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Nong Khiaw (Nong Kiau or Nong Kiew) is a rustic little town on the bank of the Ou River in Laos. It is squeezed in between some of the most fantastic limestone mountains to be found north of Vang Vieng.
Many travellers pass through on the way up river to the even more isolated Muang Ngoi, but Nong Khiaw has a plenty of charm, a decent range of accommodation, plus conveniences like 24-hour electricity and a connection to the road network for those interested in exploring the surrounding area.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Nong Khiaw is between October and February. The weather is not hot, and the humidity is less during these months. It is a great time to be outdoors for hiking, cycling and exploring the caves. 

From late February, summer sets in slowly with March to May being the hottest months. 

Monsoon begins in late July and lasts until September, with the city witnessing landslides and floods. 

Check the below table for the general idea of Nong khiaw weather throughout the year.

Month Avg. High (°C) Avg. Mean (°C) Avg. Low (°C)
Jan 25.6 18.6 11.2
Feb 28.9 21.2 11.8
Mar 30.7 23.6 14.6
Apr 31.9 26.2 18.7
May 31.8 27.1 20.8
Jun 30.4 26.8 22.4
Jul 29.3 26.1 22.3
Aug 29.8 26 21.9
Sep 30 25.9 21.3
Oct 29.1 24.4 18.8
Nov 27 21.4 15.4
Dec 25.1 19.1 12.7

Nong Khiaw's current weather and 7-day forecast

NONG KHIAW WEATHER

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.

Nong Khiaw has a good selection of sleeping options. The best location to find a good guesthouse is on the east side of the river, over the bridge. Here you can find many budget options ranging from riverfront bungalows to motel-style rooms.

A huge benefit of being on the east side of the river is the chance to enjoy the sunset from your hammock, in which most accommodations have swinging outside your door.

Budget options

Bamboo Paradise

Has both rooms and bungalows with private hot showers. Bungalows have river view. Free Wi-Fi. Basic restaurant. Mind that the rooms have no bars on the windows and the mosquito net can easily be removed so take care of your cash. 

Budget: 30,000 kip low-season.

Meexai Bungalows (on the east side)

Cheap guesthouse. Free Wi-Fi. Prices everywhere seemed much higher than listed here, with 60'000 kip in the low season and 70,000 kip during high season, being about the lowest. Friendly owner. The great views have been blocked by new building project (guesthouse by Sunrise Bungalows), some of the views still left on the far end corner of the house (room 5 upstairs, room 10 downstairs, though there is the Wi-Fi weak). Clean and spacious rooms with tall ceiling but could really use more amenities inside the room, i.e. only one small table provided. 

Budget: 60-70,000 kip. 

Nam Houn Guesthouse (on the east side of the river)

Six bamboo bungalows in the garden, other more back facing the small river and Ou river. Each hut has a small veranda with a table, hammock, and nice attached bathroom with hot shower. In addition, there are three new concrete bungalows in the garden. 

Budget: 60,000 kip. 

Nam Ou River Lodge

It is run by the creator of the 100 waterfalls trek and he speaks English very well. Wonderful river views from this guesthouse. 

Budget: 80,000 kip with a private bath. 

Sangdao Chittavong Guesthouse (W side of bridge)

Bungalow with private bath, clean, mosquito nets, cold water showers, no Wi-Fi. 

Budget: 50-60,000 kip. 

Sunrise Bungalows (next to the bridge on the E side)

Solidly-built wooden bungalows with hammocks offer great river views, although the attached baths are rather primitive.

Run by a very friendly older couple, they are never too busy for a quick chat. 

Budget: 30,000-60,000 kip. 

Sunset Guesthouse (on the E side)

Food quality varies depending on who is making it. 

Budget: 100,000 kip for bungalows with private bath in low season. Basic rooms at 50,000 kip, bungalows with private bath at 150,000 kip.

Mid-range options

Nong Kiau Riverside (on the river's E side)

Overlooking the river, it's the best upmarket choice, featuring big bungalows with kettle, private balcony, deckchairs and attached bathrooms with hot water. Free Wi-Fi in the restaurant area. Rents mountain bikes, and can set up a range of transportation or tour options. Great restaurant. 

