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Covering more than 2000 sq km of mountains and rivers, the underrated Phu Khao Khuay National Protected Area is the most accessible protected area in Laos. Treks ranging in duration from a couple of hours to three days have been developed in partnership with Ban Na and Ban Hat Khai, villages on the edge of the NPA.

Phu Khao Khuay means 'Buffalo Horn Mountain', a name derived from local legend, and is home to three major rivers that flow off a sandstone mountain range. It boasts an extraordinary array of endangered wildlife, including wild elephant, gibbon, Asiatic black bear, clouded leopard, Siamese fireback pheasant and green peafowl. Depending on elevation, visitors may encounter dry evergreen dipterocarp (a Southeast Asian tree with two-winged fruit), mixed deciduous forest, conifer forest or grassy uplands. Several impressive waterfalls are accessible as day trips from Vientiane.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Phou Khao Khuay is from November through March. 

The wet season runs generally from around May to October (June to August are the wettest months). As many areas in Laos, the weather is characterized by a sharp downpour for a few hours a day, rather than all-day continuously downpours.

The rains can interfere with your outside activities.

Check the below table for the general idea of Phou Khao Khuay weather throughout the year.

Month Avg. High (°C) Avg. Mean (°C) Avg. Low (°C)
Jan 28.3 22.7 17
Feb 31.4 25.7 19.8
Mar 33.3 27.8 22.2
Apr 34.9 29.6 24.2
May 33.9 29.2 24.6
Jun 33 29 25.1
Jul 32 28.3 24.8
Aug 31.8 28 24.6
Sep 32.1 28.2 24.3
Oct 31.9 27.8 23.6
Nov 31.2 26.3 21.1
Dec 29.1 23.8 18.2

Phou Khao Khuay's current weather and 7-day forecast



Detailed information on trekking, accommodation and getting to and from Phu Khao Khuay National Protected Area (NPA) can be found at the Tourist Information Centre in Vientiane. Trekking in Phu Khao Khuay costs 100,000K per person per day, and you must also purchase a permit to enter the NPA (40,000K) and contribute to the village fund (50,000K). If trekking from Ban Hat Khai you'll also have to pay for boat transport (100,000K per boat, up to two passengers).

Ban Na

Village guides lead one-, two- and three-day treks from Ban Na to Keng Khani (three to four hours one way) and through deep forest to the waterfall of Tat Fa (four to five hours). There is also a one-hour trek to the old elephant observation tower, passing by plantations and through the skirts of the jungle itself. The tower overlooks a salt lick, which the elephants used to visit regularly. Trekkers sleep in the tower (100,000K per person) beneath a mosquito net on a mattress, and guides cook a tasty local dinner. Even without the elephants it still makes for a fun adventure.

Ban Hat Khai

Destinations accessible from Ban Hat Khai include Tat Leuk and orchid treks in the forest. For those with more time, a trek taking in the huge cliff, views and beautiful landscape of Pha Luang (three to four hours one way), and the forested areas around Huay Khi Ling (two to three hours one way) can also be arranged. This takes two or three days, depending on the season, and involves sleeping in the forest.

Homestay-style accommodation is available in both Ban Na and Ban Hat Khai for 40,000K per person, per night, with an additional 30,000K per person for each meal. The prices do not include transport from Vientiane and are not negotiable. All monies go to the village and NPA.

Even if you're not interested in a trek, a stay at Ban Na or Ban Hat Khai is a fascinating insight into Lao village life.

Ban Na Homestays

Ban Na offers 10 homestays in simple wooden houses (24-hour electricity and mosquito nets with bedding are provided). Vegetarian meals are possible. For bookings contact Mr Bounathom/Mr Khampak (020-22208262), or find a Lao speaker to call ahead for you.

Ban Hat Khai Homestays

Ban Hat Khai is a pretty riverside village offering 11 homestays in traditional Lao houses, or in a guesthouse built especially for visitors; all include 24-hour electricity and mosquito nets. Vegetarian meals are available on request. To book a stay in Ban Hat Khai contact Mr Khammoun (020-2224 0303) or find a Lao speaker to call ahead for you.

