SIGHTS IN VIENTIANE
Vientiane Capital is the home to the most significant national monument in Laos : That Luang (Great Stupa), which is the symbol of Lao sovereignty and an icon of Buddhism in Laos. Of the many beautiful Wats in Vientiane, a visit to Wat Sisaket is a must; built in 1818, this is one of the oldest temples in Vientiane. Other Buddhist holy places are Wat Ong Teu Mahavihan, known for its 16th century bronze Buddha sheltered by a carved wooden masterpiece, and Wat Si Muang, The site of the lak meuang or pillar-stone of Vientiane. The Wat Si Muang is the home to the guardian spirit of the city. Hor Pha Keo, across the street from Wat Sisaket houses a beautiful collection of Buddha statues, including traditional Lao style of the "Calling for Rain" and "Offering Protection". Spend a morning in the Lao National Museum, which displays an interesting mixture of revolutionary and contemporary exhibitions. The main sights in Vientiane are only a short walk or bicycle ride from most hotels. Wat Xieng Khouan, better known as the Buddha Park should not be missed: take a tuk-tuk to this unique park that includes Buddhist and Hindu statues.
It is pleasant to stroll around and visit the city and visit temples. Some temples (Wat Si Saket, That Luang and Haw Pha Kaew) charge a small entry fee. Remember the dress rules – women should wear modest clothes (covered arms and at least knee-length shorts and skirt) and men try to wear long pants. Shoes should be removed before entering a temple. Once a month, local monks gather at the Sangha College (Wat Ongteu) for Monk Chat with tourists. Other Sights in Vientiane include the Unknown Soldier Memorial, Peoples Assembly Building, and the heavily guarded home of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party hierarchy, which used to be the U.S. high school gymnasium. Several European buildings can be seen around Place Namphou.
Julie L. Kessler wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “ Here are the musts from our trip, all within walking distance: 1) The Presidential Palace. This Beaux-Arts beauty isn't home to the president, who lives elsewhere. Although you can't go inside, it's worth a look, especially at night. Across the street is the Brunei Embassy, by far the most impressive diplomatic compound I've ever seen. 2) Ho Phakeo (sometimes spelled Haw Pha Kaew). This repository houses religious art and, once, the well-traveled Emerald Buddha. It was seized by the Siamese in 1779 and remains in Thailand, so you will have to settle for splendid bronze Buddha sculptures and a beautifully landscaped garden with a plethora of enormous colorful butterflies. 3) Wat Si Saket, which dates to the 1800s and is thought to be the oldest temple in Vientiane, a city filled with them. This wat was spared by the Siamese when many of the city's temples were torched. Wat Si Saket contains more than 6,800 Buddha sculptures housed around the perimeter of the small temple in the compound's center. [Source: Julie L. Kessler, Los Angeles Times. September 12, 2014]
Mekong Riverside Promenade
Mekong Riverside Promenade (along the Mekong River) is paved with bricks and has a few concrete benches, banyan trees and 200-year-old teak trees. The recent riverfront redevelopment added more public space and green areas to the city. King Anouvong Park locating on the river bank behind the Presidential Palace is a part of the project. This is the best place to watch sunset in Vientiane.In the park there are gym equipments for the public use and to use for free. There is also children play ground a bit further up, thanks to the Korean government for installation of these. During the rainy season there are good views of the river. In the dry season, the river recedes hundreds of meters towards Thailand and in some places crops are planted along the flood plain.
Eleanor J. Sterling and Merry D. Camhi wrote in Natural History magazine, The banks of the Mekong River in Vientiane, Laos, can be a lovely retreat at sunset. The river sweeps alongside the city in a wide elbow curve, offering a panoramic view of tranquil waters and tree-lined shores. Thailand rests on the opposite bank, seeming farther away than its half-mile distance. [Source: Eleanor J. Sterling and Merry D. Camhi, Natural History magazine, December 2007]
“And as the setting sun lights the water ablaze, birds skim the surface, and fish make themselves known with the occasional splash, making an evening walk along the riverbank a pure delight.” But on one one visit we made our way “through the city to the river, anticipating a cool breeze and a quiet walk after a sweltering workday, only to stare into a scene from the desert. Clouds of dust rose from the riverbed, where a group of kids were playing soccer. Beyond that bone-dry sandbar, a vestige of the river was just visible as a thin stream along the far bank. By all appearances, one could easily have walked across to Thailand.
