Lori had Friday and Monday off for New Year’s weekend, so we thought it might be a good time to get out of town and spend three of those days on a lake about 2.5 hours north of the capital. It’s not the easiest thing to get information on lodging on Nan Ngum lake, as it rarely features in guidebooks or TripAdvisor and isn’t a tourist destination for people visiting Laos. But we have been told by expats in the area that the lake is worth a visit and were offered a couple of recommendations on lodging options, mainly in the northern portion of the lake. So, we decided to check it out.
Before leaving town, we went to go try out a new coffee shop for breakfast. When that didn’t pan out, we went to Le Banneton. Nothing secret about Le Banneton, but always a sure thing. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but their croque monsieur is amazing.
Lori came across Le Trio Coffee at some point and thought I should check it out. I’m glad I did! Awesome little coffee shop and boutique roaster started in 2009 here in town by a Lao-French couple that rivals anything in Portland or Seattle. All their coffee is lovingly roasted by the owners, themselves (Micka was there roasting away in his trademark cap when I was visiting). And if that weren’t enough, they even offer real, honest-to-goodness Cold Brew!
Had my first real Cold Brew in about four months while slowly making our way up Road-13 to the lake.
Tha Heua is a small fishing community along the main north-south “highway” connecting Vientiane and Luang Prabang. You wouldn’t know it by the mundane line of concrete storefronts, but each of the businesses on the southern side of the road just out over a small inlet, offering unexpectedly picturesque views of the water and village. We arrived to the resort too late for lunch, so headed back into town to grab lunch at one of the local eateries with a view of the water.
Green View Resort is not the easiest place to find, but that’s a good thing. It’s one of those rare places these days that’s far removed, yet accessible [enough]; small and quaint (only four bungalows), yet offering all the amenities you’d want for a weekend away. A perfect balance.
It is accessed by a one-lane gravel road that winds itself around inlets, bridging small islands with a couple of small dikes. It’s a beautiful little drive from Tha Heua to Green View Resort that takes about as long to drive as it does to walk (though much faster in a motorbike, it appears). But there’s really no need to rush out here — that’s not what you come to a place like this for, anyway, right?
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Bungalows are well-appointed with AC, hot-water showers, and satellite TV — but let’s be honest, you’re not going to turn it on with that view.
You can literally spend hours watching the fishermen and water buffalo go about their routines from the covered porch. Brilliant sunrises, sunsets and a million of the brightest stars seen anywhere are some of the other top attractions viewable from your front porch.
I generally don’t like to draw comparisons between places, but this place conjures up some of the best memories of lodging places over the years for us — White Clay (South Africa), Camp Carnelleys (Kenya), and Byoona Amagara (Uganda) — but with a style and tranquility all its own.
Lori and I were impressed by the pool, which is inset into a hillside, hidden from the restaurant above. When you’re down here, it’s easy to forget anyone else is around.
Green View also offers sunset boat cruises around the inlet. We weren’t able to take advantage of this this time around but hope to on a future visit.
And kayaks for guests to use free of charge.
To top it off, some of the most attentive staff around, and some great food — Lao and European favorites on the menu. We feel fortunate to have found this little hidden oasis not too far from Vientiane, and it ended up being a great place for the three of us to spend New Year’s weekend — about as low key and quiet as it gets during the holiday, which is exactly what we were looking for.
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