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.
the wonderful scenery, a picnic, and the waterfall itself, but is also
a great place for trekking.
In training for a Vangvieng Trail hike at the end
of this year, my friends and I would normally walk along the Mekong
riverbank to prepare for such an event but one recent weekend we
decided to try somewhere different.
Out of the many places we considered, we settled
upon the Tad Xai waterfall at Ban Hatkhai in Borikhamxay province,
which lies within the Phou Khaokhouay National Protected Area.
Reached by travelling on Road 13 South, it’s near
the border between Vientiane and Borikhamxay province, and is about
three hours drive from Vientiane.
We chose this place because we heard that trekking
guides are available, which we thought was a good idea because we were
by no means experienced trekkers.
I have been to Tad Xai a few times before, but
mostly just to have a picnic and enjoy the waterfall, which is one of
the most beautiful of the many that are to be found in the national
protected area. This was the first time I would be able to explore the
area more fully.
We arrived at Ban Hatkhai around 10 am where a
local tourist officer was waiting to guide us on the walk. The fee for
each of us was 45,000 kip. It was several kilometres from the village
to the park itself and some sections of the road were quite rough.
Drivers would need a vehicle with good clearance or four-wheel drive.
large trees and bordered by a stream which burbled through various
shaped rocks. It would make a good picnic spot and you could also have a
dip as the water was not at all deep. A sign pointed the way to Tad Xai
waterfall, which could be found at the end of a 400 metre path.
But we were intent on having a long walk so we went
in another direction along a small trail which passed through woods,
so the tree canopy protected us from the hot sun.
the unfamiliar plants and flowers that we encountered in profusion.
slowly and took loads of photos, forgetting that the purpose of the
expedition was to get in training for the strenuous Vangvieng Trail.
Never mind, the whole experience was all part of the goal, we told
waterfall, which soon came into view. The water cascaded down from a
high cliff, so it is aptly named Pha Xay waterfall, or cliff waterfall.
It was one of those hidden gems that you would only encounter by
walking deep into this scenic area.
taking more photos, we continued on our way through more oddly-shaped
trees and plants and then came to an open field of green grass
interspersed with rocks.
through small and large trees, listening to the sounds of insects and
birds against the backdrop of faraway waterfalls, and observing the
strange plant life around us. We became engrossed in our surroundings
and never had time to feel tired. Now and again we saw groups of
colourful butterflies, and stopped to relax near a small stream.
sometimes had to walk across wooden bridges and near the end of the
trail we came upon a mass of different sized boulders piled up on top of
each other alongside a large stream overhung with dense foliage.
created a calming atmosphere so we took a long break and breathed in
the smells. We felt we had earned a rest as this was the first trek we
had made in this kind of environment.
us to the main Tad Xai cascade where most people come to enjoy a
torrent of foaming white water on its way through Phou Khaokhouay,
creating a spectacular sight.
here for some time before making our way back to the parking area,
deeply satisfied with our achievement and our decision to visit this