Nahm Dong Park: the secret oasis you never knew about in Luang Prabang, Laos

Kuang Si, Pak Ou Caves, and Mount Phousi are usually the first places tourists think to visit when looking for an extra dose of nature in Luang Prabang. However, those looking to get fully stuck into the natural landscapes of Laos, away from the crowds, are going to have to dig a bit deeper, especially during peak travel season.

Enter Nahm Dong Park.

An eco-tourism haven, Nahm Dong Park is an oasis you’ve probably never even heard about right outside the city limits of Luang Prabang. Don’t worry, I knew nothing about it either! Until one day, paint fumes of a newly renovated office space dizzying my head and fingers hurting from whipping out writing work, it was suggested that I hop on the back of a motorbike and head to Nahm Dong. It seems like people hear about Nahm Dong in passing, but never really know what it is, how to get there, or what to do once they arrive.

Hopefully, those people find this blog so that they can get their fix of nature, gardens, and waterfalls for less than USD $3.


KEEP READING FOR THE LOW-DOWN


20181123-IMG_4007.jpg

ABOUT NAHM DONG PARK

Nahm Dong Park, which is self-sustaining, is located only 10-kilometers from Luang Prabang’s city center, making it closer than Kuang Si waterfalls. The park is 18 hectares of beautiful plants, lush greenery, exquisite flora and fauna and rushing waters. The park is spotted with cosy picnic places, some under straw huts, some in flower gardens. If you have a “free” day in Luang Prabang, Nahm Dong is the perfect place for a picnic in a bamboo hut overlooking lush Lao mountains, a walk on high canopy bridges, and a swim in the waterfall pools.

SPOT ME!

SPOT ME!

20181123-IMG_3990.jpg

eco-efforts

Nahm Dong is a self-sustaining park…

…but what does that mean?

In a {incredibly simplified} nutshell, it means that Nahm Dong is a great addition to the sustainable tourism trend in Luang Prabang {which we all hope isn’t just a trend, amirite?} because it preserves natural resources and utilizes them in a way which improves the quality of life for locals and animals in the area. Nahm Dong uses the existing native plants and geographic features in a way that preserves it, while simultaneously allowing people to enjoy it.

20181123-IMG_3989.jpg

HOW TO GET THERE

There are three main ways to get to Nahm Dong.

Tuk-tuk:for the casual visitor, families, or groups

You can hire a tuk-tuk to take you to Nahm Dong Park, but you’ll need to negotiate the price as well as the duration of your stay at the park. Similarly to Kuang Si, if you hire a driver to take you to Nahm Dong Park, you’ll need to make sure that driver stays so that you can get back to the city. The tuk-tuk will wait for you in a designated parking lot for the pre-determined length of time, so make sure you’re back to your ride on time!

Motorbike: for the EXPERIENCEd driver

I usually don’t recommend driving a motorbike around Southeast Asia for tourists as rules of the road are practically non-existent and those that do exist are rarely followed. This can make driving very dangerous. I’ve witnessed my fair share of accidents. That’s not said to scare you, but rather as a warning to be safe and wear a helmet {I know, I know…I’m a hypocrite in this regard…}. If you choose to get to Nahm Dong via motorbike, be prepared for rough roads. I’d suggest glasses and a hat with a bill because the dirt and gravel will likely fly up at you at some point and can make the ride unpleasant.

BICYCLE: for the {very} physically fit

There are the occasional mountain bikers seeking out a physical challenge who decide to pedal their way to Nahm Dong. While it is technically only 10-kilometers {not far by biking standards}, the roads aren’t paved and you’ll come upon many potholes and much uneven ground. I consider myself relatively fit, but I would never attempt cycling to Nahm Dong. The windy mountain roads, incline, and rough roads make the 10km journey feel much longer from what I’ve heard. However, if you’re a seasoned cyclist looking for somewhere to ride, head to Nahm Dong.

NAHM DONG SHUTTLE: FOR THOSE WHO BOOK IN ADVANCE

If you’ve booked a zip-lining experience, cooking class, paper making workshop, or any of the other activities offered at the park in advance, a shuttle bus pick up from your accommodation is included in the price of your booking. This is a great way to get to the park and take advantage of the park’s cool extras!

