Without sounding too cliché, Muang Ngoy is truly a hidden gem in the north of Laos. As you walk through the dirt roads of this small secluded village of less than 1,000 inhabitants, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported 100 years back in time. In fact, it wasn’t until 2013 that Muang Ngoy first saw stable electricity for all residents.
A day trip from Nong Khiaw quickly turned into three full days of seclusion and disconnection as I fell in love with this remote Laotian village. Read on below to find out my travel recommendations in this blog post with everything you need to know about Muang Ngoy.
How to Get to Muang Ngoy
If coming from Luang Prabang, you’ll most likely want to take a bus as explained here in my Nong Khiaw blog post.
Once in Nong Khiaw, most travelers will take a public slow boat to Muang Ngoy. It costs just 25,000 Laotian Kip or less than $3 US dollars to boat up the Nam Ou River. Buy your ticket in advance or the day of at the boat ticket office located up the steps from the Nong Khiaw Pier. The boat departs most mornings around 9:30 AM rain or shine.
Another option is to hike from Nong Khiaw to Muang Ngoy. Although I didn’t personally do this, I met a group of backpackers who hiked the trail along the Nam Out River in a matter of 8 hours or so.
One last option, and again I haven’t personally done this, it to drive your motorbike from Nong Khiaw to Muang Ngoy. While there are no motorbike rentals in Muang Ngoy as of 2019, if you happen to have a motorbike rental from Luang Prabang, there is in fact a road that connect the two villages.
Muang Ngoy Lodging Options
If you search for Muang Ngoy hotel or guesthouse online, you’ll find a couple lodging options that you can reserve in advance for around $20 per night. DON’T DO THIS.
There are a wealth of guesthouses and lodging options in Muang Ngoy that you can book when you arrive. And the best part is, they are super cheap!
My travel partner and I stayed in a bungalow Veranda Guesthouse which cost just 40,000 kip or $4.50 US dollars per night. While our bungalow didn’t have A/C, it did have a fan, mosquito nets, private bathroom, and best of all dual hammocks with a river view.
You’ll find plenty of other similarly priced lodging options in Muang Ngoy. Air conditined rooms are available, but you’ll have to pay a premium for that.
My recommendation is to walk around the village and shop around. Ask to see the room before agreeing to anything. Negotiating is also okay.
Top 5 Things to Do in Muang Ngoy
- Hike to Phanai Cave Viewpoint: This short and relatively easy hike is quite diverse and will give you an epic view of Muang Ngoy from above. Not only that, but you have the opportunity to explore two surprisingly large caves on your way up. Cost is 10,000 Kip paid to the local family at the Phanai Cave Trailhead who maintains the trail.
- Kayak back to Nong Khiaw: Rather than take the slow boat back to Nong Khiaw, why not kayak back? The going rate for this is 150,000 Kip per person ($17 USD). It’s relatively expensive because a boat must follow you in order to bring back the kayaks. Try to negotiate a discount for multiple people.
- Hire a local and learn to fish with a net: We spent a half day learning to fish with a net. After unsuccessfully catching anything (our guide caught a bunch), we ate the fish back at our guide’s house along with a delicious home cooked meal. Ask around when in Muang Ngoy. Everyone knows everyone and will be able to set you up.
- Relax on a hammock riverside: If your guesthouse doesn’t have a hammock, most of the restaurants riverside do. Take time to truly disconnect, read a book, and simply chill on a hammock.
- Walk the dirt roads of Muang Gnoy: There’s no better way to explore Muang Gnoy than on foot. While most of the action happens on the main dirt road that parallels the river, you’ll find a network of side streets with equally as exciting sights as you walk inland.
Where to Eat
Hands down, my favorite place to eat in Muang Ngoy was at Veranda. Here, I enjoyed my first Pad Thai. I was hooked. After Laos, I traveled to Thailand on a slow boat from Luang Prabang craving Pad Thai. I subsequently ate countless dishes of Pad Thai, none of which came anywhere close to the deliciousness of Veranda. In addition to a banging Pad Thai, Veranda has a superb curry.
Another decent place for lunch or dinner is Nicksa’s Place. Nicksa’s is one of the few restaurants with a river view that isn’t relatively overpriced. Nicksa’s was actually the first place we ate at in Muang Ngoy, and thanks to their hammock with an absolutely stunning river view, we made the impulsive decision to extend our time in Muang Ngoy.
As for breakfast, I highly recommend the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet at PDV Riverview. Although I can’t recall the price (it was very reasonable), I can vividly remember the wonderful breakfast spread including pancakes, breads, crepes, and fresh fruit. The young Sweedish couple who owns this Muang Ngoy property cooks all the food daily, most of which was gluten free, a definite hit for my travel partner.
If you’re planning a trip in Laos and have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments below. If this Muang Ngoy blog post doesn’t do a justice (which I hope it does), I can almost guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Muang Ngoy was one of my most memorable stops in Laos thanks to its tasty food, cheap prices, and stunning natural beauty.
Want more? Check out some of my other Laos blog posts here.