Habitat: Dry evergreen and mixed deciduous
forest. Also large stands of coniferous forest in association with extensive fire-climax grasslands. The Nam Leuk reservoir covers 1,280 hectares at the height of the wet season.

Access: Easy access to the western portion of the protected area 65 km from Vientiane up Route 10 to Ban Napheng at km 54. To get to the eastern portion of the protected area, including Ban Na and Ban Hatkai, take Route 13 south for about 1.5 hours.



Phou Khao Khouay. Abbreviated: PKK


Established by PM Decree 164, 29 October 1993.


Latitude: 18o 14' - 18o 32' N.
Longitude: 102o 38' - 102o 59' E.

Map Sheets

Scale 1:100,000





Scale 1:200,000



Scale 1:500,000



Khet Phiset Xaisomboon (Special Zone)
Vientiane Prefecture
Vientiane Province


Thaphabhat (25 %) [Bolikhamxay]
Hom (5 %) [Khet Piset Xaisomboon]
Long Xan (30 %) [Khet Piset Xaisomboon]
Pak Ngum (10 %) [Vientiane Prefecture]
Xaythany (10 %) [Vientiane Prefecture]
Keo Udom (5 %) [Vientiane Province]
Thulakhom (15 %) [Vientiane Province]
Perimeter km




Immediately to the west, the Nam Ngum reservoir is situated which delimits the park boundary. The watercourses, the Nam Xan, Nam Koui and the Nam Pa, broadly define the northern boundary of the park; however, where homesteads and agricultural land are situated between these waterways and the adjacent uplands, the foot of the hills is used instead. The Nam Thouay, from its headwaters to its mouth near Ban Pak Thouay, defines the eastern edge of the reserve. Along the south eastern edge, the 200 metre contour is used to define the protected area. In the vicinity of the lower Nam Leuk basin, this contour is again followed as closely as possible, after which the 200 metre contour is followed around the southern periphery of the reserve back to the Nam Ngum reservoir.


As decreed: 2,000 sq.km


& Excisions An excision of 690 sq.km. was recommended in 1995 (Berkmüller et al). However, this was not adopted and is no longer recommended.


The western portion of the protected area is located 65 km from Vientiane by road. Driving from Vientiane, travel northwards up Route 10 until Ban Napheng at KM 54. At this village turn right along a dirt road, and travel five kilometres to the boundary checkpoint. The road climbs 9 kilometres up to the plateau, passing Tad Sang waterfalls on the way; note that the road is quite steep and rocky. Continue through the pine forests to reach Phou Khao Khouay waterfalls and the two Hmong communities of Ban Phou Khao Khouay and Ban Vang Hua. Pha Gnoy and Tad Tan are located close to Ban Vang Hua.

To get to the eastern portion of the protected area, travel along Route 13 southwards until KM 92, at Ban Palai. Turn left and drive 11 km until the reserve checkpoint. This road, commonly known as the Thabok - Muang Hom road, bisects the park in two and continues over the top of the plateau and into Long Xan District of Khet Phiset Xaisomboon (meaning the Special Zone). This route provides access to Tad Leuk, Tad Xay and the Nam Leuk reservoir.

Villages &

No. of villages by type








Keo Udom





















Pak Ngum














Long Xan





















Principal Local


The communities living in and within close proximity to the park may be broadly separated into two ethnic groups, with the Lao Loum living on the floodplains to the south of the reserve, while the Lao Sung communities are found to the north and west, and in the interior. Forty-nine villages have been recognized by the park authorities as being located in the community development zone/buffer zone, on the Nam Ngum floodplains and the Mekong floodplains. All but the Lao Sung communities of Ban Nam Yam situated in Thulakhom District and Ban Thakokhai in Pak Ngum District are Lao Loum communities.