Museums and Monuments in Vientiane
A gold-plated $8 million museum honoring the establishment of Communist regime in 1975 and Kaysone Phomviahne, Laos’s first Prime Minister, opened in 1995 and was improved in 2001. On display are some photographs of Kaysone Phomvihane, the leader of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party, and some of his personal belongings, including hsi electric razor, comb and pin pong paddle. Outside is 30-foot cast of statue of Kaysone depicted with a pot belly and tight-fitting suit.
Lao National History Museum (Thanon Samsenthai, across the street from Lao National Culture Hall) is housed in the former French governor's mansion. Formally known as the Lao Revolutionary Museum, it contains some Khmer sandstone sculpture of Hindu deities, a display of traditional musical instruments and room dedicated to the French colonial period, the struggle for independence, the civil war and the victory by the Pathet Lao in 1975. Of particular interest is a chest expander used by President Khamtay Siphandone, President of Laos from 1998 to 2006, and a diorama of a Pathet Lao cave.
Patuxai (in the middle of town) commemorates Laotian soldiers who have died fighting communists. Completed in 1969 and sometimes described as the vertical runway, because it made from the cement that was supposed to be used at the airport, it is sort of a baroque version of Arce de Triumph with distinctly Laotian bas-reliefs and decorations. There are good views from the roof which can be reached by several flights of stairs. Near Tat Luang Square you can see a new War Memorial dedicated to communists that have died in combat. Kessler wrote: In case you momentarily forget that Laos has a French heritage, resulting from 50 years of French occupation, there is this impressive monument inspired by Paris' Arc de Triomphe but with Lao kinnari motifs. (In Southeast Asian mythology, kinnaris are half-bird, half-woman creatures, a traditional symbol of beauty, grace and accomplishment.) As you enter, make sure to look up to view the colorful reliefs adorning the ceiling. Best to go in the morning to avoid the heat and walk up the stairs to the top for a rewarding view across Lan Xang Avenue."
PHA THAT LUANG
PHA THAT LUANG (four kilometers northeast of the city center) is the most interesting structure in Vientiane and the most important national monument in Laos: a spiked, golden-spired stupa that is surrounded by 30 smaller golden spires. It reportedly contains a piece Buddha’s breastbone and one of his hairs, which are said to have been placed here in the 3rd century B.C. by missionaries of the Indian king Asoka. The temple’s full name means “World-Precious Sacred Stupa.”
Archeologists estimate the original structure was built between the 11th and 13th centuries. The original version of the present structures were built in the mid 16th century. Only two of the original wats built around the chedi remain: Wat That Luang Neua and Wat That Luang Tai. The monument was badly damaged in the 18th and 19th centuries by invading Thai and Burmese armies and restored badly by the French in 1900. A better job was done in the 1930s The entire monument was regilded in 1995 to mark the 20th anniversary of Laos’s Communist takeover of the country.
The main level of Pha That Luang measures 68-x-69 meters and has 323 ordination stones and four arched prayer gates. The second level is 48-x-48 meters and is surrounded by 120 lotus pedals and 30 small stupas representing the 30 Buddhist perfections. The stupas once contained smaller gold stupas and gold leaves but these were stolen by Chinese bandits in the 19th century. The next level is 30-x-30 meters. The tall central stupa is made of brick, covered by stucco, surrounded by more lotus flower images and is topped by banana flower and parasol images. The entire monument stands 45 meters high.
Pha That Luang is designed to be walked on. It is possible to climb several staircases to a terrace with a good view of the city. Every level has Buddhist doctrines that are meant to be meditated on by the faithful. At certain times of the year the temple attracts pilgrims from all over Laos who walk around it in a clockwise fashion as you should do if you stroll around its base.
The Golden Stupa or Pha That Luang is the focal point of Vientiane’s most important Buddhist festival: Boun That Luang, which is held over a three to seven day period during the full moon of the twelfth lunar month (November, but sometimes October). The stupa’s of three levels—the base, the body and the spire— are the symbol of the Cosmos. The ancient stupa was built over in the 16th century by King Setthathirath when he moved the capital of the Lan Xang Kingdom from Luang Prabang to Vientiane. It has since become the symbol of Laos and is profoundly revered by all Lao People.
