Saturday, September 5, 2009

Muang Ngoi, Laos

Looking for a out-of-the-beaten-path place to visit in Laos? While Luang Prabang is an excellent laidback place to chill out, it is still the most visited place for travellers to Laos. For a less frequented destination, check out Muang Ngoi.

Muang Ngoi is a wonderful idyllic village, set on the shores of Nam Ou (one of the tributary rivers of the mighty Mekong). One of the reasons it is less visited is because, the village is only accessible by boat! From Luang Prabang, a 3-hr minivan ride will bring you to the village of Nong Khiaw, whereby you will then transfer to a passenger-cum-goods boat. After another 1-hr of boat ride, you will then reach Muang Ngoi!

However, once you get through all that effort, you will be transported back to time. Bamboo mat huts, chickens digging and clucking outside, children squealing and running around; the whole ambience and atmosphere is that of a "kampung" of days gone by. Amenities is really basic, and the room that I had consists of only a bamboo mat bed with a mosquito net and a candle! Electricity is available only from 7pm to 10pm via a generator, and even then, supply is dodgy. But for only US$1.50 a night, there's little I can complain!

There is some simple hiking that you can do around the village but other than that, it is just the place for you to get away. Of course, some of the items in the cafe menu in the village may be alittle western-influenced, but that may actually make the overall experience more palatable after all!

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