Man standing at the top of the Viempoint in Nong Khiaw, Laos looking out over the valley and Nam Ou River

Nong Khiaw, Laos Destination Guide

Nong Khiaw, will forever hold a special place in our hearts. In 14 months of continuous travel, this quaint, quiet town was one of our absolute favorites.

Why?

Well, you’ll just have to keep reading our Nong Khiaw destination guide to find out 🙂

And, if you’re thinking of traveling with your partner, check out how to travel together and still love each other after!

View from balcony of guesthouse overlooking the Nam Ou River and bridge through town in Nong Khiaw Laos

Nong Khiaw, Laos

Nong Khiaw is a small village in Northern Laos that straddles the Nam Ou River. Quaint guest houses, family homes, amazing food, friendly faces, and dirt roads line the river. Narrow footpaths wind through the jungle and lead to incredible hikes up breathtaking limestone mountains.

The views from the top are some of the most beautiful we’ve seen in our entire lives.

Traveler sitting at the top of a viewpoint in Nong, Khiaw Laos looking over a winding Nam Ou river and limestone mountains

It’s not unusual for visitors to be rendered speechless by the beauty that surrounds them as they walk over the enormous bridge that straddles the Nam Ou River in the middle of town.

We spent our days lounging and reading in our ENO hammock and sitting on our deck overlooking the monstrous river. Hiking to the top of mountains, watching sunsets, and laughing with local children. Walking over dirt roads and through family compounds and eating incredible Laotian food. We watched incredible monsoons roll in and power outages arrive and met some of the friendliest people we’ve met on our journey.

Sunset

A truly unforgettable experience.

Is Nong Khiaw Worth Visiting?

We’d say ABSOLUTELY! If you’re an explorer who likes to enjoy life one adventure at a time, add Nong Khiaw to your list.

There are endless places to explore and the slow pace of life makes it the perfect place to sit back and relax for a little while too.

TJ sitting in his ENO hammock reading a book on our balcony above the Nam Ou river in Nong Khiaw, Laos

We enjoy staying in smaller towns where we have great opportunities to interact with locals and Nong Khiaw was just that…. With an enormous dose of natural beauty thrown in!

How to get to Nong Khiaw, Laos?

This beautiful village is a 3-4 hour drive from Luang Prabang, Laos (Luang Prabang has its own airport). You can easily hire a private car, or hop in a minivan to take the beautiful journey through the mountains.

Expansive Nam Ou river that runs through the middle of Nong Khiaw, Laos with lush, green mountains on either side

We opted for the minivan and had a great time chatting with fellow travelers and locals as we watched luscious scenery zoom by. Your hotel/hostel can set the ride up for you. Or, you can walk around to different travel agencies (our preference) and compare prices.

If you prefer taking a boat, the trip increases to 6-7 hours along the Mekong and Nam Ou rivers and is a wonderful experience. Make sure you bring water and snacks for the journey! It can get quite warm.

Traditional, long river boat traveling down the river in Laos

A Few Logistics:

  • The boat station is located close to the bridge
  • The minivan station is located a bit out of town (per usual) – you can walk into town or hop in an open-air truck
  • There are a handful of ATMs, each with a 1,500,000 kip maximum
  • There is 4G services with Lao Telecom but Wi-Fi is spotty and unstable – or may be available in common areas but not in your room

Where to Stay in Nong Khiaw

As tourism began to flourish in the area, guest houses began popping up all along the river. The result: a slightly Tetris-like array of buildings and homes scattered onto the hillside above the river.

Guest houses line the hillside above the river in Nong Khiaw, Laos

Booking lodging ahead of time is an option, but we opted for picking a place once we arrived. This gave us the chance to walk around, check out rooms, and see where we really wanted to be.

Once you arrive, spend some time walking around and you’re sure to find a place you like.

We stayed in a small hut at Sunrise Guesthouse with an incredible view of the river below and the enormous bridge through the middle of town.

While there, an enormous storm rolled in that blew out almost the entire town’s power and made some roofs flap in the heavy winds. It was an intense and jaw-droppingly beautiful experience as we took in Mother Nature’s strength and beauty form the safety of our porch.

Sunlight peaking through the clouds, over the river, after a tremendous rain storm in Nong Khiaw, Laos

How Long Should You Stay in Nong Khiaw?

Depends on how much time you have. Our answer would be – the more the better!

We only had three days as we had pre-booked the Gibbon Experience in Huay Xai, Laos (yes, we stayed in that treehouse below!). That said, we could have easily spent a week enjoying the natural beauty, relaxing, and spending time with local families as we enjoyed our meals.

Treehouse suspended in the tree canopy of the jungle in Northern Laos as part of the Gibbon Experience

Where to Eat in Nong Khiaw?

Your guesthouse will certainly serve food – at least breakfast if not full service. We ate at Sunrise a few times but enjoyed exploring other restaurants too! Some to check out include:

  • Mekara Lao (best Laotian Breakfast!)
  • Deen’s Indian Restaurant (we’re suckers for Indian food & this was delicious!)
  • Sabai Sabi (Western-Asian fusion)

Laotian food is delicious!

Things to do in Nong Khiaw

Nong Khiaw is a little slice of paradise for the avid explorer who also enjoys a bit of relaxation.

Woman sitting on a rock outcropping at the top of a viewpoint overlooking Nong Khiaw, Laos

  • 100 Waterfalls Trek (you don’t just see waterfalls, you actually hike through them!)
  • Kayak along the Nam Ou
  • Hike to the top of the Viewpoint (Ban Sop Houn) – a MUST in our book 🙂 – yes, it’s the one in the photo above
  • Enjoy traditional, delicious Laotian food
  • Play with local children in the river
  • Simply walk through town and take in your surroundings

Home

  • Rent bicycles and explore the surrounding area as roads float by under your tires
  • Visit Pha Kuang Cave – make sure you bring a headlamp!
  • Relax in an herbal steam bath (available at Sabai Sabai restaurant)
  • Watch a movie at Coco Home
  • Take in the sunset from a riverside bar
  • Take a day trip or spend a few nights upriver at Muang Ngoi Neua

Well, there you have it. If you’re anything like us, you’re itching to go visit this wonderful village. Let us know how you like it! We’ll certainly be back someday soon.

Quaint town of Nong Khiaw with buildings scattered along the road, power lines ahead, and enormous limestone mountains

Share this: Let us know if you have any questions about Nong Khiaw in the comments and be sure to share the stories of your adventures with us on Facebook and Instagram (tag @LifeIsMeantForExploring to make sure we see it!). Have fun exploring Nong Khiaw!

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Life Is Meant For Exploring

At Life Is Meant For Exploring we help promote and inspire a life of exploration with a focus on travel, outdoor adventure, experiencing local culture, and breaking away from the pack to forge a path of your very own. Our promise is to share crazy and honest stories, epic photography, thoughtful reflections & culturally respectful realities. Whether you’re traveling the world, sitting in your backyard, or looking for a fresh start, our goal is to show you how to enjoy life one adventure at a time.

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