Located in the heart of upper Northern Laos, Oudomxay province is a nice mountainous area worth exploring for a couple of days between Luang Nam Tha and Luang Prabang.
What to experience ?
Oudomxay province is a good location for visiting Hmong and Khmu villages while being practically sure of being the only tourists out there. It is also known for its natural hot springs in Muang La and some spectacular waterfalls, most of which are still untouched and undeveloped. A one-day tour led by local guides to the Nam Kat Waterfall has recently been developed with German technical assistance. A 3-day trek will take you through unspoilt and spectacular natural landscapes, exploring Ban Chom Ong, one of the biggest caves in Laos, and take you to hill tribe village homestays, where you’ll exchange with your hosts and share culinary experiences together. All tours are guided by trained local guides and can be booked at The Provincial tourism office (PTO).
Some activities can be done without a guide, such as visiting the handicraft productivity centre which promotes local products such as sesame oils, essential oils, products made from mulberries, and banana or bamboo paper and cotton. You can also take part in a cooking class to discover the unique tastes and flavour of the northern Laotian mountains with influences from local ethnic groups and China. In Muang La 20 km from Oudomxay you can go visit the famous Pha Singkham temple.
How does it help ?
The PTO is very dedicated to the development of a truly sustainable tourism activity, well aware of both positive and negative impacts of tourism, especially mass tourism. They not only promote the region, but also carefully look after the target villages and their inhabitants.
Through training and apprenticeships supported by international organisations, they keep increasing the human resource capacity of public and private tourism stakeholders. The training includes tour guiding and language training for villagers and the tourism office’s staff. They believe that sustainable tourism can only be achieved on a basis of common understanding and by communicating with each other.
All decisions are made through participative community meetings, their motto is: “everything from local people, by local people and for local people”. They strongly encourage tourists to stay in the villages overnight. This allows a better connection with the hosts and ensures that there is a benefit for the village from the homestay, meals, etc. Each village has a village fund bank account, from which villagers can get money upon submission of an activity plan which is signed by the village development committee. The PTO also contributes to livelihood support programs involving women, ethnic groups and mainly focussing on the revitalisation of cultural industries. They set up an entrance fee to Pha Singkham temple, with the entirel revenue going to the temple monks in order to maintain and repair old parts of the temple.
For information on trekking visit http://ecotourismlaos.com/oudomxay.htm