* [[Sam Neua]] - 1 a day (11:30am), takes 10-11 hours, 130,000 Kip.
* [[Sam Neua]] - 1 a day (11:30am), takes 10-11 hours, 130,000 Kip.
'''* Private Minivan''' service available by a local named Mong, who speaks English well. Ask any of the expats or restaurant owners and they can give you his phone number. A trip to Luang Namtha was 160,000 Kip each person and took about 6-7 hours. Prices negotiable. It seemed that he would be willing to drive just about anywhere.
'''Private Minivan''' service available by a local named Mong, who speaks English well. Ask any of the expats or restaurant owners and they can give you his phone number. A trip to Luang Namtha was 160,000 Kip each person and took about 6-7 hours. Prices negotiable. It seemed that he would be willing to drive just about anywhere.
Revision as of 07:48, 16 November 2012
Nong Khiaw (Nong Kiau or Nong Kiew) is a rustic little town on the bank of the Ou River in Laos. It is squeezed in between some of the most fantastic limestone mountains to be found north of Vang Vieng.
Many travellers pass through on the way up river to the even more isolated Muang Ngoi, but Nong Khiaw has a plenty of charm, a decent range of accommodation, plus conveniences like 24 hour electricity and a connection to the road network for those interested in exploring the surrounding area.
Nong Khiaw is 3-4 hours via the road or 6-7 hours by boat from Luang Prabang along the Mekong and Ou River. Boat travel is by far the most spectacular but more costly.
Buses from Udomxay are scheduled 3 times daily (3-4 hours) to Nong Khiaw but may not run on time, or at all, during the low season (depending on passenger numbers). It is possible to negotiate a fare on either the Vang Vieng or Luang Prabang bound bus and disembark at Pak Mong (where the highway turns south). From here a tuk-tuk will take you the last hour or so to Nong Khiaw for around 30,000k per person.
Buses from Nong Khiaw:
The bus/minivan station in Nong Khiaw is on the edge of town on the western side of the river.
To Luang Prabang and Udomxay run daily at around 9 & 11. A.M. price 40.000 K. 4 hrs.+ -
To Luang Prabang by Minivan leaving at changing hours and costs 50.000 K. p.p.
To Luang Namtha you have to take the bus to Udomxay and than change the bus which gives you a quite late arrival in Luang Namtha. It cost 40.000 K. to Udomxay
To Muang Khua or Phongsali you need to go to Udomxay (11. A.M.) as well, change bus
To Vieng Thong and Sam Neua (near Viengxay and Vietnam border) the bus starts originally from Luang Prabang and you have to be on call around 12.30 +!
The buses run hardly ever on time. Buy your ticket in advance and leave your name! Private minivan to Luang Prabang can cost as low as 500.000 K. especially if drivers have empty returns (no stops unless you want it!)
Nong Khiaw is simple in layout and small enough to walk around. It's possible to rent a bike at the Riverside Bungalows and Delilah's to explore the 2 roads and surrounding area.
A large concrete road bridge connects Nong Khiaw on the western side of the river with the village of Ban Sop Houn on the eastern side of the river, where many of the river-view bungalows are found.
Since Tiger Trail has opened their tour office in Nong Khiaw there is suddenly something more to see. They will bring you out for various trips, hikes, river tours, bamboo raft workshop, village stay. A Must see is the newly discovered 100 waterfalls jungle hike which made it already into a TV-Show. It was discovered in 2008! Daily tours seem to run with min. 2 persons. It gets more affordable with 3-5 people joining. Some of the tours seem to be visible online. 
Pha Tok Caves, (about 2km outside town on the far side of the river from the boat landing and bus station). This cave set high in a limestone cliff sheltered villagers and Pathet Lao fighters during the Second Indochina war. The caves are accessed via steep concrete steps, and inside a few signs identify points where command posts were stationed. Entrance fees are collected at the bottom where you can also borrow a torch. The trail to the cave passes through many rice paddies and a small section of jungle. If you ask the people at the "ticket desk", you should be able to arrange a boat ride back to Nong Khiaw from a local. For 2 people in the very small canoe type longtail boats that can seat max 2 people plus driver the price was 50,000 kip. Our boat driver was 19 years old offered to take us 20 minutes up river to the next village, and then back to Nong Khiaw for 70,000 kip total.5000 kip.
Walk around the village enjoying the village feel with great views over the Nam Ou river.
Walk or bicycle on the dirt road behind the Riverside resort for some scenic views and nature.
Rated one of the best hikes in Laos is the is the "100 Waterfalls" trek operated by Tiger Trail and Fair trek initiative 
Some of thier treks go to the interactive culture lodge.
Go rock climbing or abseiling with Nong Kiau Climbing from Green Discovery's office. Kayaking, cycling and trekking also possible.
Rent a mountain bike and push eastwards to remote Khmu and Hmong villages.
Riverside Guest House rents mountain bikes for 50'000 and City bikes for 10'000.
Go for a herbal steam bath or massage at Sabai Sabai
The few small shops on the main street cater more for locals than tourists, and offer little more than basic necessities.
Money can be changed near the boat landing - Youth travel agency or over the Bridge at Riverside Guest House. Riverside can also offer cash advances on credit cards.
New Bank in Nong Khiaw. On March 16, 2012 a new bank opened on the main street in Nong Khiaw. Good exchange rates. Traveller's cheques accepted. And as of 2pm that day, an ATM was operational in front of the bank. There is also a BCEL ATM by the east end of the bridge, near the Riverside resort turnoff. An easy way to Cash-up before going to Muang Ngoi, or even hop back from there for more moolah!
CT Bakery, (next to the bridge on the opposite side of the river from the bus station and boat landing). offers fine views from its riverside terrace and WiFi access. Lao coffee here is particularly good.
