Even in the guide you will find that the main attraction of this town is a walk through the bridge and admiring the wooden houses along the river. We went there with an intention of resting (not that we were very tired after Muang Ngoi), working on the blog and getting some cash, as in the previous village there was no ATM and we were running out of money. We found a pleasant room with a view over the bridge and river and during three days we almost didn’t move.
We were in Laos for almost a week and my mother asked me what are we actually doing there, what are we visiting, how is the country. The truth was we were just relaxing in small villages by the same river, where there are no typical tourist attractions. Still, we were not complaining at all.
In Nong Khiaw we celebrated my birthday. Despite an intense morning search for a cake or at least some pie, I blew the candles from ice-creams and got a delicious breakfast: chocolate pancakes with fresh fruits almost to bed (I ate it in my pajama on the terrace in front of our room).
In the early afternoon we rented a scooter and went to see the biggest attraction here: three caves Tham Pha Tok situated a couple kilometers out of town. We paid a small entrance fee and a local man and his son went with us as our guides. As it turned out, one of the caves was closed due to poisonous snakes. To get to the caves we had to go through a narrow path in the middle of dense bushes and cross an improvised bridge. The information about the snakes kind of scared us, as flip-flops are not the best shoes to have for a walk among biting creatures… We felt a bit better though when we noticed that our guides also had flip-flops only and the little boy was disappearing in the dense grass every now and then and he was good. The caves were nothing special, after climbing steep concrete stairs we could go maybe 20 meters inside of both of them. This place was used by the some Vietnamese troops during the war to escape the constant american bombing.
Later on we came back to our motorbike and went through a dirt road leading to a tiny Khamu village. We went along the river, so we could see the valley with dark brown water from time to time from behind the bushes. In the village some kids waved at us, but the older people kind of frowned at us, so we went back quickly to the main road.
Nong Khiaw is not the most exciting place in Laos, but the amazing landscape with limestone cliffs and relaxed atmosphere makes up for it.
Boat from Muang Ngoi to Nong Khiaw: 25 000 KIP per person | 45-60min.
Mini bus to Luang Prabang: 40 000 KIP per person | 4 hours through dusty bumpy roads. It’s best to buy the ticket directly at the bus station, around 1.5km from the center. From the peer area there are also private buses and pick ups leaving, but they are more expensive (depends on the number of people, but around 100 000 KIP)
Most of the places are located on the side that is opposite to the peer where the boats arrive. Just after the bridge on the left side there are Sunrise bungalows (wooden and stone houses with different quality and prices). The cheapest one is a shared bungalow (three rooms with bathrooms and a shared terrace) where we stayed. We were lucky to stay there alone. We paid 40 000 KIP per night (low season, in September). Wifi was available only at the reception/restaurant.
On the right side around 200 meters after the bridge there is a narrow street. If you follow it a couple of meters you will find some hotels, bungalows and restaurants.
Renting a motorbike: 50 000 KIP for half day (enough to see the villages and the caves).