Nong Khiaw is a dreamy little village in northern Laos, nestled on the bank of the Nam Ou River. This place is an absolute gem – it is not off the beaten path, but not overrun by tourists either. Nong Khiaw sees just the right amount of travelers for decent accommodation & nice places to eat to exist, offering people who visit a great experience in a calm environment.
There are plenty of things to do in Nong Khiaw besides the obligatory hammock chill out sessions. Think of treks to caves & waterfalls and bike tours along the river or across the country side. There is one little trek that I particularly enjoyed, the hike up to Nong Khiaw viewpoint.
I got up early in the morning to start the hike. The village still laid sleepy in front of my eyes, covered in fog with clouds hanging low around the mountains surrounding the river.
At the starting point of the trail I was given a bamboo walking stick & welcomed by this message painted on an old missile.
Laos was heavily bombed during the Vietnam War, which made it the most heavily bombed nation in history. In total, more bombs were dropped on Laos than were used during World War II. A large area of Laos is still covered in UXOs (unexploded ordinances) today, hindering development.
I was shocked when I learned all of this upon arriving in Laos. I never heard a lot about the history of the country, something I am not alone with. Some of my friends did not even know that Laos was a country! It is such an absurd fact tat there is no widespread awareness of the issues going on there.
That being said, it is extremely important to stay on the marked trail when going on this trek! There is no guarantee for the area being clear of UXOs!
The trek up to the viewpoint takes about 1 to 1.5 hours. It is quite steep and slippery from time to time, making it a fairly demanding hike. This will all be worth it though as soon as you arrive at the top! I had a beautiful view across a sea of clouds, the winding Nam Ou river and the towering mountains in the distance.
Unfortunately it was a fairly cloudy day – the sky did not clear up, but it kind of added to the atmosphere! It was absolutely magical, as there was only one other person who hiked up shortly after me. She left soon though and it was only me & the mountains then.
Someone once asked me what my favorite experience of my six month Asia trip was. This is difficult to answer, but the hike in Nong Khiaw is definitely one of them. Don’t miss Nong Khiaw viewpoint if you find yourself in the village! It is absolutely beautiful up there, just imagine what the view must be like when the weather is good!
To get to the starting point of the trail to Nong Khiaw viewpoint, head past the bridge on side where most of the guesthouses and restaurants are located. The way is sign-posted, so it’s hard to miss.
Entrance fee is 20 000 KIP, which includes a bamboo walking stick. The trail is opened from 6am to 4pm. Take a torch if you decide to hike up in the late afternoon in case it get darks by the time you descent.
Trekking time is about 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on your fitness level.
Nong Khiaw itself is about a 4 hour van ride away from Luang Prabang.
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