Khammuan river resort offers rural idyll

For 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.

Lounging in a hut on the riverbank surrounded by green hills, your feet dangling in the cool water, you could almost feel you were in a swimming pool at a luxurious five-star hotel.
This is the sense of bliss you get if you visit a bucolic riverside retreat known as Tha Falang, which has been carved out of the awe-inspiring landscape of Thakaek district in Khammuan province.
The site is now receiving lots of interest from both Lao and overseas visitors after numerous pictures of its spectacular beauty have been shared in social and mainstream media.

Tha Falang.

The carefully constructed leisure facility is located on the Nam Don river between Thok-Nayor and Songkhone villages, about 16km from the centre of Thakhaek district.
It’s a perfect place to head for to get away from a busy town and enter a world of relaxation in which to unwind and distress.
I found myself there with some colleagues recently while we were visiting places of interest so we could alert readers to appealing destinations during Visit Laos-China Year 2019.
Of course, Laos has a huge number of scenic wonders and tourist attractions. While we are unable to write about all of them in Vientiane Times, we agreed that Tha Falang was somewhere we had to explore and let readers know about.
It wasn’t my first visit to the river but I could hardly believe it was the same place. So much had changed since I went there six years ago when the road was very dusty and there was not much to see at all.
The locals said the spot had been a favourite with Europeans in the days of French rule 80 or so years ago, so they named it Tha Falang, meaning “French landing”.
This particular section of the river is blessed with shady trees and is great for swimming all year round. However, the track leading to the site can be flooded and inaccessible in the rainy season.
It is still a beautiful place and memories of my previous visit came flooding back even though a lot of things had changed.
The developers of the site have done a lot to make sure visitors are comfortable. There is a guesthouse, and 20 bungalows by the riverbank and 30 more a little further away.
So that people can make the most of the water, there are 100 kayaks for rent which can be paddled over a 5km section of the river. There are also motorised boats, restaurants, a market, and other facilities.
For extra comfort there are 20 huts on the riverbank and nearby which make a great place for a picnic. These cost 50,000 kip per day.
Kayaks cost 69,000 kip per person to rent or 85,000 kip for two people and 99,000 kip for three. There are also huge inner tubes in which people can float down the river, which cost 20,000 kip apiece.
Entrance to the site, parking and toilets are free.
Tha Falang is currently attracting 100-150 visitors each weekday peaking at 300 on Saturdays and Sundays. Most of those who visit are Lao and Thai nationals.
On some weekends the huts are full so people who turn up late need a mat to sit on, but there’s always plenty of food available at the site.
If you don’t like crowds, be sure to go on a weekday.
I felt right at home sitting in a hut with one foot in the river and a drink in my hand as I gazed out over the hills and watched the swimmers frolicking happily in the water. And I’m quite sure this won’t be my last visit.

By Patithin Phetmeuangphuan
(Latest Update July 1, 2019)

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