Delilah's, (on the main street just before the bridge). Offers a selection of everything home made including ice cream, bread, soups and salads. No MSG or additives used. Laos western fusion cuisine with a creative twist. Free WiFi access for customers. May 2012: closed up with dust...
Deen restaurant, (100m after the bridge on the right), ☎ (856-20)22148895. Indian- lao , very good food, and WiFi access.
Mackana, (across from Deen Restaurant). Has both Lao and Western food, including a whole page of German breakfasts (which the menu says they learned from a German friend). Nice sandwiches, but be careful if ordering "tofu" that you actually get tofu and not meat. Also, with the advertised cappuccino containing an expresso shot with fresh local milk - while it does have nice froth, is actually a packet mix.
Nong Kiau Riverside Eco-lodge, (on the Eastern side of the river (across the bridge from the post office)). Offers very good Laos, Asian, and Western food. Beautiful view over the river. Prices a little higher than other restaurants nearby.
Sabai Sabai, ((In front of the Wat)). A selection of Local Laos foods in a nice atmospheric setting.
Sengdao Restaurant. (beside the bridge on the western side). Hot & cold drinks from 5000kip, mainly Laos food. Average price for food is 20,000kip.
Sunset Restaurant. Reasonable prices for the food, and river view
Morning Dew Restaurant. (80m down the road from the bridge ,just past the Wat) Excellent Lao and Western food at cheap prices . Open for breakfast through to dinner . Made to order baguettes ,Lao coffee and cold beer also on offer . Friendly English speaking owner "Dith" is a great source of local info .
Vongmany Restaurant. "Awesome food and a very good value. The chef learned how to cook from her grandmother as a child and learned modern techniques from a Luang Prabang culinary academy. The only Happy Hour in Nong Khiaw, with some great food and drink specials.
Cold Beer Laos are served everywhere in local restaurants. The small shops sell cheap but decent Lao Lao in unlabeled bottles, probably homemade.
Coco Home Bar & Restaurant. 8am - 10:30pm. Bar & restaurant serving authentic Thai and Western dishes by Thai chef. Full range of cocktails, mixers and shots. Movies shown at 8am, 12pm & 6pm everyday on big balcony with river-mountain views. Two raised chill out huts and a comfy hideaway inside. Free WIFI, satellite TV, message board, and blankets available all night!
Bamboo Paradise - has both rooms and bungalows with private hot showers. Bungalows have river view. Low season (Nov 2012) price 50,000. Free WiFi. Basic restaurant. Mind that the rooms have no bars on the windows and the mosquito net can easily be removed so take care of your cash.
Meexai Bungalows - cheap guesthouse on the eastern side. Free WiFi. Bungalows were 70,000 in Feb 2012 and the WiFi was not working. Prices everywhere seemed much higher than listed here, with 70,000 being about the lowest (high/low season). Friendly owner.
Nam Houn Guesthouse - guesthouse on the eastern side, has river view bungalows .Some with attached bathrooms with hot shower from 40,000 low season (June 2012).
Nam Ou River Lodge -  Guesthouse opened March 2012. It is run by the 'discoverer' of the 100 waterfalls trek and he speaks English very well. Wonderful river views from this guesthouse. 80,000 kip with a private bathroom.
Sunrise Bungalows- Next to the bridge on the eastern side. Price from 30,000 to 60,000. Solidly-built wooden bungalows with hammocks offer great river views, although the attached bathrooms are rather primitive. Run by a very friendly older couple, they are never to shy for a short chat.
Sunset Guesthouse - on the eastern side. Basic rooms at 50,000 kip, bungalows with private bath at 150,000 kip. Food quality varies depending on who is making it. 100,000 kip for bungalows with private bath in low season, as of June 2012.
Phulisak Guesthouse - on the eastern side. All rooms at 60,000 kip (Nov 2012) all with private bath, TV, slow wifi & fan only. No views. There are comparable options for 50,000 kip close by and there is no discount for any extended stays. Rooms are bright & clean. Drinking water is available for free. No breakfast, but there are a few restaurants close by.
Nong Kiau Riverside - Along the river on the eastern side. Overlooking the river, it's the best upmarket choice, featuring big bungalows with kettle, private balcony, deckchairs and attached bathrooms with hot water. Rooms at 240,000 (single)- 350,000 (double) kip including breakfast (eggs, baguette, jam, fruits, tea/coffee). Free wifi access in the restaurant area. Rents mountain bikes, and can set up a range of transportation or tour options. Great restaurant.
Some restaurants and guest houses offer WiFi internet connections. The Nong Khiaw Riverside and Coco Bar have internet computers for a small fee. The speed can be very slow.
North of Nong Khiaw one hour by boat one finds Muang Ngoy Kao or Old Muang Ngoi, a backpackers favorite with no road access and electricity and a real village feel. Also see the GET IN section for more information.
The bus station is located on the west part of Nong Khiaw about a 10 minute walk from the bridge/boat landing. If possible you should always check times/prices with the bus station ticket office prior to travel. English is spoken. As with all travel in Laos, times are a guideline and you should allow for considerable delay.
Udomxai - 11am, 45,000 Kip, 4 hours (only runs if there are enough passengers). For more bus options to Udomxai take a early bus to Nam Bak.
Sam Neua - 1 a day (11:30am), takes 10-11 hours, 130,000 Kip.
Private Minivan service available by a local named Mong, who speaks English well. Ask any of the expats or restaurant owners and they can give you his phone number. A trip to Luang Namtha was 160,000 Kip each person and took about 6-7 hours. Prices negotiable. It seemed that he would be willing to drive just about anywhere.