Phongsaly, Laos’ northernmost frontier, borders China, Vietnam, and three Lao provinces. While tourists are just discovering this remote mountainous province, regional governments and businesses have been visiting for years, and some of the 7 hotels and around 60 guesthouses have been upgrading their standards to 2-3 stars, albeit for Asian tastes. Though some rooms cater to the rising number of Western travellers, fill out your Lao experience with a genuine local stay.
You’ll find the widest range of establishments and usually at least one hotel at key commercial centres, which are small towns in river and road junctions. Room prices run from $5-50, with levels of comfort matching the rate. Facilities, especially Wi-Fi, vary, though satellite TV channels offer an interesting Asian mix.
Boun Neua near the Chinese border on Lao Route 1A has a rarely used airport, but this pleasant mountainside town on a river offers a reasonable selection of rooms. South of Boun Neua is the road to the provincial capital on a mountaintop. Though Phongasly Town is remote, a wide selection of rooms meets the level required by top national government officials. Boun Tai presents a critical crossroads, with accommodation to match, and links National Route 13 with Phongsaly’s main road.
Driving east, you’ll find similar establishments at Pak Nam Noy and the road to Muang Xay, and further to Muang Khua, which caters more to Western visitors cruising the Pak Ou River. From here, the road leads to Muang Mai, the nucleus of rural roads near the Vietnam border with a choice of roomss.