Guest Houses in Xieng Kok and Muang Long
Muang Long is on Luang Namtha's western border with the Mynmar's Shan State. Muang Long is Akha Land as the Akha are the majority here. Tourism in Muang Long hasn't really taken off yet. If you are really wanting to get away or be the one of the first to discover a place, Muang Long is waiting for you. There is great potential for trekking and mountain biking in Muang Long.
The road from Muang Sing to Xieng Kok on the Mekong is 70 kms and is one of Luang Namtha's best roads. There are now three to four buses to and from Muang Sing each day. Xieng Kok is a bustling port with Chinese and Lao ships loading and unloading cargo at all hours of the day and night. More and more roads are being built into the hinterlands opening up remote villages.
Boat Travel between Houeisai and Xieng Kok
This trip usually involves travel by speed boat, which we do not recommend as it is undoubtedly the most dangerous mode of transport in Laos. Also trying to negotiate with the sped boatman can be exceedingly frustrating. But due to the popularity and beauty of the trip we provide information.
In Houeisai you can find the speed boats for upriver travel at the northern boat landing about 3 km out of town. Speed boats seat between 6 - 8 people ( depending on body size and luggage). The cost of hiring a speed boat from Houeisai to Xieng Kok is around 3,500 - 4,000 THB. The trip takes around 4 hours either direction. Xieng Kok is in Muang Long District of Luang Namtha.
If you can arrange to share a boat with local passengers most of them go as far as Ban Mum or Ton Pueng for a fare of 500 THB per person.
Occasionally, you can find a slow boat departing from Houeisai or Ton Pueng for Xieng Kok. There areslow boats based near Xieng Kok which normally transport cargo between Xieng Kok and Chiang Saen, Thailand two to three times a month. They have been known to take passengers. You might be able to contact the boat in Ban Sa. One boatman's name is Keo. There are also many slow boats in Xieng Lahp 15 kms up river from Xieng Kok on the Burmese side. Don't cross to Burma but you may be able to talk them them from a boat in the river or call them to the Lao side.
Chinese freighters also ply the river. Presently they travel between Jing Hong, China and Chiang Saen, Thailand. Some of the freighters load and unload in Xieng Kok. We have reports of travelers successfully negotiating passage on the Chinese boats for around 400 THB to Ban Mom - half way to Houeisai. If you or anyone who know has more information kindly send us a letter letting us know. In the near future the Chinese freighter traffic will go as far as Luang Prabang.
Another option is to take the take the boat to/from Ton Peung. Ton Peung, the La town opposite Chaing Saen, has a bus service to Houeisai and is a short distance down river from ban Mom. This might help be a cheaper alternative.
Soon tourist boats from China will be running regularly. It is not know if they will be able to pick up passengers at Xieng Kok or not.