The entrance to the track to Nam Kat Waterfall is located at Ban Faen, a Khmu village eight kilometres east of Udomxai.
The village is 15 kilometres upstream from the actual falls and we recommend hiring a guide from the village to get there. We didn't actually hit the falls ourselves this trip around, but gleaned all the following from the ever helpful staff at the Tourist Information Centre in Udomxai proper.
Part of the recently designated Phou Hiphi national conservation forest, the falls are modest in all respects but it’s getting to them that makes it interesting. You have three options to reach Nam Kat Waterfall. The easiest is to have your guide drive you as close to it as road conditions will allow. In dry season, that means within two kilometres, and then it is an easy walk with some climbs up and over boulders.
For those looking for a hike, your guide can lead you along a good 13 kilometre track that follows the stream. The most strenuous yet rewarding route is a climb over Phou Pha Daeng (“red cliff”) Mountain. The total distance covered is 13.5 kilometres, including a 500 metre climb that affords you a stunning view of the valley; your sweaty efforts make the waterfall all the more plunge-worthy. Do note that the Phou Pha Daeng trek is not possible during rainy season. Whatever way you choose, a 20 metre high series of cascades await you.
The journey to Ban Faen is a pretty but bumpy one. You can make your own way to the village and try to hire a guide on the spot. Better yet, organise it in advance through the Provincial Tourism Office to ensure there is someone available – village life is busy and often people are away working on their farm or in the forest. The organised trip will also include a local lunch and transport to/from Udomxai. Most importantly, hiring a local guide and buying some of their bamboo handicraft supports the community who have been the traditional custodians of the falls.
By Cindy Fan.