Introducing Luang Namtha (Namtha)
The capital of the province, Luang Nam Tha is a quiet, ordered town where a grid pattern of streets reveals ever-so-quietly humming businesses and residences. It’s a lovely spot to chill out for a couple of days before or after a trek into the Nam Ha NPA. The town is surrounded by a patchwork of rich rice paddies and ethnically diverse villages, and exploring them would be a highlight of a trip to the area. It’s also a transport hub for buses from all directions, including China, and consequently attracts a transient population of traders and travellers, all of whom add to the melting pot.
The original town, which was always prone to flooding, was virtually destroyed during the Second Indochina War, and the administrative centre was consequently moved 7km north in 1976. The newer town centre sits on higher ground, and is close to where the highways come in from Muang Sing, Boten and Udomxai. Most visitors spend their limited time around the main street of this northern district, but the older southern district is mostly residential and, in general, much more interesting. Locals often refer to the southern centre as meuang (city-state) and to the northern centre as khwǎeng (province).