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Asia > Southeast Asia > Laos > Northern Laos > Muang Sing

Muang Sing

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Muang Sing is a small town in Northern Laos, about 60 km northwest of Luang Namtha.

Understand[edit]

Muang Sing sits at the far northwestern part of Laos, bordering Myanmar and China's Yunnan Province. Its landscape is predominantly mountainous with elevation ranging between 540 to 2,094 m, traditionally dominated by forest and upland swidden farming.

The rainy season lasts from May-Oct. The weather turns cool and dry from Nov-Feb with temperatures dropping as low as 5°C at night. In this time winter woolies will be needed in the morning and evening. Mar and Apr are the hottest months, with the mercury approaching 40°C. The average temperature is 25 °C.

Muang Sing has a total population of 23,500 inhabitants, spread over 95 villages. Muang Sing is a traditional Tai Lue, Tai Neua, and Akha cultural nexus, as well as a trade centre for Tai Dam, Hmong, Mien, and Lolo. The most common groups are Akha accounting for about half of the residents followed by Tai Lue accounting for 30%. While Akha primarily inhabit upland areas, Tai Lue villages are some of the province's oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the northern reaches of the Muang Sing valley.

Get in[edit]

By bus[edit]

From Luang Namtha small buses depart several times a day at a small bus station near the Lao Airline Office. The trip should cost 30,000 kip and can take 2 hours when it's dry. The road is in particularly poor shape and this can be a very uncomfortable ride.

From Muang Sing small buses or songthaews (pickup trucks with benches) go to Huay Xai, Xieng Kok and Muang Long.

By motorbike[edit]

Scooter/motorbike to Luang Namtha takes approx 2 hours.

Get around[edit]

To get around Muang Sing tuk-tuks are readily available at the morning market. Bicycles can be rented in town. There is no local public transport in town.

See[edit]

