Muang Xay (aka
Oudomxay, Udomxai etc), the capital of the multiethnic province of
Oudomxay, located in the Nam Ko River Basin and surrounded by scenic
mountains. It's the largest city in northern Laos and, if you're
travelling by land, you'll probably end up here at some point.
The town is formed by small villages at an important intersection between
China and Vietnam, and the city has a unique multicultural atmosphere.
A free city map can be obtained in the bus station, with basic information
and "things to do".
An online version you can get on the website of the Provincial Tourism
Get in Muang Xay.
Lao Airlines has three flights a week to/from Vientiane (1 hr, full fare
US$98). The local ticket reseller is located in Litthavixay Guesthouse in
the town center on the main street.
Buses from/to Luang Namtha cost 28,000 kip takes up to 3.5 hours.
Departures from Muang Xay are at 08:30, 11:30 and 15:00.
Buses from/to Luang Prabang leave once a day and take about 5 hours.
Further daily buses come from/go to Vientiane, Phongsali, Pak Beng, Muang
Khua, and Bokeo. Buses to China can also be reached.
The local Provincial Tourist Office (in Oudomxay City, or Muang Xay) has
been offering since November 2006 some very nice hiking including
nightstays in khamu family houses (not guest houses, as in other more
touristy hike places, which makes the experience very special and
intimate). Although not as colorful as other ethnic groups of Laos, the
khamu people are very nice and happy to have foreigners visiting their
There are three banks and one post office offering change for cash and
travellers' cheques, BCEL , about 1 km north of the bus station change
travellers for 3% commission (minimum of US$3). It might be worth checking
Lao Development Bank (which might offer a better value).
BCEL provides an ATM, accepting international cards (BCEL charges
20,000Kip, be aware of charges of your own bank).
There is a market located opposite the Tourism Office where you can buy
stuff mostly from China and Thailand. Get your daily necessity stuff at
the market and please do some bargain when you buying from them.
Quite a few restaurant practice dual pricing, often with ridiculously high
"foreigner" prices. Check the menu first and just walk away.
* Sinphet restaurant (700m north of the bus just after the second gas
station) has a restaurant offering good food for reasonable prices. The
lady owner named Ah Sin is very friendly and her husband is well verse in
English, Mandarin and French.
* Just 10m north of the Sinphet restaurant there is a really good soup
shop owned by a friendly (though not smiling) local guy offering meat and
vegetarian noodle soups (vegetarian soup for 5000 kip).
* Just about 1 km from the bus station (road to Luang Namtha), there is
one steamboat restaurant offering good Lao's style Korean BBQ.
* International dishes and cocktails you can get in the new Muang Neua
Restaurant in the town center
* A broad range of Lao dishes are offered by Souphailin Restauraunt.
Please be patient with cooking times as she prepares everything fresh
(above all to consider when ordering spring rolls).
On the Tourism Office's town map all restaurants are shown.
[add listing] Sleep
There are a number of decent guesthouses in town. Basic rooms with showers
and hot water should cost around 40,000 kip. General room prices in the
town center including TV are around 60,000-70,000 Kip.
* Phanmixay Guesthouse - inside the bus station compound. Has clean and
nice rooms. US$4 for a double room with shower, hot water and cable TV).
A complete list of guesthouses can be found on the website of the tourism
The town has two laundromats (one just a few meters south of the bus
station) which charge per item which makes the service very expensive.
There are two Internet shops in the city (one located in the bus station),
both charging 400 kip/minute.
Get out from Muang Xay.
* There is a province bus station here in the town offering many bus
services to Luang Prabang, Pak Beng, Meuang La, Phongsaly, Vientiane.
* Beside that, just opposite the Sinphet restaurant, there are
international bus from China plying the route from Kunming to Luang
Prabang and Luang Prabang to Kunming. Time is around 12.00 p.m. The
international bus will stop around 15 minutes for lunch at the Chinese
restaurant just opposite Sinphet restaurant.
For more information of Laos visit