Destination Climbing: Laos

Hidden in a small valley which ends in the backside of the beautiful Xiengliab Cave lies a climbing area called “Pha Tam Kam”, 12 km outside of Thakhek, Laos.

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The climbing is wild and jungly, and there are over 280 routes, 12m to 40m long, with tufas, sintering and face climbing ranging from 4 to 8a+ . The ginormous roof climbs (starting at 6b+) are particularly fun and challenging to get on.

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When to Go:

Green Climbers Home is open from October – May and December – January tends to see the most traffic.  We highly recommend booking far in advance if you plan to visit GCH during the peak season, and suggest visiting during the shoulder months of October/November and late February/early March.

How to Get There:

Fly to Vientiane Airport and take a Tuk Tuk to the Central Bus Station outside of town to board a (7-8 hour) Thakhek-bound bus for well under $20 USD.

Alternatively, fly into Bangkok International, and catch a domestic flight from Don Mueang airport to Nakhon Phanom near the Thai-Laos border. From Nakhon Phanom airport you can take a shuttle bus to the center of town to the bus station, where you’ll catch a 2ish hour bus ride to Thakhek. If you opt for this option, make sure to have enough cash on hand ($30-40 USD) to pay for your Visa on Arrival to Laos at the border, and try not to get ripped off like we unsuspecting Americans did and overpay for your visa.

From Thakhek, you’ll need to take a Tuk Tuk to Green Climbers Home for around $12 USD total (if there’s two of you it should still cost the same price)

Getting Around:

Green Climbers Home makes for an ideal base camp for exploring all the climbing sectors in Thakhek. On rest days, you can hire a bicycle to explore the local caves or go for a nice swim in the nearby caves. Slacklining is also a popular way to pass the time.

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What to Bring:

All gear can be rented from Green Climber’s Home, and we recommend the following list of gear to bring:

60 meter rope (this suffices for most of the climbs, and you’ll need an 80m for the longer routes)

15 quickdraws

harness, helmet, shoes

mosquito repellent

sunscreen

Where to Eat:

You’ll be able to purchase all meals at the GCH Kitchens, where the local Laotian staff whip up mean fruit smoothies (coconut was my fave, and watermelon not far behind), refreshing lemon ginger teas, coffee, curries, pho, pad thai & more. So many options, so few calories to spare!

Where to Stay:

We chose the semi-private bungalows with shared bathrooms as an economical yet practical choice for the solo traveler who doesn’t fancy sleeping in a dorm room.

The private bungalows work well for couples, and of course dorms and camping are the most cost-effective forms of lodging.

Whatever you decide, make sure to book far in advance!

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