Tiny MUANG NGOI, idyllically set among beautiful scenery on the banks of the Nam Ou, has long been an attractive spot for tourists, many of whom end up whiling their days away here. Just an hour’s boat ride north of Nong Khiaw, the fact that the village can only be reached by river gives it an edge-of-the-world feel. Although it’s easy enough to just hang out here sipping coffee and swinging in a hammock (as, indeed, most people do), there are a lot of activities on offer, including trekking to nearby hill-tribe villages, canoeing on the river, organized fishing trips, and outings to the caves and waterfall. However, wandering the main street, especially during high season, you can’t help but feel this sleepy little place has been somewhat ambushed by tourism, with every second property seeming to be a guesthouse or a travellers’ café.

Muang Ngoi is pretty much a one street village, with dusty pathways striking off it in both directions. One excursion that you can take without a tour guide is to the nearby caves, where villagers’ hid during the war; to get there, turn left near Kaikeo and follow the path for a few kilometres. Take a torch.

Most guesthouses now offer trips and activities around Muang Ngoi, as do a few cafés along the main street. Situated on the path up from the boat landing, just beyond Lattanavongsa, Lao Youth Travel offer perhaps the most extensive range of options, from a half-day kayaking trip that includes a stop at a beach and time for a swim to a one-day trek that visits three local villages.

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