Luang Namtha  (Louangnamtha, Luang Nam Tha) is the largest city in Luang Nam Tha Province, Northern Laos. It lies on the banks of the Nam Tha river, and the meaning of the name is "The area (luang) around the Tha river (nam Tha)".
Best known as a stopover point on the backpacker trail from China to Laos, and as an alternative to the long and cramped boat journey between Huay Xai and Luang Prabang, Luang Namtha has become increasingly popular as a starting point for hill tribe treks, especially those into the Luang NamTha NPA - National Protected Area. While short on jaw dropping sights, it's a compact and fairly pleasant little town, albeit one divided in two distinct parts: the "old" or original town near the airport (bombed out in the 1970's war), and the "new" or replacement town to the north where the trekking companies and most guesthouses can be found. The two are about 6 km apart. The "old" town sits aside Highway 3 - the modernised route from China to Thailand. The "new" town is located along highway 17A which serves to connect Muang Sing.
Luang Namtha Airport (IATA: LXG) has Lao Airlines flights to/from Vientiane (1 hour, full fare US$120 as of 2015). Since 2009, there are no longer any services to Huay Xai or Luang Prabang, but the airport was renovated in 2008, with a 1600m paved runway, and there are distant plans to field international flights. Shared tuk-tuks wait outside for arriving flights and will take you to anywhere in town for 10,000 kip.
From Jing Hong there is one maxi-bus (comfortable though not a coach) daily (10:40am) from the north bus station, stopping en route at the south bus station at 11:00 (choose which is closer to your hotel and buy a ticket a day before, as it usually sells out) - ¥77. Stops for lunch in Mengla, where one can change RMB to Kip (rates are negotiable and are fairly competitive, though check notes as they often pass 1,000Kip for 10,000Kip as they have similar colour). Border crossing requires carrying your baggage into Chinese Customs Hall for scanning. The same bus awaits on the other side of the hall. After ~100m further driving there is the Lao Visa on Arrival window. After Laos passport control, there are money changers (good rates for selling RMB). Arrival around 17:40 in downtown Luang NamTha. There are 2 BCEL ATMS and 1 LDB ATM in Luang NamTha.
Mengla (China) via Boten it will cost you about ¥46 for a bus to Luang Namtha. The first bus leaves Mengla north bus station at 9am and there is another one at 14:30 (June 2011). The trip takes 4-5 hours, depending mostly on the length of the border crossing.
Laos Visas are available on arrival at the border (US$32 or Kip320,000 or ¥300 for EU/Australian; $37 for UK citizens; $44 for Canadians; $33 for Germans; $37 for Greeks; free for 15 days for Japanese). Note the poor rate for payment in Kip, RMB - currently paying in USD is cheaper.
If going to China, you will must arrange your visa in advance (nearest embassy/consulate is in Vientiane, Laos or Chiang Mai, Thailand). Agents in Luang Namtha can securely send your passport to the embassy in Vientienne with a turnaround of 3 days for around US$60 - perfect if you're going trekking in the mean time. The daily bus leaves around 8 AM, costs 50,000 kip to Mengla and 90,000 kip to Jing Hong, you'll want to exchange/use up all your kip before you head off, as exchange rates at the border are variable, and Kip is useless outside Laos.
(In Chinese, especially at the bus station, Luang Namtha may be called "Nan Ta".)
You can take a bus to Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam that stops at the border on the way. You will need to have your Vietnamese visa already if travelling overland. Buses leave from the main long-distance bus station (10km south of the main town) in the early morning. Prices should be around 150,000 Kip but check in advance for times and prices.
The bus station for destinations inside the province is located on the main road west of the main guesthouse strip (400m from the main drag). The old bus station across from the market has now been demolished to make way for a 5-star hotel, and the main bus station is now located 10km out of town. A tuk-tuk should cost about 20,000 Kip per person or more if you're alone (February 2018).
