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Fish conservation site an added draw for visitors to Huaphan

Fish conservation area creates extra income for Meuang-add community

Thousands of fish congregate to snatch at the seeds of dried corn thrown into the water by the tourists who gather close to this shoal of fish in the conservation area in Meuang-add village, Add district, Huaphan province.

The numerous fish to be found here delight visitors and make them smile at the unusual sight. Those who enjoy the experience inevitably tell their friends about it when they return home, sparking further interest in the spectacle.

Fish like to swim close to the riverbank where tourists feed corn to them.

The fish conservation area was created five years ago in the Add River and most of the fish here are the pa phong and pa ted species. They breed in the river naturally and weigh between 5-7 kg on average. The biggest fish are about 10kg.

The fishy attraction has proved very popular with visitors and draws more than 20,000 people each year, who are fascinated by the school of fish that can be clearly seen in the river. This year most visitors came from Son La province in Vietnam. This province borders Huaphan so it is a natural stopover in their itinerary.

The fish conservation area is about 10m wide and 500m long, and more than 2 metres deep. Most of the fish swim alongside the riverbank as they are waiting for the next lot of corn to be thrown into the water by the crowd that has gathered on the bridge above, which they will eagerly seize upon.

Visitors can also feed the fish from the riverbank, bringing them into closer contact and even enabling them to touch the fish with their hands. This is an added highlight of their visit and makes the fish conservation area even more popular.

The best time to visit is between October and May when the water is clear and it's easy to see the large and dense school of fish.

From June to September heavy rain causes the water to turn murky. But even though the river is not so clear then, the area typically attracts at least 100 curious visitors each weekend.

The fish conservation area is managed by Meuang-add villagers. There is no charge to enter the area.

But the conservation site earns local residents money in other ways as it brings in regular income from the sale of the bamboo items and woven handicrafts that they sell. Farmers also benefit from the sale of corn, which they grow and is bought in abundance by the fish-feeding visitors.

Visitors can also enjoy Lao and Vietnamese food and other dishes at one of the five restaurants that have been set up on both sides of the river, and can thus linger a little longer in the area.

Recognising the benefits of the fish conservation area, the inhabitants of Meuang-add have put in place regulations that prohibit fishing. They take it in turns to patrol the area to make sure no one is breaking the rules.

“If anyone is found fishing here, we will explain the regulations to them and fine them,” said the Deputy Director of the provincial Information, Culture and Tourism Department, Mr Phouvanh Phetmixay.

The conservation area is located in the east of Huaphan and is 64km from the provincial capital Xamneua. Visitors can travel there by car from Vientiane, a journey of about 14 hours over some 700km.

After arriving in Huaphan it will take about another hour to reach the fish conservation area in Meuang-add village. Visitors are welcome all year round.

An alternative way is to fly from Vientiane to Huaphan. The flight takes about one hour and 15 minutes, with services six days a week from Monday to Saturday.

Of course, Huaphan has plenty of other attractions and there is lots to see and enjoy. The province has 50 officially designated sites of natural interest, 66 historical attractions, and 34 sites of cultural interest.

There are no concerns about accommodation as the province has at least 50 hotels and guesthouses of acceptable standard, with more than 1,200 comfortable beds to choose from. You will certainly feel well rested during your travels in Huaphan.

“Please come to see everything for yourself. You will be delighted by the warm smiles of our people, the diversity of our culture and visitor attractions, which are unlike anything you can see anywhere else in the world,” Mr Phouvanh said.

How to get there

Using public transport, there are two options.

By road: Take the bus at the Northern Bus Station in Dongnathong village, Sikhottabong district, Vientiane.

By plane: Flights to Huaphan leave from the domestic terminal at Wattay International Airport in Vientiane. Travel time is about one hour and 15 minutes and flights go every day from Monday to Saturday, but there are none scheduled on Sundays.

 

By Xayxana Leukai
(Latest Update August 26, 2017)


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