Akha village, ghost gate
  • Ethnic Villages. Take a guided tour by one of the local operators or hop on a bicycle for a full-day exploring Muang Sing town environs. On a tour you will visit 8-10 villages and learn about the rural life of different ethnic groups. The China border is only 10 km from town and makes for a refreshing journey on a bicycle. You can't cross the border, however the scenery along the way is beautiful and worth the ride.
  • The Muang Sing Market. The heart of the town and attracts people from the entire region to buy fresh foods and products for daily use imported from China. Best time to visit the market is between 07:00-08:00: retailers from all the ethnic groups arrive to sell vegetables, fruit, and meat, and Tai Lue women present their famous noodles. It's also a great place to look for local handicrafts purchased by Tai Dam, Tai Lue and other ethnic groups. Try the local food such as soybean paste, waffles and local sweets ("kainom") often made from sticky rice and coconut.
Museum
  • Muang Sing Museum. M-F 09:00-11:30 and 13:30-15:30. Close to the centre of town, is a good place to start exploring Muang Sing's rich culture and history. The old wood and brick building was once the residence of Phanya Sekong, a local lord called Jao Fa Noi or Little Prince, who ruled over the area in the early 20th century. The building was restored in 2005. Due to its functional structure the façade was refinished, but the clay roofing tiles that covered the residence of Phaya Sekong before were converted to a mix of corrugated iron and asbestos tiles painted red. There is an excellent collection of traditional tools from the major ethnic groups in the area. Displayed on the building's upper floor is an interesting variety of valuable 18-19th century historic and religious pieces that have been preserved by the people of Muang Sing. 5,000 kip (plus 5,000 kip extra for the Akha film).
  • Scenery & Nature in Muang Sing. Nam Keo Waterfall: nature lovers will enjoy this place. The multi-tiered Nam Keo Waterfall is about 2 km from That Xieng Tung and can be visited as part of a guided tour from the Muang Sing Ecoguide Service or while on the Akha Experience. Pha Yueng Waterfall is a good place for a refreshing dip. It is in Nam Ha National Protected Area, 17 km south of Muang Sing on the road to Luang Namtha. Follow the trail along the river for about 20 min, and then you will reach the waterfall.
Inside Vat Luang
  • Temples & Monasteries. In Muang Sing more that 27 temples (wats), that the old wat is Vat Xieng Chai (Wat Luang). The most important wat in the area is off the main road next to the museum. By 1890 only Wat Luang existed within the town walls. Wat Namkeo, which has a large monk residency, is a short walk from the fort. It is also quite beautiful and is on the road to Xieng Kok, just as you turn off from the paved road to Namtha on the right. Wat Xiang Yeun, and Wat Xieng Lae can be visited along the way to the Muang Sing Market on the northern edge of town. Wat Xieng is a short distance from the bus station.
  • That Xieng Tueng (Xieng Tung Stupa) (5½ km from the center of town, on the road towards Luang Namtha, on top of a hill. There is a big dirt road leading up to it on your right as you're coming from Muang Sing.). The most important stupa in Muang Sing. It is said to contain the Adam's apple of Buddha. The date of when it was built is unknown. To the left of the stupa are some stairs which lead to a sacred fountain and a sacred stone. If you follow a path to the right of the stupa (be careful!) downhill you might be able to find the old moat and wall of the stupa. The biggest festival of the year, That Xieng Tung Festival, is held here every year during the full moon of the 12th lunar month (usually in late Oct or early Nov) and attracts a wide gathering from villages and people around the district and Luang Namtha province.
  • Xieng Khaeng Mountains & Upper Mekong. Xieng Khaeng is a largely unexplored, stunning region with beautiful mountains, waterfalls and caves, embedded between mountains and the Mekong River. Only a couple of hours from Muang Sing town, the Akha and Tai Lue villages in this remote area have still kept their traditions and culture. Access to Xieng Khaeng is difficult and a local guide is required. The northern-most extreme of the Mekong River in Laos is found in Muang Sing. As the Mekong rushes out of China into the Green Triangle bordering Myanmar, it makes its way through steep canyons before slowing down further south. This section can be accessed by boat from Xiengkok in Long District, but also by gravel road leading across the mountains from Muang Sing down to Xieng Khaeng. On this remote and beautiful stretch of the river are some of the oldest Tai Lue settlements in the district: Ban Xay and Ban Xieng Khaeng.

Do[edit]

  • Trekking
  • Gibbon experience

Buy[edit]

The local market next to the bus station has some shops, mainly agricultural and household supplies.

There is a supermarket on the bus station/local market road, and another on Xiangle St. which it intersects with.

A lot of cheap goods seem to come here from the Chinese border, such as motorbikes, and Chinese Army training shoes.

Drink[edit]

  • Beerlao

Sleep[edit]

  • 1 Phou Iu Guest House and Restaurant (It's off the main street, about 100 m down a dirt road on the left just past Nam Keo Luang Bridge). Ecotourism lodge with comfortable clean rooms. 11 separate bungalows, 6 twin rooms and 14 double rooms and 3 triples. Room facilities: fan, hot water in bath, small table, water, bath towel, wardrobe, big chairs inside and outside for relaxing. Bungalows are constructed of local materials in a local Tai Lue, Khmu, and Akha-style. Doubles and twins 80,000 kip, bungalows 150,000 kip.
  • 2 Cheng Jing De Hotel, +8562055686888. This is a new hotel on the main road in place of the old market, opened in April 2015. Clean double and twin rooms with A/C, TV and good (Asian style wet floor) bathroom. Rooms were missing some of the equipments like no mirrors in room or bathroom. 100,000 kip.
  • Dannae guesthouse (walk N/E from the tourist office on the main road, at the first intersection turn right, 30 m (Xiangle St.?)) Interesting hotel furnished with wood, clean and a few of the rooms have great views, Double rooms with fan, asian style bathroom with plastic pipes, passable Wifi. 70,000 kip in the off season, not bad value. Quiet a few of the other signed guesthouses seem closed.

Connect[edit]

There is at least one internet cafe on maps.me

Go next[edit]

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