The small town in northern Laos is probably my favourite. It's located by the Nam Ou River surrounded by limestone mountains. It's absolutely breathtaking, fairly cheap and filled with friendly locals. What's not to love?
Things to do
For a beautiful view, hike up to the top of the Viewpoint. The strenuous three hour hike is definitely worth the effort. There's a 20,000 kip entrance fee which includes a water bottle and a bamboo walking stick.
Originally used as a hideout during the Indochina war in the 1960s, these caves have an interesting history. From the city centre, you can walk (45 minutes) or bike (20 minutes) to the caves. There are three caves you can visit, although the main one is much more impressive than the two smaller ones. There's a 10,000 kip entrance fee.
3) Trip to Muang Ngoi Neua Village
The small village is located about an hour boat ride from Nong Khiaw. Some treks will offer to go there for a day trip. If you're looking to do it on your own, you'll have to spend a night there since there's no boat leaving from Muang Ngoi Village in the evening. However, I hear it's an amazing little village.
4) Different Treks
There's several different treks and tours advertised across the town. The popular ones are Tiger Trail's 100 Waterfalls Trek as well as the day trip to Muang Ngoi Neua (boat ride to the village, swimming in the waterfalls and kayaking back to Nong Khiaw).
Located by Sunrise Guesthouse, this was our go-to restaurant for Wi-Fi. On top of that, the food was pretty tasty and cheap. Get the ice coffee with sweetened milk!
Located on by the bridge near the post office, Delilah's Place was a great breakfast and dessert spot! They also have pretty cheap accommodation (55,000 kip for a private room) and dorms.
This was our favourite place to eat. Eating delicious Indian food is such a delight after eating Laos and Thai food for weeks. It's pretty affordable at 12,000 kip for a vegetarian dish, 24,000 - 26, 0000 for a meat dish and 8,000 kip for naan.
Places to stay
Nam Ou River Lodge
A little farther from the city centre, Nam Ou River Lodge is a an affordable place to stay. It's 100,000 kip for a private room with a washroom. It's a spacious room with a balcony. It has a pretty nice view by the river and its pretty quiet in the area. The wifi is a little spotty, but decent overall.
There's no restaurant associated with the guesthouse, so you'll need to head to the city centre for food.
Located next to the bridge, Sunrise Guesthouse is also an affordable place to stay. It's 80,000 kip for a private room with a washroom (flush toilet) and 50,000 kip for a room with a squatting toilet.
It's located in the city centre, with restaurants, bars and activities just a short walk away. However, the walls are pretty thin between the rooms, so it can get kind of loud. Joy's Restaurant is part of the guesthouse, so you don't have to walk too far for decent food, drinks or Wi-Fi.