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Oudomxay puts its best face forward  for Visit Laos Year
Welcoming Visit Laos Year 2018, Vientiane Times is publishing a series of feature articles and photographs inviting you to experience the authentic nature, culture, history a nd hospitality of Laos, Jewel of the Mekong.

For those looking for adventure or relaxation, Oudomxay province in northern Laos boasts a wide range of exciting activities.
There are more than 100 natural and cultural attractions in Oudomxay, which await visitors to the province during Visit Laos Year 2018.
High season in this area runs from November to March. The pleasant temperature makes it a very nice place to relax with family or friends or as part of an adventure group.
The top three attractions are Nam Kat waterfall and Chom Ong cave in Xay district and Singkham Buddha temple in La district, according to the Oudomxay Tourism Office.
The Nam Kat waterfall, which features the Nam Kat Yorlapa Resort, is located in a protected forestry area along the Nam Kat River and is fast becoming a popular tourist destination after receiving good feedback from local and foreign visitors.
Most visitors are interested in meeting people from different ethnic groups and trekking through forests.

Nam Kat waterfall.

The resort is located inside the 6,100 hectare forestry area near Faen village, about 17 kilometres from the provincial capital.
A staff member at the resort told Vientiane Times it opened in April 2016. It was built as a place where relaxation and nature conservation fuse perfectly to create a tranquil experience.
Around 10,000 people have booked activities and accommodation at the resort with a two-night stay proving the most popular.
Room prices range from US$120 to US$350 while tents in the camping area are about 200,000 kip per couple. There are at least 100 camping spots adjacent to the Nam Kat River.
About 80 percent of visitors come from the nearby provinces of Luang Prabang and Xayaboury, as well as from Vientiane.
The resort offers various choices of accommodation from luxurious hotel rooms, treehouses and tents in the camping area.
Activities include zip lining, forest trekking, abseiling, ATV bike rental, bicycle and elephant rides and walks to see the Nam Kat waterfall and strawberry and grape farms.
Forest trekking, zip lining and ATV bike rides have so far proved the most popular with visitors, a resort staff member said.
Trekking to the Giant Trees is the one of the more popular tours on offer The trees are so big that 6 to 12 people can fit around the circumference. 
There are a variety of tour packages including adventure tours for visitors to explore the natural beauties of Nam Kat Yorlapa.
The Nam Kat river is considered one of the most beautiful and sought after destinations in Laos and South East Asia.
Visitors can experience different ethnic cultures, thrilling adventures, natural scenery and the biodiversity of Lao flora and fauna.
Also on your itinerary should be Chom Ong Cave, located 44km from the provincial capital. The cave is 16km long, 15 to 50 metres wide, and 25 to 100 metres high. It is the longest cave in northern Laos and one of the top 10 in all of Laos.
The cave was brought to the attention of the provincial Information, Culture and  Tourism Department in 2006 when officials were identifying places of interest to visitors. The people of Chom Ong village had known about it for generations, using its most accessible areas for hunting bats, fishing, and collecting guano.
Since then, the village and the cave have been the recipient of tourists and the village has benefited financially from the influx of visitors.
In 2009, scientists measured the first section of the cave and found it to be 13.5km in length.
Exploration of the cave continued and in 2010 further measurements put its full length at 16.4 km. An information board was installed at the cave entrance and the cave was recently officially opened to tourists.
Neighbouring communities have also benefitted and earned extra income by selling local products to nearby restaurants and hotels.
Singkham Buddha temple is another popular site and is located in La district, 28km from the provincial capital. The temple itself is a modern building but people come from all over Oudomxay province to see the sacred 400-year-old Buddha statue, one of the most important in Laos. It is believed that the statue has the power to make wishes come true.
The Tourism Development Department reported that in 2015 about 88,300 Lao people visited the province along with 251,400 foreign visitors. In 2016, about 78,000 Lao people came to visit along together with more than 192,400 foreign visitors.
This year, Oudomxay provincial authorities plan to open new tourist attractions, improve infrastructure and visitor facilities at some existing sites and bolster tourism to create more income opportunities for local people.
The provincial Information, Culture and Tourism Department said local authorities are planning several tourism development projects with the aim of drawing more domestic and overseas visitors in 2017 and during Visit Laos Year 2018.
They plan to improve services, car parking, guesthouses and other facilities at main tourist sites. This will not only boost tourism but will provide more job opportunities for local communities.


By Keoviengkhone Bounviseth
(Latest Update December 2, 2017)

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