A one-day trip to Vientiane province makes for a great escape
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.

For those looking for a short break not too far away from Vientiane, there are plenty of options; one suggestion is to visit Phabathphoukhaokhuay temple and the nearby Nam Ngum dam, where you can buy locally made handicrafts, go cruising, and take a swim.
Phabathphoukhaokhuay and the Nam Ngum dam are in Vientiane province and it’s possible to make a day trip to these two places.
This writer recently joined a one-day trip as part of the “Isuzu Touring Caravan 2018” which included 18 vehicles from Isuzu and more than 100 staff from Isuzu Lao VSA Co., Ltd. and customers.
The caravan, led by company President Mr Sengthong Norasing, was organised to boost domestic tourism, build relationships between the company and its customers, and to campaign on road safety.

The main structure situated in the centre of Phabathphoukhaokhuay temple.

The trip was very well organised. It took about 10 hours there and back from Vientiane to the temple and the dam. The trip started at 8am and ended at 6pm. The group had enough time for several activities including exploring villages, fields and forests along the road, a safe driving competition, a question and answer session, and the distribution of gifts.
At Phabathphoukhaokhuay temple the group enjoyed offering alms and donating money as well as asking for blessings from the monks.
At the dam everyone bought hand-made items crafted by the locals, took a boat trip and enjoyed the stunning views over the reservoir while snapping selfies, eating some good food and drink, and singing.
Phabathphoukhaokhuay temple is situated in Nangang village, Thoulakhom district, and is not far from main road between Vientiane and Ban Keun.
The temple was established in 1990 and is situated on a hill in the Phou Khaokhuay area. It’s a beautiful forest temple on flat stony ground surrounded by big trees. There are many statues of Buddha, gods, and animals scattered around among the ornamental trees. The buildings are in the traditional Lao architectural style, with ornate carvings and patterns.
The most interesting feature is the large Buddha footprint inside the main pagoda. This structure is situated in the centre of the temple grounds and is beautifully decorated.
It’s a good place to learn about Lao architecture as well as Khaokhuay mountain and Buddhism. It’s also a good place to offer alms and relax. There are six monks and five nuns living at the temple and they are always ready to welcome visitors, accept their prayers and give blessings.
People from Vientiane province and other areas visit the temple everyday to give offerings, donate money, pray, or pay homage to the statues and the Buddha footprint. The Buddha footprint, or Hoyphabath in Lao, is the origin of the name of the temple.
Nam Ngum dam, also known as Nam Ngum Lake or Lao Lake, is located in Keo-oudom district, Vientiane province, about 90km north of Vientiane and is a two hour drive from the temple.
There is a hydroelectricdam on the Nam Ngum river, which is a major tributary of the Mekong. It was the first hydropower dam built in Laos. Its catchment covers a large area and is the largest body of water in the country.
The beautiful scenery around the Nam Ngum River and its green valley is enhanced by the presence of this vast, spectacular lake.
It’s a very popular place for boat trips. The lake offers a relaxing time for families away from their busy schedules in the city.  It’s also a great place to eat, drink, sing and be entertained while enjoying the views over the reservoir.
Visitors can get a taste of local life on the lake’s islands and fishing villages. There are several islands to visit including one where local people sell their hand-made goods.
There are plenty of restaurants, boats and rooms available for visitors at reasonable prices. Many people stay overnight or spend a few nights on the lake. However, cruises are only available during the day time. It is possible for visitors to fit in a private tour of Nam Ngum Lake by leaving the city centre in the morning and arriving in the afternoon.
Our group visited this lake and had a great time on the boat we hired. We enjoyed the large expanse of water and its many small islands while taking photos and having a swim. It was a really interesting place with beautiful scenery.
It’s easy to hire a boat and prices are reasonable. They also have karaoke equipment so people can have a drink and sing while travelling around the lake.
Some of them have a slide so you can plunge down into the water from the roof of the boat and have a swim when the boat stops for a while.
The boats are getting increasingly popular so it’s advisable to book in advance. 
So, if you have never been to Nam Ngum Lake, don’t hesitate to make plans and see it for yourself sometime soon; you’ll be glad you did.
One can visit the lake at any time of year, but if you want to cool off in the water on a hot day, the summer is better.


 

ByVisith Teppalath
(Latest Update August 18, 2018)

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