Riding the Mekong and Nam Ou rivers to Nong Khiaw

We almost missed our very crowded little motor boat to Nong Khiaw this morning. Despite not getting a seat, i rather preferred our seating arrangement : behind the driver on cushions on the floor, plenty of room to spread our legs and plenty of sun glorious sun! The scenery we passed through was awesome : imposing mountains and caves interspersed with tiny Lao villages on the rivers edge. We also witnessed several groups of Lao children bathing in the water, fishing, swimming or climbing on the rocks. From the moment they saw our boat approaching, they would jump up, wave frantically and greet us with calls of “Sabaai-dii!”, their cheerful faces lit up like they didn’t have a care in the world.
Boat journey Luang Prabang to Nong Khiaw
  • Boats leave daily at 9am
  • Cost from $9 – $12 depending on which travel agent you buy your ticket from
  • Journey takes approximately 7hrs
  • Boat makes only 1 ‘toilet stop’ on a deserted beach so be prepared for the lack of privacy!
  • There are no stops for food (unless you count a couple of handfuls of the driver’s sticky rice!) or drink so bring your own

When we arrived at Nong Khiaw we were blown away and definitely agreed we’d made the right decision on our chosen destination : brightly painted paddle boats rocking gently on the calm blue water, which glistened in the sun. Bamboo huts nestled high up on the banks of the river and towering mountains rising up behind them, the tops of the mountains disappearing into the clouds scattered across the sky.

We searched out Bamboo Paradise Guesthouse on a recommendation from a Dutch guy we spoke to when we arrived. $4 per night bought us our own little bamboo hut with balcony (and 2 little wicker chairs) overlooking the imposing stone bridge which linked the two sides of the village across the Nam ou river. It had a pretty garden decorated with (amongst other things) dismantled bombs and strange little straw figures hanging from the trees!

Electricity was very limited in Nong Khiaw so most of our evening was spent by candlelight at the Sunset Restaurant. It was the first place in Laos that i’d seen river moss (a Lao speciality) on the menu so we decided to be brave and give our tastebuds a treat. We were not disappointed : it’s dried, cooked in oil and garlic and coated in sesame seeds, and tastes delicious.

Lao food is a lot less spicy than Thai food, so even if you ask for it “very very spicy” (as James does), it isn’t going to blow the roof of your mouth off by any stretch of the imagination. It’s also a lot easier to get vegetarian food here than i’d imagined. Almost every menu i’ve seen has a vegetarian or “Vegetable” section.

Photo is of some of the Lao children who greeted us on the boat journey to Nong Khiaw

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