Mandala Ou Resort

Bungalow eco resort, featuring Nong Khiaw's only swimming pool, situated high on the banks of the scenic and tranquil Nam Ou river. Offers 10 spacious, clean & comfortable detached bungalows with eco-friendly ceramic heaters. Free bike rental for guests. Hosts regular yoga retreat long weekends, professionally run by Luang Prabang Yoga, held on the purpose-built yoga sala above the Nam Ou river. Free resort-wide WiFi coverage with decent 5Mbit/s internet connection. Board games, books. The restaurant is known for its delicious Western, Thai and Lao dishes prepared to order using fresh local produce. The poolside bar serves wine and beer, classic cocktails and fresh fruit shakes/smoothies.

 

Nong Khiaw has a surprisingly good food scene, so whatever you are looking for here, you should be able to find a mix of different influences. There are a wide number of Laotian restaurants, as you would expect, where you can try the local delicacies, but you will also find a few Indian restaurants as well as some international eateries which are often attached to the local guesthouses and hotels.

Breakfast

If you want to start the day the right way in Nong Khiaw then head for Delilah’s which is one the main street in town and is known as a popular breakfast location. Here you will find a wide selection of breakfast items such as breads, pastries and cereal and the cafe is known for using local ingredients without additives of MSG. They also have free Wi-Fi available.

Western and International Food

For something a little different in Nong Khiaw try Deen Restaurant which is an Indian restaurant by the main bridge on the western side of the river. The chefs are part of the Indian community in Laos and you will find toothsome curries served here and this is a good spot if you are looking for vegetarian options. Expect to pay around USD 1 for vegetable dishes and USD 2 for meat based plates. Another good Indian option is Chennai Restaurant which serves up curries from both north and south India and has a range of vegetarian and meat based options for around USD 2 – 5.

Across from Deen Restaurant is Mackana which is a popular spot and has Laotian and Western bites available. Perhaps surprisingly they are known for their large German breakfasts which were passed on by German friends of the owner, and you can also get tasty sandwiches here. They also have a good range of drinks such as coffees and teas.

Local Food

If you want to try some local plates then you might want to visit Morning Dew Restaurant which is close to the main bridge and has Lao dishes as well as freshly made baguettes and sandwiches. They also serve delicious Lao coffee and Lao beer.

Another good Lao option is Noy Many which is also close to the bridge and has beautiful views over the nearby limestone karsts. There is a large menu here of Lao classics such as the national dish which is called laap. This is basically minced meat in a kind of salad made from chopped herbs, spices and chillies, and you can also get another Lao specialty here called sticky rice which is served with mango and best eaten with your hands.

Also a good option if you want Lao dishes is Namlin Restaurant which offers delicious laap and an excellent range of freshly squeezed juices. It is located on the way back from the caves on the outskirts of Nong Khiaw so this is a great choice if you want to grab a drink and some food after your hike.

Drinking Spots

Nong Khiaw is not well known for its nightlife scene but you can still get some drinks in the evenings if you know where to look. One spot is Hive Bar which is made up of a small outside terrace with some nice views and you can try local cocktails here made with fresh herbs. They also have a happy hour from 5.30 pm to 7.30 pm.

Another choice similar to Hive Bar is Q Bar which has cocktails, wine and beer on the menu and also serves food and snacks. They also do a delicious traditional Lao barbecue set and have a happy hour from 5.30 pm to 7.30 pm.

Get in

By Bus

The best way to reach Nong Khiaw is via public transport. Local buses from Luang Prabang can take you to the town of Pak Mong, where you can hail a tuk-tuk to take you the rest of the way to Nong Khiaw. From Udomxai buses may be found to take you straight to Nong Khiaw, but be prepared for a changeover somewhere along the line. Alternatively, minivans can be booked for the entire journey (at a slightly higher price) from Luang Prabang.

We recommend you check the latest bus schedule and price via rome2rio.com

By Boat

With the building of a hydroelectric dam, it is now no longer possible to take a boat trip direct from Luang Prabang to Nong Khiaw. If money is no option, or you have a large enough group of people, you can charter a boat to take you to the dam where you can walk or negotiate a ride to the other side then continue the journey on a different boat.

