Buddha statues stand on many islands in Nam Ngum reservoir.

Dansavanh, a perfect place to stay

Welcoming Visit Laos-China Year 2019, Vientiane Times is publishing a series of feature articles and images promoting the two countries’ collaboration in tourism and hoping to inspire more people, especially from China, to experience the nature, culture, history and hospitality of Laos, the jewel of the Mekong.

Dansavanh Nam Ngum Resort has earned the reputation as being a place that only the wealthy and most powerful people in Laos go to, an exclusive resort for the cashed up high rollers, beautiful people and their flashy cars. Over the years, however, the resort has gradually turned itself in to something more by adding additional amenities and entertainment facilities.  These days, the costs and amusements offered are attracting a more down to earth clientele looking for a relaxing place to spend time with family and friends.  
Dansavanh Nam Ngum Resort sits on top of Phoukhaokhouy Mountain at the southern tip of the beautiful Nam Ngum reservoir area in Vientiane province, about 60 km from the capital.  The reservoir is a sight in and of itself.  With an area of 390 square kilometre it is easily the largest body of water in the country and it sparkles crystal blue on any clear and sunny day.
Nam Ngum is dotted with hundreds of small islands of dense forest cover that act as havens for local water birds and animals.  These islands also offer the adventurous at heart a myriad of exploration options on any given day.
Last week, for the closing days of the Confederation of Asean Journalists Board of Directors conference, participants had the chance to travel around seeing many of the Vientiane province’s best sights.  We spent one night and two days at Dansavanh Nam Ngum Resort, and it was definitely the highlight.
The resort itself has very comfortable rooms.  As well as the casino, the grounds contain a health centre, a restaurant, small supermarket plus an international entertainment centre which frequently hosts singing contests and muay thai fight nights.
The resort also overlooks the stunning reservoir which glistens blue amidst the rolling green hills and countryside that surrounds it.  Taking a hire boat out around the islands was a highlight for me during our tour.  It was great being able to see Lao birdlife quite close.  It was also great getting a taste for the cooler air temperatures that the reservoir generates.
If the heat does get too much while out on the lake, the answer is obvious and right there in front of you – jump right in.  The water was cool and fresh and sublime last week when I took the plunge.  Be warned, however, the water is very deep in many places of the reservoir.  Life jackets should be worn at all times and only competent swimmers should jump in the water from the boat. 
White Sand Island is perhaps the safest and most suitable place for swimming in the entire reservoir.  Here, soft white sand slopes gently down in to the still waters and so it is that many couples and families choose White Sands as the place to settle in and picnic for the day. 
Executive Director of Dansavanh Nam Ngum Resort, Mr Won Chwin Kye, told our group that he and his team have been developing a theme of Buddhism across the resort in recent years.  He said there are plans afoot to erect three hundred Buddha statues across the land that the resort occupies.  He said he also wants to construct the world’s largest Buddha statue to sit on the Peak of Buffalo Mountain itself.
“Buddhism and Lao culture are intertwined”, he said. “Buddhism is what makes the Lao people as friendly and accessible as they are.  Visitors who come to the country can’t help but be drawn in to learn more about what Lao Buddhism is like, and what it means to the people.”
Mr Kye said a great many works have been done to the resort over the last five years. Roads and water connections that have been developed has meant the restaurant, golf course and other amenities can operate and be maintained without issue.  Mr Kye added that he hopes to achieve even greater things over the next five years. 
While the resort has developed, traditional lifestyle and culture has gone on around it as it always has.  Fisherman throw their nets in the blue waters while children hunt for crabs and other aquatic animals at the water’s edge.  Many of the islands already have a Buddha statue on them.  I could barely turn my eyes away from the beauty of the spectacle as our boat returned to the shore in the warm glow of the late, afternoon sun.

By Patithin Phetmeuangphuan
(Latest Update April 18, 2019)

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