Diving deep into the secrets of Nong Fa Lake
Welcoming Visit Laos Year 2018, Vientiane Times is publishing a series of feature articles and images inviting you to experience the authentic nature, culture, history and hospitality of Laos, Jewel of the Mekong.

Nong Fa, which translates as Sky Lake, which is located at the top of a mountain in Attapeu province not far from the Vietnamese border, is believed to have been formed after a meteor crashed at the site.
Its many secrets are now being revealed by a group of explorers from Russia.
Attapeu is the southernmost province of Laos and shares borders with Xekong province to the north, Champassak province in the west, Vietnam in the east and Cambodia in the south.
Many believe that the natural clarity and sky blue colour of the lake have been that way for hundreds of years since the deep hole created by a meteor filled with water.
For decades many people had heard about the lake but few had seen it because of its inaccessibility, Director of the province’s Information, Culture and Tourism Department, Mrs Bounnan Bounnaseng, told Vientiane Times.
“Attapeu province has been unable to build access roads to some of its most spectacular attractions. The road to the lake can get quite marshy and is quite difficult to reach in the rainy season,” she said.
Now that the government is tightening its belt there is even less money to spare for tourism development.
Last week a lot of excitement was created when people heard of the arrival of Russian divers at the lake to explore the secrets hidden in its depths.
An official announced that the lake was 73 metres deep and 1 kilometre in diameter. The Russians made the measurements during the most recent stage of their scientific subsurface exploration, completed on April 24-25.

A map showing tourist attractions in Attapeu province.                        --Photo tourismlao.org

While exploring the depths, the divers collected rocks, minerals, and other samples to be analysed by geological specialists. Information about their chemical make-up and geological age will be reported after the rocks are analysed.
Some of those discussing the exploration on social media said some of the rock could have been formed from an old volcano.
The explorers reportedly found the subsurface areas of the Nong Fa waters fascinating and, while they are returning home, it is unlikely to be their last visit to Laos, as the consensus was that the area is full of natural beauty and would be ideal for a range of nature-based ecotourism activities.
Ms Bounnan said there are plans to turn the lake into a tourist attraction, with some concessions going to Russian businesses in cooperation with Lao entities.
The depth and topography of the lake was previously never firmly established. In 2010, a Russian team reported its depth at 83 metres, using a depth sounding device that operates through soundwaves, or sonar. The team did not use scuba equipment during that survey, so no samples or silt profiles were could be taken.
Attapeu is still waiting its turn to be placed more firmly on the tourism map. In 2016, Laos featured the province as its City of Charm at the 13th China-Asean Expo and China-Asean Business and Investment Summit in a bid to promote tourism and city-to-city exchanges.
Other cities of charm featured at that year’s expo were Fuzhou in China, Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei, Koh Kong province in Cambodia, Indonesia’s Archipelago, Terengganu in Malaysia, Mawlamyine in Myanmar, General Santos City in the Philippines, Singapore, Bangkok in Thailand, and Buon Ma Thuot in Vietnam.
Nong Fa Lake is located in Vangtab village, Sanxay district and is about 180km from the provincial capital Samakhixay district.
It is located along Road 13 South and can be reached from the provinces of Borikhamxay, Khammuan, Savannakhet, Champassak, Saravan and Xekong. The provincial capital is about 950km from Vientiane.
The lake is accessed by a dirt road which runs for about 180 kilometres from Sammakhixay district. A 70km section of this road is especially tough to navigate in the wet season.
Attapeu International Airport was opened in June 2015 in a bid to promote trade, investment and tourism, but now there are no flights because of a lack of passengers.
Where to eat
Lao food stalls and cafes are everywhere along the roads to Attapeu and visitors from Vientiane and other travellers can enjoy fresh vegetables and herbs in these dishes. Meat and fish are usually grilled or steamed so food is low in fat.
Lao cuisine has many regional variations, due in part to the fresh foods local to each area. You can either enjoy an authentic Lao meal (khao niew or sticky rice is a staple) in many of the restaurants or spend a morning learning to cook some delicious food for your lunch.
Lao food is traditionally eaten with sticky rice, using one’s fingers. In the countryside, people eat sitting on the floor and share all of the dishes. Most food tends to be dry, spicy and really tasty and is based on fish, buffalo meat, pork, poultry and lots of herbs.


By Times Reporters
(Latest Update May 5, 2018)

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