Luang Namtha Province has worn Laos’ adventure travel crown since the 1990s, with tre
kking to ethnic village homestays as its most valuable gem. Travelers quickly descended on Luang Namtha Town to hike in the Nam Ha National Protected Area (NPA), while those wanting to stretch the envelope soon headed to Sing District, which became an instant hit.
However, the province is not resting on its laurels, and continues growing while following a community-based tourism (CBT) strategy that more fairly spreads the benefits. Tour operators in the provincial capital are now combining activities and offering more hands-on experiences. Sing District recently
tapped the “Green Triangle”, where Laos, China, and Myanmar meet, and historic Xieng Khaeng.
The recently completed Lao Route 3 linking Thailand with China rolls right by Vieng Phoukha, pushing the district up the CBT ladder. Occupying the southeast corner of the Nam Ha NPA, Vieng Phoukha offers soft and hard adventures, from easy-to-explore Kao Rao Cave to sleeping in a jungle camp.
The tendrils of responsible tourism now reach Long District. You can trek to timeless mountain villages or take a motorbike tour to Xieng Kok, a venerable Mekong trading town. Rafting
adventures are in the pipeline.
Not to be left out, Nalae on the Nam Tha is growing into Luang Namtha’s top river destination. Renting a boat is de rigueur for visiting ethnic villages. A few cave treks with homestays are available, and kayaking just arrived.
With Luang Namtha’s adventure tours reaching further and offering higher quality experiences, the crown looks set to stay on its mountaintops.