Get around

Nong Khiaw is simple in layout and small enough to walk around. It's possible to rent a bike to explore the village.

Contact us to get more information

TOUR PACKAGES INCLUDING "Nong Khiaw"

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Laos BLOG ARTICLES

Though opened to tourism since the last 20 years, Laos still has many hidden places or gems that are waiting for the curious explorers. 

Xe Champhone Loop is one of the places.

Early September 2022, we made an Educ tour here, under the operation of Tetraktys Organization to explore the loop, which was an effort to promote the area to the international tourists.

We were impressed with what we saw and learnt here. The area is full of interesting nature spots, traditional culture, and hospitable hosts.

Below is everything you need to know about the area.

Stay tuned!

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The romance of train travel is alive and well in Laos. The recently-completed high-speed railway that stretches from Vientiane, through Laos, and into southern China is operating ‘full steam’ ahead. 

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Luang Prabang will celebrate the boat racing festival (Boun Souang Heua) in Namkhan River during Buddhist Lent Period, on August 26th, 2022.

A notice issued by Luang Prabang provincial office says that Luang Prabang will arrange Boun Hor Khaopadapdin, an annual festival held to feed spirits with home-made parcels of food, and the boat racing activities along Namkhan River. 

The province intends to promote the traditional festival and practices in hopes of attracting more domestic and foreign tourists, generating revenue for locals.

Traditional racing boats are made of a single tree and can accommodate up to fifty rowers.

The boats are considered sacred, are cleaned, and are given offerings which are believed to bring victory to the team.

In the downtown heart of Luang Prabang, there will also be gatherings and markets.

The festival will be held on August 26th, 2022, the same day with Boun Khao Padapdine.

Covid-19 put a stop to traditional customs and festivals for almost three years, but now that the measurements have been relaxed, tourist destinations in Laos expect to recommence festivities and offer hope for travelers.

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How long to spend in Laos may seem like a ridiculous question to address, but if you have plenty of time and aren’t sure how much to dedicate, this blog will definitely help you out. 

How long can you stay in Laos? 

Well, as long as you like! From 7 days to a month, there are various ways you can travel across Laos and uncover its secrets. Advising an ideal trip length for Laos is a bit of a complex challenge, as it depends on several factors such as the places you wish to visit, the activities you plan to join, or if you want to combine Laos with its neighbor countries. 

Stay tuned! We are going to sort all these things out including the step-by-step guide to create the best itinerary in Laos.

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The Rocket Festival (Boun Bang Fai) is a merit-making ceremony traditionally practiced by ethnic Lao people near the beginning of the wet season in numerous villages and municipalities, in the regions of Northeastern Thailand and Laos. Celebrations typically include preliminary music and dance performances, competitive processions of floats, dancers and musicians on the second day, and culminating on the third day in competitive firings of home-made rockets. Local participants and sponsors use the occasion to enhance their social prestige, as is customary in traditional Buddhist folk festivals throughout Southeast Asia.

The festival in Thailand also includes special programs and specific local patterns like Bung Fai (Parade dance) and a Beautiful Bung Fai float such as Yasothon the third weekend of May, and continues Suwannaphum District, Roi Et on the first weekend of June, Phanom Phrai District Roi Et during the full moon of the seventh month in Lunar year's calendar each year. The Bung Fai festival is not only found in Isan or Northeasthern Thailand and North Thailand and Laos, but also in Amphoe Sukhirin, Narathiwat.

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A report from Andy Jarosz from BBC Travel about his day trekking to the remote 100 waterfalls in Nong Khiaw 10 years ago (in 2012). The experience that you cannot miss when visiting the area. Check out the details as below so that you have some ideas of what to expect.

In the last four years, the rural village of Nong Khiaw has seen a steady stream of adventure travellers who want to experience the 10km trek before it disappears.

Strictly speaking, the name of the 100 Waterfalls Trek in northern Laos is misleading, since it is impossible to say how many waterfalls tumble through the thick jungle along the steady 10km ascent, with each one tumbling immediately into the next.

...more
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