Things to do in Muang Ngoi /Muang Ngoy
To get truly away from civilisation, to immerse yourself in the pristine jungle and swarms of beautiful butterflies I recommend you take the 90 minute boat ride up river from Nong Khiaw to Muang Ngoi ( alternatively spelt Muang Ngoy). Muang Ngoi is a wonderful serene village nestled on the banks of the Nam Ou, it is surrounded by lush jungle. It is the perfect place to relax, slow down and swing in your hammock. It is the perfect place to immerse yourself in nature, watching the mist swirl over the wooded limestone karsts and the wide muddy brown Nam Ou gently flow past. This village feels like the back of beyond, and that is it’s charm, there are no vehicles, this village is only accessible by boat and the Main Street is unpaved and is full of chickens, chicks and ducks & ducklings all pecking about foraging for food.
It is an easy place to spend a while, in fact the longer you stay the less you actually want to go back to civilisation! The hotel where we stayed was actually run by a Swedish guy who had visited, married a local girl and raised a family in Muang Ngoi.
The main activity here in to immerse yourself in nature, there are a couple of viewpoints in the nearby hills to climb, but make sure you wear good shoes. I did it in flip flops and I was slipping and a sliding all over the place. The route to the top involves some very steep steps where you have to pull yourself up on bamboo handrails and makeshift ladders so make sure you are up to an energetic climb before you start. The view from the top however is glorious and well worth the effort. There are also few nearby villages to go and find if you are feeling adventurous, it is quite an adventure as there are no signs and only rudimentary maps, you just need to ask passing locals if you are going the right way. As they didn’t speak English and we didn’t speak Lao our communication was all non verbal and quite ambiguous !
As well as the amazing views I must mention the beautiful butterflies, everywhere you go there are swarms of beautiful butterflies, as so much of the land here is natural jungle, there are very few pesticides and the butterflies and other creatures thrive.
Unbelievably this small serene place used to be a regional centre before it was heavily bombed by the Americans during the Vietnam War. The only sign of this that now remains is a cave on the hillside above where the people used to hide during bombing raids. The cave has a large hole in it’s roof caused by a large bomb that was dropped onto it.
Places to stay in Muang Ngoi / Muang Ngoy
For a small place in the jungle Muang Ngoi has a surprising number of good places to stay.
Here are our pick of places to stay, otherwise fill in your details in the search box below to see what is available for your dates and your budget.
The Ning Ning Guesthouse comprises of 10 lovely bungalows nestled around a peaceful garden. The guesthouse has a great riverside restaurant where you can watch the gentle Nam Ou meander by as you enjoy your food!
The Lattanavongsa Guesthouse is perfectly situated just by the landing stage in Muang Ngoi, so not far to carry your bags! It has a great riverside restaurant where you can watch the comings and goings on the Nam Ou and spot the boats coming in with new arrivals from Nong Khiaw.
Accommodation is in Bungalows either overlooking the river or around a pretty garden on the Main Street. I would recommend the river view, although they usually come up slightly more expensive, sitting on your balcony watching the river gently flow by in what Muang Ngoi is all about.
River View Bungalows have some great bungalows with an amazing riverside views. The old wooden bungalows are right on the river and have a fully immersive wall to wall view of the river, but the newer ones behind are more comfortable but a slightly further from the River. There are also some new air conditioned rooms if you are finding the heat and humidity oppressive. A breakfast buffet is included in the cost of the rooms.
Activities in Muang Ngoi / Muang Ngoy
Kayaking and Hiking
If you fancy going Hiking and visiting the nearby viewpoints and villages that is easily done under your own steam although your guesthouse will be happy to arrange a guide if you ask them.
You can also go kayaking to nearby villages, what usually happens is that you are taken upriver for an hour then you kayak back, it so much easier and safer to paddle downstream, if you get tired you can just drift downstream! Before you do any adventurous pursuits make sure that you have the proper Travel Insurance. When you are travelling in Laos it is very important to ensure that your policy includes repatriation incase , god forbid, you have a serious accident and you need treatment in a modern western style hospital rather than the local clinic.
There are a number of travellers restaurants serving such travellers favourites as Banana Pancakes and Museli with Yogurt and Tropical fruits, as well as more traditional Lao, Thai and Indian food on the Main Street. Our favourite was the place with the paper lanterns and the big straw roof where you could relax on cushions while waiting for your tasty Indian food! We were there one night while there was a torrential downpour, it was pretty atmospheric watching the rain pour down, you see there were no walls so you could watch the rain thunder down only a few feet from where we were sitting.
You can search the map below for restaurants.
Leaving / Arriving
The boat for Nong Khiaw leaves from the landing stage at 10 am , but do check times as they are likely to change. Tickets can be bought there half an hour before departure, it is worth hanging around the landing stage as the best seats on the boat go quickly!
Travelling to & from Muang Ngoi / Muang Ngoy
You need to book your boat tickets from the boat office in person, but I would recommend that you book your onward bus tickets online, as the buses do get very busy especially when the boat from Muang Ngoi arrives full of backpackers all trying to get on the next bus to Luang Prabang. When we did it half our boat got left behind and had to wait several hours for the next bus as ours filled up very quickly. Nong Khiaw is quite a sleepy place and there are not many buses running
A few years ago you would have to go up to the minibus station to try and find a bus then hope there were some seats available, however now you can book your bus tickets online by using the search box below.
Just fill in where you want to go and our clever search box will tell you what time the buses run, how much they cost and even let you book a ticket. It works on a point to point basis, so say you wanted to get back to Bangkok to catch a flight home, it would give all the options.
It also works for ferries, trains and planes!