Everybody goes to bed quite early in this town, so if you arrive late, expect to pay 50,000 kip for a ride to the center; so better to take an early bus. If there are no tuk tuks there are several guesthouses on the road but Kounxaisavang Guesthouse is directly where the bus drops you across from the station 70,000 for a room with double bed. Note if you book accommodation and are arriving late you may miss the 1st night. Buses from L.Prabang may drop you there at 2.30 am just chap the receptionist up he sleeps beside the door. Get a Tuk tuk in the morning first thing get breakfast in Namtha proper.
While the 20,000 Kip per person fare (February 2018) from the 'new' bus station to the main town centre appears non-negotiable, the fare from the town centre to the 'new' (long distance) bus station can be negotiated for multiple pax. The bus station booking office (located at the 'new' bus station) sells tickets for tomorrow's journey from this afternoon. In Laos, it is wise to pre-purchase tickets to be more sure of a seat.
Trips to Luang Prabang take 8-10 hours, depending on road conditions, and cost 90,000 Kip [leaves at 9:00AM], 130,000 Kip for minivan (11 seater) [leaves at around 8.30AM or when everyone gets onboard] and 110,000 Kip for the (supposedly faster) VIP bus (22 seat version) [if running, at both 9:00AM & 2:30PM], 150,000 Kip for the VIP night bus (from Huayxai to Luang Prabang; tickets can only be brought at 5pm the day of departure if all the seats haven't been filled at Huayxai) which gets to the Luang Namtha bus station about 9pm.
The roads from Luang Namtha to Luang Prabang are in poor to fair shape with numerous potholes along the way after Oudomxay. The bus stops at the Oudomxay bus station for lunch (the new road is excellent all the way to Oudomxay) where the most common offering is noodle soup (unless you get something takeaway from various restaurants in Luang Namtha). Most bus drivers stop every couple of hours to check brakes, etc. And, at these times pax can also find a bush for bladder relief. The journey is not for the faint-hearted during the rainy season with the bus squeezing and weaving across roads collapsed due to the landslides. In parts, the scenery is fantastic. Like all buses in Laos, the earlier you arrive, the better choice of seat [try for at least 1 hour before] - the alternative is sitting on a plastic stool in the aisle for hours on end, or not being let on. While the Lao accept your bag on a seat as 'taken', Chinese do not!
Sometimes they board Luang Prabang passengers to the bus leaving for Vientiane which leaves at 8.30am so its better to go early on the bus station to see which one will it be.
Buses for Vientiane cost 180,000 kip (8:30am) and 200,000 (14:30).
Buses for Bokeo (Huay Xai) cost 60,000 kip and leave at 9:00am and 12.30pm. The first bus can fill up ahead of time, even in low season, so might be worth booking ahead.
Buses for Muang Xay (Oudomxay) cost 40,000 kip, take about four hours and leave daily at 8:30AM, 12:00AM and 2:30PM.
Bus to Phongsali costs 85,000 kip and leaves at 8:30AM
Bus/minivan leaves for Muang Sing from the small bus station in town, 25,000 Kip, at 8:00, 9:30, 11:00, 12:30, 14:00, 15:30
Minivan leaves for Nalae from the small bus station in town, 40,000 Kip, at 9:30, 12:00
Minivan leaves for Boten from the small bus station in town, 25,000 Kip, at 8:00, 9:30, 11:00, 12:30, 14:00, 15:30
To Muang Long from the small bus station in town, 50,000 Kip, at 8:30
To Vieng Phoukha from the small bus station in town, 25,000 Kip, at 9:30, 12:00
It is possible to take a boat along the river, all the way to/from Huay Xai, but there is no scheduled service and only occasional cargo ships, so odds are high that you'll have to charter. From Luang Namtha, Boat Landing Guest House/Green Discovery can try to arrange boats, at an estimated (but highly variable) price of US$170-400 for a boat that can handle 4 to perhaps 10 passengers. The trip takes two days and requires overnighting in a village along the day (included, but take some backup food if the village dinner is not to your standard). In the dry season after November, the northern parts of the river (towards Luang Namtha) may not be navigable.
The two halves of Luang Namtha can be individually easily covered on foot, but you'll want to hop on a tuk-tuk (starts at 10000 kip/person) for going to the airport, the bus station or crossing over between the two.
