Located in the northern part of Laos, Luang Namtha shares its northwestern border with Myanmar and its northeastern border with China. The province is mountainous, home to large numbers of minorities.
The Nam Ha National Biodiversity Conservation Area is located in the southwest of Luang Namtha - a pristine habitat of dense tropical rainforest covering almost all of the protected area.
UNESCO is funding an ecotourism project in Luang Namtha that will be capable of sustaining sustainable development in the province. The concept of the project is to provide education, conservation, management and sustainable economic benefits for the local population. The province is home to a 39 minorities the largest number in the country.
Luang Namtha Museum. The museum has a large collection of local artifacts and items of interest on display, including ethnic clothing, religious artifacts, Khmu bronze drums, currency from the colonial period and a section devoted to the revolution. The museum is an excellent place to orient yourself to the province and its rich cultural and natural resources. Open 8:30 12:00 & 1:30 3:30, Monday Friday.
Shopping for handicrafts. There are several good handicraft stores in the Luang Namtha: (1) at the Internet Cafe, (2) across and down the street from the Internet Cafe near Manychan Guest House, (3) at the Boat Landing Guest House. If you would like to buy handicrafts from villagers, the Ban Haad Yao handicrafts cooperative is now defunct but there are numerous other handicrafts projects in local villages. The area's Black Tai villages are famous for their production and weaving of silk. Look for the looms under the houses. The Lanten produce bamboo paper, indigo cloth and some carved objects. If you to the Nam Dee waterfall, you may have a chance to buy their handicrafts. A small organization has a silk production center, call them to see if you can arrange a tour (tel: 211-990). And if you are interested in painter, there is a very talented local painter named Noi who has a gallery in a shop next to the handicraft shop between Green Discovery and Manychan Guest House.
Waterfall at Ban Nam Dee. Ban Nam Dee is a Lanten (Lao Houei) village roughly 6 km from Luang Namtha City. The village accessible by foot, however it is recommended you either bike or hire a tuk - tuk in order to visit the village. To reach the waterfall follow the main path through the village for 500 meters, then turn right following the stream flowing from the valley at the far end of the village. Continue following this stream for 300 meters until you reach the waterfall. If disoriented, ask a villager nam dtok tat you sai (where is the waterfall) and they will gladly point you in the right direction. Another point of interest you may encounter in Ban Nam Dee is the production of bamboo paper during December - March. Notice the bamboo baskets submerged in the river containing pulp, which is later spread onto large sheets of cotton fabric and left to dry in the sun. The Lanten have a written language based on Chinese characters and use this paper to record religious texts and other important literature.
Wat Luang Kone : Visitors to Luang Namtha often notice the lack of Buddhist temples and presence of monks in the city. Indeed, only 22% of the provinces populations are Buddhists, with the majority of the population practicing various forms of ancestor and spirit worship. If you are interested in visiting one of Luang Namthas few temples or wats , Wat Luang Kone is a nice place to get started. Located on the main road just past the airport, Wat Luang Kone is 7 kilometers from the city center.
Boat Cruise Luang Namtha is blessed with a pristine natural environment, including the 222,400 hectare Nam Ha Protected Area (Nam Ha NPA). The Nam Ha NPA is covered by dense monsoon forest, home too many large mammals such as tigers, elephants, bears and wild buffalo. In addition there is also a large bird and reptile population. A good way to see the eastern section of the NPA is by boat, as the Namtha River flows parallel to a lengthy section of the protected areas Eastern boundary. The confluence of the Nam Ha and Namtha Rivers is reachable in one day, presenting the opportunity to see many birds and possibly larger animals. Guided Boat trips catering to small groups (4 - 6 people) can be arranged by Asia King Travel offers both trekking mountain biking and kayaking/rafting options for trip through the NPA. For more information call 211-484.
That Phoum Phouk : Damaged the concussion of a nearby bomb explosion during the Second Indochina War, That Phoum Phouk (Phoum Phouk Pagoda) is a little known archeological site located 6 km from the airport. Built in 1628, this was once the most respected and famous pagoda in Namtha District, however the site has been pillaged several times since its partial destruction. In 2003 a new stupa was constructed and dedicated beside the ruins of the old. To reach the pagoda you need to make a short but steep ascent from Ban Tin That (foot of the pagoda). To reach Ban Tin That turn right off the main paved road at the intersection just past the airport, and follow the dirt track for about 5 km until you reach the first major settlement. Ban Tin That is located close to Ban Nam Ngaen, with the latter village being better known so it might help to simply ask directions to Nam Ngaen if traveling independently.
Namtha Valley : For an outstanding view of the Namtha Valley and surrounding peaks, a short hike to the top of the hill behind the Hongta Xaysomboune Hotel is suggested. This is truly the best view in town. In order to reach the summit of this hill, first follow the dirt track behind the hotel, continuing upwards until you reach a narrow path. Follow this path for 30 minutes and you will soon come into the clearing at the top of the hill. Probably the best place in the valley to view the sunset is at the Dalavanh Guest House. From their restaurant you get broad sweeping views of the whole valley.
Foods Market . In addition to a variety of local fruits and vegetables, you may see ethnic women selling unusual forest products unique to Luang Namtha. There are two main markets in the valley. The largest, the Provincial Market is in the main town near the bus station. Near the airport is another which has a little more village atmosphere to it. Good time to go to the market is early in the morning or between 3 and 4 in the afternoon.