Farthest north in Laos is Phongsaly, which shares borders with Yunnan (China) and Dien Bien (Vietnam). The capital is Phongsaly town, which is the highest city in Laos PDR at 1,400 meters above sea level. It covers the endless mountains down to the canyon of the Nam Ou River, biggest tributary of the Mekong.
The population of Phongsaly is made up of officially 28 different ethnic groups, of which the majority being Khmu, Phounoy, different Akha, Tai Lue and Hor, each with their own culture, traditions, costumes, and languages. The forests contain an abundance of animal, bird, insect and plant life, and there are certainly many undiscovered species, new to science.
Area: 16,270 km2
Population: 176,151 habitants (with 28 ethnic groups)
Unlike many other cities in Laos, Phongsaly Town has not been destroyed in the American war. It is famous for a remaining old quarter with Yunnanese wooden architecture, which couldn’t be found in Yunnan these days. Most of the people living here belong to the Hor ethnic group, speaking Chinese. You can also find a wide range of local textiles, artifacts and handicrafts here.
Surrounded by rolling hills, the town is built into the side of Phou Fa Mountain (1,625 meters). It takes about 45 minutes to hike up to its stupa on top, you will have chance to enjoy the spectacular views of the town from above and the mountains in the far distance.
The province offers a delicious variety of Lao and Yunnanese cuisine that consists of wild forest ingredients such as fragrant herbs, bamboo and rattan shoots. After dinner trying a shot of the locals, which is smooth, strong and tinted green. During the final stage of the distillation process this rice whisky run over fresh picked raspberry leaves absorbing the green colour.
The Chinese-style green tea of Phongsaly receives worldwide recognition for its high quality and superb taste. Tea leaves are picked by the Phounoy minority women from tea trees up to 400 years old tea, standing 6 meters high with a stem up to 30cm in diameter. These precious tea leaves are compressed in bamboo cylinders and sold in cigar-shaped tubes. In this wild tea grove fertilizers and chemicals have never been used. Drinking a daily cup keeps the body in good health, reduces fat and preserves a clear mind.
1.Phou Den Din National Bio-diversity Conservation Area
It is large and remoted area in Phongsaly. You can visit Phou Den Din by small boat upstream by Nam Ou River. The trip often focused on adventurous experience, which allows tourists to stay closely to nature. Remember to well-prepared food, light and other camping equipments to have a great experience in the most remote part of Laos.
2. Nam Lan conservation area
Located near China border of Phongsaly province, with 22,000 hectares densely forest in Boun Tai town, it is surrounded by small mountain range at average height of 1,200 metres. There are locals from 5 villages staying around the border of conservation area. Their food source is mainly rice harvested from low flat lands. They also hunt and collect animals to have additional food.
3.Wat Luang Ou Neua Temple
Located in Ban Ou Neua village, this temple was built 500 years ago. It features with traditional architecture and techniques such as large Buddha image and smaller Buddha statues. It is covered by red waving with many layers of roof top. The structure with many sculpture decoration details on both faces of the temple. On the front, there are two standing Buddha statues raising their hands like welcoming and blessing for visitors.
4. Old Quarter
Old Quarter follows wooden Yunnanese architecture style which may be hard to find even in Yunnan nowadays. By reaching the Phoufa hill at 1,650meters, you can observe overall scenery of Phonsaly town with a mix in culture of Chinese and Laotian.
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