“A serene mountain escape in northern Laos, with treks to remote hill tribes, great fusion food and thermal pools”
Ten rooms are spread between wood and bamboo buildings, blending seamlessly with the landscape. Inside you'll find local art and woven fabrics, high ceilings, piping-hot showers and all-important balconies to capture the spectacular surroundings. Walkers, photographers and foodies will revel in Muang La, but it’s a perfect haven for anyone to unwind.
- Trekking, mountain biking and 4x4 excursions with fantastic local guides. You'll go through incredible scenery to meet remote hill-tribe communities
- Superb Lao-French fusion food, with 5-course set dinners and gourmet picnics; rates include breakfast and dinner
- The warm and friendly manager, and ever-smiling staff
- Thermal spring-fed pools and a swimming pool to bathe in, plus massages and beauty treamtents in the spa
- A totally authentic experience that's well off the tourist trail, with impressive eco and social credentials
- Getting here: either an internal flight from Vientiane or a 6-hour scenic drive from Luang Prabang
- Full payment at the time of reservation, and excursions are expensive
- Service can be slow, but this is pretty normal in Laos
- Expect moths and mosquitoes; mozzie coils and plug-in repellents are provided, but there are no nets
Best time to go
Our top tips
The sun is very strong at this altitude so pack a hat and strong sunscreen for the treks, as well as bug repellent and good walking shoes or boots. As you will pass through very simple villages, bring small denominations of cash in case you want to buy anything.”
- Rural Hotel
- Half-board + lunch on request; bar open daily
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Bicycles Available
The 10 rooms are named after local hill-tribe communities, and decorated with their distinct colour themes. They are spread between beautiful timber and bamboo houses, and furnished with jewel-coloured cushions, locally woven textiles, lampshades and traditional art.
There are 6 Garden View rooms. Lenten and Akha are twin-bedded and feel light and airy with silvery white walls, polished wooden floors, high vaulted ceilings and small balconies looking out to the lawn. Their bathrooms have showers only. The other 4 rooms (Tai Leu, Lao, Hmong and Khamu) sit perpendicular to the river, also facing the garden. These rooms have recently renovated bathrooms with large tubs and separate showers. As a result, we thought they were the best-value rooms.
The 4 River View rooms have large balconies and are vast inside. Ceilings are extremely high, and with retro-style furniture and brightly coloured fabrics, they are more eclectic in design. Their terrazzo bathrooms are huge with double sinks and oversized bathtubs. Katou and Lamet are furthest from reception and feel very private; they would work well for a family or 2 couples as they have the added benefit of a shared lounge area with a coffee machine. We stayed in Katou and had the most peaceful sleep in the comfy queensize bed.
- Air conditioning
- Cots Available
- Extra beds
- Internet access
Your stay includes breakfast and dinner. The dining area is rustic and open with a large deck overlooking the river - it has an African safari-lodge feel, and in cooler months they light a fire pit for aperitifs. Dinner is an impressive affair, with a daily changing 5-course set menu (though they can cater for dietary requirements). The food is a fine fusion of traditional Lao and French flavours; think brochette of pork with lemongrass or fish pudding cooked in a banana leaf. Everything is beautifully presented and we enjoyed every mouthful, particularly the Asiatic apple crumble, which had pineapple in the fruit mix and peanuts in the topping.
For an additional charge, dinner can be served in the private sala on the small island opposite the resort, accessed by a rope bridge lit with oil torches. If you're here for a special occasion it's definitely worth it - we had pre-dinner drinks here one evening, surrounded by dozens of lanterns and candles.
Lunch (extra cost) at the resort is also a set menu, including dishes such as green papaya salad, Khao Pat (pork fried rice), Pad Thai and pasta. If you're out for the day, ask for a picnic - we were really impressed with our scrumptious spicy beef and rice cooked on a portable gas cooker overlooking the most beautiful rice terraces. For a change of scene there are simple restaurants within walking distance.
Breakfast is a Western meal, and less impressive than lunch and dinner, though certainly filling. We were offered a basket full of fluffy breads, croissants and pastries, plus eggs and bacon.
- Half board
- Lunch by arrangement
- Organic produce
- Restaurants nearby
- Room service
- Vegetarian menu
The hotel offers a range of excellent activities, which include the following:
- Take a guided tour of Pak La village. See how villagers live, watch water buffalo tend the rice paddies and visit the salt mines. Or take a mountain bike tour
- Enjoy half-day guided treks through the undulating natural scenery and full-day treks to hill-tribe villages. Muang La's local guides are excellent, and will explain each village's tribal customs, lifestyle, daily chores and perspective on the modern world
- Get more remote by 4x4; we loved the ‘Meet the ethnic groups of northern Laos’ excursion on our first day, which takes you by 4x4 to far-off Hmong, Ikhos and Khamu villages
- Experience a traditional Baci ceremony in a local house - these are held to celebrate special events such as marriage or the birth of a baby, and are seen as a restoring of spirits
- Soak in the swimming pool or the natural hot pools, whose water comes from a thermal salt-water spring, or have a massage, pedicure, manicure or reflexology in the spa, followed by a steam
- Take a cookery class, during which you'll visit the market and learn about local spices and aromatic herbs, and how they are combined in traditional Lao recipes
- Awake early to watch the daily alms giving to Buddhist monks around Muang La village
- Visit the sacred Buddha in the Pha Chiao Sing Kham temple, and other richly gilded pagodas
- Take a river cruise down the Nam Ou from Muang Khua to Nong Khiaw, one of the most picturesque trips in the region. You'll see enormous limestone formations rising majestically from the water
- Celebrating a special occasion? Release Chinese lanterns at night from the banks of the river
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Boat trips
- Cooking classes
- Historical sites
- Mountain biking
- Plantlife / flora
- Private guided tours
- Shopping / markets
- Traditional cultures
- Well being
Families are welcome. The hotel can provide baby cots (free of charge) and rollaway beds for 2-12 year-olds (supplement charge), or children aged 0-12 can share the bed with their parents for free. Due to the nature of the excursions, the remote location and the limited variety of children’s food, the resort is best suited to active older children who love the outdoors, although you will need to pay full adult rates for 12+ year-olds.
Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
Family friendly accommodation:
Cots Available, Extra Beds Available