alexametrics Phongsaly
Hill-trip people in Phongsaly province
Hill-trip people in Phongsaly province
Phongsaly

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Phongsaly

Phongsaly Province is one of the most remote Lao PDR Provinces, and is dominated by rugged, mountainous terrain and an abundance of thick forests and fast-flowing rivers. It is inhabited by 25 different ethnic groups, each with their own culture, traditions, costumes, and languages. Most of the land is between 500m and 1,500m elevation, which moderates the heat of the surrounding areas of Southeast Asia and makes the climate more suitable for trekking and other physical activities. The forests contain an abundance of animal, bird, insect and plant life, and there are certainly many undiscovered species, new to science.

Ethnic groups in Phongsaly include Khmu, Tai Dam, Thai Daeng, Yao, Lue, Hor, Hmong, Akha, Yang, Bid, Lolo and others. Each ethnic group has own identity, language and culture such as wedding ceremonies, handicrafts, silver wares and jewelry.

Boun Neua and Boun Tay are thriving little market towns, and now do a lot of trade with nearby Yunnan Province, China. Mouang Khua is a small river port on the picturesque Nam Ou River. Phongsaly town is more like a hill station with cooler climate and is a centre for trekking to the surrounding areas. All of these small towns have guesthouses and small hotels which welcome both international and local visitors.
Phongsaly is in the process of building a new provincial capital in Boun-Neua District.

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The Akha People

The Akha people is commonly found in Phongsaly.

The Akha originated in the Tibetan plateau and gradually migrated south through Yunnan, China and Myanmar in the mid-19th century, settling in the mountainous regions in Northwestern Laos. Visitors can meet the Akha people in Phongsaly and Luang Namtha Provinces at altitude above 1,000 metres, where they subsist on mountain rice and forest food. In spite of the numerous water ways in the area, the animist Akha fear water, which they view as a powerful spirit. As such, they never settle near the rivers.

The Akhazan (Akha Way) code, a complex system of behaviour and beliefs, governs their lives. The Akha have orally passed their traditions down through the generations in their own language as they have no written alphabet. The Akha way shows strong respect for people and natural resources, which they believe are guided by the spirits of their ancestors. The Akha are known for their weaving skills and produce elaborate and decorative textiles. Akha women wear distinctive black or indigo clothing and head-dresses with ornamental coins and shells.

Most villages will have untouchable gates, which mark the boundary between the human and natural worlds. A highlight of an Akha visit is the annual swing ceremony held between mid-August and September.

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Brief History

It is believed that the Phou Noi migrated from Muang Sing and Burma to Phongsaly at the end of the 1700s. Fast forward to the late 1800s, some Hmongs from Southern China also migrated to Phongsaly and settled there.

In the late 1900s, a treaty was signed between China and French to transfer the Tai Lue’s Sipsongpanna principalities of Phongsaly and Muang Sing to the French colony in Laos. A new boundary was drawn up by the French to separate the watersheds of Nam Our River so that Sipsongpanna’s east can be absorbed into French Indochina and Phongsaly.

From 1908 to 1910, Tai Lue rebelled against the French authority which ended in failure. This allowed the French military to assume full control over Phongsaly by 1916.

From 1934 to 1936, there was an armed uprising against the French led by Ong Kommandam. This got Sithon Kommadam and his brother, Kamphanh jailed in Phongsaly for their involvement in the uprising. Sithon was released in 1945 and had established resistance bases in Phongsaly. Shortly after, he made contact with the Viet Minh. In 1954, the area came under the control of the Communists in Laos.

Following the 1954 Geneva Accords, the Pathet Lao forces in Phongsaly were given zones to regroup. Fast forward to 1957, the area was given to the Royal Lao Government on 18 December 1957. In 1975, Laos achieved independence and Phongsaly became a province.  

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Overall Weather

Phongsaly has three seasons:

- Cool-dry (November to February): During this period, the average temperature hovers around 20C. The temperature may drop as low as 11C and soar as high as 27C as it approaches the hot-dry period. This period is the best time to visit Phongsaly due to its comfortable and cool temperature. Small showers may also occur during this period. Do take note that temperature drops rapidly especially after sunset, it is advisable to bring along warm clothing to stay warm during this period.

- Hot-dry (March to April): During this period, the average temperature hovers around 27C. The temperature may soar as high as 33C especially in the hottest month, April. The temperature may also drop as low as 15C especially during the first month, March just after the cool-dry period. It is advisable to stay hydrated and under shade to get some relief from the heat.

 

- Rainy season (May to October): During this season, average temperature hovers around 25C and usually decreases along the season. The temperature may soar as high as 33C especially during the beginning of the season. The temperature may drop as low as 16C especially as it approaches the cool-dry period. Rainfall is expected throughout the season and is heaviest in the months of July and August. Do bring along an umbrella or raincoat to stay dry.

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Public Bus details in Phongsaly

Transportation from Provinces to Phongsaly

Departure

Destination

Kind of Bus

Departure Time

price*

Remark

 Oudomxay

Phongsaly

 

08:00am

75,000 Kip

10 hours

Muang Khua

 

08:00am

65,000 Kip

Transfer in Pak Nam Noy

9 hours

Luang Prabang

 

16:00-18:00pm

150,000 Kip

16 hours

Vientiane

 

17:00pm

190,000 Kip

26 hours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transportation from Sayabouly to Provinces

Departure

Destination

Kind of Bus

Departure Time

price*

Remark

Sayabouly

 

Paklay District

Local

09:00am

60,000 Kip

Everyday

Song-traew

09:30am

12:00pm

14:00pm

60,000 Kip

Phieng District

Every hour

30,000 Kip

Kenethao

09:00am

12:00pm

90,000 Kip

 

Botan District

09:00am

13:00pm

100,000 Kip

 

Hongsa District

Four Wheel

11:00am

80,000 Kip

 

Xienghon District

09:00am

150,000 Kip

Leave when it has 5-8 people

Kop District

08:00am

200,000 Kip

Leave when it has 5 people

Kenethao

Border Checkpoint

Tuk-tuk

 

8,000 Kip

 

Paklay District

Thuangmexay District

Song-traew

12:00pm

13:00pm

14:00PM

30,000 Kip

Take a bus in Paklay Bus station

Hongsa

Ngeun District

Four wheel

08:00am

14:00pm

25,000 Kip

 

Luang Prabang

Four wheel

08:00am

100,000 Kip

Via Chomphet District

Trasuang Boat Landing

Song-traew

08:00am

09:00am

20,000 Kip

 

Trasuang Boat landing

Hongsa

Song-traew

16:30pm

17:30pm

20,000 Kip

 

Sayaboury

Ngeun District

Four wheel

11:00am

100,000 Kip

 

Ngeun District

Pakbeang (Oudomxay)

Minibus/Song-traew

13:00pm

50,000 Kip

 

Border Checkpoint

Tuk-tuk

 

5,000 Kip

 

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Boat in Phongsaly

Boat timetable

Departure

Destination

Boat 

Departure Time

Arrival Time

Price*

Phongsaly

Hatsa

 

08:00am

09:00am

20,000 Kip

Hatsa

Muangsamphan

 

09:30am

12:30pm

60,000 Kip

Samphan

Muangkhua

 

13:30pm

16:30PM

60,000 Kip

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Getting Around in Phongsaly

Getting around Phongsaly

There are mainly three ways of transportations, tuk tuks, sawng taews and boats which could be boarded in district centres. Bicycles can be rented for $1 to $2 per day. Motorbikes can be hired too in Phongsaly.