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Vieng Phoukha

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Vieng Phoukha

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Vieng Phouka is a town in Northern Laos.

Understand[edit]

Vieng Phoukha is a mountainous district located in the south of Luang Nam Tha Province on Road 3 about 60 km from Luang NamTha town. It has a total land area of 1866 square Kilometers, bording NamTha, Nalae and Long district as well as Bokeo Province. With population of 18000 people ( in 2005 )

Vieng Phoukha is the the main town between NamTha and Huay Xai in Bokeo, So if you are entering or exiting Laos you will pass this town.

Get in[edit]

Since Vieng Phoukha is located about 60 km away from Luang Namtha (city, not the province), public transport is the only way to get here.

By Bus

  • from the local busstation: a sonthaew (open pickup with seats) from Luang Namtha max three times a day WHEN THERE ARE ENOUGH PEOPLE (8-10 persons), otherwise it won't go. So the departing hours 9.30 and 12.00 are in fact meaningless.

At the local busstation in Luang Namtha you can see a lot of people just sitting and waiting around until there are enough passengers for their trip... A ticket here costs (December 2018) 25 000 kip. So if you don't have any plans at all and like waiting half a day at a local Lao busstation with no certainty, this is your chance.

The local busstation is located just behind hotel Amandra, it is very closeby and in walkingdistance of the centre of Luang Namtha.

Direction to the local busstation Luang Namtha
Local busstation Luang Namtha with the names of four districts within Luang Namtha province.
File:Local busstation Luang Namtha Centre.jpg
Local busstation, busses leave irregularly, depending on passengers. Transport only within Luang Namtha province.


  • a bus from Bokeo to Luang Namtha (or from Luang Namtha to Bokeo). Busses to other provinces leave not from the local busstation in Luang Namtha but from the big busstation (about 10 km from Luang Namtha city centre). The normal price (December 2018) for a ride to Bokeo is 60 000 kip but Vieng Phoukha is only 30 000 kip.

You can get to the big busstation from Luang Namtha city center by sonthaew (a little bit more than 10 km). Sonthaew drivers often park their car in front of tour-companies or certain hotels. When you are alone, they will ask a ridiculous amount like 50 000 kip but the price when with more people(foreigners / Lao) is actually between 15 000 kip and 20 000 kip. When going to the local busstation just outside of Luang Namtha city center, there is a bigger chance to travel with more people...Although it involves waiting a minivan that arrives from an outer district that hopefully has some people on it who still need to transfer to the big busstation.

File:Big busstation timetable.jpg
Big busstation timetable - Other provinces and foreign destinations,

Most of the drivers speak absolutely no English or French whatsowever. Vieng Phoukha is a district but also a village. The local busstation / big market in Vieng Phoukha are - logically... not - located a number of kilometers from the actual village. This was done because there was still land available outside city limits. Therefore it is important that the driver drops you of in the village and not at the busstation outside of the village because you will then need to walk to the village... So in order to avoid walking alongside a Lao road, you can either show the driver a picture of a hotel in the village of Vieng Phoukha or you can try to speak Lao and say "get of in village Vieng Phoukha" = "long baan Tiaow" (the former name of the village is 'baan Tiaow')... or in Lao: "ບ້ານ ວຽງພູຄາ".

File:Sainamcouk Guesthouse.jpg
Guesthouse just before the bridge in Vieng Phoukha village. Serves as a landmark for your driver.

Get around[edit]

See[edit][add listing]

Nothing especially. Just Lao life alongside a busy road that connects China and Thailand.

Do[edit][add listing]

Vieng Phoukha offers some of the most spectacular trekking in Luang Nam Tha Province but there aren't many tourists in the town (most of the time there isn't anyone), so if you are coming to trek don't rely on other people, chances are that you will be the only westerner in town.

If you want a local experience for a reasonable price, it is best to contact the guides from the village direct and don't rely on tour agencies who will charge you up to three times what the local guides will do.

In November 2018 the price for a single person - trekking in the Vieng Phoukha area was 1 250 000 kip. The trip consisted of:

  • 1 Lao guide
  • transport to the mountains (15 minutes) / transport back from the mountains (1 hour) - total 250 000 kip
  • three days of trekking in pristine forests
  • two nights of sleep in the forest (normally only one night in the forest and one night at an Akha or Lahu village but everything is flexible)
  • food for three days

Bring some extra water and a sleeping bag, since it can get colder than expected in the mountains.

If you are with more people, the price will naturally go down.

Local guide Somdii admiring the forest during a three-day trek in Nam Ha National park.
Local guide Somdii weaving a bamboobasket to steam rice during a three-day trek in Nam Ha National park.
File:Giants in Nam Ha.jpg
Local guide Somdii posing with one of the few remaining forest giants during a three-day trek in Nam Ha National park.

tour agencies:

  • Vieng Phoukha ecoguide Service- located on Rte 3 in the villlage center ( you can't miss it )
  • Tourism information and trekking guide service center – located 300 m' from rte 3:

At least one local guides is fluent in English, best to contact him before coming to Vieng Phoukha in order to see if there are guides available, since most villagers are full time farmers. Phone number local guides: 30 93 80 274 (English and Lao).

Buy[edit][add listing]

Local shops with a couple of places where you can also buy noodlesoup (feu or kao bpiak).

In the late afternoon there will be locals selling vegetables, meat and other products alongside the road close to the bridge. Very cheap.

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • Nang Sone – a nice restaurant in the south exit of town (near Thong Mesai G.H). Has an English menu, food is nice, prices 10,000–30,000 for a dish.
  • Welcome Home – little restaurant just before the bridge at the left side. Has nice view of the Chook River. Open 4:30PM–10:30, prices are regular (10,000–30,000)
  • bus stop restaurant, right at the bus stop (on route 3). good fried noodles. lots of dishes and english menu. nice and friendly staff.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

Sleep[edit][add listing]

All the guest Houses are simple thatched-Bamboo or wooden affairs, some have attached toilet and some have outside.

There are four guest houses. In the south part of town (3 after the bridge) and one (Bo Kung) 300 m from town (200 m from the tourist office).

  • Thong Mexai – simple but nice Bamboo bungalows, overlooking the river. Bath is in the river and toilet depends on the rate: 20,000 outside toilet, 30,000 private toilet.

A nice family runs the place, and has food.

  • Phet Mongkun – simple wooden rooms, after the bridge on the right side, rooms start at 30,000.
  • Sai Nam Chook – before the bridge on the right side, nice bungalows at 50,000 per night (December 2018). They also have a restaurant which serves Lao food.
  • Bo Kung – located 600 m south/west from route 3 , (200 m from tourist office), makes this Guesthouse the quietest. Simple bamboo room rates start at 30,000.

Contact[edit]

Get out[edit]

Either you stand alongside the road in the village itself and wave at anything that looks like a bus in order to get them to stop and ask if there is still a seat or you go to the new market with busstation attached outside of the village (2-3 km) outside (in the direction of Luang Namtha). There is also a big market in the back. Look out for the 'Huawei'-billboards when trying to locate the market. Or ask in Lao "ta-laat yoe-sai? (where is the market?)".

Next to the market, outside of Vieng Phoukha village.
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