The December 2008 issue of Conde Nast Traveler had an article about different cultures in remote societies that included the Luang Namtha Minority Region of Laos. Luang Namtha is home to 39 minorities, the largest number in the country and located in the northwestern part of Laos.
Our first visit to Laos was in 1999, a fast in-and-out to Luang Prabang and Vientienne only but a more in depth return to Laos in 2006 with Explore U.K. (booked through Adventure Center – see side bar) took us into Luang Namtha for a full days walk into the UNESCO controlled Namha National Biodiversity and Conservation Area. Guided day hikes can easily be arranged in town from the Nam Ha Ecotourism Office.
Tourism has grown to more than 1.6 million visitors to Laos and this particular project in partnership with UNESCO, Lao National Tourism Administration and the Wildlife Conservation Society was established to help the hill tribes maintain and promote their heritage. We overnighted at the Vila Guesthouse but check out this Luang Namtha Organization site for more places to stay and all the details.
Our Explore group bought many handwoven scarves for ourselves and gifts whether we needed them or not to help out the sweet minority people. If you decide to visit (and do…it was fun and interesting) take warm clothes for at night. The Luang Namtha area is in the mountains and can get very cold at night. It warms up around 10 am each day before becoming hot but until then….brrr…. Include the Luang Namtha area in your Laos trip, schedule a day hike or trek overnight between villages and take great satisfaction that you are helping others while having fun. Enjoy…