The most northern province of the country is Phongsaly with the capital city of the province named Phongsaly as well. Phongsaly is the home of about 180,000 people in 7 districts. The province shares borders with Dien Bien province in Vietnam and Yunnan province in the People’s Republich of China. Phongsaly is a province with a lot of mountains and most of the province lies at a high altitude. Phongsaly town is located at 1.400 meters above sea level and is the highest city in Laos.
Phongsaly offers several trekking possibilities and the remote forests make it a interesting place for this. According to official numbers there are 28 ethnic groups in Phongsaly and this makes it an ethnic diverse province. Most of the people in Phongsaly are Khmu, Akkha, Tai Lue, Hor and Phounoy. The province is ‘a land in between’ and Chinese influence is mixed with Lao culture. There is a lot of shared history in the area as well as parts of Phongsaly were once an independent Tai Lue kingdom of Sipsongpanna. French colonials drew new boundaries and like many parts of the world this changed the shape of the maps.
Chinese is heard all over Phongsaly spoken by both the Hor people who already are present in this area for a long time as well as by the ‘new Chinese’ who are doing business in the province.
If you want to go ‘off the beaten track’ Phongsaly is absolutely worth considering. The province is home to wild elephants, tigers, monkeys and several other animals. It also offers some high quality Chinese style green tea.