We are pleased that you are interested in visiting
Phou Khao Khouay! In this National Protected Area ecotourism is
only developed on a small scale. We therefore advice you not to
visit the park without booking a pre-arranged tour. In Vientiane
there are many tour operators who offer multiple-day tours to
the area. Below are a few tour operators that offer package deals:
A number of other tour operators in Vietiane have visits to Phou Khao Khouay National Protected Area in their programme or intend to do so, notably
Lao World Travel
Tiger Trail (Luang Prabang)
...and more! Please be advised to have also a look into www.ecotourismlaos.com
Phou Khao Khouay’s proximity to Vientiane makes it ideal for day trips. The park is relatively easy accessible by car or motorbike via National Road No. 13 (South). Turn left at Km 90, short before entering Thabok. Signs along the way will guide you. From here you can go to either Tad Leuk, Tad Xay or Ang Nam Leuk.
The unpaved road traversing the park is most of the time fairly well accessible, but might be muddy and rocky during the rainy season.
A local bus and several songthaew (local shared taxis) are departing daily from Thabok, a small town along Road 13, heading for the Long Xan Valley. Fixed schedules are not available (please inquire in Thabok).
Public transportation is available from the southern bus station (km 8 / Ban Phakhan) in Vientiane.
If you consider to go for an overnight trip by yourself, we advice you to inform the villagers of Ban Na or Ban Hatkhai, respectively, in advance. This way they will be prepared for your arrival. Sleeping equipment is available in each of both villages for up to ten people each (see below). For visiting these villages we recommend to go in small groups of five or six rather than trickling in with one or two persons. It just reduces the price for you a bit – and would probably bring more fun.
The family taking care of Tad
Leuk can provide you with tents and other camping equipment
for up to eight persons against a small fee. The four tents available
are relatively large and comfortable. Camping is only allowed
at Tad Leuk itself. Remember, it's inside a National Park. The
people of Tad Leuk cannot and usually do not need to be informed
prior to your arrival.
The phone number of Ban Na is: 020 2220 82 86 or 020 2220 82 62 ; the number of Ban
Hatkhai is 020 2224 03 03. The villagers barely speak English,
therefore ask your tour operator or English speaking person in Vientiane
to contact the village prior to your trip. This is also important
for inquiries regarding availability of guides. Occasionally,
there might be other unpredictable reasons, though rare, for the
villagers not to receive visitors.
A visit to the Elephant Observation Tower at Ban Na is a unique experience. But be aware that special precautions have to be taken. Elephants can be potentially dangerous, even though they are generally gentle animals. This is of real importance when they have young offspring (which is right now the case) or when the males are in musth (heat). Male elephants usually are solitary and their movements cannot always be predicted. With a herd of elephants (females plus young males) this is slightly easier.
Tourists are therefore strictly advised not to try entering elephant territory without (two) guides from Ban Na. Visitors also should follow the instructions of the guides by any means. Even the guides are not good in English, a basic communication is possible. Always watch out yourself for fresh signs and listen to possible sounds of elephants on your way to and from the tower.
Elephants usually visit the saltlick short before or after nightfall. Considering this, a stay over night on the tower is the best option. It is also rewarding, because of either the silence in the night or the concert of birds in the morning. Other animals can be heard, too. Be on the tower early enough, advisably not later than three to four in the afternoon. Do not leave the tower when it's getting dark. A return to the village in the night is not allowed due to security reasons.
It is highly recommended to visit the tower with not more than six persons (plus two guides). Though the platform can accommodate up to twelve persons, it gets quite crowded up there. If you want to watch wildlife, any noise and movement should be reduced to a minimum. Our experience: The more people, the more unrest and less fun.
We do not allow cars or any other motor vehicle to bring visitors to the tower. The way from Ban Na to the site is about four kilometer and an easy walk everyone can master. You can see also lots of interesting things along the way.
For the time being, you should bring your own food and particularly enough water with you. Sleeping equipment (foam mats, sleeping bags, mosquito nets etc.) is available on the tower. Try to limit your food ration (no cooking, no grilling! Too much foodstuff on the tower would just attract cute but unwanted guests like forest rats - but don't worry, not the nasty ones known from the city). On request, food can also be provided by the villages.
A toilet is available on the tower! The water has to be taken from the nearby stream. It is therefore not suitable for drinking and in the dry season not even for a bath – because the elephants use the same water… If you're going trekking the next day, you'll certainly find some better places to refresh yourself.
The tower is equipped with solar power. The illumination of the platform is bright enough for playing cards, for example - if nothing happens at the saltlick... Be advised, though, the elephants obviously do not like lights! If you switch them on, you may prevent elephants from coming or chase the away – which would neither be good for any further watching, nor good for the animals. The flashlight of your camera may have the same effect. Think twice before you use it. And - don't forget your fellow visitors.
Please switch off your mobile phone, if you have one with you. And avoid smoking, it may deter elephants to come. Don't throw away an un-extinguished cigarette butt, particularly in the dry season - a forest fire would be a disaster!.
Once you leave the place, please help to keep the tower clean. we appreciate any suggestion for improvement!
Thank you for helping to protect our
elephants and the environment!
Visits to Phou Khao Khouay are entirely at your own risk. Therefore, please make sure that your insurance covers any possible damages or injuries. The National Tourism Administration, the national park and the villages cannot take any responsibility!
We advice you to take all the vaccinations needed prior to your arrival at Phou Khou Khouay. For further information, please check the website of the World Health Organization: www.who.org or ask for medical advice in your home country.
If you stay in one of the villages, we inform you that village life in Laos is very basic. The home-stays in the villages of Ban Na and Ban Hatkhai are clean and equipped with mattresses, mosquito nets, bed linen, French toilets and ‘village showers’. We inform you, that the villagers only speak English at a very basic level.
If pre-arranged, the villagers will provide local Lao food. Otherwise, there are some small shops in the villages, where you can buy some food and drinks as well. Be aware that sometimes the supplies might be out of stock! We therefore suggest you to bring some supplies of you own, at least for the time being.
For your own safety, and for the preservation of the nature reserve, we ask you to read our Rules and Regulations and Safety Code before entering the park.
Thank you very much for your understanding and
compliance! We wish you a very pleasant stay at Phou Khao Khouay
National Protected Area!