History of Pha That Luang
Phon Khikeo wrote in the Vientiane Times, “Pha That Luang was originally built during the ancient Khmer civilisation, when Vientiane was inhabited by people known as the ‘Cham’. Researchers believe the structure was originally a four-sided stone obelisk. The site was built as a place for people to worship and pray to idol, according to the book “That Luang Viengchanh,” recompiled by Kavi in 1999. The structure was renovated during the reign of King Saysetthathirath in the 16th century when the original site was covered with a larger stupa. From then on the monument took the name That Luang, or Grand Stupa. The Cham period was the second wave of Buddhism and was a glorious period in Lao history. [Source: Phon Khikeo, Vientiane Times, November 7, 2011, Laos-Guide-999.com]
In its early form, Pha That Luang was not as high as it is now, but after Lord Buddha’s ashes were placed at the site and a new stupa was built around the original obelisk, the monument took on its current shape and grew in importance as a place of worship for Lao Buddhists.
At the base of each small stupa, a flattened plate of gold was inscribed with words depicting ariyasat (the four noble truths - the essence of Lord Buddha’s teachings). These plates also contain information of the date of the renovation of the stupa to its current size and can still be seen today inside the cloister at the eastern entrance of That Luang. The wording on the fourth line of plates reads: “This stupa contains the ashes of Lord Buddha and was built by King Saysetthathirath. May it last for more than 5,000 years."The revered sacred place has been worn out over time and damaged by wars perpetrated by foreign imperialists. Whenever the country was invaded, religious and sacred places of worship such as That Luang were among the first targets for looting and indiscriminate destruction.
Legends of Pha That Luang
During the first wave, under the patronage of King Ashoka India, it is said, the venerable monks Sona and Outala and five scholars brought a piece of what believers understand to be pieces of the pelvic bone (others say breast bone or bosom bone) of Lord Buddha to Vientiane in 218 BCE, where it was kept at Phou Luang hill. The ruler of Vientiane at that time, Lord Chanthabouly Phasitthisack or Boulichanh, built a stupa over the obelisk in 236 BCE. The sacred site was then named Pha Chedi Lokachulamany.
According to the legend of That Phanom Stupa, also known as ‘Tamnan Oulangkhathat’, King Ashokkamahalath authorized the relics to be placed inside That Luang Stupa in Vientiane. The same legend claims the remains of Lord Buddha were distributed to all corners of the globe where there were Buddhist followers and his ashes were put inside 84,000 stupas. This number corresponds to the 84,000 points raised for believers to study in the tripitaka (Buddhist scriptures). [Source: Phon Khikeo, Vientiane Times, November 7, 2011, Laos-Guide-999.com]
According to legend, which is supported by physical evidence found from the reign of King Jayavoraman VII of Angkor, the original obelisk was indeed an ancient Cham construction that was built sometime between the 9th and 14th centuries. Many artifacts have been discovered at the site including a statue of Jayavoraman VII dating from between AD 1181 and 1219, which is presently located at the northern end of the inner cloister.
The story of Pha That Luang became clear at the beginning of the 16th century, which is known among historians as the middle of the ancient Lao period. King Saysetthathirath ordered the construction of the current stupa in AD 1566, six years after designating Vientiane as the capital of Laos. Previously, the capital was situated in what is now Luang Prabang (then known as Xiengthong). King Saysetthathirath built the grand stupa so the new capital would have an equally splendid place of worship similar to the Grand Stupa in Chiang Mai, which at that time was the capital of the neighbouring Lane Na kingdom, now northern Thailand.
The king wanted to project himself as a patron of Buddhism and to achieve enlightment like the Lord Buddha, but before doing so he needed to make merit in all aspects of his life. He also wanted a site where he could hold an annual festival that would provide an occasion to test the loyalty of his chief administrators from all corners of the Lan Xang kingdom. This festival would also pay homage to the gods and to King Fa Ngum, who is attributed with bringing the third wave of Buddhism to Laos.
Through this annual event, the king wanted the people of the Lan Xang kingdom to come together to make merit and observe religious practices, celebrate together and consolidate solidarity, strengthening the kingdom to ensure it remained intact. The festival (now know as That Luang Festival) has been held every year since. Because King Saysetthathirath wanted to be a Bhothiyana, an enlightened one, he came up with the idea of surrounding the main stupa with 30 smaller stupas of equal size known as Palami (fulfillment of goodness) stupas.
