Muang Sing

Less than 6 miles south of Yunnan, China and 50 miles northeast of the Myanmar border lies the humble town of Muang Sing, a small, peaceful place where travellers can relax and experience Laos’ rural culture. Despite the town’s unassuming atmosphere, Muang Sing has a long history as a trade town as well as a major opium producer. In 1904, Great Britain conceded Muang Sing to the French, who used the town to control the flow of opium between Laos, Myanmar, and China, constituting an industry that supplied France with 15% of its colonial revenue.

Today, though opium is still produced in Muang Sing, in the decades following Laos’ independence, the town has become equally prominent as a destination for Buddhist pilgrimages and an attractive stop for international travellers, making their way to the border. During December and January, Laos’ coldest months, temperatures can reach lows of 32 degrees Fahrenheit, with monsoons arriving between May and October.


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Forest Reserve

One of Muang Sing’s most striking features is its natural beauty, from the mists of the Phou Mountains looming in the distance, to the churn of the Pha Yueng waterfall, just 10 miles south of town. Most of Northwest Laos’ is part of the Nam Ha National Biodiversity Conservation Area, a designated ASEAN Heritage Park, which protects the region’s deciduous and evergreen forests from deforestation, persevering a habitat for tigers, clouded leopards, Malaysian sun bears, Asian elephants, and local tribes who rely on the natural resources, provided by the forest.


While In Muang Sing, visit one of the vibrant local markets, where you will find handicrafts created and sold by members of local tribes. Laos is especially known for its tradition of handmade textiles. From the Tai Dam’s finely woven silks to the Yao’s meticulous needlework, each garment carries with it the expertise of centuries of refinement as well as the individual care and creativity imbued by a single craftsperson.

Hill Tribes

Visit local hill tribes and see first hand how these ancient cultures bridge the gaps between the their time-honored ethnic traditions and the seductive conveniences of modernity. While the Akha comprise almost half of all the hill tribe people, travelers may also visit Hmong, Yao, Tai Neua, Tai Lue, Tai Dam, Lolo, and Phunoi villages and experience the vast range of ethnic diversity throughout Northern Laos.

Local Cuisine

Muang Sing’s signature dish is Khao soi, a noodle created by cooking rice dough on a cloth above boiling water and cutting the resulting “pancake” into thin strips. This ubiquitous regional specialty is typically washed down with Lao Lao, a rice wine, distilled in large steel barrels and served in bottles as well as clay pots with bamboo straws. Both can be found at the market, offered by street vendors, as well as in local restaurants.

Laos Regions

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Muang Sing Itineraries

Beyond Luang Prabang: Exploring Northern Laos

7 days / 6 nights
Price Per Person
From $3,400
See Itinerary

Hidden Gems of Northern Laos: Luang Namtha & Muang Sing

5 days / 4 nights
Price Per Person
From $3,300
See Itinerary
Phou Iu Resort

Phou Iu Resort

Muang Sing, Laos

Phou Iu Resort is a basic eco-lodge in the mountainous Muang Sing District of northwest Laos, near the borders of Myanmar and China's Yunnan province. The simple guesthouse, surrounded by landscape traditionally occupied by forests and upland swidden farming, has clean and comfortable bungalow rooms built in the style of local ethnic groups, including the Tai Lue, Khmu and Akha. The bungalows utilize local materials and come with their own verandah looking out to the grassy resort garden. Rooms have modern bathrooms, with hot water and free Wi-Fi. Phou Iu Resort offers bicycle rental and laundry services.

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