You can get a good map of the city at K.N.T internet for 3,000 kip and some guesthouses and bike rental shops will have a copy of it for free for guests. The map indicates typical touring/bicycle routes in the area.
You can rent really good mountain-bikes at shops along the main road for 30,000 kip per day (until 5 pm). Two are on the main road and a third is at Zuela guesthouse down the alley next to them. Some deposit will be requested, e.g. 100,000 kip or a current ID card.
Small semi-auto motorbikes (eg. Honda Dream copies) are now readily available (esp. across from the night market or at Zuela Guesthouse) and should cost about 30,000-50,000 Kip per day including helmets and a free map. With a motorbike, you can travel around to visit the many villages around and in Luang Namtha and also see the scenic countryside (eg. closer to Muang Nalae, Vieng Phouka or Muang Sing).
There are several agencies offering trekking to Nam Ha Protected Area as well as the diverse hill tribes in the nearby area. At least seven trek agencies are along the main street. They all offer treks in different areas of the national park (or not in the national park for the very cheap options)- varying numbers of days, visits to different villages, waterfalls, jungle, kayaking, biking, combination of trek-kayak etc. The more people on any given trek, the lower the price is. They'll each post out front if they have people signed up for a specific trek, to encourage others to join and lower the price.
The most common trek to do in this region is 3days\2nights or 2days\1night. All-inclusive village and jungle trekking will cost between $25 - $35 USD per day, but covers transport, food, water, accommodation, guides and all village, eco-tourism and conservation funds. When there is a bigger group the price could be cheaper. When shopping around on tours and price remember YOU DO get what you pay for in terms of levels of service, accommodation, equipment, food and access to more remote and untouched villages and areas of jungle As well as your safety preparedness. The different agencies have different prices for a different level of services. Tour guide is the key to make the tours are fun, Check where the money goes - whether it is being distributed equitably to local guides, villages, etc. The other differentiating factor seems to be equipment and accommodations - some have newer equipment in better shape and accommodations - some places will offer you sleep on the leave or bamboo floor and some will provide big bamboo houses, elevated off the ground that could share with everyone in the group with all bedding provided. Also some offer sleeping pads, mattresses, blankets, mosquito nets and pillows in addition to sleeping bags,In addition Please inspect the way of service organizing and professionalism of Agency!
The mountainous and 'dense jungle' scenery and diverse hill-tribe ethnic groups in the area is a major attraction. There are plenty of things you can explore on your own, such as renting a bicycle and riding around the town valley to explore several minority villages and scenic rice paddies, renting a motorbike/scooter to drive through the wonderful national park or Muang Sing a few hours away.
- GreenDiscoveryLaos  The first adventure tour company in Laos, offers over 150 tour programs, up to three days trekking trips, kayaking and other activities. The price is a bit more expensive than in the tourist office.
- The Hiker  is an innovative Community-Based Ecotour Operator. They hire local teams, and focus on supporting poor remote villages by getting them involved with making trails, providing hospitality for visitors and encouraging them to use sustainable natural resources. Offering This new outfit is garnering some glowing feedback. kayaking, Cycling and Combination tours are available but its main focus is trekking, with one- to seven-day options; the longest one is more hard-core (eight hours' trekking per day) and promises to take you into untouched areas deep in the Nam Ha jungle, while one-day treks are much easier.
- DiscoveringLoas  Discovering Laos is a family held eco-tour operator in Luang Namtha, in the north of Laos, Discovering Laos is own and managed by Vanxai and his family. He has been himself a guide in the Nam Ha National Park for several years and a trekking coordinator for a major eco-tourism agency in Laos. He opened Namtha River Experience in 2009.
- Forest Retreat Laos  Specializes in Kayaking and mixed adventures, trekking, Kayaking, biking and minority village visits (offers from 1 day up to 4 days activities). They hire English speaking guides from the Luang Namtha area and assistant guides from local villages. They also pay villagers close to the Nam Ha National Protected Area (NPA) to create and maintain their trails. They offer home-stays with local families so you can be fully immersed in local culture.
