Nam Theun river opens up tourism opportunities in Borikhamxay

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.

The Nam Theun river in Borikhamxay province has many uses. It not only provides tourists with a spectacular travel opportunity, it delivers water for riverside vegetable patches, families’ household needs and farmers’ crops, and also feeds waterfalls.
Thabak village in the province’s Khamkeuth district, located along Road No. 8 leading to the Vietnamese border, is one of the district’s most popular tourist destinations.
One of the highlights of a visit here is a trip in a boat made from one of the many fuel tanks of B52 bombers that were shot down decades ago when carrying out aerial missions over Laos during the Indochina War.

A boatman arrives to pick up tourists waiting on the riverbank.

Local people have gathered up these long discarded fuel tanks, sawn them in half, added a motor, and now use them as boats on the Theun River.
Tourists like nothing better than a trip in one to observe the surroundings close up and see the local people going about their daily activities.
Realising the attraction of the river, local businessman Mr Sakhone Keosouvan is building the Sai Nam Theun resort in Thabak village, and it appears to be the largest visitor accommodation in the area.
Mr Sakhone says work began on the resort in 2015 and he hopes it will be fully finished next year.
“We have a 30-hectare site. We’re now putting the finishing touches to a three-hole golf course and a small zoo but we haven’t got any animals yet. We will take some from my zoo in Khammuan province and bring them here this month,” he said.
He plans to build 100 rooms in 50 Lao-style units, with prices ranging from 250,000 kip for a VIP room, just over 100,000 kip for a standard room and just over 400,000 kip for a family unit.
“It’s costing me US$3 million to build the resort because I’m also making an embankment along part of the river. I’m doing all this because I want to ensure a good future for my family; I also own a road and houses construction company,” he said. 
“What I think’s so special about this resort is that the river here is very beautiful. The hills surrounding the river are stunning and everywhere you look the scenery is awesome.”
Nearby there are more high hills, as well as the Kaeng Seuaten waterfall, the Nam Nhuang reservoir which is an extension of the Nam Theun dam, a sunset viewpoint, and other places of interest.
Mr Sakhone also plans to open a small arboretum further downstream as yet another visitor attraction.
“We hope to open the resort sometime early this year and the golf course and zoo will also open at same time.”
The Deputy Head of Thabak village, Mr On Xayaphone, said the resort was the only one of its kind in the area.
The village is known mainly for its boats made from fuel tanks.
“We have 60 boats here, of which 22 are used to take visitors out on the river. Boatmen charge 150,000 to 350,000 kip to visit five places. One boat can carry three tourists,” Mr On said.
“Some months we get 200 to 300 visitors. They mostly come from Western countries and arrive on motorbikes. They stop off here to do some kind of activity,” he added.
He said the village first began receiving tourists 20 years ago and opened its first officially designated attractions in 2017.
The resort can be found on the left hand side of the road after a 60km drive from the T-junction with Road No. 13 South to Khamkeuth district along Road No. 8. It’s another 20km drive from the resort to the urban centre of the district.
Travellers coming from Vientiane or Borikhamxay province can stop off at the resort to eat or to stay the night before continuing on to the furthest point of Khamkeuth district at the Vietnamese border. It’s 30km from the district’s main town to the border.
If you’re interested in staying at the resort, call ahead on Tel. No. 020- 55553999.



By Panyasith Thammavongsa
(Latest Update February 5, 2018)

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