Nong Khiaw

A day on the Nam Ou River from Nong Khiaw to Muang Khua

There was a comparatively short drive from Nam Et to Nong Khiaw, which is a fairly typical small Lao town, which offers a couple of small hotels and some backpacker guest houses. The raison d'etre of the town today is to provide accommodation and food to tourists "doing" Nam Ou cruises in long tail boats

The Nam Ou ( translates as "rice bowl river") is one of the most important rivers of Laos. It runs 448 km from Phongsaly Province to Luang Prabang Province. Along with the Mekong, the Nam Ou is the only natural channel suitable for large-draft boat transportation. Near its confluence with the Mekong are the Pak Ou Caves, famous for their Buddha statues which we saw a few days later

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Our hotel, The River Side, was an "old fashioned" group of 15 individual lodges on the banks of the river. I say old fashioned, in the sense that it was built many years ago, and somehow maintenance has not kept up with the passage of time. It was however quite charming.

The lodges are strung out along the river, so #14 is a long walk from reception. The property is quite old, and maintenance perhaps a bit lacking. This hotel needs a bit of TLC to smarten it up. Probably Mandala Ou Resort has overtaken it as best hotel in the area.

Rooms are comfortable, but cold in cold weather - the rather ancient "hot light" box under the beds does not do much to warm them. you just have to add blankets for warmth. The electricity supply to the room is antediluvian

We enjoyed both breakfast and dinner in the open dining room overlooking the river

I would certainly recommend the hotel, with the reservations I have stated. What it lacks in maintenance, it makes up for with charm

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Nam Ou River

Our trip up the Nam Ou started in the company of 2 Buddhist monks who wanted to hitch a lift (we dropped them off after a few hours). There was spectacular scenery along the way. We had a stop at a tribal village, a picnic on a sand bar on the river, and we saw two ways of extracting gold - the first by brute force of dredging buckets, the second by individuals panning for it.

A wander through the village Muang Khua when we arrived at the last stop, to stretch our legs and admire the hardware, like rat traps, for sale in the local ferreteria.

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From this village it was by car to Muang La Hotel

On to Muang La

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