FEATURE: Hit the Laos Loop and discover a magical lagoon in Khammuan

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Those wanting to explore more of Laos beyond the usual destinations like Luang Prabang in the north and Champassak in the south should opt for the Laos Loop road through central Laos.

This breathtakingly scenic route offers numerous opportunities to discover some fresh and awesome hidden gems.

I recently had the chance to check out some of the hideaways that await intrepid explorers taking the Laos Loop through Khammuan province.

One of these was a gorgeous blue lagoon at the Spring River Resort, which is located about 3km from the well-known Konglor Cave in Khounkham district.

The Spring River Resort is situated on the banks of the tranquil Hinboun River and has magnificent views of the karst outcrops in the Phou Hinboun National Protected Area.

I arrived at the resort in the early afternoon which was the perfect time to have a quick rest and then lunch on the balcony restaurant. From here I marvelled at the view before drifting off on a kayak to the magical lagoon that makes this resort so special.

The resort staff paddled me on the kayak into a small blue stream that lay directly across the river from the resort.

As we neared the source of the lagoon the water became clearer and we passed through pristine forests on both sides. The lagoon is 10-15 metres wide and 2-5 metres deep and the water is so clear I could see swarms of small fish gliding over the riverbed.

After 15 minutes of paddling we arrived at the spring that feeds the lagoon, at the foot of a karst mountain. We could see the crystal water flowing up to the surface of the main stream and people paddling there feel like they’re on air.

We spent a while feasting our eyes on the incredibly clear water and soaking up the serenity before heading back. Along the way I saw local villagers rowing boats to collect fresh water from the spring for household use.

In cooperation with the Information, Culture and Tourism Department of Khounkham district and the people of Tiew village, the resort is creating zones to separate swimmers from the spring water source.

The spring is the only source of water available to people year round, so it’s important to minimise the negative impacts of tourism on local people and the environment.

The Spring River Resort has traditional-style wooden bungalows providing two accommodation options. Guests can choose from six river view bungalows and 10 garden view bungalows.

Apart from exploring the source of the lagoon, visitors can paddle on the Hinboun River through the majestic karst mountains and drink in the peaceful scenes of village life that unfold along the riverbank.

As the Spring River Resort is located not far from Konglor Cave, to support the local community, the resort organises a taxi boat service run by the villagers.

This special tour offers guests a chance to enter the huge cave and at the same time observe the rural way of life and amazing natural beauty that are hidden from view when travelling by road.

So do yourself a favour and venture off the beaten track – you’re in for a treat.