To the north of the reserve, Ban Nampa and Ban Pa En are Lao Sung (Yao); Ban Sumkorn and Ban Phonlao are Lao Theung; Ban Nam Kui, Ban Phonxay, Ban Hinso, Ban Kengsan and Thamdin are Lao Sung (Hmong); Ban Phonemouang and Ban Tha Hua are Lao Loum while Ban Khonewat contains a mixture of ethnic groups. Along the shores of the Nam Ngum reservoir, the communities of Ban Don Home, Ban Paktou and Ban Khet Sam are Lao Sung (Hmong); the communities of Ban Nam Kerr and Ban Nam Ngao are Lao Sung (Yao); and the villages of Ban Huay Pong and Ban Mai are Lao Loum. Within the interior, the two large villages of Ban Phou Khao Khouay and Ban Vang Hua, together with the small communities of Ban Nam Leuk, Ban Nam Daeng, and Ban Phou Phadang are Lao Sung; while the village of Ban Phou Khao Keo is Lao Loum.

Topographical clustering of villages:

49 villages in Nam Ngum and Mekong floodplains (Thulakhom, Xaythany, Pak Ngum and Thaphabat districts). All but two communities are Lao Loum.
11 villages of mixed ethnicity in Long Xan valley (Hom and Long Xan districts).
7 villages on periphery of the Nam Ngum reservoir.
5 villages located in forest interior. Efforts to translocate Ban Nam Leuk by Electricite du Laos of uncertain outcome.



State Forestry Enterprise 3 has concession in eastern portion


Simple management plan produced.


Government decree to approve conservation activities in PKK.Two staff from DoF and five staff from SFE 3 appointed to manage area.


NBCA declared. Field station at Thaphabath district constructed.


Ministry of Defense takes over administration. Field stations at Long Xan, Thulakhom and Xaythany districts constructed.


Nam Leuk Hydropower Project proceeds.
Full-time adviser appointed.


Green peafowl conservation project initiated.


Khao Yai National Park study tour.
Field station at Pak Ngum district established.


Headquarters transferred from Ban Phou Khao Khouay to Dong Pasak, Vientiane. Field station at Ban Phou Khouay and Nam Leuk dam site established.
Management plan produced.
Two visitor centres and associated infrastructure completed.
Land allocation exercise in key enclave villages.
Training in forest fire control.



The steep, mountainous topography characterizing the area has been shaped by the uplifting and exposure of the underlying sedimentary (Indosinias schist-clay-sandstone) complex. Layered sandstones are visible throughout as linear outcrops and large boulders along steep slopes, and as shelves and water-carved blocks in the incised drainage courses. There are also extensive flat uplands of exposed sandstones with little or no soil development (Salter & Bouaphanh, 1990).


200m - 1761m.


Phou Khao Khouay has a monsoonal climate similar to the rest of Central Laos. It has a pronounced rainy season beginning in May and lasting through to November, the mean annual rainfall in Ban Napheng, Thulakhom District is 1936.1 mm, although it should be expected that rainfall in the uplands to be markedly higher. There is a distinct dry season during November to April. The mean annual temperature is 26.6 C; the mean maximum temperature is 31.6 C and the mean minimum temperature is 21.5 C. The wind direction is predominantly westerly during the wet season, swinging northerly during the cool season; and then changing to south and south-easterly as the hot season builds up. Annual humidity averages 73 per cent.

Main Forest Types

Upper dry evergreen forest is found throughout the central portion of the park, in the lower basins of the Nam Leuk and Nam Mang. This forest has plant families and genera typical for other parts of Southeast Asia. Commonly found species are members of the genera Dipterocarpus and Shorea. Mixed deciduous forest predominates on lighter, shallow soils. Large stands of coniferous forest, usually monospecific stands of Pinus merkusii, grow on shallow, nutrient deficient, sandy soils, particularly in the western portion of the park, where it occurs in association with extensive, fire-climax grasslands.

Other Habitat

Features The Nam Leuk reservoir covers 1280 hectares at the height of the wet season.


Vertebrate Class

No. of Species

No. of Key Species






Principal Contributions to the NBCA System


  • Eastern extension of reserve rich in wildlife, as indicated by at least 13 pairs of white-cheeked gibbons.
  • Viable population of green peafowl near Ban Nakhay and Ban Nakhan Thoung, whose numbers are increasing. Focused management activities have assisted.
  • Extensive tracts of pine forest dominated by Pinus merkusii on western plateau, a habitat poorly represented in protected areas system
  • Stands of Fokienia hodgsonsii (Mai long leng) are found at two locations in the park, one site near Phou Kong Khao in the west of the park and the other to the north of the headwaters of the Huai Xay, near Phou Palok En.
  • The western plateau is the best locality for the bamboo mai sanod.