You can also take a tuk-tuk or bicycle or motorbike and just go independently to some of the villages which are next to the roads and not in the jungle. A mountain-bike rental from a good shop will provide you with a not-to-scale map over villages and a nice waterfall. The surroundings are really pretty to cycle about in and there are some very interesting scenic attractions.
The quality of bicycling/motorcycling on the road from Luang Namtha to the Chinese border is excellent. The road is completely sealed with little or no traffic along the way. The route from Luang Namtha to Boten round trip is approximately 100 km long and passes through Laotian hill country and rice fields. The grades range from flat to moderate with one 2 km 10% grade stretch. Welcomes along the way are great.
With a motorbike, you can travel around to see the beautiful countryside and visit the villages in and around Luang Namtha (eg. closer to Muang Nalae, Vieng Phouka or Muang Sing). The road to Muang Sing takes about 2 hours and makes for a stunning journey through the national park, with many interesting ethnic villages to visit once you get to Muang Sing. A journey to Vieng Phouka (50km) is worth is for the limestone karst scenery and a visit to the impressive Kao Rao caves of the main road.
Then there a number of waterfalls to be seen. Close to Namtha town is the Nam Dee waterfall, lovely in the wet season. In the dry season there's almost no water coming over the falls, but there are nicely maintained trails and it's a fun bike ride out there, through a Lanten village where you might see women sewing, dying indigo fabric, or making paper in the river. Take a mountain bike; as soon as you leave the paved road, the dirt road's like the surface of the moon. Near Muang Sing is the Gneung Phou Ku Lom waterfall.
There are several herbal saunas in Luang Namtha, the most popular being the one next to the The Classic bar, down the lane from the Lao Airlines office. It's a very simple rickety shack, but easy to spot (look for the stove) and equipped with separate male/female saunas, a changing room and lockers. The tourist price is 15,000 kip, with optional massages for 30,000. Lao traditional sauna is on the way to Tai Dam guesthouse. There is a new sauna on the same road as Lai's place, called Ladyhands Massage. See Laos#Bathe for tips on herbal sauna etiquette.
Last but not least, if you liked what you saw, leave a compliment at the People's Complaint Box in front of city hall!
Money: There are two banks and one post office offering change for cash and travellers' cheques, all in the main street the bank next to the tourism office change travellers for 3% commission (minimum of $3). Banque pour le commerce exterieur Laos [BCEL] now has an ATM: but, all-too-often patrons complain of non-delivery of the cash. All BCEL ATM's have a high (20,000Kip) ATM service charge and low transaction limit (1.000,000Kip).
There are three sisters of the Akha people travelling from Muang Sing every day to sell their crafts and agricultural products (Opium and ganja) to falang. They are difficult to get rid of, and may follow you around town. Enjoy a bi-lingual conversation with them, it's great fun. If you refuse their wares they might offer you a special treat.
Eating options in Luang Namtha are various and quality choices, it's the place we you can find a local menu of northern Lao dishes, as well as asian and Western dishes with reasonable prices.
The night market is a good choice if you want to try something new after being on Phat Thai and Sticky Rice for a while. Lao market traders are learning that westerners readily buy their prepared meals, and so there is an option to supplement household income (when the rice paddy isn't otherwise consuming their time). The range on offer runs from soups, Laab, BBQ chicken, beer, good Lao coffee, and various fruits. There are a number of stalls that also do full meals such as Sweet and Sour Chicken etc. (15,000 Kip - May 2017).
During daytime, the good Lao food is always on offer at the 'normal' daytime market (opp. Sawngthaew bus station).
- Boat Landing Restaurant. Outside the markets, this is maybe the best place in town to learn about the different ingredients that go into traditional Laos as well as ethnic group cuisine. They have published an illustrated cookbook (with Laos and English) which has pictures of many dishes and of each ingredient that goes into them with detailed information about their use. You can look at the cookbook while studying the menu. Their website also has many Laos food links. About 6km outside town near the airport.
