Located in Luang Nam Tha’s far northwest, Muang Sing is a small town bordering Myanmar and China’s Yunnan province. It is known as administrative and economic centre. Its topography is mainly mountainous with elevation ranging from 540 to 2,094 meters, traditionally dominated by forest and upland swidden farming.
Muang Sing is home to Tai Lue, Tai Neua and Akha cultural nexus, as well as a trade centre for Tai Dam, Hmong, Mien and Lolo people group. The most common groups are Akha and Tai Lue accounting for 50% and 30% respectively. Tai Lue villages are some of the province’s oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the northern reaches of the Muang Sing valley.
From November to February the weather turns cool and dry. While in this time winter woollies will be needed in the morning and evening. In contrast, March and April are the hottest months, with the mercury approaching 40°C.
Muang Sing attractions
1.Muang Sing Museum
It is an ideal place to start exploring Muang Sing’s rich culture and history. Located in the center of town, it was made of old wood and brick and became the residence of Phanya Sekong, a local lord called Jao Fa Noi or Little Prince. The building was restored in 2005.
Due to its functional structure, the facade was refinished but the clay roofing tiles that covered the residence of Phaya Sekong before were converted to a mix of corrugated iron and asbestos tiles painted red. There is an excellent collection of traditional tools from the major ethnic groups displayed on the building’s upper, which have been preserved by Muang Sing people in the 18 – 19th century.
Open hour : Monday – Friday from 9 to 11:30 am and 1:30 to 3:30 pm
Admission fee: 5,000 kip (plus 5,000 kip extra for the Akha film).
2. That Xieng Tueng (Xieng Tung Stupa)
That Xieng Tueng is the most important stupa in Muang Sing containing the Adam’s apple of Buddha. The date of when it was built is unknown. To the left of the stupa are some stairs which lead to a sacred fountain and a sacred stone. If you follow a path to the right of the stupa downhill you might be able to find the old moat and wall of the stupa.
That Xieng Tung Festival, the biggest festival of the year, is held here every year during the full moon of the 12th lunar month (usually in late October or early November) and attracts a wide gathering from villages and people around the district and Luang Namtha province.
3.Temples & Monasteries
In Muang Sing there are more than 27 temples called Vat. The old Vat is known as Vat Xieng Chai (Vat Luang). The most important vat in the area is located off the main road next to the museum. By 1890 only Vat Luang existed within the town walls. Vat Namkeo, which has a large monk residency, is a short walk from the fort.
It is also quite beautiful and is located on the road to Xieng kok. Besides, Vat Xiang Yeun, and Vat Xieng Lae can be visited along the way to the Muang Sing Market on the northern edge of town. Vat Xieng is in a short distance of the bus station.
4.The Morning Market
The Muang Sing market is one of the best places to see ethnic groups in northern Lao, as people from Akha, Lue, Hmong, Yao, Lue, Tai Dam and Tai Neua villages come to sell their fruits, vegetables, meats, non-timber forest products and crafts in the morning.
The best time to visit the market is in the early morning. The market is also a great place to get to know the food specialties of Muang Sing. Fermented soybean paste waffers (called Pan mak teua now in Lao language or Pan mak teu on in local Lue dialect) are a local specialty.
There is a wide variety of local sweets (“canome”) often made from sticky rice and coconut. Sitting down at one of the many noodle stands and having a bowl of “Kao Soi” (rice noodle soup with a fermented soybean and pork topping) is a great experience to blend in with the locals and learn more about their lifestyle.
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