Closer to Muang Noi than Ban Na village is the more strenuous 1/2 day trip up the hill next to Muang Ngoi. The hike is more difficult though you get rewarded with some great views over the surrounding area.
To start the walk pass the temple heading north, crossing a stream and follow the path through the forest. While the shade protects you from the sun it is still quite humid. After 10-15 minutes you arrive at a little hut with a few benches (perfect for a little rest when coming back). Here you find a path up the hill. When I say path it is a combination of a little path, some wooden ladders and to top it some bamboo rafts to connect rocks with a gap between them. The path really is not the best – I would rather choose the word interesting.
On the positive you cannot get lost, as it is the only way up. On the way you pass several caves, a few very little ones (only a few metres inside the hill) and some larger one (one was covered with bats in the last chamber deep inside the cave – my fellow travellers just told me to move slowly back out of the chamber!!!). The largest cave is Pha Noi, this one is signed out as well. Some of the caves were used by the locals to hide from the US bombs dropped during the illegal Secret War. So you might find some drawings inside the caves.
Higher up the hill you get a first glimpse of the amazing viewpoints over the surrounding area. So you find a good reason why you do the strenuous walk in the midday heat!!! For the last section of the path might require some focus, as more of the bamboo is used to connect individual rocks. It is a strange feeling only having bamboo underneath the feat when seeing a larger drop to the ground. At least they included a handrail as well (which I wouldn’t trust to lean against at any time).
But everything is forgotten when you reach the peak – as you get a great view over Muang Ngoi and the Mekong. You can easily sit down there to rest while enjoying the view – the trees still providing shade.
Overall it is a nice walk, not too difficult but unlike the walk to the Ban Na village this is not a walk for those who have mobility issues. I would also not walk up in Flip Flop – it wouldn’t be a good idea. Non slippery sandals or shoes would be a better option. Including time to explore the various cave we spend a good 1/2 day for the hike – and also took the chance to get fresh fruit at the bottom of the hill at the hut.