Muang Ngoi is on offbeat destination like Pai or Sapa; not everyone goes there but too many people do. It is four hours by bus plus one hour by boat from Luang Prabang and the trip on the Nam Ou river is magnificent. The area around Muang Ngoi is the real treasure. You’ll find great hiking and lots of friendly, small and super-local towns.
An easy 2 hours hike from Muang Ngoi we found Ban Huaybur, a nice small friendly town. It was mostly a flat hike, through grass fields and shallow rivers. Ban Huayburis a tiny village filled with 500 farmers and one tiny “hole in the wall type” supermarket (where the owner is always sleeping behind the counter). The showers are made out of bamboo with water flowing straight out of the river. One of the farmers speaks a bit of English and lets tourists stay over for 50 cents per night. Everyone knows who he is, just try to speak English and you’ll be pointed to him.
During the four days I spent here, me and my mate helped our host building a chicken house. We also hiked with the owner’s son to a beautiful waterfall to clean the leaves out of his hydro electric generator. We played petanque with the villagers. We had water gun fights with the kids. Ate bamboo and exchanged travel stories around the campfire at night. It was perfect.
After four days I had settled down in the little town so much that it was time to leave. I decided to go to the next town, which was another easy hike. The second town turned out to be one of my best travel experiences ever. The language barrier got more and more apparent the further I got from Muang Ngoi up to a point where communication was only possible through pictures and drawings. And while Ban Huaybur still received 4 to 6 tourists a day, I was the only white face in the towns further up north.
Read here how to get there: How To: Go hiking around Muang Ngoi in Laos.