Muang Long lies in a flat narrow valley bottom, with the Nam Ma River flowing right down the valley to enter the Mekong at Xieng Kok. Two tributaries intersect the Nam Ma right at the junction of Muang Long: the Nam Dok Long flows down from the north while the larger Nam Luang River enters from deep in the mountains to the south. Together, the two river valleys, heavily populated with ethnic tribes, form corridors into the mountains north and south of Muang Long.
There are several easy areas to explore around Long, which can be done as day-trips. To the south of town, you can follow the main road up into the mountains to a scenic waterfall and tribal villages. To the north of town is another road leading to Ban Jamai, which will eventually go all the way to Ban Chak Keun. Another option is to take Route 322 south towards Xieng Kok to the village of Somphammai where you then take a dirt road south into the mountains which leads to a number of Akha villages.
Another good location near Long is up Route 322 to the village of Ban Cha Kham Ping near Kilometre 35. This is the narrowest section of the Ma River valley and the steep mountains come right to the edge of the road. At Ban Cha Kham Ping there’s some amazing pristine subtropical rainforest which, with a guide, is well worth the effort of reaching. Regardless of what routes you take, if you do go for a do-it-yourself trek in this region, keep in mind that wandering around on remote trails in these mountains without a guide is foolhardy – ask around town.
Many people travel to Muang Long from Luang Namtha and Muang Sing by motorbike, which is probably the best option if you want flexibility and independence.