The boat leaves Muang Ngoy every morning, taking mostly tourists back to Nong Khiaw. We also stayed there for a few days, exploring the surrounding steep hills. So far the weather was always stable every day in Laos but this afternoon very intense rain and winds showed us the power of nature here. We were happy that we managed to escape to our guesthouse but ever happier that it didn’t happened during the boat ride. After the storm, everything looked so good, colors were very intense and therefore, I immediately went for a walk through the village. This day was quite lazy as we had big plans for tomorrow, hiking up to the Pha Daeng Peak viewpoint!

A sudden rain forced us to hide in our room, wind was unbelievable! Walk through Nong Khiaw after the storm Walk through Nong Khiaw after the storm Our guesthouse in Nong Khiaw

The guesthouse where we stayed 3 nights in Nong Khiaw. We had to stay there one unplanned night since the bus was cancelled for unknown, for us, reason. We had a great view of the river and the owners of the place had a small shop where we could buy fruits and snacks.

A decoration made from the shell of a cluster bomb Local food

I really wanted to see clouds rising above the town and nearby hills from the peak, therefore we left our room at 7:30am and actually we should have left at least half an hour earlier. We reached the peak after an intense walk of about 1 hour were we climbed around 500m on a very short distance (~1.5km). The Pha Daeng Peak viewpoint (a bit higher than 800m above sea level) has a wooden platform which gives an incredibly nice view of the Nong Khiaw town but also of the river leading to Muang Ngoy. The map below shows more details about the distance and total climb of this technically easy but physically challenging climb because of its steepness and high humidity.

First viewpoint, Pha Daeng Peak. First viewpoint, Pha Daeng Peak. View of the Nong Khiaw town, bridge visible in the bottom part of the picture First viewpoint, Pha Daeng Peak. Map of the hike to Pha Daeng Peak

Bombs! You can still find many unexploded bombs in Laos, left behind after the Vietnam War, therefore warning signs are very important since many tourists are not aware of the danger. It is recommended not to walk off the path. The region of Nong Khiaw in the north of Laos was one of the most bombed regions in the country and remains very dangerous. You can read more about this terrible weaponry that still scars the land in the post about COPE center which we visited in Vientiane.

First viewpoint, Pha Daeng Peak. Temple at the edge of the village

The next day, the goal was to check out the second viewpoint on the other side of the city, Sleeping Woman Viewpoint (as marked on google maps) which actually has two viewing platforms. When we were there, the lower viewpoint was damaged so we went up to the higher one and down the same way. If there are no heavy rains, it should be possible to visit both of them. This path was very slippery and the soil is different here, more like a clay, with dark orange color and that made this hike more exhausting. On the way up, we met one man maintaining the track and he told us about the damage. The viewing platform was really nice, with a small bench to sit. We didn’t meet anyone there and this time even more drops of sweat were running down on our purple faces, clearly reminding us that this climate with high humidity is not for us. Despite it being a very nice, sunny day, the visibility was not great. We couldn’t even clearly see the river and also more distant peaks. We spend some time on the peak, enjoying the silence, great view of the city (where a large crowd gathered to carry a huge boat to a storage hangar. We were very curious to see how the managed to navigate the lengthy boat through the narrow streets) and colorful butterflies around us! The map below shows more details about the distance and total climb.

Viewing platform at the top View of the river and the city from up high Obligatory selfie at the top View of the river and the city from Sleeping Woman Viewpoint View of the surrounding mountains from Sleeping Woman Viewpoint Beautiful butterflies were all around us

It is never high enough for me! Huge liana in the forest on the way to the viewpoint

Obligatory selfie at the top

It was getting very busy on the streets in the early morning (before 7.00), when the local market was open and people were buying fresh vegetables and fruits. I went once to check it and that was the time I saw baked rats to buy! I quickly grabbed some mangos and went back to our room. It’s very close to the school, wooden stands are there the whole day so it’s easy to find the place. The second very busy period of the day is early afternoon, when kids leave the school, then we could feel that the city is alive. It was funny to see kids cycling with the umbrellas or books in front of their faces just to have some nice shadow during these bright, sunny days!

House on stilts are common here There was one small shop in the area Nong Khiaw village

Having lunch in a restaurant with such a view is pure pleasure! We came back to Noymany restaurant multiple times, once we had to wake the woman in the kitchen up since we couldn’t find anyone else and the doors were open :) We liked the food in Laos as much as in Cambodia, it always looked so simple but the flavour was sooo rich! Every time we walked back to our room after a dinner, beautiful sunset was visible above the mountains :D

Waiting for our dinner to be served and looking at the hill from where we just came back

A beautiful golden sunset on the Nam Ou river

The small bus station is located around 1.3km from the Nong Khiaw Bridge, on the other site of the city. It is possible to buy tickets for the bus in one of the guide/travel offices which you can find along the main street but in this city you can simply go and buy a bus ticket at the bus station (here the bus ticket was 80k KIP in comparison to 100k KIP from the travel agency). In most of the cities bus stations are located outside of the town and when you buy a ticket from the local office, pick up by minivan is included or the bus just goes through the city and collect everyone from the the different hotels). We stayed in this town one extra day because there was no bus on the day we wanted to leave so maybe it’s good to check it upon arrival (even if the bus schedule visible there says that the bus leaves every day). Our next destination was Luang Namtha (only 230km but it took us 6.5h of crazy ride on a horribly zigzag road), the intermediate stop on our way to Chiang Rai in Thailand.

Bus station in Nong Khiaw.

Practical info:

  • minivan to Nong Khiaw from Luang Prabang - 4h, 75k KIP per person
  • entrance to the Pha Daeng Peak viewpoint (first day) - 20k KIP per person
  • entrance to Sleeping Woman Viewpoint/Nong Khiaw View Point 2 (both the same entrance)- 15k KIP per person
  • lunch/dinner - 60k KIP for both of us, we definitely recommend Noymany Restaurant
  • smoothie - 8k KIP per person
  • room - 70k KIP per night, not marked on the map, just next to Nong Khiaw Bridge (site from the city center, owners have a small shop in front of it and sell fruits next to the road). It is marked as a starting point of our first hike, see map inside the post
  • laundry at our guesthouse- 20k KIP