Laos authorities are promoting the Nam Ha National Protected Area (an Asean Heritage Site) with treks through the jungle to explore the beautiful nature, huge trees and wildlife, as well as visits to Khmu villages.

Tom Chang, an official from the Luang Namtha Tourism Department, said the province is well-known for its variety of ethnic groups with Khmu, Tai Deng, Tai Dam and Lao Yuan people living near the forest. This is attracting visitors to local communities, which have developed tourism services.

Chang said that in 2010, Luang Namtha received help from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for community tourism service development, which involved locals being provided with training to develop and manage tourism products such as trekking tours, homestays, and a tour of caves.

The project also helped improve the Luang Namtha night market and facilities at Nam Dee waterfall and Nam Eng cave, and the development of silk products and cotton textiles in Pieng Ngam village.

“The province is now more widely known among tourists from Europe who come to learn about our ethnic groups and their culture and go trekking in the jungle,” Chang said.

The guides often stop to let tourists observe wildlife and later arrange lunch in the shade of big trees. Visitors enjoy the activities organised by the locals – and many promise to return.

The province also offers tourists kayaking on the Nam Tha river where they can observe the colourful ethnic groups living along the riverbank, and encounter wildlife while paddling.

It’s also easy to cycle to ethnic villages in the Luang Namtha valley to see and participate in bamboo paper making, the use of natural dyes, traditional weaving, the making of Lao whisky, bamboo basket making, and to visit the Phoum Pouk and Luang Namtha stupas. – Asia News Network/Vientiane Times (Laos)