Laos' northernmost province of Phongsali is spread out over a patchwork of neverending mountains and deep valleys. It has a strong Chinese influence, due to its close proximity to China's Yunnan province and involvement during the Second Indochina War, with evidence still visible in the Chinese Quarter of Phongsali town. It is one of the most unique and fascinating provinces in Laos, unlike any other in this "forgotten" country. A number of captivating hill tribes still live everyday life in their distinctive traditional values, dressed in colorful costumes and farming the land as they have done for centuries. Visiting Phongsali provides an incredibly rare insight through Laos' rich heritage and into a realm that has barely been discovered. Although unmistakably Asian, the province is a world away from the demands of modern-day life, and the curious traveler will encounter a destination so remote, they will wonder what world they have stepped into.


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Hill Tribe Visits

Phongsali is home to a number of curious hill tribes that live in secluded rustic villages, tucked away amongst the hills. Just within this one province are numerous different tribes - the Hmong, Akha Epia, Black Thai, Lan Tan, Akha Ikor, Por Sang, Akha Loma are just a few within the region. They adopt unique traditions with the women wearing specific tribal-wear with colorful garments, flamboyant embroidery and applique, jewellery and silver ornaments and distinctive head-dresses. The tribes are not accustomed to seeing visitors and foreigners are often greeted with an intriguing stare. Visiting these hill tribes provide an extraordinary insight into Laos’ simple way of life that is seen by very few outsiders.

Museum of Tribes

The Museum of Tribes in Phongsali Town provides an interesting insight into the lives of the Phongsali ethnic tribes and there are a diversity of local costumes on display as well as a collection of traditional wooden utensils.

Phongsali Town

The provincial capital city is perched on a small ridgetop plateau, over 4,500 feet high. Above, the peak of Phou Fa rises and the town boasts panoramic views of the countryside below. Wandering through the town will lead visitors to the Old Quarter, a medieval-looking part of Phongsali, characterized by houses constructed with mud bricks, ornate Chinese carvings and ancient winding roads.


Trekking within the Phongsali province provides remarkable and rare sights from a part of the country that has been barely visited. Walking up the steep, forested incline to the peak of Phou Fa offers breathttaking views over both Phongsali town and magnificent Lao landscapes. Other mountainous hikes present a challenging-yet-rewarding climb to any trekker, with sensational, uninterrupted views from the top over landlocked terrains and rolling mountains. In addition to the chance to explore Laos’ undiscovered and stunning countryside, trekkers may also find themselves encountering hidden hill-tribe villages, nestled high up in the hills.

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