Muang Ngoi Neua is a small riverside village in Northern Laos with permanent electricity as of april 2013. Prior to 2013, Muang ngoi had no road access. In the last few years it has become part of the Banana Pancake Trail with rapid construction of tourist infrastructure in response to the increasing influx of visitors. Nevertheless, it remains a low-key destination in a stunning location. Interesting treks can also be done to tribal villages in the area.
There are 1-hour public boats from Nong Khiaw (daily 11:00 and 14:00, 25.000 kip) or Muang Khua (daily 08:30, 110.000 kip).
In April 2013 Muang Ngoi got a small road. If you have your own vehicle you can reach Muang Ngoi by road but as the trip takes 2.5 hours from Muang Ngoi, the boats are the obvious choice for transporting people. It is rumored that a more direct road to Muang Ngoi may complete construction in 2015 thus reducing driving time.
See & Do
Traditional Herbal Sauna - at the end of the main walk last street to the right. Free tea, hot shower included, 15,000 kip run buy a Lao woman and her Swedish husband. Open in beginning of Dry season.
Nam Ou Beach - At the end of the dry season when water is low, take a cool splash in the Nam Ou or sip from a cocktail on a bamboo stretcher
Phetdavanh Book Exchange - Change your old books for new ones at this 2 for 1 book exchange with more than 300 titles.
Tham Kang cave and Tham Pha Kaew cave - east of town, about 40 minutes by foot and can be found without a guide. Follow the dirt/gravel road from the main pier and continue as it intersects the town's main road and exits the town. Continue until you reach the Tham Kang cave, which is situated on the left side of the road. These caves used to be a bomb shelter during the Vietnam War era. Just before the cave there is an entrance fee of 10,000 kip to access the caves and villages.
Visit surrounding villages, Bana, Huay Bo, and Huay Sen. To Bana, walk ~30min past Tham Kang cave on the same dirt road. The village is clearly visible from the road and will be on your right side. To reach Huay Bo, you have two options; first, you can walk through the Bana village and find the dirt motorbike path on the southern end that exits the village (the easiest way to find it is either ask villagers or circumnavigate the town counterclockwise until you find it), crosses a shallow stream, and leads to Huay Bo. The total time to ride a bicycle to Huay Bo from Muang Ngoi is around 1 hour. A second route is described below in the description for Konesavanh Guesthouse that is more suited for people travelling on foot. There are guest houses in all 3 villages, costing 5,000kip to 20,000kip for a bungalow.
Live the rural life: hunt with ancient rifles, fish with a fishing net, create fire by burning a plastic bottle, cook, and eat. The owner of Konesavanh will take people, whether you stay at the his guest house or not. At one point he was annexing his guest house, letting people help him with construction, and inviting people to help plant and harvest rice during the appropriate seasons.
Riverbeach Restaurant - Located on balcony overlooking the beach and nam ou river, close to the temple. Serves great food and western cocktails.
Ning Ning Restaurant - Left of the Boatlanding stairs take the path passing the boat office. Big open-air terrace overlooking the Nam Ou, best view in town. Open all year.
Lattanavongsa Restaurant - Immediately left of the Boatlanding. Solid and clean. Boasts big wooden balcony and marble table seats on the grass. Open all year.
Aloune Mai - Located halfway through the mainstreet on the right hand. Good Lao food and cold beer Lao.
Vita Restaurant - Located after Aloune Mai on the right hand off the mainstreet, tucked away close to the river. Balcony overlooking the Nam Ou.
Be carefull with the buffets. Some restaurants reheat the leftovers.
Riverbeach Bar Located over the riverbeach on the right side of the boatlanding. Beutiful terasses with bambu furniture and on the beach there is a daily campfire in the evening.
Sky Bar - Located in the middle of the town. Open in Dry Season (December - March)
Cave View Restaurant, (Across bamboo bridge from Tham Khan cave). Very quaint setting on the river/stream. Food and bevs, petang square, friendly and fun owners. Owner also has high-quality scarves at reasonable prices that she makes herself on site! Great place. Open when there are customers - definitely in high season Nov to Feb. Just pop in if you are at the cave anyway!
