Mountain Trips at Ban Hatkhai

Ban Hatkhai is a small village just outside Phou Khao Khouay, where you can experience authentical village life. Mountains, dense forests and bright-green rice fields surround the village. Its beautiful location at the banks of the Nam Mang River offers an ideal setting for a picturesque picnic under a fig tree.

Trekking at Ban Hatkhai

The village is an ideal starting point for exciting trekking tours into the nearby mountainous area or some startling waterfalls. Most trips include a rewarding boat trip on the Nam Mang River prior to the trek.

From here you can visit the twin waterfalls of Tad Xay and Pha Xay. More trained hikers can do a trekking up the mountain of Pha Luang, a breathtaking cliff which offers views over Phou Khao Khouay and the Mekong lowland as far as Thailand. You can combine this tour with walking up to Houey Ki Ling, a small stream that leads to a beautiful sandstone plateau, where you can spend a night in the forest. Houey Ki Ling is also worth visiting as a one-day trip.

Rural Village Life

The more than 200 years old Ban Hatkhai is a quiet, typically Lao rural village. Its inhabitants belong to two ethnic groups, of which the majority is the Lao Lum. Only about 86 families, or 600 people, live here. The villagers are farmers and predominantly produce rice and vegetables.

Local village life mainly consists of working in the nearby rice fields or herding water buffaloes. The quietness of the village is only disturbed by the sounds of the tinkling bells on the neck of these buffaloes, or by children jumping down from the high fig trees into the Nam Mang River.

In the evening, villagers meet in each other’s houses to drink a Lao Lao (locally brewed rice whisky) and eat sticky rice with fish or soup. You can also visit the local ‘pub’ for a refreshing soda.

How to get there

Ban Hatkhai is relatively easy accessible by car or motorbike from Vientiane via National Road No. 13 (South). Turn left at Km 90, short before entering Thabok. Here you will also see a big bill board pointing to the Nam Leuk hydro power plant. The road leads to Ban Houay Leuk (after 5 kilometres). Follow the signs and turn right at a junction just 1 kilometre after this village (and crossing an iron bridge over the Nam Leuk). The village of Ban Hatkhai is just two or so kilometres away. The collapsed bridge 400 metres before the village has finally been repaired and Ban Hatkhai can now be reached directly.

Ban Hatkhai can also be reached by boat from Thabok (in just over an hour). It’s not a regular tour, so the only way is to find someone to bring you there and negotiate for the price.

Public transportation is available from the southern bus station in Vientiane. Most of the buses are passing Thabok and you have to disembark here. Don’t take a VIP-bus, though. There is no regular bus going to Ban Hatkhai. In Thabok you have to look at the market for a Songtaew going Long Xan, passing the junction to Ban Hatkhai. From here you walk about two kilometres to the village.

With some luck and negotiation you may find someone in Thabok to bring you directly to Ban Hatkhai with a motorbike – or call the guide leader in the village to pick you up. (Please note that such a “personalized extra service” may be a bit expensive)

However, the most comfortable way is to hire a vehicle with driver, which can be provided by various tour operators in Vientiane.

Where to stay

In Ban Hatkhai you can stay with a home-stay family in one of the typical village houses. Here you can experience the hospitality and friendliness of the villagers. You will stay in a traditional wooden pillar house and participate in local family life.

The home-stay in Ban Hatkhai are basic, but clean and are equipped with mattresses, pillows, mosquito nets, bed linen, French toilets and 'village showers'.

It is also possible to do a 2- or 3-day trekking, and sleep overnight in a tent or hammock in the forest. Pre-arranged tours can be booked through various tour operators in Vientiane.

If you consider going for an overnight trip by yourself, we advice you to inform the villagers of Ban Hatkhai in advance. Call the guide leader (probably Mr. Bounthiang or Mr. Khamoune, but it may be someone else since the guides of Ban Hatkhai apply a rotating system for their services) under 020 224 03 03. This way they will be prepared for your arrival.

We would like to inform you that if you visit Ban Hatkhai without contacting the villagers in advance, they might not be able to provide you with accommodation, food supplies or trekking equipment (boats, guides, etc.).