FEATURE: Nam Houm Reservoir, perfect place for a weekend escape

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - With economic development, Vientiane is rapidly expanding, and the associated traffic congestion and crowded streets are making many residents in the capital yearn for the fresh air of the countryside. 

On the weekend, families escaping the city for the country fill the main roads through Donnoon and Thangone.

One such location about 40 km from town with a welcoming environment and majestic views is Ang Nam Houm.

Wellknown by Vientiane day-trippers for many years, Nam Houm Reservoir, is witnessing somewhat of a resurgence in its popularity thanks to visitors posting images and videos on social media.

We depart our office early on a Friday for Nam Houm because we don’t want to catch the Saturday or Sunday crowds.

It’s a large reservoir with a restaurant and many wooden huts lining the water’s edge. The menu features many dishes with fish caught straight from the water being the most popular.

It’s perfect for small groups of family and friends as a hut can handle six or seven people. However, don’t worry if you’re in a bigger group as you can grab a table in the main restaurant or bring your own mat and tent.

Bringing your own food and drink is allowed, but you have to pay 70,000 kip for a hut.

While no large trees are shading the huts, unlike some other similar venues, you don’t have to worry about the heat because a cooling breeze blows across the water as you relax under your grass-roofed hut.

The water is clean enough for the local people to swim around in, but most visitors are just there for the magnificent views and to take in the fresh air.

If you’re there in the early morning or late afternoon, you’ll also see some locals catching fish in the reservoir.

There are some small boats moored close to your hut, and you can take one out for a paddle if you like.

We arrived there at noon just in time for lunch, so we ordered many tasty dishes from the menu and also gave them some fish to grill which we bought from the market.

The site not only caters for daytrippers but you can camp overnight as well, but you have to inform the village authorities beforehand. I think it’s a good idea to stay a night, but you might want to check the weather forecast given that we’re now in the rainy season.

According to the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Centre, Training Department Institutional Repository, Nam Houm Reservoir is a productive lowland irrigation lake mainly used to support agriculture with a serving capacity of 60 million cubic metres in the wet season. The total population of the four villages near the reservoir is 3,300.

Some 36 species of fish populate Nam Houm Reservoir. The main commercial species are tilapia Oreochromis niloticus, featherback fish Notopterus notopterus, and common silver barb Barbon-ymus gonionotus.

Project work has been carried in the reservoir to improve fisheries information and data collection, along with the promotion of sustainable and community-based management of the fishery. Critical habitat protection measures include installing fish shelters with fishing gear prevention tools in the conservation area to protect broodstocks from illegal fishers, as well as the promotion of breeding and juvenile fish releasing techniques.

To get to Nam Houm Reservoir travel about one hour from Vientiane on Road No. 13 North and then turn left at Huay Nam Yen village and past Sisavat village.