Phongsaly province is the most remote in northern Laos, enclosed three sides by China and Vietnam and cut off to overland travel from Oudomsay to the south. It consists of six districts: Phongsaly, Muangmai, Muangkhua, Samphan, Sombounxay and Yot Ou.
More than twenty ethnicities make up the province's population of approximately 153,400; among them Iko, Loma, Akha, Pusang, Thai Dam, Thai Deng, Yao, Thai Lu, Khamou, Phai, Solo, Lao Hoy etc. All retain distinct cultures, languages and religious beliefs, though their most obvious difference is their dress of woman of each tribe.
Phongsaly has a year round cool climate with temperatures as low as 5 degrees Celcius at night. Rain can be heavy - bring a jacket and warm clothes. The highest mountain in Phongsaly is Phu Fa which you can see the cities' views and beautiful scenery.
The Phu Den Din National Biodiversity Conservation Area along the Vietnamese border with mountains as high as 1950m with over 70% forest cover is home to the Asiatic black bear, bantam, clouded leopard, elephant, guar and tiger.
Handicraft skills-notably in weaving, embroidery and making silver jewelry are also well developed.
Muang Khoa is a small town situated on the junction of Route 4 and the Nam Ou river. The journey to Muang Khoa along route 4 from Udomxai takes about four hours. It is possible to travel up river to Phongsali from here, or down to Luang Prabang.
- By bus: The capital Phongsaly, can be reached from Muang Xai with buses leaving once a day.
- By road and river: Phongsaly can be reached by road and river, from Oudomsay it is possible to travel by road as far as Muangkhua in southern Phongsaly then continue from Muangkhua by boat. From Luangnamtha it is possible to travel by road via Muangla (Yunnan province, China). From Luang Prabang it is possible through the Nam Ou river straight north into the heart of Phongsaly.
- By air: Another way, you can travel by Lao Aviation, which provides two flights per week. Lao Aviation's domestic timetable.