About Borikhamxai - Things to See and Do

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Borikhamxai - Things to See and Do

Borikhamxay or Bolikhamxay province covers and area of 14,863 square kilometers and has a population of about 241,265 people (2009). There are 35 tribes from 3 ethnic groups (Lao-Tai Group: 76%, Khmu Group: 10% and Hmong Group: 14%)

History of Borikhamxay

The province faced many invasions from the Siamese throughout its history. The foundation of Paksan dates from the late nineteenth century. In 1836, the Siamese assumed suzerainty over Laos. After 1865, the invasions of "Hos", Chinese gangs from southern China, affected the provinces of Xieng Khouang and Bolikhamsai (Borikhane). In 1876, the King of Siam, Rama V, ordered the creation of the Muong Borikhane with the last survivors of the Ho invasion of 1874. The Muong of Borikhane was placed under the authority of Kha Luang Nong Khai.

In the 1890s, Christian missionaries of the Missions Etrangères de Paris arrived on the Mekong River, a few miles from the mouth of the Nam Sane. They built a church at Paksan. By 1911, the Muong Borikhane had about 61 villages housing a population of about 4000 inhabitants. Paksane had grown to several thousand in 1937.

Location of Borikhamxai Province within Laos


Borikhamxay was established in 1967 during the Lao revolution period by splitting parts of from Vientiane and Khammuane Province. Initially the province had 4 districts but over time the number of districts grew and since 2009 the province has 7 districts - Pakxanh, Thaphabath, Pakkading, Borikhanh, Viengthong, Khamkeuth and Xaychamphone with Xaychamphone district established in 2009 by combining parts parts of Khamkeut and Viengthong districts into the new district.

The meaning of ‘BORIKHAMXAY’ - ‘Bori’ comes from Borikhan District, the old city of the province, ‘Kham’ comes from Khamkeut District which was an old city established in 1350. and ‘Xay’ a Lao word, which means “Victory” of the revolution.

National Parks and Protected Areas in Borikhamxai Province


There are three Nationa Parks/Protectde Areas located in the province: The Phou Khao Khouay National protected Area, the Naka-Nam Theun National Protected Area and the Nam Kading National Protected Area.

Phou Khao Khouay National Protected Area (NPA) covers an area of 2,000 km2 in Bolikhamxay and Vientiane Provinces has excellent evergreen, mixed deciduous and coniferous forests in addition to extensive fire-climax grasslands which support key species that include wild elephants, white-cheeked gibbons and green peafowl. A community managed elephant watch tower in Ban Na provides one of the best opportunities to view large wildlife in Laos. One can take nature walks with village guides through the park’s old growth forests and well-known waterfalls – Tad Leuk (actually located in Vientiane Province but shown here with the other waterfalls of Borikhamxai as the waterfall is located in the same NPA, Tad Xay and Tad Xang. Self-guided walks are also available from the visitor center at Tad Leuk which has camping facilities and tents for rent.

Nam Kading NPA is abundant with wildlife due its low population density and biologically diverse forest ecology. Elephant, bears, deer, gaur, giant muntjac, gibbon the sooty babbler, rufous-throated fulvetta, river lapwing, wreathed and great hornbills and large otters are just some of the many species that inhabit the area. A total of 157 species of birds are found within the park including grey peakok pheasant, coral-billed ground cuckoo, crested kingfisher, Malayan night heron, pale-headed woodpeckers and others.







Nakai - Nam Theun - Nakai-Nam Theun is a protected area that covers approximately 3.445 sq km of the Annamite Mountains and the adjacent Nakai Plateau in the provinces of Bolikhamxay and Khammouane. This protected site comprises one of the most unspoiled wildernesses in Southeast Asia. The topography of the area is characterized as rugged and dominated by a main ridge of the Annamite Mountains. Phou Laoko is the highest point on the ridge with 2,286 m.

It is home to over a dozen endangered species including the Asiatic black bear, clouded leopard, elephant, giant muntjac, gaur, Malaysian sun bear and tiger. The Sao La (spindle horn) or Vu Quang Ox-Pseudoryx nghetinhensis was discovered in neighboring Viet Nam in 1992, and sighted since then in Laos in the Nam Theun conservation area. Only two other land mammals have been classified with their own genus this century. The first live Sao La was captured in neighboring Khammouane Province in 1996.

