Nong Fa Lake in southern Laos

Discussion in 'Laos - General Discussion Forum' started by rectravel, Apr 5, 2005.

  1. rectravel

    rectravel Ol'Timer

    Readers who know about Yak Lom Lake in Cambodia's Ratanakiri Province might be intereted in a similar lake in southern Laos called Nong Fa. There are no guest houses in the area yet. The following pictures are from Cambobumb from March of 2005. Enjoy.

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  3. BobS

    BobS Ol'Timer

    2 questions:

    1. Location - obviously on the Lao-Viet border, but where?

    2. Your link has a map with Hong Fa Lake on it. What is the actual name?


    "Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting "...holy shit...what a ride!"
  4. rectravel

    rectravel Ol'Timer

    From the page on

    Nong Kai Ok (Cock lake) or less known by other name as "Nong Fa" is located at a 3-days walk from Sanxai district in the Southern Attapeu province (in Laos). Situated amid serene natural beauty and fenced by peaks of mountains, this virgin lake has all year round sky blue water. The size of the lake has not yet been measured, there is a well informed source saying that a shot of AK 47 rifle from one edge of the lake never reaches the other. Available information on the lake has so far collected from mystery and strange stories built around it. The inhabitants of Attapeu believes that the lake is the place of divinity and sacredness but many believe that the lake was created by a volcanic eruption thousands upon thousands years ago.

    Nong Fa is just to the north of the road between Attapeu and Kontum. There are no good maps of the Attapeu area except for the now 35 plus year old US Defense Department maps put up by Veteran helicopter pilot Jim Henthorn. His main map page is on

    Note that all of these maps are clickable and that you are going to waste hours on this site if you have a fast broadband connection. His Laos only page is on

    The page about Attapeu Province is on

    The map showing downtown Attapeu itself is on ... 8_08b.html

    Note the river that flows into Attapeu from the east, the Xe Kaman, also sometimes spelled Xekaman or Se Kaman (very old spelling). There are many web pages up about this river because of dam construction projects. The next map immediately to the east of Attapeu is on ... 8_08c.html

    Note the Kaman River again in the top left hand corner this map. The next map just to the northeast of this spot is on ... 8_04g.html

    See the Xe Kaman River in the bottom left hand corner of this map. Immediately to the east are two small lakes. Next to the northern lake can be seen the words (in blue) Nong Fa Tom Kleen. There you go. Who knows that "Tom Kleen" means. The border with Vietnam can also be seen on this map. Note that while this map is now 35 years old, the co-ordinates are still correct. The guy who was just there did not have GPS co-ordinates before he tracked the place down. A motorcycle, plenty of gas and an ability to ask the local villagers for directions is all you need. Enjoy your visit.
  5. BobS

    BobS Ol'Timer

    Thanks for narrowing down the search.

    FYI, the Lonley Planet road atlas (published in 2000)shows Rt 18 as a secondary road that connects Rt 13 in Laos to Rt 14 in Vietnam, passing through Attapeu.

    Your link says that construction began in 2001, and is scheduled for completion in Dec 2004.

    Any updates on the state of the road, and the border crossing to Vietnam?


    "Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting "...holy shit...what a ride!"
  6. rectravel

    rectravel Ol'Timer

    Actually, the single lane track has always been there. It was first upgraded by the French something like 100 years ago. In November of 2001, it was being upgraded still again by a Lao - Vietnamese joint construction company. All of the road numbers in the area have changed many times too. It is unlikely that foreigners will ever be able to cross at this point, but it is worth a visit to the border station if it is possible to swim in this nice lake. Recent pictures from the Vietnamese side of the area are on

    Some great pictures of the main roads in southern Laos are on
  7. Cambobumb

    Cambobumb New Member

    bob, there is a new road being built for the "economic triangle development" AttVietnam thats the sign photo.This road will link to Thai. via the new bridge at Pakse, The new road,looks like it will fall down before its completed! the old Ho chi minh road ran along the river to the south. New one is thru the mountains, oh my god!
    I turned 50 taking that photo at the lake, Oh my god! I can still ride tho.
    This is serious off road country!! And seriously good!!
    No one up there spoke lao so I don't know what the locals call the lake?
    Note, this is a sensitive boarder area.
    George, I found out where you hang out.
    waitin for tha Beer Lao truck
  8. BobS

    BobS Ol'Timer

    Thanks for the first hand update on actual road conditions.

    You know what it is like to find two maps that agree with each other, let alone match what is actually there.

    Nothing beats a report from the guy who has been there and done that, RECENTLY.


    "Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting "...holy shit...what a ride!"
  9. rectravel

    rectravel Ol'Timer

    Hey Cambobumb. I am getting those big Beer Lao chilled for you now. I'm going to deliver in Betong. In the meantime, here is some information for you and everyone else about...

    A semantic correction: the water in the Xe Kaman River flows to the west. It empties into the Xe Kong River at Attapeu. To get to Nong Fa, go east upriver towards the source of the Xe Kaman.

    In November of 2001, the main road from Pakxe to Pakxong to Ban Pakbeng to Attapeu was paved until about 10 kilometers outside Attapeu. Probably, it is paved all the way now and would be no problem for big bikes. Note that this road continues to the south out of Attapeu on the west bank of the Xe Kong River and ends up back at Hwy 13 on the Mekong just to the south of Champassak. In other words, this could be a nice circle trip out of Pakxe with an overnight in Attapeu. The hotels in Attapeu are small but comfortable.