Multitude of small streams irrigate the Nam Ngum and Mekong floodplains and the Long Xan valley.

Values Recreation
and Tourism

  • Proximity of site to Vientiane makes this a premier site for recreation and tourism.
  • Three waterfalls (Tad Leuk, Tad Xay and Tad Phou Khao Khouay) and two view points (Pha Xet and Pha Gnoy all reasonably accessible from Vientiane.
  • Nam Leuk reservoir should be major tourist attraction for water-based recreational activities.

Research &

  • Proximity of site to Vientiane makes this a key site for research (incorporating a training component) and educational facilities.


  • Widespread forest fires each dry season
  • Shifting cultivation, particularly within communities on shores of Nam Ngum and in the interior.
  • Intensive selective logging, particularly in Thulakhom and Xaythany districts.
  • Unsustainable harvesting of selected non-timber forest products throughout reserve.
  • Intensive hunting in Long Xan and Hom districts.
  • Nam Mang 3 Hydropower Project
  • Future developments at Dansavanh casino.
  • Proposed transmission lines to Khet Phiset Xaisomboon, (Special Zone)

Reasons for
Extensions or

  • Berkmüller et al. (1995) recommended to excise the western third of the protected area because they contain several large settlements, large tracts of heavily degraded habitat and are subject to comparatively intensive natural resource use. This recommendation has not been taken up for the following reasons: the entire park area being currently managed represents a clearly definable topographical unit; the western portion contains sizable tracts of intact habitat, including nationally significant stands of pine forest; the western portion has considerable tourism potential in close proximity to the capital; and it permits the park authorities to exercise some degree of control over resource utilization within the enclave settlements.



Lieutenant Colonel Thongsavanh Sornpeng (Director)
Lieutenant Colonel Vittaya Xaiyanikorn (Assistant Director)
Captain Khamphanh Douangvilay, (Asisstant Director, Head of Technical Section (Forestry)
c/o Division of Forest Resources Conservation, Department of Forestry,
| Vientiane. Tel.: (21) 21 69 21


94 staff (89 males, five females), 29 based at headquarters, at Dong Pasak, Vientiane, the remainder in seven field stations within reserve.



Headquarters comprises two buildings in Dong Pasak. Of the field stations, new buildings have been constructed at Thulakhom (Danida) and Thaphabhat (Sida), the rest being temporary buildings at present. Further field stations are planned for Long Xan (IUCN Netherlands) and Xaythany (Canada Fund), and possibly Pak Ngum (AusAID) and Hom (Danida). Checkpoints at Thulakhom, Huay Huakham (Taphabath) and Long Xan. Visitor centres and toilet facilities at Tad Phou Khao Khouay and Tad Leuk.


  • One pick-up donated by LSFP in 1992
  • Six motor-cycles by LSFP between 1992 and 1999 (pathetic donor support), four motorcycles by EdL and one project motorcycle. One long boat with engine.
  • All buildings 60% furnished.
  • Complete radio system, 10 tents, 9 pairs of binoculars, 7 simple cameras, compasses, maps. Two computers and five typewriters.

Support &

  • Basic running costs from Sida through Lao Swedish Forestry Programme.
  • Annual budget (fiscal year 1999-2000): 332,526,000 Kip
  • Additional projects

Tourism development in Thaphabhat district, including Tad Leuk and Tad Xay by Sida. US $ 160,000 + US $ 68,000 (1997-2000)

Tourism development of western plateau, Thulakhom district by Danida US $ 61,600 (1998-2000)

Peafowl conservation project, Xaythany district by Canada Fund. US $ 19,000 (1997-1999).

Infrastructure project, Long Xan district by Netherlands Tropical Forest Programme US $ 21,000 (1999-2000).

Integrated Conservation and Development Project in Xaythany District by Canada Fund. US $ 16,380 (1999-2001). Under consideration.

Primate Conservation Project in Hom District by Danida US $ 46,100. Under consideration.

Management Strengthening in Pak Ngum District US $ 42,100. Under consideration.

