Luang Namtha Province is located in the northwest corner of Laos. Bordering China to the north and Myanmar to the northwest, the region is best known as a stopover station for backpackers.
Luang Namtha is also the name of the pleasant but compact provincial capital city. While worth a visit in itself, the surrounding area offers a wide nature reserve, resplendent stupa, and tranquil countryside. If you are looking for a largely undiscovered but impressive place to travel, consider Luang Namtha as your destination.
The Best Time to Visit Luang Namtha
The best time to visit Luang Namtha is from November to February, when the temperatures and rainfall are moderate and make outdoor activities easier to pursue.
March and April are the hottest months in the region. The cutting and burning of plants in some villages may increase air pollution during this time.
June to October marks the rainy season. However, the rainfall in northern Laos is much less than in the south. It can be a good option to travel during this time, when there are less visitors, and travelers can benefit from off-peak prices.
How to Get to Luang Namtha
From Vientiane, Laos
Luang Namtha Airport (LXG) has an airline connecting Vientiane, the capital of Laos. The flight time is about 1 hour. On exiting the airport, you will find tuk-tuks available to drive you into the city.
Border-crossing buses to Luang Namtha depart daily from Jinghong, Yunnan Province at 10.40 AM. The journey takes about 7 hours.
The bus leaves from the north bus station and goes through the south bus station. You can book your ticket and board at the same station. Remember to book 1 or 2 days in advance as the tickets sell out quickly during peak season.
The journey includes a comfort stop in the city of Mengla, where you are encouraged to exchange your currency (RMB or USD) into the Lao kip.
The 5 Best Things to Do in Luang Namtha
1. Trekking in Nam Ha National Protected Area
Nam Ha National Protected Area spans over 2,200 square kilometers. The bushy piedmont forest is home to clouded leopards, tigers, elephants, wild buffalo, and over 280 species of wild birds.
Nam Ha trekking is the reason why many travelers visit Luang Namtha. You can go trekking, rafting, cycling, and kayaking in the area. Some trekking routes take in local tribal villages where you have the option to stay and rest for a night.
Ecotourism is practiced. There are about 10 travel agencies along the main street of Luang Namtha city, each of them offering different routes to provide authentic experiences with a minimal effect on the environment.
It is worth visiting several travel agencies to compare their routes, prices, and services. Most of them provide English-speaking guides and basic equipment, such as tents and sleeping bags. Although we would expect all equipment provided to be in working order, please note that some of it may appear well used. If this is likely to bother you, it is best you bring your own.
Generally, the treks booked via local travel agencies will consist of groups of 6 to 8 people, with prices varying between 25,000 and 35,000 kip (about 25 to 35 USD) per person per day. In the peak season, you can easily team up with other travelers to cut the cost and make new friends during the journey.
2. Admire the Golden Stupa
Buddhist architecture can be found in every city of Laos, and Luang Namtha is no exception. One of the most gorgeous sites is the Golden Stupa, located on a hill northwest of the city.
Seen from afar, the stupa emits a dazzling golden shine. The site is also a great place to view the whole city from up high.
3. Shop and Eat in the Morning and Night Market
Luang Namtha’s bustling markets provide the best window onto the world of the local Lao people.
You can start your day with a bowl of noodles from the morning market, then browse the stalls for interesting souvenirs. Coffee beans, tea leaves, handmade textiles, and ethnic clothing are your best buys.
When night falls, the sounds and smells from the night market will draw you in. There you can sample food from Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, and China. You can also find some Western restaurants there.
For the intrepid travelers among you, sample the local cuisine: animal giblets, pigs head, bile soup, and even insects.
A walk around the city after dark is bound to reap a bounty of pubs and bars, if you’re looking for somewhere to drink. However, nightlife in Luang Namtha is not particularly active as many shops and restaurants close around 11 PM.
4. Visit Luang Namtha Museum
This museum has a rich collection of exhibits on local history and culture. There you can see samples of ethnic clothing, folk instruments, ceramic tableware, and series of Buddha statues. There is also a permanent exhibition on Laos’s history and revolution.
5. Ride a Motorbike to the Countryside
For about 10,000 kip (about 1 USD) a day you can rent a motorbike and head out to the countryside. The ethnic villages nestled in the idyllic scenery are worth a visit.
In Ban Nam Di Village, the women still dress in traditional dark blue tunics with purple ribbons. You may also get to see the local papermaking technology using bamboo fiber in action.
Visit Luang Namtha with Us
We can manage your tour to Luang Namtha, the rest of Laos, or even the whole of Asia. Depending on your requirements, we can help you to book transport, hotels, and treks or tours. The only thing for you to do is enjoy your journey.