Muang Hiam - Gateway to the Nam Et-Phou Louey
Muang Hiam - Gateway to the Nam Et-Phou Louey


Muang Hiam - Gateway to the Nam Et-Phou Louey


The small town of Muang Hiam is often overlooked by tourists, due to its remoteness. Visited mostly by bikers on the North East Loop and those visiting Nam Et Phou Louey National Park, there is not a huge amount of tourism infrastructure. However, with a bit of exploring, this town reveals itself to be a hidden gem in the remotes of the north. 

Muang Hiem. Photo by NEPL NP

In the centre of town there are a few local guesthouses, all of which are clean and basic. You can expect hot showers and a clean bed, but not too much more. You will probably want to spend your time here exploring the town and its surrounds, rather than in your hotel. Near the guesthouses you can find the local market, selling fruits, vegetables, and meat, making it a great option to pick up some cheap fruit. 

Local Market in Muang Hiem. Photo by worldexpeditions

The town is built mostly along the bank of the Nam Khan River, which eventually flows down to Luang Prabang and into the Mekong. Here it is a small trickle of what it becomes as it flows south, but it makes for a more relaxing swim, in the right spot. There are a few restaurants overlooking the river. One of the better options is the small River View restaurant, just next to the bridge on the western side. Here there is a good choice of Lao food, especially the sin dad (Lao BBQ) and even French fires as well as the only French press coffee in town. Join in a local game of petanque, or watch the river go by while sipping a cold Beer Lao. 

On the western side of town you will find the NEPL NP Tourism Visitor Centre. Here you can learn about the park, and the different conservation activities taking place in the park. You can learn about some of the threats to wildlife as well as the ecotourism activities that you can do in the park (advance bookings required). You can also click HERE to read about one of their experiences or click HERE to book some of the great tours.

Nam Et-Phou Louey National Park – The Heart of NorthEast Laos

Behind the NEPL Visitor Centre you can explore a short jungle hike that takes you up into the forest, past a lookout, some old trenches, and eventually to some natural hot springs. If you don’t fancy a hike you can also access the hot springs by following the dirt road that runs past the visitor centre. 

Viengthong/Muang Hiam Hot Springs
Viengthong/Muang Hiam Hot Spring

Further outside of town there are some lovely swimming spots and waterfalls, which offer a great way to relax after a long day’s ride. These require riding along dirt roads to get there and will not have the infrastructure of swimming spots in tourist hot spots, so if you want to enjoy a cold drink by the waterfall, make sure to bring some with you. 

To the south of town travellers can also explore the remains of Lima Site 36, a CIA airbase used during the Second Indochina War. It takes around to hours to ride here along a dirt road, so be prepared for a long day. Here you can discover the remenants of the air base and artifacts of the war. Be aware that the area was heavily bombed and there are still many UXOs in the area. Next to the base is the small village of Ban Nakout, a Tai Phuan ethnic village. Homestays can be arranged in advance by contacting the NEPL Ecotourism Team or the District Information Culture and Tourism Office in Muang Hiam. 

ponypics | Vietnam war veterans, Vietnam war photos, Vietnam war
Lima Site 36
Authentic Ethnics Tour from North to South of Laos - 11 Days | Laos Tours
Photo by GoLaoTour

For more information about Muang Hiam you can check out a handy guide from the great folks at Nam Et Phou-Louey National Park by clicking HERE.

Photo by NEPL NP

Despite its small size, Hiam has a lot to offer if you are willing to explore its surrounds. Ethnic villages, waterfalls, hot springs, and jungle hikes are all waiting to be discovered. For information on getting to Muang Hiam along the North East Loop click HERE. Now get out there and Discover Laos Today! 


David Ormsby

David is a writer, explorer, adventurer, outdoor educator, and guide. He was worked across the Asia Pacific in a number of different roles within the eco-tourism and outdoor industry. Since 2016 David has lived and worked in Laos, and brings a depth of experience to his writing in Laos.