong Khiaw village. It is located in the province of Luang Prabang, about 140 km from Luang Prabang. You cannot afford to miss Nong Khiaw on your trip to Laos. It is indescribably beautiful. And this is your one-stop guide to get the most out of what might be one of the prettiest places we have ever seen. It includes information about Nong Khiaw, how to reach the village, activities, places to visit in Nong Khiaw, network connections, and so much more.

Nong Khiaw Travel Guide

How to Reach Nong Khiaw?

By Road From Luang Prabang

A paved road connects Luang Prabang and Nong Khiaw but be prepared for a bumpy ride due to potholes, which increase the risk of flat tires.

Minivan rides from Luang Prabang’s Northern Bus terminal, situated outside the city, cost a three-hour journey of 90,000 KIP (approximately 4.5 USD). Departure times are fixed at 9 AM and 11 AM. Alternatively, you can book a minivan for 110,000 KIP through various agencies or hostels offering pickup services.

By Ferry From Muang Ngoy

How to reach Muang Ngoi

From Muang Ngoy, public boats to Nong Khiaw depart punctually at 9 AM, so be prepared at least 15 minutes before departure. Don’t worry if seats fill up quickly. Additional boats are arranged if needed.

The fare for a one-way trip is 70,000 Kip (about 3.5 USD). Tickets can be purchased directly at the pier on the same day. Private boats are available for hire anytime, and kayaking from Muang Ngoy to Nong Khiaw is also an option.

Luggage is loaded at both the front and back of the boat. While only 8 seats are cushioned, others sit on either side at the back. Many boats may not have life jackets, so it’s wise to carry water and snacks, especially if traveling with children. Also, be prepared for the loud noise of the engine.

Best Time To Visit Nong Khiaw

While Nong Khiaw welcomes visitors year-round, the optimal time for hiking is during the post-monsoon period from October to February when the weather is most enjoyable. March, April, and May tend to be hot and dry, with misty conditions due to crop burning. The rainy season typically begins in June and lasts until September.

Where to Stay?

 

During our stay, we lodged at Ou River House, a charming property situated right by the riverside, as the name implies. Accommodations tend to be pricier compared to other options in Laos. To secure your booking, it’s advisable to check both booking.com and Hostel World well in advance. If you’re seeking budget-friendly bunk beds, Dilalahs is your best bet, although they only accept walk-ins, and beds tend to fill up quickly. Here are a few more lodging recommendations in Nong Khiaw.

While in Nong Khiaw, we suggest spending at least a couple of nights in the area and camping for an additional night at one of the nearby peaks or viewpoints. Group camping tours are available through various tour agencies in Nong Khiaw for just 20 USD, covering guide fees, entry fees, water, dinner, and breakfast – a great value considering accommodation prices in the area.

Where to Eat?

Plenty of restaurants line both sides of the main road in Nong Khiaw village. Whether you’re craving French bread, Indian cuisine, Italian dishes, Thai delicacies, or traditional Lao fare, a diverse array of dining options are available to satisfy your taste buds.

ATM Availability 

In the village, you’ll find two BECL ATMs conveniently located, one closer to the bridge and the other near the BECL bank. If you’re visiting over the weekend, we suggest withdrawing cash beforehand, as the ATMs tend to run out quickly.

Petrol Bunks/ Gas Station

The village has at least two gas stations and vehicle repair shops, so you can rest assured about fuel and handling any potential flat tires.

Network Availability 

You’ll generally find a medium to good signal throughout Nong Khiaw village. However, the signal may be intermittent while hiking. To ensure you have access to maps during your hike, we suggest downloading offline maps from OSMAND and maps.me beforehand.

Getting Around Nong Khiaw

Nong Khiaw is a pretty small village. Most sightseeing spots are within walking distance. You can rent bicycles and two-wheelers from 4 Sisters Motorbike Rental if you need transportation.

Best Places to Visit in Nong Khiaw

1. Nong Khiaw Morning Market

Nong Khiaw morning market

Situated beneath the shops, you’ll find the morning market offering a variety of items such as sweets, local drinks, meat, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Additionally, they sell noodles, fried rice, and Banh Mi sandwiches at lower prices than those in the village center. The market begins to close gradually after 10 AM.

2. The Best Hikes

Sunset at Phadeng Viewpoint

Nong Khiaw is a hiker’s paradise surrounded by mountains on all sides. While we were there, we went on several hikes. We have listed all the hiking trails in Nong Khiaw with more information, including the altitude, entry fee, difficulty level, camping information, and so much more. So make sure to check the blog for detailed guides.

