Muang Khua is a small town in Phongsali Province of northern Laos. Most people use it as a transit town (the halfway point between several other places), but it has its own charm.
Muang Khua can be reached from four directions: the Nam Ou river crosses through it from north to south, while the roads head east and west.
To the west, lies the transit hub of Muang Xay. In the east, the road connects Muang Khua to the northernmost border crossing with Vietnam, near the Vietnamese city of Dien Bien Phu. Buses leave daily from Dien Bien Phu's bus station early in the morning. Travel time is around 5 hours, including customs.
Buses from Muang Xay stop 2km away on the west side (35,000 kip for the bus and 5,000 kip for a collective tuk-tuk to the town centre).
Muang Khua is about halfway between Phongsali in the north and the backpacker-popular village of Muang Ngoi Neua, with connections further south to Luang Prabang.
Tickets can be bought from the boat dock, half an hour before the boat leaves. From the visitors centre, with the market in front of you, turn left and take the first street right. It is at the end of this road (you will have walked past three guesthouses and be on a downward slope). The boat to Muang Ngoi Neua and Nong Khiaw leaves at 09:30. Tickets to Muang Ngoi Neua (written Muang Ngoy on the boat dock sign) are 100,000 kip. Tickets to Nong Khiaw (an hour south of Muang Ngoy) are 120,000 kip. Boats may not leave if there are not enough people (~12 people per boat) (Oct 2013) unless they are chartered. Do not expect the boats to operate more often than once in a few days.
Due to the Ou River 3 Hydro Power Station you have to change the boats and go with a songthaew around the dam/power plant. The songthaew transfer is included in the ticket price (Jun. 2018)
Muang Khua can be covered by foot.
- The old suspension bridge, where you can watch the river and often fishermen
- Trekking, ☏ +8562099320743 (??), firstname.lastname@example.org. Mr. Khamman offers 1-4 day trekking tours to the hill tribes around Muang Khua (information and contact info can be found at several guest houses and the restaurant at the main intersection)
- There are two ATMs in town. The tourist centre said this was new. (Nov 2013). It is possible to change dollars and baht. There are two places in town that change money at reasonable rates (Jun 2012). The banks may close at 15:30 and not be open on weekends.
- The market is opposite tourist info in a curved roof shed. There are stalls with toiletries, clothes and food.
- 1 Restaurant with unknown name. On the main intersection is an attractive restaurant. The ice cream is popular with locals 15-30,000 kip.
There are three restaurants on the road to the boat ramp. Drinks, 7-15,000 kip, Meals, 25-35,000 kip.
- 2 Market. There are at least two stalls selling tasty bowls of noodle soup across from the market. 10,000 kip. In the market itself you will find a range of grilled meat, fruit and other local staples.
Across from lao development bank out the front of a restaurant sticky rice is sold for 10,000k a kilo, locals will be impressed by this purchase.
- There are a few guesthouses on the road to the boat ramp. The tourist office also has a map of the area with others.
- 1 Chalernsouk Guesthouse. Large double room with fan, TV, desk, private bathroom. good free Wi-Fi, computers with Internet downstairs, 10,000 kip per hour. (as of March 2015) 70,000 kip.
- Nam Ou Guesthouse. Very simple/basic (oven dirty) rooms with fan, mosquito nets.. No TV or Wifi. The guesthouse/restaurant can be hard to find and is next to the river. The communal restaurant/balcony has a great view and is where you will meet like-minded backpackers. 2min of walk from the boat pier. Cheapest in town 30,000 for a single and 50,000 for a double as May 2017. 25-50,000 kips.
- 2 Manmootan Guest House (Manotham Guest House) (from the main intersection over the suspension bridge - then left). good (free) Wi-Fi; rooms with private basic bathroom (not all with hot water); beds with mosquito nets, nice overview over the river and the suspension bridge from the seating area; off-season price: 50.000 kip (twin with fan).
- Wi-Fi not available at most guesthouses, but computers are available
- Chalernsouk Guesthouse offers kiosk computers with internet for 10,000 kip an hour
- Muang Ngoi Neua by boat, 5 hours, 100,000 kip. Boat leaves at 9:30am most days but you should arrive 30 minutes before to buy your ticket. Fantastic trip worth doing just for the scenery. Operators will often try to charge 200,000 if the boat is only half full even if they are already going, since they have a monopoly on the route. Many backpackers end up waiting a day in town for prices to fall
- Muang Xay
- Dien Bien Phu, Vietnam