Hiking & Camping at the Best Viewpoint in Laos: Pha Daeng Peak
Laos has planted its national flag atop Nong Khiaw’s Pha Daeng Peak, arguably the country’s #1 viewpoint. The summit is known for its morning “Sea Fog” and recent addition of tent camping about three hours north of Luang Prabang.
A dawn hike to the top takes climbers above the clouds that cling to the mountains in the horizon. The rising sun burns off the mist to reveal a 360-degree panorama starring the Nam Ou River snaking around Nong Khiaw Town.
The Lao flag stands on a boulder at the absolute pinnacle of Pha Daeng Peak, like the cherry on top of a viewpoint sundae. The scene begs visitors to step up for a portrait or selfie that guarantees a string of comments and emojis on your Facebook page.
The new camping option adds a mountain sunset for afternoon hikers, who can then catch the following morning’s Sea Fog show. Pitch a tent, have a cook out, sit around a campfire, and enjoy a night in nature.
The easy-to-follow, zig-zagging trail to the peak takes an hour or so, depending on the hiker’s pace in tackling the medium-grade trek. The well-signed path is constantly being improved by the community, who continually add ropes and steps to help climbers, especially during Green Season (July-October), when the trail can get a bit sloppy.
A wooden shelter greets the intrepid to Pha Daeng Peak, presenting a place to rest or bite into a snack and sip on the drink you brought along.
Tent camping began trending among Laotians during the 2020-2021 Lao Thiao Lao domestic tourism campaign. Since Laos reopened on 9 May 2022, local tour operators are adding tent camping at Pha Daeng Peak to their Luang Prabang itineraries for foreign tourists. To prevent crowding, campers need to book in advance.
Getting to Nong Khiaw from Luang Prabang
The 142-km drive in a van from Luang Prabang to Nong Khiaw takes about 3 hours. Transportation providers in Luang Prabang offer seats in vans and cars. Local busses are also available at the bus station. Departure times vary, but tend to leave in the early morning. You can also access Nong Khiaw from Muang Xai by car or motorbike.
Getting to Pha Daeng Viewpoint Entrance
The entrance to the Pha Daeng Viewpoint trail is located across the bridge from Nong Khiaw Town. The distance is less than 1 km. The entrance and ticket booth (LAK 20,000 as of 1 July) is on the left and presents several information panels about the hike and the community, who is the caretaker of the attraction and activity.
Preparing for the Hike
The trek takes a moderate amount of fitness. It is recommended to wear appropriate walking footwear, though locals make the hike in sandals. Visitors will need to bring their own food and drinks as none are yet available at the top. Campers will need to bring their own gear or join a group with a tour operator in Luang Prabang or Nong Khiaw Town. To book tent camping (maximum 10 PAX), WhatsApp/Tel +856 20 2202 2555.
Accommodation in Nong Khiaw Town
Travel Businesses in Luang Prabang
To find a certified LaoSafe business in Luang Prabang, click on the links below.
How to Get to Luang Prabang
*Note: Schedules are constantly changing. Please directly contact the transportation providers for the most current schedule.
Flights from Vientiane
Lao Airlines: Daily flights as of 1 July 2022
Lao Skyway: Four flights per week as of 1 July 2022
Direct Flights from Bangkok
Lao Airlines: Three flights per week as of 1 July 2022
Thai AirAsia: Three flights per week as of 1 July 2022
Train from Vientiane
Lao-China Railway: Three daily departures