A Glimpse into Lao River Life – Nong Khiaw to Muang Ngoi Neua by Boat

We left the quiet, chilled out village of Nong Khiaw to chill out some more in the small village of Muang Ngoi Neua, further up the Ou River. We’d heard that Muang Ngoi Neua was even more ‘off the beaten track’ than Nong Khiaw and was a true authentic experience of Lao culture.

Travelling in a longtail boat to Muang Ngoi Neua was an incredibly relaxing and insightful way to take in the Lao culture.


I loved watching locals go about their everyday lives, either working or chilling out by the Ou River.

Gathering Kai Pen - River weed!

Gathering Kai Pen – River weed!

We saw people waist deep in the water, pulling out river weed to make the delicacy Kai Pen (fried river weed) that is sold in local restaurants.

There was also people fishing in the water, wearing goggles to see the fish under water.

Water Buffalo's having a dip in the Ou River

Water Buffalo’s having a dip in the Ou River

There were many animals relaxing on the banks of the Ou River. Wallowing pigs and boars, as well as grey coloured water buffalos and cows. It was the first time I saw cream coloured buffalo’s!

Getting to Nong Khiaw to Muang Ngoi Neua by Boat

The only way to get to Muang Ngoi Neua is by boat, which you can board at the boat landing on the west side of town. There are two boats a day to Muang Ngoi Neua from Nong Khiaw, 11am and the other at 2pm.

Prices out of Nong Khiaw as of January 2013

Prices out of Nong Khiaw as of January 2013

There is a ticket office at the boat landing, and you can buy your tickets on the day of departure for 25,000 Kip (Jan 2013).
There are no allocated seats, so don’t worry about pre-booking your boat ticket at a travel agency.

When we got our boat to Muang Ngoi Neua, they asked for everyones tickets and one person had bought his through a travel agency and got overpriced. The problem was that all he was given was a hand written receipt and no ticket. The driver wanted him to get off the boat, but the foreign passenger kicked up a fuss and the problem seemed to go away. Lucky for him!

Boarding the boat was disorganised, as you might imagine. We watched all the people who had arrived from Muang Ngoi Neua, climbing out of their boats and having to walk through a foot of water to get to the boat landing (I took my shoes and socks off in preparation). Luckily we had a narrow plank to walk along to get on our boat, so everyone managed to stay dry.

Me and our friend Nicola waiting for the boat to leave!

Me and our friend Nicola waiting for the boat to leave!

Our tickets came with allocated seats, so we were surprised when we boarded the boat to find that there was definitely no seat numbers, but a bench (narrow plank of wood) running up both sides of the boat (comfortable)!

We didn’t set off until 11.30am, due to boat swapping and reorganisation of people and bags. When we were eventually on our way to Muang Ngoi Neua, we were able to enjoy the Lao riverside life passing us by. We did this trip in high season (January 2013) and there was plenty of leg room and bag room on both of the boats that left for Muang Ngoi Neua.

The whole journey was quick and we were in Muang Ngoi Neua in under an hour!

Coming back from Muang Ngoi Neua to Nong Khiaw by longtail boat is very simple. You buy the ticket from the boat office, down by the boat landing on 8am on your day of departure for 25,000 Kip. There is one boat that leaves for Nong Khiaw at 9.30am, but can often leave late, depending on how many passengers there are. Upon arrival in Nong Khiaw, tuk tuks will be waiting to take passengers to the bus station for connections out of town.

Enjoying bath time!

Enjoying bath time!

I hope you enjoy the trip as much as we did! We would love to know which is your favourite picture!

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2 Responses to A Glimpse into Lao River Life – Nong Khiaw to Muang Ngoi Neua by Boat

  1. Maris King February 6, 2013 at 6:06 am #

    Nice place!You know what makes the place nice? Its the people who live with a happy smile. We can look them as ordinary people but they manage to smile.That’s what I love the most.

    • Eloise Rodgers February 6, 2013 at 7:09 am #

      Absolutely Maris! We felt so lucky to get a small glimpse of their lives and to get big smiles all round was even better!

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