Phongsali Province tucked between China, Vietnam and Oudomsay Province in Northern Lao is a beautiful, relatively untouched area of South East Asia. Phou Fa Mountain, the province's landmark, overlooks Phongsali city.
The province is extremely mountainous with elevation 450 m to 1,800 m above sea level.
Twenty eight distinct hill tribes live in Phongsali.
There are no borders open to foreigners between Phongsali and either China or Vietnam at this point, making it a bit of a dead-end destination for travellers and, as such, is relatively unspoiled by farang.
Many of Lao's endangered species, both flora and fauna, find home in Phongsali Province, and the province's 222,000 hectares of protected lands. Hunting for food and medicinal purposes presents the greatest threat to the various animals in the region, whilst slash and burn agriculture threatens some species of trees
Getting there and away
It is possible to reach Phongsali by boat, bus or car, and air.
Various bus routes include:
Direct from Vientiane (via Luang Prabang and Oudomsay, overnight)
From Luang Prabang (via Oudomsay, overnight)
From Oudomsay (depart morning, arrive evening)
The Nam Ou provides boat services to Phongsali with beautiful. From Oudomsay catch a bus to Muang Khua. From there a boat will take you to Hatsa, a 20km truck ride from Phongsali.
Similarly, boat trips can be had from Hatsa to either Muang Khua or to Nong Khiaw. Slow boats and speed boats are available. Slow boats make the journey from Hatsa to Muang Khua in about 5 hours and speed boats make it to Luang Prabang in about 6 hours.
Air transportation from Vientiane and Luang Prabang is also available every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. The plane arrives in Bounneua, a 41km bus ride from Phongsali. Bounneua has two buses a day to Phongsali, which are the buses passing through from Oudomsay. They are at approximately 11:30 and 16:00. It is not possible to fly from Phongsali to Luang Prabang directly as the plane returns directly to Vientiane.
Places to stay
In Phongsali try Sensaly Guesthouse and try the noodle soup shop opposite the Agriculture Bank and the Museum.
In Muang Hua try the Nam Ou Guesthouse right on the riverbank