Friday, October 28, 2005

Muang Xing

The town of Muang Xing lies on the river plains of the Nam La to the north-west of Luang Namtha. The town is a historic centre that was formerly an outpost of the Sipsongpanna Empire based in southern Yunnan in China.

The town is home to a number of ethnic minorities as well as lowland Lao, Tai Lue, Thai Neua and Thai Dam you can also find dreadlocked immigrants from Pai (once thought to be extinct). The town of Muang Xing has a number of guesthouses where trekking and hiking trips can be arranged.

In many ways, the lives of people in Muang Xing remain simple and calm, since the 'modern' world does not intrude as much as it does elsewhere - at least, not yet.

People get married at a very young age, many are not highly educated and work in farms. Men work on rice fields and collect wood while the women boil liquor, pick wild plants in the forest with friends, and feed the pigs. Old men do basketry at open-air basements, as the old women feed the chickens and take care of their grandchildren.

Self-reliance seems to be the only way for these people to go, although they do not have much money and things in today's cash economy are far too expensive for them.

Moving On

Tickets to Luang Namtha are bought at a small wooden shack on the opposite side of the road from the market and bus station, just near the post office.

Songtheaw at 08:00 – 2 hours (15,000 kip) also at 09:30, 11:00, 13:00, 14:00; 15:00 and whenever


Guesthouses to try are Daen Neua Guesthouse and Phou Iu Guesthouse .

Things to do

Go to the market, hire a bike, trek and generally relax etc

Luang Namtha

Located in the northern part of Laos, Luang Namtha Province shares its north-western border with Myanmar and its north-eastern border with China.

It is an interesting place to visit from an environmental, social, cultural and historical point of view and has become something of a centre for sustainable cultural and eco-tourism over the last few years. The forests are dense, and cover near 99% of the protected area.

Luang Namtha has a large and diverse range of ethnic groups, many of whom still live traditional life styles. The main ethnic groups in the area are Tai Yuan, Black Red and White Tai, Tai Lue, Khmu, Rok, Ahka, Lanten, Mien and Hmong. Most of the ethnic handicraft traditions particularly weaving are alive and well.

Getting to Luang Namtha town and away

Airport: 5km south of town. Tuk-tuk’s cost 3-5,000kip/person.
Lao Airlines Office: South of the town, on the Main Road near the bank. Opening hours Monday to Friday 08:00 -12.00, 13.00-16:00, Saturday 08:00-12:00. no tickets issued at the airport. US$ cash only. To Vientiane: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday 13:00 $80. To Houay Xai: Monday and Friday 12:00 $41. To Luang Prabang: Monday and Friday 10:00 $37

Bus station: South of the town, two blocks west. The buses leave here at 08:00 but after that time, it all depends on the number of passengers and the availability of buses. During the rainy season, only vehicles, which have enough power, can be used and the fare may be raised.

To Udonxai: 21,000k 08:00, 11:00 4hrs
To Luang Prabang: 08:30-09:30
To Muang Xinh: 15,000k 08.0-15:00 many trucks, 1.5 hrs.
To Boten: 15,000k 8:00, 11:00, 13:00, 2.0hrs
To Xiangkok: 15,000k 3.5hrs
To Houay Xai: 65,000k 8:00 8-10 hr, very bad road. There is a small village between Louang Namtha and Houay Xaii, called Vieng Phukha, which has two guesthouses (single 10,000k, double 15,000k) and electricity. Fare: Houexai to this village 40,000k and this village to Luang Namtha 25,000k

Boat: The boat landing is 6km from the town. It is possible to travel to Houay Xai via Pak Tho. The journey takes two days. The availability of the service is dependant on water level and a certain amount of manana.

Where to stay

Quite a bit of accommodation has sprung up in recent years. The poshest place in town in the well regarded Boat Landing Guest House or for a cheaper alternative maybe have a look at the Gold Source Guest House or the Luang Nam Tha Guest House