- Bamboo Lounge. The green building next to Dokchampa Hotel on the main road just south of the Night Market. This western run place provides a local training school for young Lao women to learn English, food hygiene, and western standard food preparation and service. Specializing in authentic western food they have an real wood-burning pizza oven with over 20 different pizzas topped with imported and local delicacy ingredients, homemade bread and cakes, pasta dishes, salads, sandwiches, huge breakfast menu, espresso coffee, fresh squeezed juices and cocktails. Free Wi-fi (fastest in town), comfy brand new sofas and armchairs, a book swap and interesting and varied genres of music throughout the day. (Breakfast 10000 - 45000 kip, sandwiches 15000 - 45000 kip, pizza 20000 - 90000 kip, March 2013)
- The Classic Bar & Restaurant Newly opened bar and restaurant with an incredible view, warm atmosphere and cocktail menu. Does good local cuisine and Asian dishes at reasonable prices. Dishes from 20,000-40,000 Kip. Located just off the main street. Turn right onto the last street as you leave "New" Luang Namtha, going south, before the turn for Amandra Villa. On the same street as the morning market. Look for a lit-up tree outside about 100m off the main street. Lonely planet says "Overlooking a lily pond and the distant mountains, The Classic is a great new bar serving up purple rice beer, passion fruit mojitos, exotic snacks and good tunes. By night its low-rise wooden tables glow under the amber lights. Run by the friendly owner, it's a good spot to interact with locals".
- Coffee House. Open eatery with a comprehensive Thai Menu, lattes and cappuccinos, great fruit shakes, plus friendly atmosphere.
- Krau Thai Restaurant does thai dishes. Located on the main street.
- Minority Restaurant. This little joint is run by a husband and wife from the Black Tai (Tai Dam) tribe and specializes in tribal cuisine, with Tai Dam, Akha and Lisu dishes on offer. The menu also covers banana pancakes, French fries and other dishes for the western palate. Vegetarian and vegan selections. Boasts "No MSG" in their dishes. Located a short walk from Zuela Guest House.
- Lai's Place Across the street corner from Green Discovery Laos tour office, Lai's place is delicious, using fresh ingredients and reasonably priced. The menu is filled with representative dishes of many of northern Laos's communities, with tofu/vegetarian options available for most orders. Try the peanut Jaeow with sticky rice and vegetables, which is a savory, herbaceous dip. The fried tofu and vegetables with red curry is very good as well. Avg waiting time for a meal is 15 minutes as every dish is prepared from scratch. Totally worth it!
- Manychan Restaurant on the main street in Luang Namtha serves delicious western and Laos food including excellent yoghurt with fresh fruit and homemade granola and good coffee. Near the Hiker Tour agency office.
- Rambo Fusion. Next to the pond, but you have to walk around via the main street. Delicious Korean BBQ, popular with locals. A Portion (30,000-50,000 kip) serves 2 people.
- Fan Mai (literally means 'New Girlfriend/boyfriend') is a ten minute walk east from the main street, near the river bank. They do food and drinks and it's a popular hangout for local people, presumably to find the love of their lives. Specialities are Spicy fried rambo and deep fried buffalo gum.
- Nat Phop, 50 metres from Fan Mai, is a similar type bar, on the river bank with nice views of the rice fields. They do local dishes like grilled duck and dog.
On the north end of the main street in Luang Namtha, there are two Chinese restaurants which are operated by Chinese who speak little English. There is no menu and you can only order by selecting your dishes in their kitchen. Dishes are a bit oily and the serving style is either plain or spicy. The taste is OK and the pricing is higher (40,000) than most other restaurants in town.
Luang Nam Tha is not a party town, things must close by 11pm or midnight, but it's easy to find a cold Beerlao and there are a few nice bars around, mainly catering to locals but opening up to foreigners.
- The Classic Newly opened open-air bar and restaurant with a good view of the mountains and a decent cocktail menu. A nice place to watch the sun set behind the mountains. Decent music (that you can request) and good friendly service. Located just off the main street. Turn right onto the last street as you leave "New" Luang Namtha, going south, before the turn for Amandra Villa. On the same street as the morning market. Look for a lit-up tree outside about 100m off the main street. Closes at midnight. Signature cocktail is Passionview Mojito, delicious.
