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General information, recreation, infrastructure
Luang Namtha (Luang Namtha, also Luang Namtha and Luang Namta) is a small town in northern Laos and one of the most popular tourist destinations in this part of the country. Luangnamtha is only 20 kilometers from the border with China, 300 kilometers from Luang Prabang and 650 kilometers from Vientiane (Luang Namtha on the map. The city is small, its population, including all the surrounding villages, is just over 21 thousand people.
In general, Luangnamta is a bit of a non-standard city. In fact, it is a set of United villages with two centers: the old and the new city. At the same time, the two centers are separated by 7 kilometers (New city on the map, Old Town on the map). The center of the new city appeared only in 1976, due to frequent floods that covered the old part of the city. It is in the new city that most of the tourist infrastructure and accommodation options are concentrated.
Luang Namtha is a major ecotourism hub in northern Laos. It is much more touristic than another northern city Phongsali. Here it is much easier to purchase excursions to the surrounding area or to the National Park, find a hotel or other accommodation. Prices for everything are lower, transport is better developed. Tourism is developing here with the support of the government, and there is a Tourist Information Center where you can get free maps of attractions and routes, buy excursions. There is also a useful information center site with tons of useful information in English - http://luangnamthatourism.org/.
Also, Luangnamtha is a stopover point on the way from China to Laos or back, as well as from northern Thailand (Chiang Rai province).
It is worth coming here for a few days to visit one of the many ethnic villages that still retain their identity and have not yet become tourist, like some places in the center of Laos. But the most important thing is that nearby is one of the most visited and interesting National Parks of the country – Nam Ha NPA. It is for the sake of visiting this National Park that most tourists rush here, although even without visiting it, you can spend a few days here with interest, seeing the sights of the city itself or visiting ethnic villages.
Tourist infrastructure in Luangnamtha is well developed. There are travel agencies, motorcycle and bicycle rental, airport, bus station, banks and currency exchange, ATMs.
There are not very many accommodation options, but there are almost always places, so booking in advance is not necessary. However, it is still more convenient to book a hotel in advance so as not to waste time searching on the spot, since there is no single concentration of hotel places. If you still come here without pre-booked accommodation, it is best to immediately go to a new city. Of course, the hotels here are only the most basic level with a minimum of amenities just to spend the night. Also popular is a placement like homestay (in the homes of local residents). You can find this type of accommodation not only in the center, but also in almost every village, including ethnic villages, so popular with tourists.
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Weather, tourist seasons in Luang Namtha
Luang Namtha is warm all year round, but there is a rainy season from June to October, during which trekking trips or bike and motorcycle tours are not as comfortable as the rest of the year.
Tourist seasons in Luang Prabang by month, when is the best time to go
* best time to visit;
acceptable time to visit;
not recommended time to visit
Current weather in Luang Prabang and forecast for the near future:
How to get to Luangnamtha
Almost in the heart of the city is the airport, where there are daily flights from Vientiane (airport on the map). The flight lasts a little less than an hour, the cost of the flight starts from $ 150 in both directions. From the airport to the hotel can be reached by tuk-tuk for 20,000 Kip.
But it is much cheaper to get to Luangnamtha by bus, including from neighboring countries. There are local bus services from at least Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Udomsai, Vang Vieng, Muang Khua, Nong Khiaw. International bus services are available from Chiang Rai in Thailand, the cities of Dien Bien Phu and Sapa in Vietnam, from China through the border crossing in the city of Boten. See more, how to get from Sapa and Dien Bien Phu to Laos here...
- From Vientiane depart 08:30 and 14:30, the journey is 18 hours, the cost of 180 000 Kip (9.91 USD, see Lao currency and exchange rate).
- From Luang Prabang depart at 08:00, cost 130 000 Kip, 7 hours on the way.
- From Nong Khiaw depart 11:00, the cost of 100,000 Kip, the journey is 6 hours.
- From Udomsai go to 08:30 , 11:30 , 12:30 , cost 40,000 Kip, 3 hours on the road.
You can buy tickets at departure stations, and in major tourist cities also in hotels and travel agencies on the street. Here are the flights you can book tickets for online:
In the city, buses arrive/recover at one of two stations. The bus station in the province is located in the center of the new city, but the bus station for long-distance buses is located 10 kilometers from the center, and you will have to get to it by tuk-tuk for about 20 00 Kip per person, but you will have to wait until it is full, or pay for the entire tuk-tuk.
Luang Namtha is also accessible by boat from Huay Xai. This is a city on the border with Thailand in the province of Chiang Rai, and it can be reached from Thailand by boat across the Mekong River, there is an official border crossing. But there are no regular flights from Huyasai, and you will have to hire a boat, which will cost at least $ 120 per person or $ 400 per boat for four. The journey takes two days and includes an overnight stay in one of the villages along the way.
Transportation, how to get around Luangnamtha and surrounding areas
The city is quite large, and to move between its two centers (the old and the new city), the airport, the bus station, you will have to use tuk-tuks, travel in which starts from 10,000 Kip per person, but tourists should count on 20,000 (1.1 USD).
