Controversial dam threatens historic Laos town

In Laos, near the historic town of Luang Prabang, a large dam is being constructed on the Mekong river. Critics are concerned that this $3 billion hydroelectric project will change the beautiful riverside town, impacting its heritage status and charm.

The dam is part of Laos’ plan to build seven new dams to benefit from hydro energy. However, experts worry that the dam will transform the Mekong into a series of lakes, altering the town’s character and potentially endangering its UNESCO recognition.


Luang Prabang’s unique blend of Laotian and French architecture has attracted many tourists, providing livelihoods for locals. However, with fears of the dam changing the river’s landscape, residents worry about the impact it’ll have on tourism.

Some locals, like a tour guide who wishes to remain anonymous, express concern about the dam’s effect on the natural beauty of the Mekong. They fear that once completed, the dam will drastically change the environment.

Laos aims to become the leading energy producer in Southeast Asia through hydroelectric plants, including the Luang Prabang dam. While the project is expected to provide power to Thailand and Vietnam, conservationists warn that these dams disrupt fish populations and harm the river’s ecology.


The World Bank reports Laos facing economic challenges, leading the country to invest heavily in hydro energy. Yet, concerns raised by organizations like UNESCO stress the need for impact studies to address environmental risks posed by the dam construction.

Despite assurances from local authorities, residents remain worried about the dam’s impact on tourism and the town’s natural beauty. The potential changes to the river’s scenery from the dam’s completion raise uncertainty among locals, underscoring the ongoing debate between development and conservation in Luang Prabang.

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