Straddling the Nam Ou river and nestled in between towering karst mountains, Nong Khiaw is the type of tiny riverside town that you can easily lose track of time in.
Though by no means backwater, the tourism boom has brought guesthouses and foreign restaurants here, but kept the town at its same quiet, laid-back atmosphere. There's even a traditional Lao sauna and spa, so you can get a massage after that long bus ride. Evenings are best spent on the porch of your bungalow, swinging in a hammock, Beer Lao in hand, and watching the sunset over the river valley. It’s an experience that easily goes down in memories as ‘truly idyllic.'
For those looking to be a little more active, Pha Thok cave, a 40min walk from town, is where many local villagers lived during the Second Indochina War. It's impressive in its scale and the surrounding scenery.
If you really want to get away from it all, even further removed is Muong Ngoi, a tiny village accessible only by boat from Nong Khiaw. There’s no paved roads or WIFI here yet, so pick up a few books at the local bookstore and get ready to relax. The two towns make an excellent pair for experiencing quiet northern Laos.
The Laos locals prove that lunch tastes best when you catch it yourself!