Ban Nam Dee may only be a 10-minute drive from Luang Namtha Town, but it seems like 100 miles away. The ethnic Lanten “Good Water Village” popped onto tourism maps a decade ago as the last stop on the Tea Caravan Trail from Bokeo to the Chinese border in north-western Laos.
Back then, the fledgling CBT village had a pair of trails leading to a picnic platform over the Nam Dee Waterfall. The village presented a small handicraft shop and a refreshment stall.
Today, Ban Nam Dee is an easy-to-access – Lao Skyway offers Vientiane-Luang Namtha flights five days a week at 15:00 – responsible tourism success story with a new website.
Known as river dwellers wearing traditional indigo clothing, the Lanten produce high quality cotton cloth, wooden ceremonial masks and durable bamboo paper. Having migrated from China, they practice a mix of Taoism, and ancestor and spirit worship.
Nam Dee now offers three programmes fit for all levels of tourists and families. The one-day guided tour takes in the waterfall, mountain trekking, and village life.
The Homestay Package immerses visitors in the Lanten culture and traditions. The activity packed experience includes participating in a Baci-ceremony, dining on local meals, staying overnight with a family, learning how to make paper from bamboo, weave and dye. Visitors also take a short trek in a protected forest, visit the waterfall, and take part in day-to-day work.
A study tour includes village sightseeing, observing the village’s way of life, and visiting the occupation groups. Overnight homestay options are also available.
About 1,500 tourists annually visit Ban Nam Dee and generate about $10,000 per year, a leap from the $2,000 achieved in 2005. Each homestay household earns $400-500 per year, and 10 percent of revenue goes to village development.