River view Bungalows +856(0)20 22148777 - Bungalows with balconies overlooking the nam ou river, Located half way down the main road with big wood sign. Each balcony comes with 2 comfy hammocks, table and chair. Rooms include big ensuite bathroom, 24h hot shower, fan and comfy bed. Prices(80.000 - 100.000) kip.
Cheap Cheap Room - If you are after a very cheap room then ask some of the people running the restaurants, even if they don't have signs saying 'guesthouse' etc. It is possible to get double rooms for as little as 20,000 kip per night that way.
Phetdavanh Guesthouse & Bungalows - Newly built bungalows with private bathroom to the far left of the boat dock with comfy beds and superb view over the river. 50.000 kip off high-season. Offers 24 hour electricity generated from a nearby waterfall and has a big book collection in the Guesthouse on the main street.
Ning Ning Bungalows - Clean wooden bungalows with garden. Not very good views of the surrounding trees and many roosters that are quite noisy during the early morning. There exist wooden bungalows that are smaller, a little less well constructed, but with the same amenities and beautiful river view, such as Aloune and Saylom. It's recommended to 50,000kip in low season.
Lattanavongsa I & II - Located immediately upon entering the town from the pier. Hardwood bungalows with bathroom inside, nice garden and good restaurant. on the main street as well as close to the river. 100.000 kip + a night. 30,000 kip in low season.
Aloune Mai - Located halfway down the main street (travelling away from the pier), on the right hand. Simple wooden bungalows with hammock and a nice river view. Comparable to Saylom Bungalows but slightly more shoddy and no hot showers. At least one bathroom was in disrepair, so please check the bathroom facilities before agreeing to stay. 30,000 kip in low season.
Saylom Bungalows - Right of the boatlanding, nice wooden bungalows with hammock and a beautiful river view. Hot showers. Slightly more well constructed than Aloune. Lao owner speaks French. 50.000 kip a night. 30,000 kip in low season.
Rainbow Guesthouse - Recently built 3-story concrete building, easily visible from the river, tallest building in town. Basic rooms with fan but no mosquito net. 50.000 kip a night.
Riverside Bungalows - Perched left of Rainbow guesthouse, Riverside offers wooden bungalows and a hammock balcony overlooking the Nam Ou. *Warning* recent reports concerning theft and sexual harassment by the owners.
Niksa's Bungalows - Halfway down main road, on the right, Niksa's has riverside bungalows with attached bathroom, and two hammocks for each bungalow. Friendly staff. Seems to be one of the best budget options. 30,000 kip low season (June 2012).
Khonesavanh (856) 030-9235-830 - in Huay Bo village, about 1.5~2hr walk from the pier. If you have a bicycle, please take the main road by following the directions in the Huay Bo section description. The following are directions for people travelling by foot, which allows for a shortcut. Follow the new gravel road until the signs take you to the small path on the right. Cross the creek, walk through some rice paddies, wait until the sign takes you to the right, wade across the small river (no bridge), walk another 20 minutes. You can also try and call the owner to pick you up by motorbike. 10,000 kip for a small room and a mattress on the floor. The owner is quite smart and will take people out (or arrange) for hunting (50,000), fishing, construction, walking tours, and whatever else he can think of.</sleep>
A torch is almost essential if you plan to be out after the electricity cuts out around 9pm.
Take the public boat to Nong Kiau (every day 9.30am 25.000 kip) or charter a boat to Muang Khua or Luang Prabang. It is also possible to make a one day trek or kayak back to Nong Kiau.
Although there is a sign at the boat office in Muang Ngoi indicating that there is no scheduled boat to Muang Khua, and the local boat operators in Muang Ngoi will insist that there is no scheduled boat going north to Muang Khua. This is actually a lie (presumably to encourage unnecessary charters). As of February 2013 there is a boat leaving Nong Khiaw at 11:00 daily that stops in Muang Ngoi at 12:00 daily, continuing to Muang Khua. Actual departure times seem to be ~30 minutes late on an average day. The fare is 110,000 kip from Muang Ngoi (or Hod Sa Pheuy) to Muang Khua.
Update - March 2014* There is now a board in the little hut where you can buy the boat tickets (near Lattanavongsa restaurant) where you can write down your name for the day you wish to travel to Muang Khua. On the day itself, come to the hut at 8:00AM and as soon as there are 10 people, you can buy your ticket (100,000 kips; 6 hours upstream).