Muang Ngoi Neua
Muang Ngoi Neua is a small riverside village in Northern Laos wedged in between karst mountains at the confluence of the Nam Ngoi and the Nam Ou rivers. In the last few years it is beginning to appear as a destination on the Banana Pancake Trail as a backpacker favorite. Nevertheless, it remains a low-key destination in a stunning location. Interesting hikes can be made to tribal villages in the area.
2 minivans per day from Luang Prabang to Nong Khiaw (3.5 hours, 09:00, 10:30) Take the connecting 1-hour boatride from Nong Khiaw (daily, 11:00 and 14:00, 25,000 kip) or, if you're coming from the north, grab the 5-hour boat from Muang Khua (100.000 kip., 09:30 if at least 12 people)
- Tham Kang Cave and Tham Pha Kaew Cave (From the main street, take the second street left, cross the wooden bridge and soccer field and continue straight). These caves were bomb shelters during the Vietnam War. North of town, about 50 min by foot and can be found without a guide. Continue past the caves for about 45 min to reach Ban Na village for lunch. 5,000 kip.
- Nam Ou Beach. At the end of the dry season when the water is low, take a cool splash in the Nam Ou or sip from a cocktail on a bamboo chaise longue.
- Phetdavanh Book Exchange. Change your old books for new ones at this 2 for 1 book exchange with more than 300 titles.
- Visit Surrounding Villages (Bana, Huay Bo, and Huay Sen) (To Bana, walk ~30 min past Tham Kang Cave. It's on the left side across the rice fields. To Huay Bo, you'll need to walk another 20 min past Bana by crossing the river. To Huay Bo, follow the sign to Konsavan Guesthouse that'll lead you across the river). There are guest houses in all 3 villages, costing 5,000-15,000 kip for a bungalow.
- Aloune Mai (Halfway down the main street on the right). Good Lao food and cold Beerlao. Makes its own bread and pizza dough.
- (Immediately left of the boat landing). Open all year. Solid and clean. Boasts big wooden balcony and marble table seats on the grass.
- Meen Indian Restaurant (At the far part of the main street, look for the black sign on the left side..). Tasty Indian and Lao food.
- Nicksa's Place (In the middle of the main road on the right-hand side). Nicksa's Place has 2 restaurants, 50 m away from each other on the main road. The furthest one offers good prices and a very quiet view on the river.
- Ning Ning Restaurant (Left of the boat landing stairs take the path passing the boat office). Open all year. Big open-air terrace overlooking the Nam Ou. Best view in town.
- Phetdavanh Guesthouse. 07:30 - 10:30. All-you-can-eat breakfast buffet. Food in buffet is not anything special but good quantity for the money. First house on the main street with a stone step. 25.000.
- Penny's Bar (On the left when arriving by boat at the edge of the village). 18:00-22:00. Charming bamboo bar nestled under two big intertwined trees, overlooking the Nam Ou. Great spot in high season with fireplace on the beach.
- Bee Tree Bar. 17:00 - 22:00. Nice spot completely at the long end of the main road on the left. Bar with stools, couches and fireplace. Great Italian red wine.
- (On the main street as well as close to the river). Upmarket choice. Hardwood bungalows with en suite bath, nice garden and good restaurant. 100,000+ kip.
- Niksa's Bungalows (Halfway down main road, on the right). Riverside bungalows with attached bath, and two hammocks for each bungalow. Friendly staff. Seems to be one of the best budget options. 30,000 kip low season.
- Ning Ning Bungalows. Clean wooden bungalows overlooking the Nam Ou.
- Phetdavanh Guesthouse & Bungalows (Far left of the boat dock). Bungalows with private bath, comfy beds, and superb view over the river. Has a big book collection in the guesthouse on the main street. 50,000 kip low-season.
- Rainbow Guesthouse. 3-storey concrete building with restaurant overlooking the river, close to the boat steps, tallest building in town. Basic rooms with fan and mosquito net. Better take a look on the mattress before checking in, they are not necessarily cleaned on regular basis (if ever). 80.000 kip a night (feb 2015), 50,000 low season (May 2015).
- Aloune Mai (Look for the sign on the main street half way through on the left). Private bungalows with hammock in a hidden away spot deep inside the village. Great outdoor seating with bar & restaurant. 50,000 kip.
- Lertkeo. Solid and clean bungalows with riverview about two thirds down the main road, turn right at Meen restaurant. 50,000 kip.
- Veranda. Offers 3 bungalows with river view, down the main road. Spacious and clean bungalows, with mosquito net, attached bathroom, balcony and hammock. 60,000 kips (high season) for the biggest bungalow (two persons in a three beds room).
Bring boots/old shoes if you arrive in rainy season, as roads are unpaved and can get muddy.
Take the public boat to Nong Khiaw (daily, 09:30, 25,000 kip) to continue to Luang Prabang or charter a boat to Muang Khua for connections to Sam Neua and Vietnam. It is also possible to make a one day hike or kayak trip back to Nong Khiaw.