    On your map of Attapeu Province, follow the Xe Kong River south to the border with Cambodia and then to Siem Pang, aka Siempang, on the Xe Kong River aka Sekong River on the Cambodian side. There is an old road along the east bank of the Xe Kong River between Siem Pang and Attapeu. Interested? What a surprise. It is probably nothing more than a jungle track these days on the Cambodian side in particular, but after your visit to Attapeu Province, why not get up super early one morning and head south out of Attapeu on this old road? It is on the east bank of the Xe Kong River. If you hit it off with the border guards and happen to have a visa for Cambodia in your passport and also happen to have some 1 dollars bills in your pocket, who knows?

    If it doesn't work, simply continue on back to Hwy 13 and south from there to a border crossing that is open. A GT Rider contributor just recently uploaded pictures about the section of Hwy 13 between Nakasang in Laos and Stung Treng in Cambodia. See

    If it does work, where to go when you get to Siem Pang? The road from Siem Pang to Virochey in Ratanakiri Province has been done by foot and by motorcycle now. No problem. See

    See the picture on ... to_32.html

    Mosts likely, the border crossing looks just like this. It *** might *** be possible to go all the way from Attapeu to Siem Pang to Virochey to Banlung in one day. There are small restaurants in Siem Pang and Virochey and 2 dollar short time rooms in a pinch. For the trace of this road, see the bottom right hand corner of the map on ... 8_07d.html

    The roads around Siem Pang are in the bottom right hand corner of the map on ... 8_07h.html

    So who is going to be the first to do the Attapeu to Siem Pang trip?

  10. rectravel

    rectravel Ol'Timer

    The Cambodian officials who run Virochey National Park in north eastern Cambodia now have a web site. See it on

    Thanks to Nick Ray, the author of the new Lonely Planet guide to Cambodia, for this link. If a foreign motorcycle rider is eventually successful with a ride between Attapeu and Siem Pang, the Cambodian officials who run Virochey National Park in Cambodia will most certainly be amuzed to hear about your ride. Check in with them in either Voen Say or Banlung.

    Enjoy your ride
  11. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    You could also check out the google earth view of Nang Fa for an idea of how awesome the site is.
    The gossip in Vientiane is that the "connected locals" visit the site by helicopter, the road journey in is too demanding.
    Anyway Ive put Nong Fah on my ride hit list for dry season next year.

    Keep The Power On
  12. rectravel

    rectravel Ol'Timer

    Yeah, see Download the free software and start searching. Attapeu is the easiest place to find. Follow the Xe Kaman River east out of Attapeu up into the mountains. Nong Fa appears by name on this site. Incredible. Needless to say, there will be no guest houses up there for many years to come. Bring your own hammock and food if you want to stay overnight. The villagers will certainly be most pleased to see more foreign visitors (as opposed to the local smugglers who certainly use the same road). If anyone wanted to know, it was some US Special Forces Veterans who pointed out the existence of this lake a couple years ago. The Lao Tourism guys apparently want to turn Nong Fa into a tourist attraction, but that is a long way off if even those guys are too lazy to get up there except by helicopter... Enjoy your visit.

    About note that the place name called "Banlung" on this site in north eastern Cambodia is actually Voen Sai, to the northwest of Banlung. This is a glaring error on this site. For verification, find Yak Lom Lake on this same site. Yak Lom Lake is only a kilometer or so outside of downtown Banlung. "Banlung" on this site is actually Voen Sai, to the northwest of Banlung.

    Also on it is possible to follow the Xe Kong River between Attapeu and Siem Pang. If the old track on the east bank of the Xe Kong River still exists, it is most definitely nothing more than an ox cart track today. Perfect for a 250cc Baha motorcycle, eh? However, if this old track still exists today, smugglers are most likely using it too. Take care.
  13. rectravel

    rectravel Ol'Timer

    If anyone was looking for some other sites to track down during the upcoming dry season, check out the page from Steve Van Beek, an old Peace Corp volunteer who is running some super interesting trips today into southern Laos. He has a trip coming up in December to a place on the Lao Vietnam border that must be just to the north of Nong Fa Lake. See his page on ... rlands.php

    My guess is that this place is on the Xe Kaman River just to the north of Nong Fa. Note the place name Powa Tai aka Ban Powa Tai. The locals around Nong Fa might know this name.
  14. rectravel

    rectravel Ol'Timer

    If anyone wanted ideas about visiting the old Ho Chi Minh Trail as it exists today, a new book called "A History of the Ho Chi Minh Trail: The Road to Freedom" has just recently been published in Thailand and is available today in better bookshops in Bangkok. What is interesting about this book is that the authors basically walked down many of the old trails, old trails that could very well be possible on motorcycles today. The pictures and maps in the book are most excellent. Amazon also has copies on ... 9745240761

    North by North East Tours is now running tours along some of the routes mentioned in this book. See

    See their review of the book on

    PICO-PICO Ol'Timer

    even if one will never ride these tracks, the links are good enough for wishful dreams , thanks.

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