- Forest Retreat Bamboo Lounge Serves freshly ground espressos and coffees, hot drinks, a full cocktail menu, freshly made juices and shakes. Look out for the green building on the main road with the pizza oven. (Coffee from 15000 kip, cocktails from 15000 kip, beer from 12000 kip, March 2013)
- Fan Mai and Nat Phop are two similar-style bars on the river bank where locals like to hangout. Fan Mai has a disco that goes until midnight.
- 'Houangjing Nightclub in the grounds of the Royal Hotel is a local nightclub with an enthusiastic DJ and a wide selection of Beer Laos. Attracts local young people and is good fun if you are looking for something lively. Patrons are friendly and will definitely share their beer with you and chat.
There are a number of decent guesthouses in town. A few surround the large intersection that can be seen from the bus station. One guesthouse run by a Chinese family even lets patrons borrow bicycles for free or deal for discounts.
- Manychan Guesthouse tel. 856 2022927879/856 2028816789 Managed by a funny and very hospitable lady who speaks good english, probably the most popular place in town. There are shared room(s) (30000 kip/each - 5 beds room) and very comfortable private rooms (70,000 kip in Feb 2018 for a double with private bathroom and hot shower) (120,000 with a/c and cable TV) and also a restaurant (free WIFI available). The guesthouse is located in the main road opposite the night market.
- Namthariverside Guesthouse,086 212 025/020 5536 4444. The Eco lodge is located on the banks of Namtha river with fresh and romantic air,quite place, free bicycle to get in town,friendly family,solar,fan.Room cost start from 60,000 kip. the price increases as more mod cons are sought.
- Khamking Guesthouse, tel. 086-312238. Right in the center of the "new" town, this simple guesthouse is comfortable and squeaky clean. Rooms with fan, TV and attached bathroom from 50,000 kip single, 100,000 kip double.
- Keusophone Guesthouse. Rooms starting at 20000 kip with no bathroom. Free water in the lobby.
- Thavixay Guesthouse. Rooms starting at 70000 kip (double with fan). Very clean with (real) hot water.
- Zuela Guesthouse. 086 212059 / 020 5886694; Fax: 086 212058. Listed in the lonely planet. Spacious rooms. Rooms start at 70,000 kip, but like all places, the price increases as more mod cons are sought (in Feb 2018 we were quoted 150k for basic double room). Hot showers. Opposite Night Market, free wifi, has a restaurant.
- Yuranan Guesthouse. Just a little past the Night Market on the other side of the road. Clean with free wifi; rooms from 60,000 kip for a double with bathroom. Difficult owners, closes doors at 11 pm and has a proper safety issue as they padlock the doors from the inside with no-one to open it in case of fire. WiFi doesn't reach rooms properly.
- Adounsiri GH, owner Mr. Ketsana, 856 020 2991898. Family run place with clean rooms, double beds with inside bathrooms for 70,000 kip. Quiet as it's on a street parallel to the main street. Free WiFi and water refill. Bike rentals for 10000 kip/day available. Mind that rooms are not sealed and mosquitoes do come in at night. Also, hot water not always available.
- Thoulasith G.H, double beds with inside bathrooms for 60,000 kip. Free WiFi. Hot shower.
- Dokchampa Hotel , the biggest hotel in town; located on the main street in the center of town. Free WiFi and 2 computers for personal use in the lobby, free water (in coolers) in each room, off-street parking, 24 hour security and reception. 61 rooms ranging from pleasant single rooms to huge, plush VIP rooms with huge, nice beds and a bath/shower combo (room prices from 80,000 single, 100,000 double). The new 3rd and 4th floor rooms at the back of the building have mountain views.
