My Top 5 destinations in South East Asia No. 2

2. Nong Khiaw, Laos

Before heading to Nong Khiaw we took an inland flight to the far North of Laos to do some jungle trekking and stay with one of the many hill tribes. On the flight from capital Vientiane to Luang Namtha we saw the impenetrable jungle mountains and rivers we were going to travel back in the next 2 weeks.

A day later we went kayaking into the jungle of Nam Ha National Park and stopped for lunch where some local boys spend their sunday fishing, swimming and enjoying their fire.

Local kids making fire and fishing in Nam Ha NP in Northern Laos.

(1/200, f5.6, iso200, 28mm)

We went on and just before dark we arrived at our destination: a small bamboo hut in a hill tribe village. We witnessed the primitive village life of living with animals, farming all day and drinking at night on repeat.
The poverty of these people who still died from malaria, suffered from bad harvests or died because they weren´t able to do the 4-hour jungle hike to ´civilisation´ was another lesson how immensely fortunate lives we live.

Kids playing in a hilltribe village in Northern Laos

(1/125, F54 ISO125, 29mm)

I was intrigued by all the free roaming animals sharing the space in between the houses.

All kind of animals share the space at a hilltribe vilalge in Nam Ha National Park, Laos

(1/160, f4, iso125, 54mm)

After a half-day jungle hike and a day by minivan through the green mountains of Northern Laos we finally arrived in my second favorite destination in South East Asia, Nong Khiaw.
And to find the northernmost pool in Laos in our guesthouse was a luxury I could not resist.
Also a first on my blog of me in a photo!

The northernmost pool in Laos
(1/1250, f2, iso500, 12mm)

The owner, his wife, the people working there and the amazing bungalows with riverview balcony made the Mandala Ou resort one of my favorite accommodations in Asia.

Next day we explored the area and village by bike and we visited the cave where the villagers hid when the US bombers were flying over, sometimes for months and therefor the huge cave was like a small town with space for a police office, a hospital and stores inside.

Huge cave system used in Vietnam war near Nong Khiaw, Laos
(1/15, f4, iso800, 10mm)

After this depressing sight we sat outside the cave and were enlightened by the pure fun the local kids had jumping, washing and swimming in the river as if nothing ever happened here.

Kids playing, washing and swimming outside the hiding cave outside Nong Khiaw, Laos

(1/640, 4, iso100, 10mm)

Next day we started early to do an upriver boattrip and this turned out to be the most scenic I´ve done so far.
We departed while the mountains were still covered with mist…

Morning mist over the Nam Ou river in Nong Khiaw, Laos
(1/100, f6.3, iso200, 17mm)

…but after an hour the clouds slowly dissappeared and those sheer mountain cliffs showed their grandeur.

Boat trip from Nong Khiaw to Muang Ngoi in Laos
(1/640, f9, iso200 ,12mm)

First stop was the one street rivertown called Ban Sop Jam

The village Ban Sop Jam famous for its silk and cotton weaving, Laos

(1/50, f8, iso200, 17mm)

…which is famous for its silk and cotton weaving.

Silk and cotton weaving outside huts in Ban Sop Jam along the Nam Ou river in Northern Laos.

(1/320, f8, iso200, 35mm)

Then another short boatride.

Boat trip along the majestic cliffs on the Nam Ou river, Laos

(1/640, f9, iso200, 10mm)

We arrived in the old hippie village Muang Ngoi with majestic views over the river and mountains all around. One of the restaurant owners told us that not more than 20 years ago the wild elephants where still seen bathing in the waters.
After an afternoon of hiking, caving and enjoying the terraces on the water, we went back to the river during sunset.

And all the mountains that were shrouded in clouds in the morning were now covered in golden light…

Golden sunset over the Nam Our river in Nong Khiaw, Laos

(1/640, f6.3, iso400, 34mm)

When we arrived back in Nong Khiaw we had one look at the river from the bridge and then biked through town back to our pool!

Sunset over the river in Nong Khiaw, Laos

(1/250, f6.3, iso210, 17mm)

I really wish we were able to enjoy this laidback place and its majestic location longer. Especially after another long busride South to Luang Prabang, which is still a great destination but definitely on the tourist trail…

32 thoughts on “My Top 5 destinations in South East Asia No. 2

  1. Your photos!!!! I was there in February and it was my favourite place of our Cambodia and Laos travels. The Mandela Ou was completely booked when we were there…too bad. Thanks for the amazing memories!

  2. oh my goodness, what gorgeous photos! Such stunning vistas.
    But those children … so thin.
    Your comment about poverty really resonated

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