Expat RescourcesLuang PrabangTravel & Tourism

Exploring the Tranquil Beauty of Nong Khiew: A Boat Journey Along the Nam Ou River

Source: Vientiane Times

Feeling much smaller than usual while sitting on a boat between the towering green mountains that flank both sides of the Nam Ou River in Nong Khiew is an unforgettable experience.

A boat trip on the tranquil waters of the Nam Ou River is something you should definitely include on your itinerary if you’re ever lucky enough to find yourself in Nong Khiew, located in Ngoi district, Luang Prabang province. This is a time to take a deep breath and fill your lungs with cool, fresh air amidst the relaxing atmosphere of nature.

Local boatmen will take you on a trip, which you can arrange by going to a tour agency, who will set it up for you through their contacts with the local villagers. A trip that takes just over an hour will cost about US$5.

One of the boatmen I spoke to said he usually works on his farm with his wife, but when called upon by the tour agency he goes to his boat to take visitors on a river trip, which earns him some extra income to supplement what he makes from farming and fishing.

The medium-sized boats have a roof to shield you from the sun, and life jackets are provided.

The journey begins near the large Nam Ou bridge in the town center and passes restaurants and huts near the bridge before heading upstream. Surrounded by serried ranks of limestone peaks, you’re bound to be impressed by nature’s grandeur.

Despite the midday heat, the river breeze and lush greenery provide a cool respite. Close your eyes, let your hand glide through the placid water as the boat moves steadily forward, and you will feel a deep connection with nature.

The trip takes you past stunning craggy outcrops that rise above the emerald-green river, creating a postcard-perfect picture. The gentle movement of the boat and the sounds of nature will envelop you in peace and allow you to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of your surroundings.

The leisurely pace of the boat trip gives you a chance to absorb the sights and sounds of the river and observe local life along the banks. You may catch the sight of fishermen casting their nets, villagers going about their daily routines such as bathing and washing clothes, and children playing by the water’s edge. Occasionally, you may encounter tourists paddling a canoe, although there are not nearly as many here as in Vangvieng further south.

The boat then heads back towards the bridge, offering another scenic view of the mountains and the bridge itself, and passes under it to explore another section of the river, which is slightly less dramatic and feels more serene.

The boatman said that if visitors have enough time, they can also be taken to visit villages and local farms. But I was planning to climb one of the peaks to catch the sunset that evening so unfortunately couldn’t slot in any side trips. Even so, it was a wonderful and truly memorable experience.

Nong Khiew is a well-known tourist hotspot but is by no means crowded with foreign visitors. It maintains a calm and relaxed atmosphere, enabling visitors to enjoy an authentic and peaceful experience.

Nong Khiew, located in Ngoi district, is a small town about two hours by minibus from the center of Luang Prabang and offers a soothing and scenic escape for travelers.