Vagabonding Field Report: Exploring Luang Namtha, Laos and overcoming sickness

Cost/day:  $20-25 per person

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen lately?  There is a type of vehicle in Luang Namtha that I have not seen anywhere else in Laos or Southeast Asia. The locals call it a tec-tec, which I’m assuming is onomatopoeic because that is the sound the extremely loud, water-cooled engine makes.

Tec Tec

Describe a typical day:  As with all of our days, no matter where we are, the day usually starts with work and homeschool. On the days I wasn’t sick, we would ride a motorbike outside of town to explore rivers, mountains, waterfalls or temples on our own. Riding a motorbike outside the town to the local villages was the highlight for us. Just watching daily life along the river, being invited for dinner into a home or watching children play with toys of their own creation were special moments. We also spent time with guides kayaking and hiking through the Nam Ha, a protected forest with small villages and stunning mountainous and river scenery. We had no means to cook our own food so all meals were eaten at one of the local restaurants, including the night market where we would eat dinner. We had no problems sleeping in the surprisingly cool night temperatures after all of the exploring we did during the days.

Kayak Trip


Luang Namtha 2

Describe an interesting conversation you had with a local:  Our guide on a kayaking trip explained that often schools are very far from some of the villages, requiring children to spend a considerable amount of time away from their homes. In his case, he lived so far from his school that he and his father built a hut next to the school. He slept in the hut during the week, only to return home on the weekends. This, he said, was not all that uncommon in the area

What do you like about where you are? Dislike?  I liked the food. Laos food is seriously underrated. It is some of the freshest, healthiest and tastiest food we’ve had in Southeast Asia. I liked the beautiful scenery all around, surrounded by mountains and villages of various “ethnic minority” tribes (Lanten, Akha, etc.). The people were incredibly kind and welcoming.

The only thing I disliked was how difficult it was is to reach any other location in Laos. The distance itself was not so bad, but the road conditions made for some seriously sketchy moments.

Luang Namtha


Luang Namtha 3

Describe a challenge you faced: I mentioned this in my last field report, but this is a continuation of the same theme. I got seriously sick from food in Thailand prior to arriving in Luang Namtha. I spent several miserable days unable to enjoy any of the beautiful surroundings due this sickness. To be that sick that far from home is really an unsettling feeling.

What new lesson did you learn? This one should have been obvious, but sometimes we just forget the simplest things. Our first day in town, we were dropped off by the bus several kilometers outside of town late at night. Luckily there was one guy with a van offering to take anyone to town. It was only after I started talking with him about price that I realized I had no Laos currency. He was kind enough to take Thai Baht…for an extra price, of course.  Lesson learned: don’t forget the small things.


Where next? Nong Khiaw, Laos


Posted by | Comments Off on Vagabonding Field Report: Exploring Luang Namtha, Laos and overcoming sickness  | May 7, 2014
Category: Asia, Vagabonding Field Reports

Comments are closed.