The Sao La (Spindle Horn) - Vu Quang Ox-Pseudoryx nghetinhensis


The area is significantly important for conservation of more than 300 species of birds in which 52 species are restricted to Sino-Himalayan subtropical forest and 18 species restricted to the Indochinese Tropical Moist Forest. The area supports the largest population of rufous-neck hornbills in Indochina. There are also large number of endemic crest Argus and short tailed scimitar babbler. Other species of birds residing in the area are Siamese fireback, red-collared woodpecker, great hornbill, brown hornbill, Blyth’s kingfisher, lesser fish eagle, Japanese paradise-flycatcher, beautiful nuthatch, and yellow-vented warbler. Dwelling within the area are 100 species of mammals including 45 species of bats and 8 species of rodents. There are also 53 species of reptiles and amphibians. Globally threatened animals residing in the area are pygmy loris, douc langur, and pale-cheeked gibbon.

Bolikhamxay Province is also the location of the Nam Kading National Protected Area, which although not yet developed for tourism, has high potential for wildlife viewing with virtually no people living within its borders. The Wildlife Conservation Society has plans to assist the province in determining the feasibility of developing ecotourism in the Nam Kading.


The terrain is very rugged with large bolder strewn streams and spectacular cascades.The area ranges in altitude from around 140m at the Research and Training centre to 1588m. Four main rivers cut through the NPA. The major one, the Nam Kading, which means “Water like a bell”, gives its name to the protected area. The Nam Kading is a major tributary to the Mekong River, and its catchment area covers approximately 92% of Bolikhamxay Province, approximately 15,977km² and cuts through the NPA from north to south. The remaining three rivers (the Nam Muan, Nam Sat and the Nam Tek) cut the NPA into four mountain ranges: the Phou Louang range, the longest, to the southwest; the Phou Ao range to the southeast; the Thalabat range to the northwest; and Pa Guang range in the northeast.

Surveys in Nam Kading have documented many endangered species. There are at least 13 globally and 12 regionally threatened mammals. Gaur, sun bear, and both northern and southern white-cheecked crested gibbon are present, making the area particularly important for gibbon conservation.

One of the country’s most extensive wetland system is located southwest of Paksan town and is known to have a very unique and abundant population of migratory birds. The wetlands can be reached by motorbike or truck via a number of dirt trails leaving town.

Useful Contacts and Information Bolikhamxay Provincial Tourism Administration, Rd 5101 (4B), Hongxay Village, Pakxan District, Bolikhamxay Province, Lao PDR, Tel. & fax: +856 54 212667
Emergency: +856 54 212099
Police: 191, +856 54 212089
Fire: 190, +856 54 212089
Ambulance: 195, +856 20 55054966
Provincial Hospital: +856 54 212154
Electricity: 199, +856 54 212090
Water Supply: +856 54 212 285, +856 54 212513


Borikhamxay is rich in touristic sites with temples, caves, waterfalls, etc. galore. Some of the sites are easy to visit as they are well sign posted but others are difficult to find and, although I have provided the approximate coordinates for some of the sites, for others you will have to ask around.

Map of the major touristic sites in Borikhamxai Province


Temples
Vat Phabath and Vat Phonsane (No 1 and No. 2 on the map of Major Tourist Sites) overlap Route 13 near Ban Na, and present two of Bolikhamxay’s most remarkable attractions. In 1993, locals discovered a 2.4 x 1.2 meter Buddha footprint, and built Vat Phabath around it. Over the decades, journeyers make merit by placing gold-leaf on the phabath (Buddha footprint), and every year in mid-January, the temple holds a festival to pay respect to the phabath. Vat Phonsane sits on sprawling green Mekong Riverside grounds, and is believed to be a sacred place where Buddha once took his meals. This small, but picturesque temple overlooking the Mekong river is well known for "Bang Fai Phayanak" or the "Naga Rocket" a mysterious and still unexplained phenomenon, which occurs every year in October during the 15th day of the 11th month (according to the lunar calendar), when small fire balls in different colors shoot out of the river for about 10 to 15 meters and disappear in the sky.

