Sights & Activities in Luang Nam Tha
Posted Date: 11/15/20139:37 AM
The Luang Nam Tha Museum
Admission: US$ 0.50 – Open: 8.30 – 11.30am & 1.30 – 3.30pm Mon – Thu, 8.30-11.30am Fri.
It contains a collection of local anthropological artifacts, such as ethnic clothing, Khamu bronze drums, and ceramics. There are also a number of Buddha images and the usual display chronicling the Revolution.
Near the airfield are two 50-year-old wats, Wat Ban Vieng Tai and Wat Ban Luang Khon, both of mild interst. Ban Luang Khon itself (the area around Wat Ban Luang Khon) is largely a Thai Kalom neighborhood.
East across the Nam Tha from the boat landing are four or five Thai Dam villages at Ban Pa Sak you can observe Thai Dam silk weaving in action.
Three kilometres west of the airfield atop a hill surrounded by rice fields stands That Phum Phuk, an impressively large stupa Thai shares stylistic similarities with That Ing Hang and other stupas more customarily found is Southern Laos. The brick-and-stucco stupa is said to have been erected in 1628, although it’s likely that its current form dates to a more recent – possibly 19th century – renovation.
During the Second Indochina War a bomb explosion knocked the Jehdii on its side, when it remains undisturbed. Despite its semiruined state – a large fig tree is now growing out of the base, lending a “lost -in-the-jungle” atmosphere - the stupa is well worth visiting if you have any interest in Lao religious architecture, as it’s a masterful piece of work. Much of the original stuco ornamentation is still in place, not far from the base stands a sillaa jaaleuk (stele) inicribed in old Lao script A newer replica of the stupa was erected nearby in 2003.
You can hire a jumbo from the dry-goods market out to That Phum Phuk for US$5 return, including waiting time. If you decide to walk or bike, take the graded dirt road that runs west along the south side of the airport After 700m this road ends at a T-junction. Make a right here and follow this road as it bends around to the northwest and passes ! rice fields. About 2.3km further on (3km total ‘ from the main paved road) you should see a hill to your right. Turn right on another dirt road just before the hill. After 100m on this road, look for a steep road on your left; this leads to the stupa at the top of the hill Jumbos won’t be able to climb this steep road, and you might not be able to pedal it either, especially when It’s wet. On foot the climb takes between 10 and 15 minutes. Watch out for leeches in the rainy season.
About 6km northeast of the new town centre, off Rte 1, the Lao Huay (Lenten) village of Ban Nam Di is a good place to observe the process of bamboo papermaking. The villagers turn bamboo into pulp along the banks of the Nam Di adjacent to the village. They then spread the pulp into thin sheets over square cotton screens to fashion a rustic paper on which they record religious literature in a script based on Chinese characters. The paper is also much prized these days by the handicraft industry. Less than 1km away from Ban Nam is a waterfall that villagers will be glad to take you to for a small tip.
TREKKING, RAFTING, MOUNTAIN BIKING & KAYAKING
Luang Nam Tha is the main jumping-off point for trekking, rafting, mountain hiking and kayaking trips in the magnificent Nam Ha NPA, and for boat trips down the Nam Tha to the Mekong River.
Many of the tours stop for at least a night in a village, largely Khamu and Lenten to the south and Akha to the north, west and east. but there are also Yao, Thai Lu and Thai Dam villages nearby.
All the treks are rewarding, and follow the same sustainability guidelines, but they vary in duration and difficulty. The trails for multiday treks are narrow and steep in parts and involve a decent dose of huffing and puffing. In the wet season you also share the landscape with leeches, but guides are fully versed on extricating the little pests. These are minor inconveniences however, given the spectacular landscape you’ll traverse.
Cycling is the ideal way to explore the wats, waterfalls, bans and landscape surrounding Luang Nam Tha. If you’re not up for a multiday mountain-hike tour, you can head out at your own pace by renting a mountain bike or ubiquitous rabbit-ear bicycle for US$0.30/1 per hour/day on the main street. It also rents motorcycles for US$2 to US$3 per day.