Ban Nahin has a population of around 3,000, and is located on route 8 between Vieng Kham (West, on route 13 to Vientiane) and Lak Sao (East, to Vietnam border). Ban Nahin is a village in a valley surrounded by limestone mountains, and near the most beautiful mountain view point in Southern half of Laos. Ban Nahin is a good choice for those who are doing the famous Khammouane motorbike tour known as 'The Loop' (starting in Tha Khaek), and a good choice as well for those who want to visit either the miraculous Kong Lor cave (50 km from Nahin) or Tad Namsanam waterfall. The latter one can be reached by a 3 km jungle walk from Nahin. Ban Nahin has dozens of guesthouses and few restaurants that sell more than Lao traditional food. A small dam is being constructed (Nov 2010), which means the foreigners here are a mix of backpacking tourists and employees. Ban Nahin is a holiday destination for Lao tourists as well.
Ban Nahin sits on Route 8, and most transport along Route 8 stops here to pick up and lay down passengers. The village is also known as Ban Khoun Kham, and is signposted using that name.
By bus or songthaew
From Vientiane Any bus to Lak Sao should stop at Ban Na Hin. More regular buses headed southward along Route 13 (in the direction of Tha Kaek, Pakse and the south) should stop at the crossroads village of Vieng Kham (Route 13 / Route 8 junction; also known as Namthone. The road to Na Hin is indicated by prominent signposts for the Konglor Cave. Buses for Lak Xao and semi-regular songthaews (essentially pickup trucks with benches in the back) can be hailed from here as they pass through. Sangthaews drive frequently for a fixed price of 20,000 kip per person. This journey of 40 km takes around 45 minutes.
From Lak Sao (route 8) sangthaews are available as well. 60 km travelling through on a paved road with a plenty of hairpins will take more than one hour.
Renting a motorbike from Tha Khaek or bring your own vehicle is highly popular. Na Hin sits on a popular motorbiking itinerary known as "the Loop".
The town of Ban Nahin is located just 100 metres parallel to Route 8. Ban Nahin is small enough to walk around.
Motorbikes can be rented at several places, but don't expect to find Japanese quality. Renting an old Chinese bike will cost around 80,000 kip a day. Sok say guesthouse (located at the main road, west side of town) offers the best rental service. Price is 50-80,000 for one person a day, depending on the number of days and amount of people travelling on one motorbike. Better to rent a bike in Tha Khaek where the rental rivalry should be stronger...
Just five km West of Ban Nahin, at Route 8 on a higher altitude, there is an amazing View Point. Relax there and shoot your amazing pictures of the limestone scenery. One of the best places in Laos for your sunset pictures.
Tad Namsamam is a waterfall, three km from town, following an upstream jungle path with plenty of rocks to climb and possibilities to swim. Perfect for a one-day trek, with or without local guide. The path starts at the left side of the only one temple in town. Leave before noon, so you won't get lost in the dark. Beware of mosquitoes and elephants. The tourist center will sell you a ticket for 15,000 kip, but this is just a commission as their is no one to check your ticket.
Information about trekking programs can be found in the Tourist Center, which is located at the main road, just 100 metres West of the main junction.
Konglor Cave, a 7km underground river that can be navigated by motorized long boat, is located 50 km of Nahin. It must be one the main reasons for the big amount of guest houses in Ban Nahin. Kong Lor can be reached by driving your motorbike or sharing a sangthaew with fellow travellers. Bring your torch and leave your shoes in Ban Nahin. In Kong Lor 110,000kip is the price for a return boat trip, max 3 people to a boat. The road to Konglor (paving has finished in 2009) leads through a peaceful valley with tobacco fields. There are various guest houses near Kong Lor and some good home stays in the village about 1km from the cave itself (50,000 kip per person with breakfast and dinner, max three people in the same house). More information at the tourist center in Ban Nahin.
There are plenty of traditional restaurants, and a few restaurants which will satisfy travellers looking for Western food. The couple running the Moonlight restaurant got to to know each other while working at a Pizza restaurant, and decided to start their own business. Pizza prices range from 40,000 to 70,000 kip and are recommended.
For those who need bread, there is no baguette in town. However, close to the Moonlight restaurant there is a small bakery (just in a private home). The owner sells bread for 5,000 kip a piece. Bread consists of corn flour, oil and milk. People on the local market only sell mainly fish, fruits and vegetables.
Drinking options in Na Hin are largely limited to the guesthouses and restaraunts, most of which should stock Beerlao.
There are a couple of no-name Lao bars lit with multicoloured lights next to Bob's.
A lot has happened in a small space of time in Na Hin, and there is now a wide selection of cheap guesthouses in Na Hin to handle the increasing number of visitors to the hydroelectric power projects and tourists visiting Kong Lor cave.
There's nothing that really could be described as high-end in terms of price or service yet, but the serene Sainamhai riverside bungalows will satisfy most people.
Beware of police officers in ordinary clothes checking guesthouses for falang who share a room with a Lao lady. Many foreigners who worked for the water dam project have been sent home, after receiving a second yellow card.