Nong KhiawThis little town in the north of Laos is a quiet place with many adventure hikes and tours. We stayed at the swimming pool campsite which is a set up of few tents around a swimming pool and was one of the cheapest places to stay in. It's a little away from the center and perfect to spend the night gazing at stars or talking sitting by the pool.We went on a hike up a relatively new viewpoint where you have to pay 80rp(10,000kip) for the entry and after a two-hour steep hike up the hill, you reach an amazing viewpoint. The highest in the area and you can see all around. It isn't a very easy hike so unless you are a fit person you will spend the next two days in pain like I did. It will hurt to walk up or down the stairs but it was worth the experience.
When we arrive in Nong Kiaow, we realise that to see a place so beautiful, sometimes you have to suffer to be deserving of the view. Nong Kiaow is separated in two. One area for locals, the other seemingly built of guesthouses. We make our way across the bridge on foot to our designated Falang bungalow, and begin to drink in slowly, the view with a beer Lao on Laos time.
To kick-start our Laos trip with some fun and adventure we booked a three-day trek through mountains, waterfalls and staying at village Homestays, in the small, rustic, riverside town of Nong Khiaw. We started at Houy Khong, through Ban Vieg Hinh and Ban Payong and down to the river where we caught a boat back to Nong Khiaw. We walked through some rice paddies, up through the jungle and then came to a waterfall where we walked upstream! The second day was the longest day with 17 km to cover. I nearly cried, slipped in the mud several times, twisted both ankles falling in the very steep mud. It was a difficult day as we were covering quite a distance, plus we were going up, and then down the mountain, very quickly. It was steep and every one of us fell down, not helped by the meters of sticky mud on the way. Day 3 was more relaxed, with us grabbing breakfast and then walking towards the boat. It was an amazing three days, possibly my favorite from the trip because of the personal struggle I endured. I can’t believe I did it! It was a great feeling knowing we walked through a pretty remote area of Laos (the office told us they had a busy last month with nine tourists doing the trek!), and it was very special experiencing that first homestay with the chanting, the blessing and the alcohol.