Photo: Hat Sa boat landing.


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Situated on the banks of the Nam Ou river in Phongsali Province, Hat Sa is a small village at one end of a spectacular river journey between Hat Sa, Muang Khua, Muang Ngoi and Nong Kiaow.

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The village is 20 km from the provincial capital. Unless you enjoy stomach churning bus rides on serpentine mountain roads, travelling to or from Phongsali by boat along the Nam Ou river has, until recently, clearly been the more attractive transport option. With scenery of jagged peaks cloaked in thick forest and mist, it is one of the great river journeys of Laos, perhaps even surpassing the Mekong, its tributary.

Meet the thriving metropolis of Hat Sa. Photo taken in or around Hat Sa, Laos by Cindy Fan.

Meet the thriving metropolis of Hat Sa. Photo: Cindy Fan

Opinions may change on the matter now that the boat ride between Hat Sa and Muang Khua is an obstacle course—the obstacle being Dam 5, one of a cascade of seven dams that form the Nam Ou Hydropower Project by China’s state-owned Sinohydro Corporation. Reportedly financed by China Development Bank, the project spans 350 kilometres of the 450-kilometre long river, which flows from the Lao border with China down south through Udomxai and Luang Prabang provinces to join the Mekong. Hat Sa itself lies a few kilometres downriver ... Travelfish members only (Around 500 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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