The area of Luang Namtha is famous for the hiking opportunities and the different minortiy villages in that area where you can have real homestays. And like so many other parts in Laos it is not run over by tourists, which means the minority villages have not become like Disneyland (some travellers have use that comparison with homestay in northern Thailand as in some villages they only use their local cloth for show for tourist). So when in the area it is a must-do. Every agency in the town is offering several treks with various level of qualities. And the cheapest one are not always the best. When choosing one agency consider if the village you visit will benefit from it. Forest Retreat was recommended, and it seems they do not just visit the same village all the same time, but supporting a number of villages – even when not bringing tourists there. They also provide job opportunities for younger people from the village in their cafe. The price for a trek is higher than from other agency – but the quality of the gear for kayaking was great and the guide I had spoke good English. They offer different treks withs various levels of difficulties. So check what treks are available.
I decided to do a day-trek, staying in a minority village for the night, and do a kayaking trip during the second day. The price for the 2 day trip was 750.000 Kip, including 2x lunch, 1x dinner, 1 breakfast, drinking water and a bed. The final price depends on the number of people in the group, and I managed to find another person who stayed in the village. A Czech couple joined us for the trek, but they decided to spend the night in the jungle.
The trip starts in the morning, meeting point was the Forest Retreat office, and a breif visit of the local markets to buy some supply. Being able to stroll through the market was actually fun and a nice way to start the day.
With their minibus we headed then to the the east part of the Nam Ha National Park. It was only a 30 minute drive, going off the main road onto a dirt road where minority villages are lined along the Nam Tha river. We stopped between two villages where our trek started.