3. Caves in Nong Khiaw

Nong Khiaw boasts several caves, including the New Nong Khiaw Cave, Pha Kuang Cave, Pha Thok Cave, and Ban Man Da Cave. Each cave has its entry fee, and bringing your torch is recommended, as mobile phone torches may not suffice. Generally small in size, these caves can be explored in 30 minutes to an hour each.

New Nong Khiaw Cave

We explored New Nong Khiaw Cave during our visit, but we found it underwhelming considering the entry fee. This could be because we’ve already visited several caves during our backpacking trip across Southeast Asia.

4. Kayaking

Kayaing in Muang Ngoi and Nong Khiaw

Kayaking along the Nam Ou River is a popular and relaxing activity in Nong Khiaw. You can rent a kayak by the hour or for the whole day, either going solo or joining a sunset kayak tour organized by a local agency. Keep your belongings safe with a waterproof bag and wear a life jacket and sun protection. With the stunning mountain backdrop, kayaking offers scenic views and is a must-do activity. You can also enjoy sunbathing or swimming in the Nam Ou River.

5. Watch Sunrise/ Sunset

Nong Khiaw Bridge and Nam Ou River

With mountains surrounding the area, Nong Khiaw’s sunrises and sunsets are breathtaking. The ideal spots to catch these natural spectacles are from the Nong Khiaw Bridge or various viewpoints scattered throughout the mountains. During these magical hours, you can observe locals beginning their day, fishing in the river, and going about their daily routines.

Riverside restaurants along the Nam Ou River offer the perfect setting to enjoy the sunset while eating delicious food. RT Restaurant is just one of the many options.

6. Go on a Group Village Tour

Visiting the remote villages from Muang Ngoi

Tour agencies offer 1-day, 2-day, and 3-day group tours to surrounding villages packed with various activities. Led by an English-speaking guide, these excursions include experiences such as handicrafts, kayaking, motorboat rides on the Nam Ou River, strolling through rice fields, exploring waterfalls, and trekking in the jungle.

The tour package typically covers meals, transportation, accommodation, and an itinerary. Prices decrease with larger group sizes; for example, the cost is $100 USD for a single person, $60 USD for 3-5 people, and $50 USD for 6-10 people. Below is a glimpse of the village tour itinerary commonly included in popular one or two-day trips.

1 Day tour

  • Option #1: Sopjam weaving village + Muang Ngoy village
  • Option #2: Visiting the 100 Waterfall
  • Option #3: A day trip to Muang Ngoy + Tad Mook waterfalls + kayaking + cave exploration

2 Day Tour

  • Option #1: Naluang village to see the 70% Khmu tribe and 30% Hmong tribe. Phayong village, where the Hmong tribe lives with 55 families, and Sob Kong village, a Khmu farming village
  • Option #2: Viengkham village, Naluang village, Ban Huayhoi village, Muang Ngoy, Sob Kong village, and Tad Mook waterfalls
  • Option #3: Ban Naluang village, Ban Pak Bak, Ban Naluang, and Muang Ngoy

7. Tad Mook Waterfall & 100 Waterfall

Tad Mook waterfall, situated in Sop Kong village between Nong Khiaw (17 km away) and Muang Ngoy (10 km away), is accessible via a dirt road or boating along the Nam Ou River. Known as the 100 Waterfall, it comprises cascades that are reachable only by boat and a short, easy hike. You can opt for full-day tours organized by local operators or hire a boat to explore independently. Directional signs are placed along the route for guidance. Water flow is lower during the dry season, but visitors can still enjoy swimming in the pool at the waterfall’s base.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

8. Sabai Sabai Massage

Thai Massage - bucket list experience in Thailand

The Sabai Sabai Massage Center is renowned for its herbal sauna, offering a rejuvenating experience after hiking. The sauna uses water boiled with herbs, delivered into the room through a bamboo pipe. This immersive treatment helps to clear the mind, relax the body, and cleanse the skin. Guests can also enjoy lemongrass and ginger tea during the session.

In addition to the herbal sauna, the center offers various massage options, including Lao traditional massage, full-body oil massage, foot massage, and back, shoulder, and head massages. Guests can choose the type of massage based on their preferences and needs.

9. Visit Muang Ngoy

Muang Ngoi travel guide, Laos

Muang Ngoy, accessible from Nong Khiaw by dirt road or motorboat, is a village worth exploring for at least a couple of days. Our dedicated Muang Ngoy travel guide details activities, transportation options, and more. If you have limited time, consider a day trip or joining an organized group tour.

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