Bordering Myanmar and within grasp of the green hills of China, Muang Sing (ເມືອງສິງ) is a rural backwater in the heart of the Golden Triangle. Formerly on the once infamous opium trail, it's a sleepy town of wilting, Tai Lü–style houses where trekking has overtaken smuggling contraband. Hmong, Tai Lü, Akha and Tai Dam are all seen here in traditional dress at the old market (get there at dawn), giving the town a frontier feel.
Back in the late '90s, it was one of the must-visit destinations in Laos, but with the end of fast boat services and clampdown on the opium trade, it has dropped off the traveller radar. Recently, a growing Chinese population has settled here, replacing rice fields with banana and rubber plantations for consumption on the other side of the border. Regrettably, Western travellers have spoken of being turned away from restaurants and guesthouses by Chinese operators.