WATS IN VIENTIANE
Wat Phra Keo (near the Presidential Palace on Sethathirat Street) is where the famous Emerald Buddha was kept after it was taken from the Thai kings in 1778. It was returned in the 1930s and now rests at a temple in Bangkok. Also known as Haw Pha Kaew, Wat Phra Keo was rebuilt between 1936 and 1942 and is said to have been established in 1565. Large but a bit shabby, it is now a museum with notable Buddha images on a terrace and a collection of other sculptures and objects, including some of the best examples of Buddhist art in Laos. Among the treasures are Buddhist statues that date back to the 6th century and inscibed Mon, Khmer and Lao stelae. Next door is the Presidential Palace, the former King's Palace. Wat Sisaket (Land Xang Avenue, across the street from Wat Phra Keo) is the oldest temple and monastery in Vientiane. Built in 1818, it is the most Burmese- and Thai-looking wat and the only wat that wasn't destroyed in the 1828 Siamese raid. It contains painted murals and has 6,800 (same say 10,136) Buddha images, including 2000 silver and ceramic ones, of various shapes and sizes in the niches of the walls.
Wat Si Muang and the Pillar of Vientiane (intersection of Thanon Setthathilat, Thaon Samsenthat and Thanon Tha Deua) has gaudy statues of guardian spirits and demons. The main object of devotion in not a Buddha figure but a “lak meuang” (city pillar), regarded as the dwelling place for guardian spirit of the city. The site was reportedly chosen in 1565 where a pregnant woman lept in a hole to offer herself as a sacrifice for the guardian spirit. One special Buddha on a pillow is said to have the power to grant wishes if it is lifted three times while making a mental image of the request. Platters of bananas, coconuts and flowers have been left behind by people whose wishes were fulfilled.
Other Interesting Temples: Wat That Khoa (on the Mekong River) is a traditional-style Vientiane wat with thick walls and a serpent on the edge of the roof. At Wat Sok Pa (take a tuk tuk there) you can get herbal sauna massages in an open air teak building by an experienced and skilled masseuse. An interesting black stupa can be found at That Dam (across the street from the Imperial Hotel).
VIENTIANE PROVINCE is located in the central of Laos around the city of Vientiane. It has total area of 22,554 square kilometers, two thirds of which is mountainous and one third of which is plains. It shares borders with Luang Prabang Province to the north, Xiengkhouang Province to the northeast, Bolikhamxay Province to the east, Vientiane city to the south and Sayabouly Province to the west. Loei province ( Thailand ) lies across the Mekong River to the south and west. Vientiane Province has a total population of 450, 329 people, with 224,065 of them. There are 13 districts: Thoulakhom District, Viengkham, Keooudom, Phonhong, Hinheurb, Vangvieng, Kasy, MeuangMad, Meuang Feuang, Sanakham, Xaysomboun, Hom and Meuane District. The capital city of Vientiane province is Viengkham district.
The landscape in Vientiane Province varies from the flat, fertile alluvial plains along the Mekong River Valley to rugged limestone mountains in the northern and western part of the province. Vientiane Province is well-known for having the highest mountain peak in Laos: 2,819 meter-high Phou Bia. Outside of the main provincial towns the countryside is a beautiful, lush green mosaic of rice paddies, tropical fruit trees, and jungle vegetation dotted with quaint villages where traditional architecture and lifestyles can be seen.
Because there are so many water bodies brimming with aquatic life various types of prepared and preserved fish have become legendary in Vientiane province. First is the heavily-salted, fermented fish known as “pa daek” that can be purchased along route 13 near Hin Heub. And then there is “koy paa” (sour and spicy minced fish salad), “kaeng paa” (fish soup) and “neung paa” (a delicious dish of steamed fish and fresh herbs) served at floating restaurants on the arteries of the Nam Ngum Reservoir near Thalad Village and Vang Vieng. With so many water bodies and pleasant warm weather Vientiane Province is a great place to get soaked during the Lao New Year or Pi Mai Lao celebrations in mid-April.
Places in Vientiane Province
Sights Near Vientiane: In the past there were restriction on foreigners traveling outside of Vientiane and some were even arrested for venturing more than five kilometers outside the capital without a guide. These restrictions were relaxed in the mid-1990s. Around Vientiane you can go kayaking and white-water rafting, visit Tha Ngon floating fish restaurant Buddha Park or go trekking through nature parks, such as Nam Ngum Lake, the Nam Lik eco-adventure area, and Phou Khao Khouay national park. Just off of route 13 north are two of Vientiane Province’s better known attractions – a small man-made reservoir known as Nong Nok near Ban Sivilay that has great bird watching and the ancient Vang Xang Buddha images and sculptures that are carved into the side of a sandstone escarpment.
