1 Day Boat Trip on Nam Tha River

Trip Overview

Many of ethnic minority groups settle their village on the Nam Tha river bank, they are Black Tai, Lanten and Khmu, the trip mainly to visit them to learning about their lifestyle, cultures and traditional, the river is bordering of Nam Ha NPA providing enjoyable scenery.

  • Tour ID: NT-BT-01.
  • Start-Finish: Luang Namtha town.
  • Duration: Full day.
  • Departure: 9:00 AM (Daily of July-January).
  • Difficulty: Easy ride on the local boat and some short walk to visit ethnic villages.


Approx. 5-6 hours.
Departs from the office at 9:00 AM. This one day boat trip take you down the Nam Tha River is traditional wooden boat of the villagers of Ban Khone Kham, one of last villager to run these boats. You will visit ethnic groups on the Nam Tha River bank such as: Ban Mai (Black Tai), Ban Sope Tod (Lanten) and Ban Sopsim (Khmu). The right bank of river is the Nam Ha National Protected Area. The boat will go as far as the confluence of the Nam Ha River before turning around and coming back up river. Enjoy a picnic lunch on the banks of river.

Village on the Bank of Nam Tha River
Ban Mai (Black Tai)
The first village downstream is Ban Mai. Make up seven percent of the population of Luang Namtha province, Tai dam are a Tai speaking group whose homeland is Dien Bien Phu in the Northern Vietnam. The first Tai dam villages are believed to have been established here during the 1890s, in response to the devastation caused by marauding “ Black Banner“ Haw Chinese Bandits from Yunan. Why they are called Black Tai is not agree upon by scholars, but some believe the name taken from Black River in Vietnam. In this minority can make silk, bamboo baskets, tray containing worms and the bright yellow cocoons underneath some of the houses.

Ban Sope tud (Lantan)
After leaving the plains, the river runs through forest-covered hills passes several Lanten villages. Lanten people establish their village near permanent streams and subsequently are sometimes referred to as Laohuay or “stream” Lao. The Lanten emigrated from China in search of stability and new mountain rice fields. They are recognizable by their dark indigo clothing and the women’s and striking silver jewelry. Upon reaching the end of childhood, Lanten women wear their swept up in a traditional style and shave their eyebrows. The Lanten language still strong and male elders continue to read and write Lanten script base on Chinese characters. They practice a synthesis of animism and Taoism, focused on lineage of ancestors and on village spirits. Lanten rituals often use wooden masks and handmade bamboo-fiber paper. During the dry season, paper making can often be seen along river banks near Lanten villages.

Ban Sopsim (Khmu)
Part of Mon-Khmer branch of Austro-Asiatic family, about 500,000 Khmu represents one of the largest ethnic groups in Lao PDR. The Khmu settled the area of present day Lao PDR several thousand years I advance of the Tai people dominate. The Khmu are not Buddhist but practice their own form of animism, many traditional animist ceremonies are on longer performed, ritual meal offerings are often made to placate the spirits upon whom the rice harvest depends. When a traditional ceremony is underway, a woven bamboo Taleo will be place at the entrance to village. If you are permitted to enter, do not disturb people involve the ceremonies or touch any altars or ritual items. Ask your guide if you are unsure.

Trip Info

  • Season: The trip is only possible between July-January.
  • Distance approx.: 15 kilometers or 5-6 hours.
  • Activities: Boat trip visit ethnic villages on the bank of Nam Tha River.
  • Transport: Tuk Tuk to Boat Landing and back to Luang Namtha.
  • Meals: Picnic lunch.
  • Maximum: 7 people.

Note: The trip may not be possible between February-June because of a low water level. A one day trip which tours the Nam Tha River begins approximately 15 kilometers north of Luang Namtha, at confluence of the Nam Tha and Nam Thoung River. Both are fed by watersheds formed by hills that make up the border Laos and China.

Remark: For reason of comfort and safety, the passenger load on the boats is calculated at 7 persons per boat. During high water (July-November), the boats may take as many as 9 persons. However, this may not be very comfortable. In the dry season due to low water (December-January), it is recommended that there not be more than 6 persons per boat.


Tourists Price/Person
1 184 USD
2 98 USD
3 91 USD
4 85 USD
5 72 USD
6 64 USD
7 59 USD

Price Include:

  • An experienced government certified, English speaking tour guide.
  • Covered transport with an experienced certified driver .
  • Local slow boat with experience boatman.
  • Meals-Lunch x1.
  • Drinking water during the trip.
  • Tour permit & Village fund.
  • Provincial tax on net income.

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