Ban Khoun Souk and Ban Chantan @ Phong Sa Ly

In the mountains around Phong Sa Ly are various minority villages which attract people to endure the long bus ride from civilization to get here. To get to the best ones you'll need to hire a local guide for about 30-60 USD and make a trekking day trip out of it, but if you end up here and just want to explore the area alone there is still some stuff to see.

On the north side of town right next to the Phoufa Hotel, lies a dirt road heading northeast out of town toward the village of Ban Khoun Souk. The walk is pretty much flat and dry with the exception of a couple of puddles here and there and you won't see much along the way other than a couple villagers going back and forth between Phong Sa Ly on a motorbike. You'll know you're in the right place when on your right-hand side you see a bunch of people showering in plain sight on the side of the road. I guess one of the local traditions which still survives here is that each village has one communal shower where everyone baths together. Walking around here everyone is pretty much exuberantly excited to see a visitor, one lady actually called her kids to come out of the house so they could wave hello to me. The economy here appears to be driven by tea, outside of most huts were little areas designated for drying tea leaves and a couple families were all out together performing some sort of processing of the tea leaves in what looked like large cooking walks. There aren't any designated shops here, however, if you get thirsty just keep saying "Beer Lao" to people and they will eventually direct you to a lady at the main road with a fridge full of beer.

The beginning of the path
Strolling into town

Drying tea leaves

Another option is a dirt road located right next to the Phong Sa Ly's school football field, this one heads northwest to another little village called Ban Chantan. This village has been hit hard by tourism, it's made up to be much cleaner looking and they have set up two shops on the main road to easily accommodate your thirst and hunger. It is, however, a much more photogenic place to visit, not just the town but the entire journey to get there. The dirt road cuts right through several tea-plantations, you can actually see the workers doing their thing and nobody will stop you from going right into the plantation and exploring around.

The trashy road out of town

Arriving at Ban Chantan

View from the temple on the hill

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