Nong Khiaw is a sleepy little village to the north of Laos’s Luang Prabang. A picturesque and scenic place, it is an ideal destination to kick back and spend a few days lazing around and soaking up the magnificent views. Whether you are suffering a little from travellers’ burnout and want to rest up and recharge your batteries, or whether you are looking to experience the local way of life in a quiet Laotian village, Nam Ou River Lodge could be just the breath of fresh air (rather quite literally!) that you have been dreaming about.
Sitting next to the muddy waters of the Ou River (“Nam” means water in the local language), the peaceful accommodation is just a short walk away from the village’s tiny bus station. The village is split in two by the river, with a bridge connecting the two sides. Nam Ou River Lodge is located on the “quieter” side of the river, although, everywhere is really calm and tranquil.
Basic yet modern rooms at brilliant affordable prices
Built in 2012, Nam Ou River Lodge is one of the newest guest houses in Nong Khiaw. There are six guest rooms in the concrete block, with three on the ground floor and three on the upper level.
Rooms are en suite and have a hot shower and, although there is no air-conditioning, the electric fans help to keep you cool. Rooms either have a double bed or two single beds, with mosquito nets provided to ensure you don’t have any unwanted bed guests during the night! Whilst the furnishings are fairly sparse, an internal table and chairs offer you a place to put your baggage. With such a chilled out vibe, however, you aren’t likely to be too concerned about the lack of cupboards and drawers! The mismatched bed linen, featuring cartoon characters and other bold patterns, adds a certain quirky touch.
And the price? Each room type costs just 162,000 LAK (approximately 20 USD) per night.
Additional guest house facilities
As well as being able to sit directly outside your room, there are also several other seating areas where you can snug down with a good book, make use of the free Wi-Fi, or mingle with other guests. An open-sided common area has a roof to protect guests from the elements, as they lazily sway in a hammock or sink into an over-sized beanbag. A wooden terrace offers additional table and chairs overlooking the flowing waters of the river.
Breakfast is available for a surcharge, although you must place your order the evening before. It is a standard breakfast of bread, butter, and jam, with eggs and fruit salad topped with plain yoghurt. Very filling, it offers a great way to start the day feeling satisfied and full. Breakfast is brought to your room for you to enjoy on the balcony. The only downside is that it is served very early in the morning – around 7am. If you fancy a lie in, you are perhaps better to dine elsewhere.
Wake up to incredible views
Each room has its own table and two chairs right outside its door; doors lead onto a communal balcony for both upper and lower rooms. But, with just a potential four other people sharing the walkway with you / you and your roomie, you can still enjoy sitting outside and relaxing without too many interruptions. The balconies look out over the river and its pretty greenery-clad hilly backdrop. You don’t even have to leave your room to enjoy these magical vistas if you don’t want to – just pull back your curtains and feast your eyes on the splendid nature all around.
If you wake up early enough (around 6am) and look outside, you will see local village children taking a wash in the river, ready to start their school day. You will also see small fishing boats bobbing about on the waters throughout the day.
A tranquil and rural location
It is only a short walk of around five minutes to the often-deserted “main” road, with a dirt track leading through fields from the riverside and lodge. This can get very muddy and pretty slippery if it rains, well-worth noting if you are planning your trip during the rainy season (between May and October). Also, the path is not lit in the dark. You are highly recommended to take a torch out for evening dinner and drinks … additionally, the light from a mobile phone probably won’t help you out too much as you try to navigate your way home.
The main road is very dark too, with very little traffic. Although it is only around a five to ten minute walk to the nearest restaurants and bars, some visitors may find the darkness quite intimidating. Grab a few other guests, make new friends, and head out for an evening together!
Things to do in the beautiful area
Part of Nong Khiaw’s appeal is that it DOESN’T offer all that much to do. It is more of a destination for people who want to spend a few days taking it easy. That said, it is possible to arrange climbing and rafting excursions to get even closer to the stunning surrounding nature, and bicycles can be hired from several places in the village. There are some fairly average caves that you can visit too, as well as a small temple complex.
Nong Khiaw does, however, offer the perfect chance to see traditional life in the Laos countryside. Mechanics tinker in small front-yard car workshops, with greasy car parts and tools strewn all around and the scent of oil lingering in the air close by. Small stores sell a selection of basic cooking ingredients, toiletries, and household goods, with some items showing their unpopularity by the thick layers of dust that coat them. The smells of cooking from roadside sellers waft through the air to tickle your nostrils and tempt your stomach, and, as you get closer, you’ll hear the sizzling of goods frying and the crackling of items grilling. The small Post Office and Police Station remind you that you really have left the larger towns far behind.
Open your eyes, inhale deeply, and … enjoy!
As well as gorgeous views, you can also enjoy breathing deliciously fresh air. The lack of big industry nearby and the location amidst rice fields and small patches of jungle mean that there is relatively little air pollution in Nong Khiaw. The village is small and easy to explore by foot. If you want to get out a bit further and explore the surroundings areas, the chatty owner at Nam Ou River Lodge can assist with booking tours and activities, as well as onward transportation. Book your stay at Nam Ou River Lodge and delight in a charmingly simple and serene way of life alongside the attractive river.
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