After an epic ride in an overloaded minivan, we reached Luang Namtha, a small city close to the Chinese border and famous for being the base camp of many jungle treks.
We won’t go into politics here, but it looks like China literally invaded this part of Laos: we could see Chinese writings on every truck and many buildings on the way to Luang Namtha. Speaking with Laotians, we learned that China is actually building a high-speed railway across South East Asia, which should go all the way down to Vientiane (further info here).
Long story short, we skipped the trekking options this time and went for a small motorbike tour in the Luang Namtha Valley instead.
To complete the northern loop, we took another bus to go west, to Huay Xai, at the border with Thailand and enjoyed a restful 2-days cruise to get back to Luang Prabang. The cruise stopped here and there to visit a couple of villages, a Buddha cave and a Lao Lao brewery.
Hill Tribe Village