Things to do in Nong Khiaw , Laos
Nong Khiaw , a small town on the banks of the Nam Ou, is known throughout Laos for it’s amazingly photogenic landscape. It is the kind of place where you can spend hours just looking at the views, the wide muddy Nam Ou ( River Ou ) flows gently between heavily wooded hillsides and limestone cliffs. Low cloud and mist swirl around the tops of the limestone cliffs which made me feel that I had climbed into a three dimensional Chinese Painting!
The main activity in Nong Khiaw consists of looking at the views, there is a long concrete bridge that crosses the Nam Ou and it makes a great 360 degree viewpoint, if you are feeling energetic there are viewpoints on the hillsides on either bank which offer fabulous views especially at sunrise and sunset. As both viewpoints involve a 60 -90 minute climb I would recommend the sunrise option as climbing in the heat and humidity of Laos is a sweaty experience, especially in the late afternoon. But the views are worth it!
Nong Khiaw has become a bit of a traveller hangout, there are many hotels and restaurants around town catering to backpackers, plus a few more deluxe options. There are also several local tour companies offering kayaking and hiking to nearby Hmong hill tribe villages plus visiting the ‘100 waterfalls’
Boats to Muang Ngoi
We didn’t hang around too long in Nong Khiaw as we were keen to spend some time in the small village of Muang Ngoi, which is only accessible by a 90 min boat from Nong Khiaw. Boats leave from the boat house just by the bridge. However if you love your creature comforts it is quite possible to visit Muang Ngoi as a day trip.
Places to stay in Nong Khiaw , Laos
Nong Khiaw is only a small place but has a good range of hotel options.
If you are looking for a bit of affordable luxury then head down to the Mandela Ou Resort, it situated on the banks of the Gently flowing River Ou. Accommodation is in small luxurious chalets and it has the only swimming pool in Nong Khiaw. Staff are very friendly and they organise excursions such as day trips by boat to Munag Ngoi from here. It is quite close to the mini bus station on the edge of town where the minibuses from Luang Prabang pull in.
Click here to check rates, availability and book using Agoda.
If you are looking for somewhere basic then look no further, the Nam Ou River Lodge has a great location right on the Nam Ou. Rooms are quite large with a balcony that looks over the river. We stayed here and I loved just sitting on our balcony watching the muddy brown river slowly flowing past and watch the birds, butterflies and occasional small boat go past.
Click here to check rates, room availability and to book on Agoda.
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Activities in Nong Khiaw, Laos
Kayaking, Hiking and Motorcycling
Nong Khiaw is a centre for outdoor pursuits such as kayaking and rafting, there are several agencies located on the Main Street by the bridge. If you are interested on doing something adventurous and especially if you are thinking of hiring a scooter then make sure that you firstly wear a helmet and proper shoes and secondly 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 on either side of the bridge. As we had been in Laos for a while we tried Deen, the Indian restaurant which was surprisingly good! You can search the map below for restaurants.
Leaving / Arriving
Buses and Minibuses to Luang Prabang and other destinations in Laos operate from the minibus station near the Mandela Ou Resort on the edge of town. Click on the book your transport tab above to check times and book your tickets, buses can get very busy. When we came back from Muang Ngoi upriver there was a big rush for tickets and half our boat had to hang around at Bus Station waiting several hours for the next bus, because the first bus was full.
There are Songthau ( basically small trucks with seats in the back) that transport passengers to and from the minibus station. They are usually waiting when buses arrive and when the boat from Muang Ngoi docks.
The boat for Muang Ngoi leaves from the boat house by the bridge at 11 am and 2pm, 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 pier as the best seats on the boat go quickly!
Getting to and from Nong Khiaw, Laos
Nong Khiaw is connected to the rest of Laos by Bus and River Boat. Generally connections to the South are via Luang Prabang and to the north by River Boat or Bus.
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!