Xieng Khuane (28 kilometers from Vientiane) is a kitschy stone garden with 20-foot-high bas-relief of Buddhas carved in sandstone cliffs, and multitude of other Buddhist and Hindu images, some made from cement imbedded with pieces of broken glass. Its name means "Spirit City" but is also known as Buddha Park. Most of sculptures were made by an obscure Buddhist sect and spiritual leader who built a similar park across the river in Nong Khai, Thailand. See Thailand. Van Sang (65 kilometers north of Vientiane) boasts 10 tall relief Buddhas that have been dated to the 16th century but may be as old as the 11th century.
Nam Ngum Dam (90 kilometers northwest of Vientiane) is one of Laos’s major hydropower schemes. It generates much of Laos’s electricity (See Energy) and produces a 250-square-kilometer reservoir (Ang Nma Gum) that submerges a large chunk of forest. Ang Nam Ngum (Ngum Reservoir, at Nam Ngum Dam) a picturesque inland lake formed by Nam Ngum Dam. There is an underwater harvesting operation that includes hydraulic saws used to harvest submerged teak trees. An island on the reservoir is home to a prison that once housed 3,000 prostitutes and petty criminals rounded up after the Pathet Lao came to power in 1975. Fishing is an important industry. Some tourists come here for picnic and cruises of the islands.
Boat trips on the reservoir are a popular day-trip from Vientiane Capital but for visitors with more time, an overnight stay at Ban Na Kheaun or Tha Heua is possible. On a southern corner of the reservoir is the large Dansavan Resort where you can gamble and play golf. Visit the Thoulakhom Zoo at Ban Keun to see a well-kept collection of local species. At Ban Bo in Thoulakhom District are large natural salt deposits that are processed and packaged into the common table condiment using traditional technologies.
NATURE AREAS NEAR VIENTIANE
Phu Khao Khuay National Park (65 kilometers from Vientiane) is located in a forested 670-to 1690-meter-high plateau surounded byt peaks over 2000 meters high. Established around a former secret military base, it has a relatively cool climate, coverss 2000 square kilometers and is home to wild elephants, tigers (maybe), Asiatic black bears, white-cheeked gibbons, green peafowl, gaur and clouded leopard. There are some roads to waterfalls, a reservoir created by a dam on the Nam Leuk River and a visitors center. There are are also some Hmong and Mien villages.
Habitat: Dry evergreen and mixed deciduous forest. Also large stands of coniferous forest in association with extensive fire-climax grasslands. The Nam Leuk reservoir covers 1,280 hectares at the height of the wet season. Ecotourism activities include elephant observation, trekking, kayaking, village home stay, bird watching. Getting There: The park is not very developed and there is no public transport to get there. Easy access to the western portion of the protected area 65 kilometers from Vientiane up Route 10 to Ban Napheng at kilometers 54. To get to the eastern portion of the protected area, including Ban Na and Ban Hatkai, take Route 13 south for about 1.5 hours.
Houay Nhang Forest Reserve (20 kilometers north of Vientiane) has nature trail and is a good place to watch for birds. The Houay Nhang Forest Reserve was established in 1958 on 800 hectares. Bird watching is particularly good during the migration season. Interesting insects such as butterflies and walking sticks can also be seen. Get a guide booklet at the entrance and walk along a marked nature trail through the forest. Though the ecosystem has been somewhat degraded due to hunting, the reserve still offers a nice day-trip from Vientiane.Getting There: Hire a tuk tuk in Vientiane for the day trip.and take Route 10 towards the bird watching destination of Ban Sivilay; the park entrance is about 8 kilometers after the junction of Route (Km 12S). The forest is on the right directly along the road, and a green signboard marks the entrance.
Phou Pha Nang National Protected Area (off Route 13 N just outside Vientiane) covers 1,525 square kilometers.Among the animals found there are: Gibbon, inornate squirrel, elephant. Habitat: Mostly degraded forest with a small area of semi-evergreen forest. Elevation from 200 meters - 698 meters.
