Deep in the northeast of Laos lies Nam Et-Phou Louey, home to some of the most remote wilderness in Southeast Asia. Due to the near inaccessibility of the park, wildlife is left relatively undisturbed and as a result, gaur, sambar deer and white-cheeked gibbon have been spotted in recent years.
The National Protected Area (NPA) of Nam Et-Phou Louey is the largest of 20 parks scattered across Laos. You can choose to explore its rich biodiversity by foot, hiking through the jungle or into the cloudforest, or by boat on a night safari. This area is often overlooked by visitors due to its remote location — spend a few nights here and you’re in for an intimate experience.
Nam Et-Phou Louey is named after its features, the Nam Et river and Phou Louey mountain. The area boasts an array of biodiversity that’s immediately apparent from the symphony of insects humming, buzzing and fighting to be heard. The park is home to many endangered species, with a rumor that tigers might still roam its deepest jungle — it’s been estimated from (very) infrequent sightings that there may be between 7 and 23 tigers remaining across Indochina.
One way to immerse yourself in the park is on foot. A two-day hike takes you past rice paddies and through 7 km (5 miles) of dense rainforest culminating near one of the largest salt licks in the area, the Poung Nied Salt Lick. Here you’ll find a vantage point for spotting birds as they go searching for food in the early hours.
For a more challenging alternative, you could tackle the five day trek up to the summit of Phou Louey (‘forever mountain’). During the trek you’ll explore waterfalls, search for the electric blue stripe of a Blyth’s kingfisher and pass one of the only cloudforests in the region before summiting the third highest peak in Laos.
Another way to delve into the park is on a boat safari, which takes you deep into the only accessible area of jungle. You’ll be guided up the Nern River by knowledgeable park rangers, who will provide you with opportunities to spot a grey peacock-pheasant or a rufous-necked hornbill.
Once it gets dark, the engines are switched off and the boats quietly drift downstream. The lights are also switched off, and your guides will communicate via hand signals, so they don’t disturb the animals. If you’re very lucky, the rustlings in the darkness might be identified as sambar deer, otters or porcupines. Some visitors have been fortunate enough to sight hog badgers or Asian golden cats.
Ecotourism is important within the park and all activities have been carefully designed to create a positive impact. Surrounding areas suffer deforestation, so the park formed initiatives for local people to protect the region through employment as guides, rangers or running the accommodation. The rangers have set up wildlife camera traps and often excitedly share the photos that have been captured overnight with you in the morning.
You can incorporate a visit to the park as part of a wider journey from Luang Prabang or Muang La, then to northern Vietnam via the Viang Xai Caves. Alternatively, you could start at the Plain of Jars in the south then loop west toward Luang Prabang or east toward Hanoi.
Best time to visit
For a warm, dry climate, it’s best to visit Nam Et-Phou Louey between October and April. If you wish to travel on the river, between November and January is best, as water levels are high, making for easy passage.
Suggested itinerary featuring Nam Et-Phou Louey
This sample itinerary will give you an idea of what is possible when you travel in Nam Et-Phou Louey, and showcases routes we know work particularly well. Treat this as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.
Map of Nam Et-Phou Louey
Places & hotels on the map
Places near Nam Et-Phou Louey
- Sam Nuea 27 miles away
- Vieng Xai 39 miles away
- Nong Khiaw 71 miles away
- The Plain of Jars 75 miles away
- Muang La 103 miles away
- Luang Prabang 105 miles away
- Vang Vieng 132 miles away
- Luang Namtha 149 miles away
- Pakbeng 169 miles away
- Vientiane 185 miles away
- Hin Boun 198 miles away
- Thakhek 225 miles away
- Khammuan & Savannakhet 280 miles away
Photos of Nam Et-Phou Louey
Accommodation choices for Nam Et-Phou Louey
We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Nam Et-Phou Louey. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.
This simple ecolodge is the perfect way to experience the endangered wildlife in the National Protected Area.
Ideas for experiencing Nam Et-Phou Louey
Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Nam Et-Phou Louey, and which use the best local guides.
Nam Nern Night Safari
Nam Nern Night Safari
Nam Nern Night Safari
Located in the only accessible area of the remote Nam Et-Phou Louey National Park in north eastern Laos, the Nam Nern Night Safari provides one of the few opportunities in Laos to view rare wildlife. This tour has been designed to create a direct link between conservation and tourism so that the money you pay has a positive impact on encouraging local people to protect endangered tigers and other wildlife.View details