Vat or Wat Phabath




Vat or Wat Phonsane


Naga rockets rising up from the Mekong - Bang Fai Phayanak


New 'Phabath' (Buddha Footprint) in Bolikhamxay Province, Laos
'Naxai' Village (Coordinates - N18.20580 E103.07124) in Thaphabath District, some 70Km on South 13 Road from Vietiane. This Phabath with a Buddha Foot Print was found in October 2009

Buddha Foot Print at the New Phabath


Vat or Wat Dan Soung (Dan Soung Temple - No. 9 Coordinates - N18.44933 E103.64747) in Bolikhamxay Province, Laos
A series of colorful Buddhist buildings on the rocky outcrops surrounded by the beautiful nature. There are many large Buddha images, a holy pool, flower gardens, and rocks have interesting stories of the old legend 'Nang Sip Song' (The Twelve Ladies). 5Km on Road 5101/4B Road from 'Pakxan' Municipality

Wat Dan Soung




Waterfalls and Rapids in Borikhamxai


Tad Yong Rapids
You can visit some of the rapids by exploring the trail along the Yong River’s rapids and overnight at the ethnic Meui village of Ban Yang Kheua (Gnangkua - N18.366501° E103.120338°) at Km 99 on Route 13 South - turn left on Rd. 4508 to the Phou Khao Khouay NPA for about 5,4 km and then turn left for about 2,6 km to 'Yangkheua Village'. From here you can either walk or take a boat 20 minutes (5,5 km). . The New Zealand CBT-SED project is building a lodge here. From here a tractor ride delivers you to the Yong River (Nam Gnang) and its endless rapids racing over a stone-slab bed. A trek follows the river, and sometimes crosses it, allowing you to inspect the perfectly round craters, and infinite small channels gushing between the rocks. The walk ends at a wide set of short falls, where you can swim in a clear pool. From here, a boat connecting to Ban Yang Kheua.


Kaeng Luang Rapids
'Luang' means ' significant', these are the biggest rapids of the 'Namtheun' River, travelling by boat 1hour (12.7km) from 'Thabak' village (Namtheun Bridge); there are many other rapids along the river. Alternatively, you can head west along Rd. 8 and at Ban Nongkok head south-east along the track and once you reach Ban Phonlom, ask the villagers for further directions.


Tad Leuk (Leuk Waterfall)
From 'Wat Phabath' head 16 km east along Rd 13 and then turn north on Rd. 4508 for about 16 km from where you take the turn to the south to the Tad Leuk Waterfall in the 'Phou Khao Khouay' NPA, This beautiful waterfall is the most accessible attraction in the park and ideal for relaxing, swimming, camping and trekking, Tad Luek has a Visitor Center and a "Nature Trail".



Tad Xai (Xai Waterfall)
Cascading over seven steps, Tad Xay is arguably the most beautiful waterfall in the Phou Khao Kuay NPA. It is particularly attractive during the rainy season, and can be easily reached by a nice boat and trekking tour from 'Ban Hatkai' village, near 'Tad Leuk' in Thaphabath District.


Tad Heua Hak (Heua Hak Rapids and Waterfalls)
Located in 'Xaisavang' village (N18.44098 E103.51675) 'Pakxan' district, there are many waterfalls and rapids surrounded by green nature, its name means 'wrecked boat' that concerned to local tale. 15Km on South 13 Road from 'Pakxan' Municipality.


Tad Nam Pa (Nam Pa Waterfall)
Traveling by boat starting from a nice sandy beach on the bank of 'Ban Nampa' (,N18.48529 E103.63030) a fairly typical Lao village, you will see the exciting nature view of 'Tad Nam Pa' waterfall. 'Ban Nampa' is just 25 minutes drive from 'Pakxan' on the Route 4B (5101) in Pakxan District . The village also has handicraft products made by local people.


Tad Kaih Waterfall (Ask at Ban Thabak or at the junction of Rd. 8 and 1E for the location). The waterfall of 'Nam Mang' River is close to the Route 8, 'Thabak' village 'Nongkok' Region, 37Km from 'Khamkeut' Municipality, Nongkok Region, Khamkeut District.



Tad Vangfong Vangfong Waterfall
In the midst of lush green vegetation. This beautiful waterfall at the confluence of the Nam Kading and Nam Theun rivers can be reached after an hour by boat, starting from Ban Phonsy (N18.29970 E104.09662), Pakkading District. Not sure if this waterfall can still be reached by boat as a Hydropower project is/will be constructed on the Nam Kading although the construction of the dam seems to have been postponed.

Napong’s Waterfall Trek to Tad Thone and the Napong Elephant Rock
As Route 8 cuts through the “Karst Corridor” a large elephant-shaped out-crop resembling a man riding on the elephant known locally as Pha Xang, appear about 15 km from the Route 13 junction with Road 8. Welcome to Ban Napong (N18.16031 E104.38874), an ethnic Toum village which is a sungroup of the Khmu Tribe. From the village treks are launched to Tad Thone Waterfall in the Nam Kading National Protected Area while the village also offers homestays. The 7 km morning trek (which takes about 3 hours with the last kilometer being steep) to Tad Thone kicks off with a walk through rice fields to an old-growth forest. The trail traverses streams, before the going gets rigorous, with bursts of steep in clines and precarious ravine crossings. But after about 3 hours, Tad Thone appears, shooting over two ledges before a final plunge approaching 100 meters. You can then descend to the fall’s base, and avalanche of massive boulders big enough to host a picnic.



