FEATURE: Discover the breathtaking views in the karsts of Khammuan

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Vientiane residents who love the natural world and are in the mood for adventure on a getaway weekend should put the Rock Viewpoint on their bucket list.

This new visitor attraction is located in the Phou Hinboun National Protected Area in Khounkham district, Khammuan province, and is also part of the famous Thakhaek Loop. It has been dubbed “The Peak of the Loop”.

About 260km south of Vientiane, the Rock Viewpoint officially opened to the public last month and went viral on Lao social media.

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to experience the awesomeness of the place for myself. Driving from Vientiane it took about four hours to get there passing through Pakxan and Pakkading districts in Borikhamxay province and then turning left at Road No. 8 at the Lak Xao junction where the road leads to the Vietnamese border.

From this junction it takes about 40 minutes. You know you’re on the right track because limestone karst mountains appear on both sides of the sharply curving and steep road.

The Rock Viewpoint was developed by Green Discovery Laos - the well-known adventure and eco-tourism company. It offers visitors exciting activities such as zip-lines that fly between the jagged peaks, canopy walks, and a long spider net across a gorge.

These activities shape a fascinating itinerary that has been carefully designed so you can experience this National Protected Area as never before, while leaving as small an impact as possible on Phou Hinboun’s natural ecosystem.

We arrived in the late afternoon and took a break at the visitor centre where we grabbed some food and drinks before taking part in a specially arranged programme. The session was physically challenging and enabled us to see some great views of the limestone forest in the golden rays of the setting sun. 

There are two routes - short and long. Because we had limited time we opted for the short route which is perfect for those who want to enjoy a challenging activity over the course of about one hour. It is suitable for both young and adult visitors.

We were geared up with some safety equipment and given some practical information by a guide before setting off.

We felt really excited, especially when we stepped out from the first platform of the zip-line, which stretched for 400 metres. The views of the sharp limestone karsts below and around us were both fascinating and terrifying and some in our group couldn’t help but scream, especially those who were zip-lining for the first time.

After the first line we had a greater sense of fun than fear and continued on a few more lines across the valley amid stunning landscapes. We then took an epic tree canopy walk and clambered across the Spider Net before climbing over rocks to reach the highest observation point. Here we paused to enjoy the unforgettable view of rock formations against the backdrop of the setting sun.

Apart from the amazing views, visitors may also see the rare langur monkeys which live mostly in rocky areas like the limestone mountains. They can occasionally be seen near the Rock Viewpoint in the mornings and may be spied there for three or four days in a row.

The Rock Viewpoint is a must-stop item on the Thakhaek Loop for everyone who enjoys exploring the hidden routes of central Laos.

It also acts as a Tourist Information Centre for all visitors to the province, serving as a focal point for those wanting to explore more tourist destinations in the area.