20181123-IMG_3948.jpg
20181123-IMG_3945.jpg
20181123-IMG_3946.jpg

ADMISSION

Admission to the park is 20,000kip {USD $ 2.33}. Should you decide to participate in one of the park’s featured activities, like zip-lining, you’ll have to pay extra. You can buy your admittance and any extras you’d like to try at the entrance of the park. You’ll see a bamboo stand selling sweatshirts, baseball caps, and bamboo straws— grab your tickets here.

20181123-IMG_3971.jpg
20181123-IMG_4031.jpg

ACTIVITES INSIDE NAHM DONG

ZIP-LINING: $

There is an extra cost for zip-lining in the treetops across six canopy stations, covering 800 meters of treetop. Prices for the zip-line vary on your preferred package.

BOTANICAL GARDENS: FREE

As soon as you enter the park, you’ll come across the featured botanical garden area. The gardens have plants divided into four of the five senses— plants that are pretty on the eyes, plants you can smell, plants fun to touch, and plants that are edible. There is also a small area for plants that serve medicinal purposes.

CANOPY BRIDGE WALKWAY: FREE

After you visit the gardens of Nahm Dong, continue walking and you’ll stumble upon the canopy bridges that hang high above the waterfall runoff. These bridges make great photo opportunities. You’ll also be able to test how you feel about heights.

COOKING CLASS: $

You can book a cooking class at Nahm Dong that explores organic Lao cuisine. You’ll learn traditional Lao techniques and recipes techniques, some of which are made from ingredients in the garden that you’ll pick yourself. The class consists of five dishes and you’ll get a recipe booklet at the end.

CAMPING: $

Campsites are available with toilets, shower and fireplace. For a bit more money, you can get a campsite that comes with a mattress and a mosquito net.

TREK TO WATERFALLS AND ETHNIC HOUSES: FREE

The trail to the waterfalls is uneven and steep at parts, but it doesn’t require any extraordinary level fitness. Along the way to the waterfalls, there are three ethnic houses that display the different architecture styles of the Lao, Hmong, and Khmu people. Each house is marked with a placard that has information about the home and the ethnic tribe it aims to represent.

For a full list of activities and prices, click here.

20181123-IMG_3950.jpg
20181123-IMG_3953.jpg
20181123-IMG_4008.jpg

WHAT TO PACK

  • GOOD WALKING SHOES: I foolishly wore my Birkenstocks to the park making the hike to the waterfalls muddy and slippery. I also crossed paths with a snake that I would have preferred to sprint passed {difficult in sandals}.

  • SUNGLASSES, SUNSCREEN, + A SUNHAT: The Lao sun is infamously harsh. It’s important to wear protection against the UV. In this case, these items will double as protection from grit and gravel for those motorbiking to the park.

  • SWIMMING SUIT + TOWEL: Keen for a dip in the natural pools around the park? You will want to make sure they are in correct swimming attire and bring a towel to dry off.

  • CASH: Like most places in Laos, payment is only accepted in cash, so bring your Lao kip {the local currency}.

  • PICNIC FOODS AND SNACKS: There’s food available for purchase at the park, but it’s a bit over-priced, though I was tempted to grab the 25,000 kip sweet potato fries… As mentioned previously, there are bamboo huts and tables that are perfect for a picnic or a snack stop. Bring your own food to save money and enjoy your grub with Lao mountain views.

  • REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE: Fill up your bottle at one of the many refill stations around town before you head to Nahm Dong. This will save you paying a ridiculous amount for drinking water and will save the environment from yet another plastic bottle eventually washing into the river.

20181123-IMG_4015.jpg

OVERALL RECOMMENDATION TO Travelers

I was recently asked by a group of travelers {shoutout to you four if you’re reading this, I love when this happens}, if I’d recommend Nahm Dong over Kuang Si over Tad Sae, etc.

I always recommend Kuang Si to first-time visitors of Luang Prabang. It does get busy with tourists, but the natural teal pools and the tiered waterfall is a true landmark of the area. It simply cannot be missed if you’re here. Tad Sae falls have less crowds, and the trip to get to them is part of the fun {i.e. getting to the river, boating across said river, walking to the falls}. Nahm Dong is something I highly recommend to visitors looking for an afternoon excursion amongst the lushness of it all. If you have time, see all three {whoop whoop, slow travel}. If you really want to see them all but have limited time, go to Kuang Si in the morning and then nip off to Nahm Dong in the afternoon.


LIKED THIS POST? PIN IT!

sillylittlekiwi.com.png