Travel Guide to Phongsaly

Ready to explore Laos’ northernmost Final Frontier? Here’s how to do it.

Travel Guide to Phongsaly

Phongsaly, Laos’ northernmost province, pokes into China and northern Vietnam, and remains one of the least visited provinces in the country. Small pockets of little known ethnic groups live in remote mountain villages that were once part of neighboring nations.

There are several ways to get to and around the province, and accommodation can be found in all the districts. And, with so many treks and excursions in its jungles, the most difficult choice in visiting Phongsaly is where to go.

Lao Skyways offers four flights a week from Vientiane to Phongsaly Province (Boun Neua District Airport). The province can also be reached by bus from Vientiane, Luang Prabang, and Oudomxay, as well as Vietnam. Boat service on the Nam Ou River is available from Nong Khiaw.

You can get around the province by tuk tuk, sawng taew (Pickup trucks with benches), and boats, which are available in district centres. You can also rent bicycles for about $1-2 per day. Motorbikes are available for hire in Phongsaly Town, Luang Namtha, Luang Prabang, and Oudomxay. Tour operators offer transportation and itineraries to popular attractions and activities, with local guides adding greater insight into the province’s historical, cultural, and natural sites.

Phongsaly Province offers 8 hotels and some 50 guesthouses, and establishments are available in all the district centres. Hotels generally range in price from $25-100. Modern facilities are available depending on the price. Most guesthouses run between $15-25. Homestays and village lodges are a mainstay for the province’s treks and excursions.

Phongsaly offers more than 65 restaurants and other dining options throughout the province. The largest selection is in Phongsaly Town. Most eateries serve Lao and Yunnan cuisine, which often uses forest ingredients such as fragrant herbs, bamboo, and rattan shoots. The wild honey is fruity and its taste varies depending on where it was harvested. The rare Mak Ku forest nuts can be found at markets in winter. The province’s specialty is tom pa (fish soup), which originated in China, and is often served with noodles, potatoes, vegetables, and mushrooms.

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