You can also rent a bicycle (from 20 000 kip) or a motorbike from 50 000 Kip per day. On your own transport you can see not only the city, but also go around the neighborhood. For bicycles, even a special tourist route has been developed, the map of which can be obtained free of charge at local travel agencies and the Tourist Information Center. It includes visits to 13 attractions, including villages, and is 35 kilometers, which can be covered in 2-4 hours.
Another type of movement – on boats or kayaks on the river. You can do it as part of excursions to the nearest villages down the river, from where you will be taken back to the city already on the ground.
Luangnamtha attractions, what to see
The sights of the city, and this is a museum and several temples, can be seen in one day. But for everything that is nearby, you can spend a whole week. Luangnamtha is the main gateway for visiting the National Park and the many ethnic villages to which you can go on trekking sightseeing multi-day hikes that are offered at local travel agencies. You can also go trekking on your own, or visit the villages on a rented bike or motorcycle. But visiting the National Park by independent tourists is impossible, access is allowed only accompanied by certified guides.
However, keep in mind that the purchase of an excursion in one of the local travel agencies does not guarantee you a lot of positive emotions from a trekking trip. Unfortunately, not all travel agencies and guides implement the promised programs during trekking, reducing routes and skipping interesting places. Therefore, it is best to purchase such tours from one of the proven local tour operators, whose offices are represented in the city. These Are Nam Ha Ecoguide Service, Green Discovery, Jungle Eco-Guide Service, Forest Retreat Laos, Namtha River Experience. Almost all companies have websites, so you can specify in advance the program of tours and the cost, and book. Prices are generally provided upon request.
Here is a description of the most popular attractions in Luangnamtha with opening hours, costs, and ways to get to them:
Luang Nam Tha Museum
A small museum with a modest collection of clothes, musical instruments, household items of ethnic tribes inhabiting the region.
🕐 Working hours: Monday to Friday from 08:30-15: 30.
💵 Entrance fee / tickets price: 5000 Kip.
🚶 How to get there: located in the center of the new city (Museum on the map).
Luang Namtha Valley route
This is a designed cycling route around the city with visits to 13 interesting places including temples and villages. Its length is 35 kilometers (2-4 hours). There is also a reduced route of 8 kilometers and two hours.
🕐 Working hours: make the route better during the day in clear weather.
💵 Entrance fee / tickets price: free, bike rental 20 00 00.
🚶 How to get there: a free map and detailed route information can be obtained at the information center office or on the website http://luangnamthatourism.org/luangnamtha/activities/biking-luang-namtha-valley-route/.
There are several routes developed, although you can make your own. The developed routes have a duration of 2-5 Days and include overnight stays in villages and visits to other large settlements in the province. Overnight stays will take place mainly in accommodation such as homes.
🕐 Working hours: around the clock.
💵 Entrance fee / tickets price: free, rent a motorcycle from 50,000 Kip / day
🚶 How to get there: you can complete the route either in a tour group or on your own. A free map and detailed route information can be obtained at the information center office or on the website http://luangnamthatourism.org/luangnamtha/activities/motorbiking/.
Nam Ha NPA National Park
Nam Ha NPA or fully Nam Ha National Biodiversity Conservation Area is home to over 300 species of rare animals and plants including wild elephants, leopards, pangolins, bears, Boas. Also in the park there are several ethnic groups, visiting the villages of which is included in the program of visiting the park.
You can visit the National Park only as part of a group or individually accompanied by official guides, it is prohibited to visit it yourself. Tours are offered for a duration of 1 to 5 days, there are hiking, kayaking, and mixed. Overnight stays can be in campsites and ethnic villages. To participate in the tour you will need a change of clothes, trekking shoes, personal hygiene items (including repellents and sun protection), a camera. Equipment and meals are provided by the organizers.
🕐 Working hours: around the clock.
💵 Entrance fee / tickets price: prices for tours to the National Park depend on the number of days and the number of tourists on the hike (the more, the cheaper), and on average start from $ 25 per day for a group tour.
🚶 How to get there: you can do the route only with an excursion tour, which are sold at travel agencies in the city.
Around Luangnamtha there are many ethnic villages of the Hmong (H'mong), Lanten (Lanten), Tai Dam (Tai Dam), Tai Lue (Tai Lue), Akha (Akha) and others. Unlike tourist villages in the north of Vietnam or Thailand, here the inhabitants still retain the traditional way of life, are engaged in agriculture and animal husbandry, lead an almost subsistence economy, although every year they become more modern. Almost every village is happy to receive tourists, for which there are accommodations like homes with minimal amenities.
Here are the most famous villages to visit on your own: Hat Yao, Nam Dee, Thong Jai Tai, Nam Thoung, Phieng Ngam, Nam Ngaen, Nammat Mai, Vieng Neua, Khone Kham.
🕐 Working hours: around the clock.
💵 Entrance fee / tickets price: free.
🚶 How to get there: you can visit villages during organized trekking or motorcycle tours, but you can do it yourself by renting a motorcycle or bicycle, or if you have experience, even on foot.
Map Of Luang Namtha
You can download ⤓ points of interest, important transport points (bus stations, airports, etc.), districts and beaches from our map in KMZ/KML format. These files can be downloaded to the navigator or smartphone for use with offline or online Google Maps applications, Organic Maps and others that support this format, and use them to navigate and explore resorts.