Tad Thone Waterfall


Within the Nam Ha National Protected Area there are several waterfalls (see also the video).


Ban Na (Na village) and Wild Elephant Observation Tower
Near 'Wat Phabath' in Thaphabath District. This village (coordinates - N18.28700 E103.16169) at the edge of the 'Phou Khao Khouay' National Protected Area offers guided trekking tours into the nearby bamboo belt and forest, it is known for its wild elephants which can be seen with a bit of luck from an observation tower close to a salt lick. The villagers are also accepting tourist for home stay.


A Brief History
In the mid nineties, a considerable part of Ban Na's land has become ‘home' of an elephant herd of more than 40 heads, victimizing the local farmers by frequently raiding their fields. The shifting of the elephant's territory from the upper hills to the lowland has probably been caused by the planting of sugarcane or disturbances due to the construction of a reservoir for power generation several kilometres to the north. In order to help the villagers by providinf alternative employment Village guides, home stay, etc.) an Elephant Observation Tower was constructed in April 2005. From up here it is possible to observe wild elephants from a close distance at a saltlick and while they bathe in the nearby stream. Elephants usually have to go to such ‘saltlicks' to get essential minerals, which are lacking or in low concentration in their staple food, by taking in some soil. With a bit of luck, you can watch elephants visiting the area around the tower, usually in the evening hours. No guarantee, though, can be given to see the animals! They're wild animals with their ‘own schedule and free will’. Other animals, such as deer, wild pigs and wild dogs might also be seen or heard at the saltlick. In the early morning hours you are woken up hearing nothing but the sound of countless birds around you.

Occasionally more than fifteen elephants (some visitors clain forty-according to the guestion) have been seen at the site at one time, but often they come in a group of five or so. A huge tusker (male with ivory tusks) is in the family and several very young ones as well. According to many visitors up there, it's a rewarding ‘experience of a lifetime, just fantastic’. With you being seven meters above ground, the elephants may even be directly beneath you under the tower. Many traces of elephants, such as tracks, dung and destroyed vegetation, can be seen in the area, too. All this so close to Vientiane!

Because you're in the midst of the elephant territory, it is very important to observe rules for your own safety. To minimize the possibility of an accident, the number of visitors is restricted and the instructions of the guides have to be followed strictly at any time. Thus, no self-guided tours are allowed. The most important guidelines are handed out to you for reading before you leave the village for the tower. Since the elephants usually visit the river in the early hours of the night, one cannot walk back to the village in the dark. No one knows whether a lone bull is waiting for you somewhere…! We urgently call on you not to take any risks!

Please do not feed the elephants. This may have unwanted consequences for your safety or for future visitors, since giving food to the animals will most certainly change their behaviour. Please do not forget, wild elephants are no pets. Let us preserve them in the most natural way possible!



Caves in Borikhamxai


Caves along Rd 13 South
Tham Kaep (Kaep Cave)
Located in 'Phou Kout', the Provincial Protected Area near 'Nong Boua' village (N18.43806 E103.76630) about 16 Km. from 'Pakxan'. This mysterious attraction is believed to be a sacred place for local people. Walking into a good forest then climbing quite steeply, you will arrive at a small waterfall and a variety of rock overhand, which provides a shelter for relaxing. The journey continues to the top of escarpment from where you can have good views over the country side


Pha Taen Cave
The cave of 'Pha Taen' Mountain in Nongboua village (N18.13568 E104.19279), 'Pakkading 'District, Surrounded by rice field, there are two rocks with many caves, the most wonderful cave is in the smaller rock.
General Information of Nongboua Village
'Nongboua' is a farmer village, located in beautiful nature surroundings, from 'Pakxan' 77 km on the South 13 Road, by 'Thongnamy' Market turn right 6 km.


Caves along Road 5101 (4B)
'Pha Muang' Cave (N18.74549 E103.69529)
Just 54 km from 'Pakxan' district on the Route 4B (5101), this stunning limestone outcrop with its small cave is the center of ‘Nang Phom Horm’ the famous Lao legend/story - Nang Phom Horm means Miss with nice smelling hair


Lion Cave
The huge cave located in Bolikhan District, near 'Pha Muang'


Caves along Road 8
‘Pha Muang’ Mountain and Buddha Cave (Ask at Lak Xao or at Ban Nongkok - N18.20057 E104.61731 for its location)
This is the sacred place for people of 'PhaMuangHoung' village 'Nongkok' Region, there are more than 20 small Buddha images and many others believed to be hidden in the cave; most images are made of many kinds of flower and gelatine from buffalo and cow, the age they were made is still unknown, but local people believed that they were taken and hidden in this cave before 1940s.



