Sprawling yet little-visited Phou Khao Khouay National Park is located some 70 kilometres from Vientiane heading towards Tha Khaek and is one of the most accessible of all the protected areas in Laos.
Within its 2,000 square kilometres are several forest types, mountains, a plateau, lakes, rivers and waterfalls. Reaching altitudes of 1,671 metres, the park offers a vast array of biodiversity ranging from thick jungle to cool pine forests covered in mist. The park is home to a number of threatened species including tiger, wild elephant and gibbon. It can be split into two distinct areas of interest, each of which is inaccessible from the other within the park.
The southern perimeter is the most popular part of the park for travellers, and is home to lodges, wild elephants and waterfalls. It is from here that you'll have the best chance of doing some trekking and actually seeing something bigger than a butterfly -- quite a bit bigger in fact, as elephants are the most common sight. That said, and as with all visits into protected areas, bear in mind this isn't a zoo and there's no guarantee you'll see anything.
The western part of the park and its surroundings see many fewer visitors, but has some of its own distinctive features and attractions including impressive viewing points overlooking Vientiane plain and an artificial lake. Its rivers are some of the main tributaries into the sprawling Nam Ngum Reservoir midway between Vientiane and Vang Vieng.
The park can be visited independently or on an organised trip. Any travel agent in Vientiane should be able to point you in the right direction if they're not able to assist themselves.
While Phou Khao Khouay stretches across both Vientiane and Bolikhamsai provinces, we've included it in the Vientiane section as you're most likely to head here from there.
There are no ATM's anywhere in the vicinity and no official money changers. Bring cash and carry it in kip, unless you've already arranged to pay in another currency.
Text and/or map last updated on 23rd November, 2013.
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