In 1997 I visited Xekong province to attend the first Roundtable meeting with foreign ambassadors to Laos, and staff of UNDP and NGOs. I visited villages in all districts of the province and talked with many local people. People in Xekong are friendly, just like people in other parts of Laos.
However, travelling in Xekong province can be difficult, especially during the rainy season, and we flew by helicopter to some of the more remote villages. It is best to visit the province during the dry season.
I saw many interesting things in the four districts of the province. I started in Dakcheung district, which borders Vietnam and is about a 25 minute flight from the provincial capital.
I visited many villages and observed the local people’s lifestyle. Many people displayed their handicraft products and wore their traditional clothes and jewellery.
Villagers use local materials to weave very impressive items such as bamboo baskets, trays for eating, mats and fish traps. The results were very attractive and of good quality, and were on sale at a low price.
I bought a few baskets as souvenirs, as did my fellow visitors. Many people said they wished they had come in their own vehicle so they could take more handicrafts home with them. At that time many people in Laos and overseas were interested in decorating their homes with handmade items.
In some villages of the province people build their houses close together. The style of their houses is similar: long with pyramid shaped roofs. There are no bedrooms, living rooms or kitchens inside, just one big open space. Elderly people work close to a fire inside the house in order to stay warm. Women weave clothes and spin cotton after they finish harvesting their crops. Inside their houses they hang water buffalo horns on the main pillar. Some houses have more than 10 such horns including white and black water buffalo horns.
Xekong province is home to 10 ethnic groups. There are many interesting places to visit in Thataeng and Kaleum districts. I visited these districts to observe local people growing crops for sale and to see a model cultural village. I also made trips to Tad Faed and Tad Huakhon waterfalls. These beautiful cascades are not far from the provincial capital, about a 20 minute car-ride.
According to Xekong provincial Tourism Department Director Mr Khamphet Siphokham, Xekong province has untapped potential in developing eco-tourism, cultural attractions and archaeological sites for tourists. Many places such as waterfalls are not yet accessible because of the poor roads.
How to get to Xekong province
Buses travelling to Xekong province depart from Vientiane’s Southern Bus Station in Xangkhou village, Xaythany district. The journey takes about 12 hours. Buses also continue from Xekong to Saravan and Attapeu provinces.