  • Advisor Input

Occasional from conservation advisers 1990 - 1995

Full-time protected area adviser October 1996 - February 2000

  • Short-term training

International Conservation and Communication Education, UK in July 1990 (two months) for one staff.

Watershed Management Training Programme, Philippines in 1991 (two months) for one staff.

Regional Community Forestry Training Centre, Kasetsart University, Thailand in 1997 (one month) for one staff.

Participatory Forest Management with PDI, Xe Bang Nouan NBCA in 1995 (two staff).

Wildlife and protected areas, PKK by Wildlife Conservation Society in May 1997 (one week).

Land allocation exercise in enclave villages, PKK in February 1999 (one month).

  • Study tours and training

Khao Yai National Park, Thailand (10 staff) for one week in October 1998.

Khao Yai National Park and Huai Kha Khaeng, Thailand (2 staff) for 10 days in July 1999.

Forest Fire management, Northern Thailand (2 staff) for 10 days in May 1999.


  • Eastern extension conservation activities.
  • Promote nurseries within all districts.
  • Undertake co-management agreements with Nam Ngum villages
  • Forest fire control, particularly on western plateau.
  • Ongoing tourism development of waterfalls, including Tad Leuk, Tad Xay and Tad Phou Khao Khouay
  • Ecolodge" development at Pha Xet
  • Tourism development of Nam Leuk reservoir (boating, wildlife trips, fishing) and restaurant, accommodation and visitor centre.
  • Establish research facilities in interior.


Other Relevant


Berkmüller, K., Southammakot, S. and Venevongphet (1995). Protected Area System Planning and Management in Lao P.D.R. Status report to mid-1995: 41 pp. LSFCP/IUCN, Department of Forestry, Vientiane.

Electicité du Laos (1993). Nam Mang 3 Hydropower Development Project. Feasibility study by Lahmeyer International and Worley International Ltd.

Electicité du Laos (1996). Environmental Impact Assessment Final Report. A report for the Nam Leuk Hydropower Development Project by Sogreah Ingéniere.

Electricité du Laos (1997a). Aquatic Biodiversity Study of the Nam Mang and Nam San Basins. A report for the Nam Leuk Hydropower Project by Sogreah Ingéniere.

Electricité du Laos (1997b). Investigations of the Downstream Fisheries Activities on the Nam Leuk and Nam Mang in the Late Dry Season (March). Resource Management and Research.

Guillen, K., Francis, C. M. and Soulivong, K. (1997). Preliminary Survey of Bats in Phou Khao Khouay NBCA. WCS. Vientiane.

Kingston, J. (1987). Consultant's Report from a Reconnaissance Study of the Potential for Livestock Forage. Projet Pilote de Développement Rural Intégre - Muang Hom, Laos. Prepared for UNDP, Vientiane.

Mekong Committee (1977). Pedo-geomorphological Map (1/1,000,000) for the Lower Mekong Basin. Committee for Coordination of Investigations of the Lower Mekong Basin, Bangkok.

Ovensen, J. (1996). Nam Leuk Hydropower Development Project: Social Action Plan Draft Report (unpublished).

Parr, J. W. K., Douangvilay, K. et al. (1999). Phou Khao Khouay National Park Management Plan. Prepared for the Nam Leuk Hydropower Project.

Salter, R. E. and Phantavong, B. (1990). Phou Khao Khouay Protected Area. A report produced under the Forest Resources Conservation Project for the Lao Swedish Forestry Programme and IUCN.

Sayer, J. A. (1983). Nature Conservation and National Parks. Final Report Preparation for Forest Management Project, Lao P.D.R. under the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. FO: LAO/82/006.

Stuart, B. and Khounboline, K. (1998). A Survey of Amphibians and Reptiles at Tad Xay Waterfall, Phou Khao Khouay National Biodiversity Conservation Area, Bolikhamxay Province, Lao P.D.R. 17 pp.

WCS (1995). Preliminary Wildlife and Habitat Survey of the Phou Khao Khouay National Biodiversity Conservation Area, Vientiane Prefecture, Vientiane Province and Bolikhamsai Province, Lao P.D.R.. WCS. Vientiane.