Vientiane’s Iconic Nam Phou Fountain to be Returned to the Public

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Nam Phou Fountain in 2018 (Photo: Champa Meuanglao)
Nam Phou Fountain in 2018 (Photo: Champa Meuanglao)

The Government of Laos has requested that the iconic Nam Phou Fountain, once a beloved public square in Vientiane Capital, be returned to the state.

The Prime Minister’s Office issued a notice on 17 June approving the move, stating that as an important heritage site, Nam Phou Fountain should be returned to the public domain.

The developer holding a concession on the Nam Phou area, AIF Group, is expected to negotiate the return of the site to the government.

Nam Phou in its final iteration as a now-defunct skate park.
Nam Phou in its current iteration as a now-defunct skate park.

Nam Phou’s deteriorating condition in the middle of the 2000s caused the government to privatize the public area, granting AIF Group a 30-year concession on the 4,000-square-meter site.

The company invested over LAK 10 billion renovating the area in 2009, resulting in its reopening to the public in 2012 as Mix Restaurant, according to KPL.

Nam Phou Fountain then rebranded from Mix Restaurant to Nam Phou Park in 2017, becoming a commercial venue hosting several restaurants and entertainment venues.

However, the concession on the Nam Phou Fountain area has remained unpopular with the public, while the owners of the original set of restaurants in the area claim the development has been detrimental to their businesses.

The Nam Phou Fountain plaza in 2010 prior to renovations.
The Nam Phou Fountain plaza in 2010 prior to renovations (Photo: Stewie on Flickr)

During the pandemic, many of the eateries and entertainment venues at Nam Phou closed, and the site was transformed, yet again, into its final iteration as a now-defunct skate park.

The Nam Phou site was originally built as a public plaza and once hosted a daily fresh market. The installation of the fountain helped it become Vientiane Capital’s most prominent landmark and a gathering place for many years.

The Nam Phou Fountain site in approximately 1963 (Photo: Owner Unknown)
The Nam Phou Fountain site in approximately 1963 (Photo: Unknown)