Tucked away in Laos’s remote northern mountains lies the picturesque province of Phongsaly. With its hill tribe villages, tropical forests, rivers, and terraced rice paddies, Phongsaly provides the perfect destination for those looking to get off the beaten path on a Laos vacation packages. Trek to waterfalls through lush jungle, encounter endangered wildlife, and experience the hospitality of diverse ethnic groups during your stay in this little-visited corner of Southeast Asia.

History of Phongsaly Laos

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The picturesque province of Phongsaly (Source: Internet)

Phongsaly, located in northern Laos, has a rich history shaped by various ethnic groups and historical events. In the past, during the 1700s, the Phunoi tribe migrated from Muang Sing to settle in Phongsaly, followed by the arrival of H’mong people from China.

During the French colonial era, there were rebel fights against the French that did not succeed. The Tai Lue rebelled from 1908 to 1910, and later, Ong Kommandam led resistance from 1934 to 1936. Ong Kommandam’s son, imprisoned, established a resistance base and collaborated with the Communist forces in North Vietnam- the Viet Minh. This collaboration contributed to the influence of Communism in Phongsaly. On December 18, 1957, Phongsaly was integrated into the Laos Government, becoming a province of Laos. The historical journey of Phongsaly reflects the resilience of its people and the convergence of various cultures and influences over time.

How To Travel Phongsaly


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Ethnic diversity and pristine nature of Phongsaly (Source: Internet)

There is an airport in Boun Neua with flights that go directly from Vientiane (the capital) to Phongsaly. These flights might only happen sometimes. Travelers should check when the flights are available and plan the dates for your trip accordingly.

Speed Train

A new fast train between Laos and China started in late 2021. This makes travel between towns in Laos more convenient and affordable. Travelers can now go from Luang Prabang to Muang Xai in about 3 hours by train. From Oudomxay, you can get transfers to other places in the area.

Local Bus

Travelers can take local buses directly from Vientiane or Luang Prabang to Phongsaly. These buses have different schedules when they run. Another option is to take a bus to Oudomxay first, then transfer to a connecting bus from there that goes the rest of the way to Phongsaly.

What to Do And See In Phongsaly


Trekking is likely the highlight of any Laos vacation packages because of its ethnic diversity and pristine nature. As an off-the-beaten-path destination with few tourists, Phongsaly is a must-add for adventure seekers exploring Laos.
The province offers numerous eco-friendly trekking trails that wind through lush forests and past stunning mountain vistas. As you traverse the scenic landscapes, you’ll encounter the rural villages of groups like the Akha, Tai Yue, Hmong, and Tai Yang people.

With so much gorgeous nature and cultural richness, having a local trekking guide in Phongsaly ensures you can experience the hidden gems. They know the landscape intimately and can adequately introduce the highlights and people that make this remote region so unique for visitors seeking an immersive Laos journey unlike anywhere else.

Phongsaly Museum of Ethnicity

Visitors should stop by this museum to get an introductory glimpse into the rich cultural diversity found in this province. The museum showcases the vibrant traditions, livelihoods, and handicrafts of the ethnic minority groups that call Phongsaly home. Highlights include stunning displays of colorful traditional costumes and clothing worn by the various tribes. You’ll see intricate embroidery, weavings, jewelry, and more that demonstrate the artistry of these groups.

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Rich cultural diversity (Source: Internet)

The museum also has exhibits explaining the cultural customs, spiritual beliefs, and traditional ways of life, like farming and handicraft-making, passed down over generations. It’s a must-visit to gain insights into the unique minority cultures that make Phongsaly so fascinating.

Hike To Phu Fa Mountain

Towering 1,625 meters above sea level, this “Sky Mountain” is the highest in Phongsaly. Its lofty summit provides incredible panoramic views overlooking the town below and the surrounding mountainous landscapes in the distance. For adventurous visitors, hiking up Phu Fa is a must-do activity.

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“Sky Mountain” of Phongsaly (Source: Internet)

The trail winds through lush forest, shared by tall trees providing shade. Along the way, there is a picnic area with some local vendors selling snacks and refreshments if you need a break. Being atop Phu Fa Mountain offers a breathtaking vista unlike any other in the region to take in Phongsaly’s natural beauty from high above.

Ban Komaen

Another must-visit spot in your Laos vacation packages is the Ban Komaen village. This quaint community has become well-known for its longstanding tea plantations that incredibly date back over 400 years. Walking through Ban Komaen, you’ll be awestruck by the massive ancient tea trees towering overhead – some reaching around 6 meters tall! The local villagers use long bamboo poles or must skillfully climb the gnarly trunks and branches to harvest the valuable leaves from these ancestral trees.

Phongsaly Town

This old town is a jewel nestled between the famed regions of Dien Bien, Vietnam, and Yunnan, China, that can’t be missed! As the provincial capital, this delightful little town serves as the perfect home base for intrepid travelers to experience the wonders of Phongsaly.

Visitors will immediately fall in love with the atmospheric vibes as they wander the streets lined with exquisitely preserved ancient wooden houses built in Yunnan’s iconic architectural style. These heritage homes are becoming a rarity in Yunnan itself due to modernization, but here in Phongsaly, they stand proud, allowing you to step back in time. Ensure your camera is ready to capture the intricate details and old-world charm!

Phou Den Din NPA

For adventurous eco-travelers, the rugged and relatively inaccessible Phou Den Din National Protected Area offers an authentic off-the-beaten-path experience. This massive 2,200-square-kilometer protected area spans remote, mountainous terrain reaching elevations of 2,000 meters in northern Phongsaly Province. Unlike more developed national parks, getting to Phou Den Din requires extra effort – visitors must undertake multi-day treks by foot or boat to reach the interior forests and valleys. But this inaccessibility also preserves the area’s unspoiled wilderness and protects the incredible array of flora and fauna found nowhere else.

In Summary

By booking a Phongsaly extension on your Laos vacation packages, you’ll be rewarded with unforgettable treks, encounters with exotic wildlife, visits to tribal villages, tranquil riverside retreats, and insights into unique lifestyles. So be sure to add Phongsaly to your itinerary for an off-the-beaten-path adventure in Laos and have memories that will stay with you long after leaving this remote corner of Southeast Asia.

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