- Tai Dam Guest House, from Green discovery, head south on the main street and take a right at the sign "Tai Dam". Keep going straight. The paved road will make a right turn; at this point continue forward on the (muddy) unpaved road. This place offers bungalows with that overlook fishing areas, with the hillsides as the surrounding backdrop. The bungalows are designed and decorated in Tai Dam style. You can also stay in the main building. Attached bathrooms with hot shower and a TV with access to Laotian and Thai stations. Bungalow is 80,000 late April 2017. Feeling a bit run down cleaning not so great one plus is the mini water cooler hot/cold water. Still a great spot
- Houng Heung Guesthouse, Luang Namtha Road, ☎ +856 (86) 212-099. checkout: 11am. This is a colonial styled three storey guesthouse with clean basic rooms and and great balconies for relaxing. Rooms have 24hr electric hot water, WiFi and fans. English speaking staff. 60,000 for a double room. (21.00408375263214,101.40902817249298) edit
There are only two even slightly upmarket option in Luang Namtha:
- Boat Landing Guest House , about 7 km south of town. Bungalows on the river with quiet surroundings. Twin rooms US$35-40 (cash only).
- The Phou Iu III Guest House  is the premier Eco-lodge, located close the Nam Tha River for from the Luang Namtha Night Market about 500 meters with OASIS place. We offer comfortable clean rooms at reasonable prices. The bungalows are constructed in traditional ethnic groups in Luang Namtha style with all modern comforts. The Bungalows offers 5 separate bungalows, 5 twin rooms, 5 double rooms and toilet inside.
There are a few internet cafes along the main guesthouse strip charging 200 kip per minute. Internet speeds vary. Many guesthouses and restaurants offer free WiFi service.
There is a bus station about 10 km south of the city center. It is readily accessible by Tuk-Tuk and should cost about 20,000 kip/person (Feb 2018). Bus tickets can be bought at the bus station. If you buy tickets at a travel agency, they will charge about 10,000 kip commission/person and 30,000 kip/person for the Tuk-Tuk. The Tuk-Tuk driver will buy the bus tickets for you when you reach the bus station. Needless to say, it is far cheaper to buy the tickets at the bus station yourself, and barely any harder. (There is a small guest house and travel snacks at the bus station.)
- Huay Xai, for the Thai border and Mekong cruises down to Luang Prabang. 75,000 kip including Tuk-Tuk to the bus station.
Buses for Huay Xai leave at 9AM and 12:30PM and cost 80,000 Kip from agents in town (including the tuk tuk fare to the bus station) or 60,000 kip from the bus station itself (still accurate in Feb 2018). Tickets can be bought from 7:30AM, and the journey takes only four hours now, due to improved road conditions, and you can therefore make it into Thailand on the same day. If you want to be assured of a seat, tickets can be bought in town the day before at various travel agents, trekking agencies and hotels for 80,000 Kip including tuk-tuk to the bus station. The first bus can sell out, even in the off season, so this might be a good idea, but still plan to arrive one hour early if you care where you're sitting on the bus. Like all bus travel in Laos, tickets bought at the bus station (or by agencies affiliated with the bus station) always have priority as for seating. Alternatively, you can hire a minibus and ride comfortably Luang Namtha in 3-4 hours for ~120,000 kip/person.
- Mengla, to cross into China's province of Yunnan
- Muang Sing
- Muang Xay (Udomxai), buses leave from the new bus station at 8:30, 12:00 and 14:30 and cost 40,000kip.
- Jinghong, (Xishangbanna, Yunnan Province, China) There is a daily bus Jinghong (through Mengla) leaving at 8:30 from the 10 km south bus station, 90,000kip.
- Boten border with China, buses 8:00, 9:30, 11:00, 12:30, 14:00, 15:30 - 25,000 kip / 1 hour.
- Luang Prabang, One bus (with/without Air-conditioning) daily leaving Luang Namtha at 9am (100,000/90,000 kip, 8h (Nov.15)). Minibus same time (110,000 kip 1h less)
- Nong Khiaw, Catch the 9 am bus to Luang Prabang, and get off at Pak Mong. From here, you'll need to take a tuk-tuk - they charge a minimum of 120,000 kip, so the price varies by the number of people.
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