Laos opens peak top garrison to tourists

XIANGKHOUANG, 13 March 2017: Xiangkhouang authorities will develop Phou Kout Mountain, a former military garrison, as a tourist attraction in the province offering diversify travel choices for visitors.

Vientiane Times quoted the province’s Department of Information, Culture and Tourism director, Vongsa Duangthongla, saying the historical site will be developed as a tourist attraction for the launch of the Visit Laos Year 2018.

The Lao province will also host the country’s national games in November 2018.

Plain of Jars

“Access has been improved to the former military site by paving a road, and authorities are devising a tourism interpretation plan for the site’s military history.”

The province will also promote a hot spring in Kham district in time for Visit Laos Year.

It plans to encourage investors to build hotels and lodges that could add 720 rooms in time for the national games to accommodate athletes. The properties would be budget class, but after the games they could be made more suitable for domestic tourists.

Phou Kout Mountain was a strategic location and the scene of crucial battles between the communist Pathet Lao referred to as the ‘liberation army’ and capitalist, royalist government forces that were ultimately defeated.

Known as iron-topped Phou Kout Mountain, it was believed that the army that controlled the summit garrison could control the entire province and even surrounding provinces,

He noted the entire Xiangkhouang plateau and other military strategic sites around it could be viewed from the mountain peak, located around 30 km from Phonsavan, the provincial capital.

It was the scene of intense bloody battles to take the peak and also bombing raids by US forces during what was called a ‘secret war’ in Washington. It left the provinces in this region of Laos strewn with unexploded bombs and land mines that are still being cleared today using funds and support from US agencies.

The province is located 435 km from Vientiane. The overland trip follows national highways No 13 and 7, or via the shorter route through Borikhamxay province.  There are travel advisories posted worldwide that caution travellers not to travel on Highway 13. It has been the scene of attacks by bandits.

The preferred travel option is to fly there on Lao Skyway or Lao Airlines that have daily flights between Vientiane, Xiangkhouang and Luang Prabang.

The province is home of the Plain of Jars site that has been proposed for listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Monument.

The province attracts around 50,000 visitors a year.