Nong Khiaw Laos
Nong Khiaw is a stunning, lazy little town in the northern part of Laos. It is situated on the Nam Ou (river) that runs all the way from Vang Vieng up to Nong Khiaw and beyond. Many people only pass through Nong Khiaw on their way to Muang Ngoi but do not let this gem go unseen. There is something about Nong Khiaw that captures travellers to stay to enjoy a town that technically should not be more than a pit stop. Nong Khiaw is on the Route 1 which is the way to Sam Neua and Vietnam. However, decent, inexpensive accommodation, friendly locals, a relatively wide range of restaurants and most important of all, a stunningly beautiful scenery, makes Nong Khiaw a favorite among visitors to Laos, why, even south east Asia. Perhaps because almost 300 meters of Nong Khiaw’s riverside consists of lush vegetation, forest and mountains and offers plenty of possibilities for long walks, hikes or photo expeditions.
The city of Nong Khiaw is divided by the bridge and most residential housing is on west side where as most guest houses are on the east. Busses from outside of Nong Khiaw arrive a ten minute walk to the west of the city and the boat pier (for those arriving on the river) is located in the centre of the city.
Nong Khiaw used to be a remote village that lacked ATMs as much as it lacked spaghetti bolognese on the menus, but as the backpackers started finding their way here, the town has adapted, fortunately without loosing it’s genuinely. It now has an ATM, (Nong Khiaw, Laos branch) plenty of pasta options and 24 hours electricity service. Nong Khiaw is still very small, you will be able to understand its geography after your first walkthrough but much of the beauty of Nong Khiaw lies outside of the city center. As many cities in Laos, Nong Khiaw has caves, waterfalls and endless dirt roads to explore.
The 100 waterfalls outside of Nong Khiaw, Laos, was opened for tourists as recently as 2008 and has enjoyed great reviews from people since. It is not actually 100 waterfalls but rather a continuous waterfall and the way to explore it is by going on a tour. Make free inquires here!
The caves are another attraction outside of Nong Khiaw. Rent bicycles or walk around 40 minutes to get there. The history about the caves of Nong Khiaw goes that locals used them as housing while the heavy bombing intended for Vietnam fell over Nong Khiaw in Laos. Remaining UXO, or hopefully only evidence of it, can be found in the fields surrounding the caves.
Ethnic minorities in Laos are plenty and Nong Khiaw Laos is no exception. If you walk or bicycle outside of Nong Khiaw, you will find both Khmu and Hmong villages. Other minorities that you might come across, not necessarily in Nong Khiaw but elsewhere, are Yao, Akha and Lu among others (Laos has around 47 different minorities). Most of them have kept their own customs, dialects and traditional dress. If you are planning on heading to Luang Prabang, be sure to check out the Traditional Art Ethnology Center for more info about that.
However, Nong Khiaw offers things to do, obviously not in the abundance Luang Prabang does, but bring a book, enjoy a beer by the Nong Khiaw riverside and realize how fortunate you are to visit a place where the tranquillity does not mean absolute remoteness. Nong Khiaw can be your perfect mix of beauty, genuinity and comfort!
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