Trekking in the Phou Khao Khouay National Park
Visit “PKK” just outside of Vientiane for a choice of easy-to-moderate treks to Tad Leuk and Tad Xay waterfalls and cliff-top vistas. Launch your trek from Ban Hatkhai, where home stay accommodation, guides and boat rides are available. http://www.trekkingcentrallaos.com/html/possibletrips_banhatkhai.htm
Mountain Trips at Ban Hatkhai: Ban Hatkhai is a small village just outside Phou Khao Khouay, where you can experience authentical village life. Mountains, dense forests and bright-green rice fields surround the village. Its beautiful location at the banks of the Nam Mang River offers an ideal setting for a picturesque picnic under a fig tree. Trekking at Ban Hatkhai: The village is an ideal starting point for exciting trekking tours into the nearby mountainous area or some startling waterfalls. Most trips include a rewarding boat trip on the Nam Mang River prior to the trek. From here you can visit the twin waterfalls of Tad Xay and Pha Xay. More trained hikers can do a trekking up the mountain of Pha Luang, a breathtaking cliff which offers views over Phou Khao Khouay and the Mekong lowland as far as Thailand. You can combine this tour with walking up to Houey Ki Ling, a small stream that leads to a beautiful sandstone plateau, where you can spend a night in the forest. Houey Ki Ling is also worth visiting as a one-day trip.
Rural Village Life: More than 200 years old, Ban Hatkhai is a quiet, typically Lao rural village. Its inhabitants belong to two ethnic groups, of which the majority is the Lao Lum. Only about 86 families, or 600 people, live here. The villagers are farmers and predominantly produce rice and vegetables. Local village life mainly consists of working in the nearby rice fields or herding water buffaloes. The quietness of the village is only disturbed by the sounds of the tinkling bells on the neck of these buffaloes, or by children jumping down from the high fig trees into the Nam Mang River. In the evening, villagers meet in each other’s houses to drink a Lao Lao (locally brewed rice whisky) and eat sticky rice with fish or soup. Trekkers can visit the local ‘pub’.
Transportation to and Accommodation in the Phou Khao Khouay National Park
Getting There: Ban Hatkhai is relatively easy accessible by car or motorbike from Vientiane via National Road No. 13 (South). Turn left at kilometers 90, short before entering Thabok. Here you will also see a big bill board pointing to the Nam Leuk hydro power plant. The road leads to Ban Houay Leuk (after 5 kilometers). Follow the signs and turn right at a junction just 1 kilometer after this village (and crossing an iron bridge over the Nam Leuk). The village of Ban Hatkhai is just two or so kilometers away. The collapsed bridge 400 meters before the village has finally been repaired and Ban Hatkhai can now be reached directly. Ban Hatkhai can also be reached by boat from Thabok (in just over an hour). It’s not a regular tour, so the only way is to find someone to bring you there and negotiate for the price.
Public transportation is available from the southern bus station in Vientiane. Most of the buses are passing Thabok and you have to disembark here. Don’t take a VIP-bus, though. There is no regular bus going to Ban Hatkhai. In Thabok you have to look at the market for a Songtaew going Long Xan, passing the junction to Ban Hatkhai. From here you walk about two kilometers to the village. With some luck and negotiation you may find someone in Thabok to bring you directly to Ban Hatkhai with a motorbike – or call the guide leader in the village to pick you up. (Please note that such a “personalized extra service” may be a bit expensive). However, the most comfortable way is to hire a vehicle with driver, which can be provided by various tour operators in Vientiane.
Accommodation: In Ban Hatkhai you can stay with a home-stay family in one of the typical village houses. Here you can experience the hospitality and friendliness of the villagers. You will stay in a traditional wooden pillar house and participate in local family life. The home-stay in Ban Hatkhai are basic, but clean and are equipped with mattresses, pillows, mosquito nets, bed linen, French toilets and 'village showers'. It is also possible to do a 2- or 3-day trekking, and sleep overnight in a tent or hammock in the forest. Pre-arranged tours can be booked through various tour operators in Vientiane.
If you consider going for an overnight trip by yourself, we advice you to inform the villagers of Ban Hatkhai in advance. Call the guide leader (probably Mr. Bounthiang or Mr. Khamoune, but it may be someone else since the guides of Ban Hatkhai apply a rotating system for their services) under 020 224 03 03. This way they will be prepared for your arrival. We would like to inform you that if you visit Ban Hatkhai without contacting the villagers in advance, they might not be able to provide you with accommodation, food supplies or trekking equipment (boats, guides, etc.).
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Laos-Guide-999.com, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, NBC News, Fox News and various books and other publications.
Last updated August 2020