Nature is plentiful if you know where to look!
As Laos’ center of government and business activities, Vientiane Capital seems to lack some of the natural tourist attractions found in other places around the country. But this isn’t true. Fascinating places abound within a short distance from the city, and with recent road improvements, accessing them is easier than ever before. Within a drive of just an hour or two, you can journey to these beautiful lakes, stunning waterfalls, and scenic mountains.
Yod Xouang Waterfall
This stunning waterfall is a hidden gem. Water cascades off of a sandstone cliff, spraying a refreshing mist. It’s a stunning backdrop for photos during the wet and cool seasons when the waterfall actually has water!
Nam Mang Reservoir
A hydropower project created this lovely lake in the Phou Khao Khouay mountain range. In this high area, you can find pine trees, unusual for Vientiane. Enjoy a lovely picnic or go camping near the water.
Located to Vientiane’s west, this mountain area contains some popular day treks. Views over the Mekong River and across to Thailand are quite scenic. The trailhead begins at Wealth Coffee in Ban Ang Yai.
Nam Houm Reservoir
This reservoir was created 40 years ago for irrigation of farms in the area. One of the added benefits is an abundance of fishing. Locals construct high towers out of bamboo so they can pull up fish in giant nets called kadoung.
On a rocky sandstone cliff sits a smaller rock, balancing on the edge for thousands of years. Locals hike or ride motorbikes to this area for selfies and to admire the views over the Vientiane plains below.
Nam Xouang Reservoir
This lake has a very large area to explore. There are some delicious local restaurants on the north and south ends which make for a very relaxing weekend with friends. Boats can also be hired to visit, or camp, on some of the small islands.
Phou Kong Khao
Situated on the northern end of the Nam Mang Reservoir, this is a lovely area for picnics and camping. Hiking in the area leads through very unusual landscapes and breathtaking views.
Phou Pha Dai
One of the highest areas near Vientiane, Phou Pha Dai is only recommended for the very adventurous. It is a 6–7 hour trek from the Nam Mang Reservoir, so bring a tent, and then you can fully enjoy the panoramic night sky!
Photographs by Phoonsab Thevongsa
Text by Jason Rolan