Nong Khiaw is a great small town to stop in during your travels through Laos or to use as a base for some rustic hikes around the mountains. If you stop here you’ll undoubtedly enjoy your quiet stay and leave with some beautiful photos.
Here are the best things to do in Nong Khiaw:
1. Rock Climbing in Nong Khiaw
Hailed as Laos’ answer to the famed region of Krabi in Thailand, the limestone formations in close proximity to town offer both technical and beginner routes. Numerous outfits in town can provide equipment rental, guided tours and even introductory courses.
2. Trekking in Nong Khiaw
With more trails than you can throw a stick at, you will not be left wanting when it comes to the types of trekking on offer around town. From half-day walks in the countryside to multi-day jaunts exploring the hill tribes and challenging terrain there is something for everyone.
3. ‘100 Waterfalls Tour’
Claimed to be one of the best hikes in Laos, and only recently “discovered”, the 100 Waterfalls tour takes you through some pristine cascades. An option of visiting a village is also available.
4. Climb to the Viewpoint
A steep and demanding climb on the east side of the town takes you up to a spectacular viewpoint. Best tackled early in the morning to beat the heat, this is a must-do to witness some of the best views in Laos.
5. Kayaking in Nong Khiaw
What riverside town would be complete without the enjoyable adventures of kayaking? Rent one for a few hours or a few days and paddle your way to neighbouring villages, some of which can only be reached via the water.
6. Visit Pha Tok Cave
During the second Indochina war, this cave was used to shelter villagers and fighters. Only 2km from town this makes for an interesting sight for those interested in the brutal history of this Asian nation.
7. Head off Cycling
Renting a bicycle and riding down the many tracks and trails is a great way to spend a day. Ride out to waterfalls, villages or just admire the scenery from two wheels.
8. Go bamboo rafting
When you visit Nong Khiaw, there are a number of ways that you can experience the gorgeous Nam Ou River that cleaves through the center of town.
One of the most unique however is to sign up for a spot of bamboo rafting which, as the name suggests, means that you get to sit atop a raft made of bamboo which has been lashed together.
You will then get to float down the river and, as the rafts have open sides, enjoy unspoilt views of the surrounding countryside.
9. Try the local food
Laos is not as well known on the world food scene as other countries in Southeast Asia such as Thailand, which is a shame as it boasts a number of delicious local delicacies.
With that in mind, make sure that you don’t miss these when you are in Nong Khiaw, and sample plates such as the national dish of Laos which is called laap or laab.
This is made of meat which is finely chopped into a salad and then served with herbs, chilies and spices, usually with a side of the local sticky rice.
10. Go Zip Lining
Nong Khiaw is known for its idyllic jungle which encircles the town and which is one of the highlights of a trip here.
If you want to experience this firsthand however, then you can try one of the newest activities in Nong Khiaw which is zip lining.
There are a variety of different companies that now offer zip lining facilities, and the longest zip line in Nong Khiaw takes you some 400 meters through the forest canopy.
11. Have a herbal steam bath
Laos is famous for its massages and herbal treatments, which can come as a welcome relief, particularly if you have spent the day trekking to the mountains or caves around Nong Khiaw.
The traditional sauna experience in Laos is called herbal steam bath and you will get to luxuriate in a sealed room which is filled with steam and aromatic herbs that are said to help cleanse the body and alleviate fatigue.
Most steam bath experiences usually end with soothing body massage.