‘Pha Kong’ Mountain and the Cave (no further information available at the moment) Located near 'Phamuang' mountain, this big cave is 580 meters long, but hardly to get to the end, decorated with beautiful stalactites


Hospital Cave (Historical Site)
Located in 'Kuanchan' (N18.22546 E104.72837) village 20Km from 'Khamkeut' Municipality, this used to be a hospital during the Lao Revolution period in the 1970s.


Dragon Cave
The cave is located along the Route 8A close to Ban Poung about 13 Km from Lak Xao. The cave resembles a huge dome with wonderfully formed stalactites.


Mangkhone Cave
The cave (Coordinates N18.22151 E104.81242) is located along the Route 8A close to Ban Poung about 20 Km from Lak Xao. It is a nice cave but bring powerful flashlights. The side cave has some old buddha statues, it is like in a dream




Copyright pictures of the Mangkhone Cave: Gunther Richter

Everytime I visited the cave there was no caretaker and you will have to switch on the lights yourself but better bring a torchlight


Other touristic sites
Sunset Viewpoint (Ask at Ban Thabak for the location)
Where 'Nam Yuang' River meets 'Nam Theun' River, this is an excellent point for seeing sunset; 2.8km by boat from 'Thabak' village, Nongkok Region, Khamkeut District.


'Pha Phi Hong' (Ask in Lak Xao how to get there)
This outstanding mountain is so close to Lak Sao, Khamkeut district. There is a quite steep trail to the view point to see the fantastic views of Lak Sao and the mountain on the Lao-Vietnamese border.


Hot Spring (N18.29668 E105.07045)
Located near Nong Or village along 8A road to Vietnam, 17Km from Khamkeut Municipality. The hot water comes from below the river bed and piped to a series of baths. There is also guesthouse available.
Open: Everyday (Hot bath service 7AM-5PM)


Lime Stone Forest on Rd 8. - Thousands of rock pinnacles create sort of a huge limestone "forest" near Ban Napong, Pakkading District.




Tai Taeng Tribe and Silk Weaving
'Tai Taeng' Tribe (No. 31) in 'Nong Or' Village and 'Na Pae' Village in Bolikhamxay Province, Laos - located near the Hot springs at Rd 8. - Coordinates (N18.29668 E105.07045)
The 'Tai Teng' form a small, but colourful Lao ethnic minority group. Mostly they live around Ban NongOr and Ban Napae, 17km from Laksao. Besides rice farming they are well known for their silk handicraft



Main Festivals of Bolikhamxay Province, Laos

'Phabath' Stupa Festival - 'Thaphabath' District. This is the most significant event of Bolikhamxay to celebrate the old stupa and give respect to Buddha footprint.
In the festival, there are Buddhist ceremony and fair
Date: 15th day of 2nd month of lunar calendar (~In the middle of January)

'Wat Dan' Festival - The yearly Buddhist ceremony of 'Dan Soung' Temple, simply called 'Wat Dan' the significant temple in Pakxan District.
Date: 15th day of 3rd month of lunar calendar (~In the middle of February)

'Boun Bang Fai' (Rocket Festival) - The festival to beg for rain from 'PhaYaThaen' the Prime God and to celebrate the beginning of rice farming
There are many 'BounBangFai' events in many part of Bolikhamxay, but the biggest one is in 'Kuai' village, Pakxan District.
Date: In May

'Boun Xuang Heua' (Boat Racing Festival) - The tournaments are held to give the respet to the God of River and celebrate the Harvest; the biggest 'Boun XuangHeua' of Bolikhamxay is in Pakxan District, where NamXan River meets Mekong River
Date: 15th day of 11th month of lunar calendar (~In the middle of October)

'Hmong' New Year Festival - The New Year of 'Hmong' Tribe, there are many exciting traditional activities
'PhaMuang' Village, Bolikhan District;
'KorHai' - 'NaPae' Village, Khamkeut District;
'ThongNaMy' Village, Pakkading District.
Date: ~In the middle of December

Main source of information National Tourist Authority supplemented by other sources gathered during visits, books, leaflets, etc.
 
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