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Luang Namtha Trips
Northwestern Laos comprises dramatic, misty mountainous scenery, clad with thick forests and peppered with small villages. This area is home to a variety of ethnic minority groups including the Akha, Hmong, Khmu and Yao and is a firm favourite with trekkers. The mighty Mekong forges its way through picturesque towns, affording visitors a wonderful glimpse of riverine life. Over 30 ethnic groups reside in Luang Namtha province, making it the most ethnically diverse in the country. Principal minorities include Tai Lue, Tai Dam, Lanten, Hmong and Khamu.
There are a number of friendly villages around the provincial capital, Luang Namtha, which can be visited with a local guide or endorsed tourism organization. Among the most interesting villages to visit are the Akha settlements, which feature a sacred entrance gate, a ceremonial swing, located at the highest point in the village, and a meeting house, where newly married couples live until they have their own home. Another centre from which to visit ethnic minority villages (Akha, Hmong, Lahu and Khmu) in the region is Vieng Phouka to the south.
Both Luang Namtha and Vieng Phouka also make great bases from which to venture into the Nam Ha National Protected Area (NPA), which was established to preserve Luang Namtha’s cultural and environmental heritage. It is one of a few remaining places on earth where the rare black-cheeked crested gibbon can be found. If you’re lucky, you can hear the wonderful singing of the gibbons in the morning.
The Nam Ha NPA is one of the largest protected areas in Laos and consists of mountainous areas dissected by several rivers. It is home to at least 38 species of large mammal, including the black-cheeked crested gibbon, tiger and clouded leopard, and over 300 bird species. Small-group treks in the area offer the chance to visit traditional villages, explore various forest habitats, take river trips and support local conservation efforts.