Oudomxay – The Heart Of Northern Laos

The Oudomxay province was founded in 1976, as a split off of the much larger Luang Prabang province. In 1987 Muang Xay became the capital of the province.

The first documented settlers of the province where “Khom” or people nowadays known as Khmu. In 1260, Lao Ly arrived from the Sipsongpanna “12 thousand rice fields” area in Southern China and build Ban Luang Cheng in the area of Muang Xay. Ly culture marked by a fusion of Buddhism and the old animist beliefs of the Khom grew and became influential in the region of Oudomxay. The Khmu are the largest minority in Laos (+500’000 members) and in Oudomxay they form the majority of the population with a 60-80% share.

Around 1828, Hmong tribes coming from Southern China moved into Laos and built their hamlets and settlements in Oudomxay. Hmong people count for a 15% of the total population of the province.Other ethnic groups living in Oudomxay province are the Akha, the Phouthai (Thai Dam & Thai Khao), the Phou Noy (Phou Xang, Phou Kongsat, Phou Nhot), the Lao Houy (also „Lenten“), the Phouan, the Lue, the Yang, the Ikho and the Ho. Oudomxay is one of the most ethnic diverse provinces of Laos…

Oudomxay is very mountainous and altitudes vary between 300 and 1’800 meters above sea level. Due to these particular difficult topographic conditions in the province of Oudomxay, infrastructure projects and improvements are progressing slowely and maintenance costs are high. Road conditions are poor to bad, and sometimes in the rainy season roads are impassable.

There are still villages and small settlements in the province who do not have any access to roads, hospitals and higher education facilities.

Oudomxay province shares borders with the following Laotian provinces: Phongsali, Luang Prabang, Xayaboury, Bokeo and Luang Namtha. In the northwest is a border with Xishuangbanna, People’s Republic of China.

However, Oudomxay province offers a large range of attractions. The provinces’ key characteristics are its nature, its people and its diverse culture. An overview of possible tours in the area can be found on the web sites of Samlaan Cycling and the Provincial Tourism Department.

This article, written by Marc Albert, was originally posted on his own blog www.travel-lao-isaan.blogspot.com

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