Homestays in Ban Na and Ban Hat Khai can provide wholesome meals for 30,000K. Vegetarians are catered for, although more complicated dietary requirements may be hard to deliver.

Get in 

By Car or Bike

Can be reached directly from Vientiane by car or motorbike. Turn left short before entering Thabok (Km 90, highway 13 south), the dirty (and during dry season, very dusty) road leads to Ban Houay Leuk (5 km). Always follow the road signs "National Park". After crossing iron bridge over the Nam Leuk turn right after 1 km. Two kilometres on, you'll pass another small village, Ban Hatkhai, which is the "gateway" to this part of the park.

For the time being, a bridge only half a kilometer before Ban Hatkai collapsed end of 2002, and is not passable during the rainy season, but can be by-passed without major problems during the dry season through the riverbed. The waters can be very deep there. Makeshift bridges have been constructed several times, but were later torn away by torrential waters. These bridges were also very narrow and shaky and it'a on the nerves of the driver to cross. The construction of a new, solid bridge turned out to be very costly for the villagers and it may still take some time to repair it.

The remainder of the road to Tad Xay and Pha Xay is inside the forest and may occasionally get a bit rough and steep. This part after Ban Hatkhai, about 7 km long, is amazingly good. Finally, you reach the parking area, from where you are to explore the beautiful surroundings by foot.

Highly recommended for people who want to experience more of the beautiful nature: Ban Hatkhai offers well trained guides, who will bring you to Tad Xay on a rewarding 45-min boat trip and relatively easy 1.5-hour trek through wonderful jungle. Other treks to different destinations can be booked as well.

By boat

Ban Hatkhai can also be reached by boat from Thabok (a little bit more than 2 hours). It's not a regular tour so you have to find someone to bring you there and negotiate for the price.

Public transport

From Vientiane is available from bus stations at Talat Sao (Morning Market) or at Talat Thad Luang. These buses or pick-ups pass either Thabok or go once a day directly to Ban Hatkhai. Irregular and often overcrowded public transport is also available from Thabok to the Long Xan valley, passing Ban Houay Leuk. 1 km after this village at the junction Tad Leuk/Tad Xay, leave the car and walk for about 2 km.

We recommend you check the latest bus schedule and price via

Get around

Starting at parking area, two trails are marked with coloured triangles:

White-red is leading to the viewpoint of Pha Xay. Enter the forest less than 100 m before you reach the parking itself (almost there where the incoming road turns sharp left). Watch otu for a big tree. A marker should be there, but people sometimes like to remove it. A dark hole in the otherwise dense vegetation may give you a hint. There can be fallen trees on the path which you'll have to climb over. After 200 metres you'll reach the viewpoint.

The safety fence is there, but should be approached with ultimate care. It's going down 50 m straight and can be very slippery when wet. The cliff is not fenced over its entire length.

Yellow-red is leading to Tad Xay. It starts just left of the big signboard, where you have to cross a small bridge. During the dry season you can also be able to cross the river itself and walk up-stream inside the sandstone riverbed along the opposite riverbank to the waterfall.

It is also a very good plase for a picnic. A large pool with clear water all year round at the foot of Tad Xay invites visitors for a refreshing bath. Please bring back your rubbish and do not use soap in the water.

Contact us to get more information


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Among these remarkable places is the Xe Champhone Loop, an enchanting location that captures the essence of Laos.

In early September 2022, we had the privilege of embarking on an Educational Tour organized by the esteemed Tetraktys Organization. Our objective was to delve into the wonders of this loop and promote its allure to international tourists.

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A notice issued by Luang Prabang provincial office says that Luang Prabang will arrange Boun Hor Khaopadapdin, an annual festival held to feed spirits with home-made parcels of food, and the boat racing activities along Namkhan River. 

The province intends to promote the traditional festival and practices in hopes of attracting more domestic and foreign tourists, generating revenue for locals.

Traditional racing boats are made of a single tree and can accommodate up to fifty rowers.

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