Most people who has traveled into Laos will praise its beauty and tranquility. Well known cities like Vientiane, Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng usually comes to mind. However, very few has heard of the village of Nong Khiaw. If you are keen on off beaten trails like me, Nong Khiaw is a great place to visit. It is situated along the Nam Ou river and is about 3-4 hours of driving distance from the lovely UNESCO town of Luang Prabang. It offers ample activities like trekking, caving, rock-climbing, boat trips and cycling. For the both of us, we just wanted to chill in this laidback little village and check out the magnificent view of Phadeng Peak.
Since we were spending 6 days in Luang Prabang, we decided to spend one night in Nong Khiaw village. Getting into Nong Khiaw village is rather simple. Visitors have the choice of boat or bus. Boats may take up to a 7 hour ride but you will be greeted with green scenic landscapes. Buses on the other hand take about 3-4 hours to reach depending on the road conditions. We had a local tour shop arrange the bus ride for us while in Luang Prabang. The fee included transportation to the bus station and one way into Nong Khiaw village. Once we reached the bus station, we noticed that our bus was actually a van. We departed at 9:30am and the van was quite pack. Roads to Nong Khiaw were rather bumpy and the 3-hour ride felt like it was 8. Thankfully, the views along the way were scenic and kept us company.
We arrived at Nong Khiaw in the mid-afternoon and we shared a tuk-tuk to get to the Nong Khiaw bridge. The next thing we had to do was to find a guesthouse to spend the night and leave our bags. We walked down the dirt road and came across this site with lots of signages. We found this place called Meexai Guesthouse. As we entered, a friendly lady greeted us and showed us the rooms. The rooms were clean and it wasn’t very expensive. It was a simple room and best of all, it had a gorgeous view of the river banks. We laid down ours bags and headed for lunch. Restaurants are everywhere in the village. There weren’t any special ones that caught our eye, so we just hopped into a nearby one and ordered fried rice and fried noodles.
Nong Khiaw village is extremely quiet. The activities here are mostly outdoors and an interesting hike most people would do is the 100 waterfall hike. I wouldn’t be able to share information on this because we didn’t go for it due to the weather. We decided to take the day off and stroll around the village, then hike up to Phadeng Peak the next morning to see the panoramic view of the village from above. At night after we grabbed dinner, we headed out to the Nong Khiaw bridge to enjoy a nightview of the village. The quietness of the town is so refreshing and a fantastic getaway from the bustling city.
Phadeng Peak viewpoint is a must do if you are in Nong Khiaw. It is a rather demanding climb up the peak. It takes about an hour to reach the top. The trailhead is located on the east side of Nong Khiaw along the main road and is well marked with signs. Pay a small fee of 20,000Kip to the gatekeeper and you are off. It is near to Meexai Guesthouse and staying close by is great because you can easily grab a quick shower after your descend. The trail is very steep and it would be great if you had good shoes. Bring enough water and you will be fine. We had a harder time to climb due to the camera equipment that we had to bring along with us. Even those who came after us had already started their descend when we reached the peak. Nevertheless, as we arrived at the peak, we were welcomed by the amazing panoramic view of Nong Khiaw village.
The view was beyond stunning. There was a small shack at the peak where you could catch a break. We had the entire viewpoint all to ourselves. We took our time to enjoy the spectacular view and was also a little worried because it looked like it was going to rain. It kind of drizzled a bit the day before and we prayed that the rain wouldn’t start until we have descended and reach our guesthouse. Nevertheless, photo opportunities were abundant. We got to see the entire Nong Khiaw village and the only bridge that was gifted by the Chinese Government that connects the two banks of the village. The limestone mountains that surrounds Nong Khiaw is utterly amazing especially when seen from the top. Clouds were closing in and after grabbing enough photos, we descended with smiles and cheers. We rewarded ourselves with a chilled coke and ended the Nong Khiaw trip with a nice hot shower.
We headed back to Luang Prabang with the help of the local tour shop right outside the junction. Luckily we were just in time before the 2nd bus departs. We quickly grabbed our stuff and headed back. For other activities, you will need to spend a few more days here to fully enjoy them. Despite us just spending a night here, Nong Khiaw has been beautiful and good to us. It was a highlight of our trip and it could be yours to when you visit Laos next time.