Luang Namtha is located in Northern Laos and is popular with tourists for the number of treks you can take in the nearby Nam Ha National Park. The town is geared towards tourists with many restaurants, guesthouses, banks and a market.
We stayed at Thoulasith Guesthouse and it definitely set the bar high for other guesthouses! We had a beautiful, clean room with fan and ensuite bathroom for 70,000 kip/night and a nice patio (on the second floor) for drinking Beerlao after a long day. Everything was tiled and they had free wifi as well.
It is owned by an older couple who also don’t seem to mind if you leave your bags there while you go trekking for a few days. Make sure that when you pay to get a receipt or something as the woman didn’t remember that I had paid for our nights stay… other than that, I’d totally recommend Thoulasith Guesthouse. It’s right in the middle of the town as well and close to everything you need.
I was excited to eat bread after so many months without so I had a few baguettes from Manikong Bakery on the main road. The baguettes were significantly cheaper than the baguettes at the popular Forest Retreat Restaurant and just as good. They also have really tasty breakfasts, croissants, coffees and muffins. Baked good heaven!
Forest Retreat Restaurant is quite delicious and they have incredibly fast wifi. They cook their pizzas in a wood fired oven and are totally worth the price (about CAD$10 for a pizza that can easily feed 2 or 3 people). They also make tasty smoothies and desserts and is a great place to chill on a rainy day. The owners are a friendly couple from New Zealand and they also offer trekking tours.
A personal fave in Luang Namtha though was Lai’s Place. It’s just off the main road and has the friendliest Lao owners who will even teach you a bit of the Lao language! They make some really tasty Thai curries, they offer some Western options and have the traditional Lao fare. Our vegan friends really liked this place and were able to eat pretty much anything on the menu. Try a drink with lao lao in it – it’s Lao rice wine and I’m pretty sure it’s illegal but it’s the hard liquor of choice while in Laos.
There are many different trekking companies to choose from and a good place to start would be to check out the reviews on TripAdvisor.com. We chose to go with Green Discovery because of the good reviews online and seemed professional and organized. They offer a variety of different tours and the overall price depends on how many people join you on the trek. It’s good to check out a bunch of different companies to see if you can join onto a big group going already since the more people, the better (and the cheaper)!
Getting There & Away: we came to Luang Namtha directly from the Thai-Lao border at Huey Xai, where there are several buses headed that way. You can also take a (longer) bus from Luang Prabang to Luang Namtha. Getting from Luang Namtha – Luang Prabang there are a few buses that make the long journey. Budget travellers should opt for the overnight bus – it was probably the worst bus ride I’ve been on but at least you save on a night’s accommodation. The price for the overnight bus from Luang Namtha – Luang Prabang was 90,000 kip each.
- Guesthouses are really cheap here, so if you’re thinking that they are expensive, keep looking. Private double rooms for less than CAD$10 for sure.
- Shop around while choosing a trekking tour. The more people = cheaper.
- Overnight bus to your next destination to save on accommodation costs.
- Market for a cheap dinner.
- Shop around for laundry services as some are a lot more expensive than others!