Luang Nam Tha

Everything You Need to Know About Luang Nam Tha

Luang Nam Tha is the capital of a province of the same name. The city is located on the banks of the Nam Tha River, in the northern part of Laos. Like Huay Xai, Laung Nam Tha is primarily perceived as a stopover point. 

Luang Nam Tha has 2 distinct parts – the old town near the airport was bombed during the 1970s and the new town, which is 6 km north of the former. Travellers from China to Laos use this city as a starting point for trekking in the Luang Nam Tha National Protected Area. It’s also an alternative to the long (and crowded) boat ride between Luang Prabang and Huay Xai. 

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Things to Do in Luang Nam Tha

Hiking is a common thing to do in Luang Nam Tha – you’ll find several authorised agencies offering guided treks to Nam Ha Protected Area and surrounding hill tribes. You’ll get to experience the untouched forest and mountainous terrain, as well as paddy fields and the Lao countryside.

Luang Nam Tha Tourism Department is an eco-guide service that provides assistance for kayaking in the nature reserve.  Green Discovery is one of the largest trek agencies in Luang Nam Tha – you can enjoy multiple-day trips that also include kayaking.

If you’re feeling rather adventurous, explore Luang Nam Tha’s ethnic villages by bicycle. The roads are decent with little to no traffic – you can even make the 120 km roundtrip between Luang Nam Tha and Boten.

Villages such as Vieng Phouka, Muang Nalae and Muang Sing are some of the rural spots to cover during your cycling trip. You can even stop by the Nam Dee and Gneung Phou Ku Lom Waterfalls for a quick swim.


Luang Nam Tha Restaurants

Luang Nam Tha restaurants mostly serve Chinese, Thai and Lao, though you might find a few offering western food. Most locals earn their living by tending to their paddy fields, with some complementing this agricultural income by serving indigenous cuisine such as khao niaw (sticky rice), larb (minced meat salad), and or lam (Lao stew). Luang Nam Tha Night Market has several stalls selling Lao dishes, fresh fruit, noodles, and BBQ meat.


Luang Nam Tha Nightlife

There aren’t many bars, pubs or discos in Luang Nam Tha, but most restaurants have local beers, whiskeys, and cocktails in their menus. Note that due to Laos’ midnight curfew, Luang Nam Tha’s nightlife dwindles down by 11pm.


How to Get to Luang Nam Tha

By Air

If you’re planning to get to Luang Nam Tha by air, Lao Airlines has scheduled flights from Vientiane about 4 days per week. There are tuk-tuks that will take you to your hotel in town for relatively low prices.

By Road

If you’re travelling from China, there’s a direct bus to Luang Nam Tha from Jing Hong. The bus leaves from the north bus station at 10.40am and stops en route at the south bus station at 11am. You need to scan you luggage at the Chinese Customs Hall before crossing the border into Laos.

By Water

There are boats departing from Huay Xai to Luang Nam Tha, but there’s no fixed regular service available. You may have to depend on cargo ships for this, which can be tricky and depends on your luck.  

Green Discovery arranges for boat trips at steep prices ($170–$450), as it’s one of the few tour agencies offering this service. Travelling to Luang Nam Tha  by water takes about 2 days, which means you have to spend the night at a nearby village.

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