I just crossed the border with Thailand and traveled to Pakse. I spent the night there and in the morning I left to Don Sao Island. Now I regret that I did not stay longer in Pakse to know that interesting town. I hope to go back to Pakse in the picture.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
- Budget Travel
Not a great number of things to do
There are not a great number of things for a tourist to do in Vientiane unless you are specializing in some aspect of the city.
That said it is a very pleasant City to walk around in and in our three days there spent up to five hours walking from our hotel into town to see what we could find
Sadly the major tourist point is the odd looking Patuxai monument which for a few pennies entrance fee (5000 kip or less) you can climb right to the top giving a great view across the city.
In various articles we read that filming in or on the Monument was not allowed but there certainly was no problem whilst we were there in April 15. It was built over a period of time from funds and concrete which the US supplied for the construction of a new airport and it is clear that the money began to run out near the end as the finish on the higher levels of the monument is not good
A number of floors have various stalls of low quality tourist junk including numerous obsolete Laos coins and stamps which may be of interest to a collectorRelated to:
- Family Travel
- Historical Travel
Don Khon is the bigger island over Don Det, which is just a short bridge across. In my boat of 10 or more fellow backpackers, 8 of them dropped off at Don Det while 2 (including me) proceeded to Don Khon. It goes to show how Don Khon has been undeservingly omitted by visitors. And ironically, some of the most spectacular views and sights in this region are found in Don Khon. Somphamit Waterfall is one huge attraction. The mass amount water that forces through the jagged rocks and gushing down the river was thunderous. However, in the months of May, the sweltering heat can be highly unbearable. Do bring lots of water and wear enough to protect your skin from the strong sunlight. As Don Det and Don Khon are both connected by a bridge, regardless of which island you are stationed, you can practically visit both. Exploration by bicycle is highly recommended although some bike rental boss told me 6km was the distance for one round trip around Don Khon, which I highly doubted so because the ride took such a heavy toll on my body that I nearly fell flat from dehydration and fatigue before I could even finish 3/4 the distance. Towards the south-eastern tip of the island, there is homestay.
plenty caves too
There are thousands of caves in Laos, discovered on almost daily basis. It makes it for one of the most interesting countries to explore if you are interested in this field of geology. You will hear of most popular ones in your guide books, brochures or tours like Buddha cave near Luang Prabang and Konglor, or Vang Vieng caves... but then you have many smaller, 'anonymus' ones as well.
You need of course experience and equipment to explore bigger cave systems on your own otherwise it is too risky but in the large ones it would be always wiser to go with guides who know them good. For smaller caves you would usually just go with torch, but still you need good one and some decent shoes.
My favourite area for caves is middle Laos in Khammouane province near town of Thakhek (see the Khammouane page for more info) and the picture here was taken on my recent trip there: it's bats hanging in the Elephant cave (Tham Xang). Lots of caves have spiritual meaning for Lao and since they have cooler temperatures than surrounding landscape they are also good place to chill out.
You will as well find some of very interesting and unique species in those caves, but bats are most easy to see (and smell).Related to:
- National/State Park
Take the slow boat to the Thai border
Heading back to Thailand from Luang Prabang, I decided to travel via slow boat. The boat was pleasantly uncrowded - unlike many of the boats traveling in the significantly-more-popular opposite direction. The boat slowly wound its way slowly down the Mekong towards Pakbeng, where I spent the night in fairly basic accommodation. Another whole day boat journey, past families living riverside, small communities and endless mist and tree covered hills and we were close to the Thai border. As it was early evening, I spent my final night in Laos on the border, before catching an early morning boat across the river to the Thai immigration control. A quick passport stamp later and I was on a bus bound for Chiang Mai and a whole different adventure.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Sailing and Boating
Luang Prabang is the former imperial city of Laos and these days probaply the most pleasant town in Laos if you want to kick back and enjoy life.
On top of all the sights from the time Luang Prabang was an imperial city you also have a large selection of cafes and restaurants and the place is becoming increasingly popular with tourists, especially those who like the boutiqe enviroment just as it has been a backpackers favorite for many years.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Women's Travel
Visit Vang Vieng
From Vientiane to Luang Prabang you should stop in this lovely village.
It is very touristic, but anyway it is worth to spend at least 2 days, what i did and I was very happy there. Food was georgeous!
The Native People of Laos i met.
The natives of Laos i observed were very friendly, respectful, helpful and simple in many ways.
In Luang Prabang I have had a very interesting conversation with some of the young Monk students about how and why they like to be Monks. On our way to some areas of Laos we met some groups of school children on bicycles. When they saw us they stopped and were very happy to have pictures taken.
In Muang Sing, Akha elder women tried to sell some of their handmade products and some sold out secretely illegal drugs to interested travellers.
During Market days in Muang Sing, the town is filled with different kinds of people coming from neighboring villages. Some young women displayed their multi-colored traditional Lao costumes which are really very interesing objects for photography.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
- Budget Travel
the mountainuous state
Brief look on the map will tell Laos is mountainous land; highest mountain is Phu Bia (2819) in Xaysombuone province, Northern Laos.
If you want to see some of the spectacular scenery in the country you should travel the road by day time bewteen Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang at least. It's not bad if you stay in VV just to explore its landscape - you can always avoid the crowds to some degree.
Nong Khiaw area is splednid too - make a boat trip from Luang Prabang - NK/Muang Ngoi.
More remote is Xam Neua and Viengxay: if you have a lot of time in Laos go there, and go beyond. But you must come prepared.
Jewel of the landscape is as well the area near Thakhek in Middle Laos, Khammouane province. You could visit it on motorbike from Thakhek. There are lots of side roads well into the area - not many tourist visit it yet.
Unfortunatelly - the mountains are being deforested and mined greatly in those last decades.Related to:
- National/State Park
- Jungle and Rain Forest
riding by moped to waterfalls
riding to the waterfalls by moped was brilliant ,exhilirating and the real farm tribes of luang prabang. you will see many sights along the way people with sling shots for hunting and scaring the pesky monkees off. butchers with meat hanging out of bicycycles , a temple of all white, amazing mountain ridges and then there is the falls and bears , incredible , colourful and full with people ,my tip is dont fill up too much as i had 1/2 a tank left when i got back but it depends on the bike take it easy on the roads as things pop out in front of you quite quickly . the mopeds are much cheaper ,safer, and economical and you can stop when you want but cant in the large tuk tuks .Related to:
- Jungle and Rain Forest
wander around and around !! sounds silly but we stayed here 9 days ,one end of town is very busy full of us tourists and travellers and up the the other end where the mekong meets the other river inlet is quiet and serene , i followed to young monks across the bamboo bridge which is maintained for a fee and as i followed i ended up 2 miles down the mekong on my own private island or sand bank with tiny gold flakes in the water ( most probably pyrite) and enjoyed the ambience of the real luang prabang with the hard working farmers and boat people i was blissing i walked back with mud caked on up to my knees crossed the bridge sat down and was surrounded by very young monks 13 in fact digging soil for their new flowers for the offerings i was in buddha heaven. they played and swam in the mekong fully clothed and i made friends with one as i swung the adze (pick) to help out. we talked in our broken english for about an hour , they all eventually left and so did i with one of the largest smiles and we are now pen pals , what a day !! what a life !!Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
Caves in Vang Vieng~ Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon is probably worth your time to visit. DO NOT SIMPLY VISIT THE CAVES IN VANG VIENG, MOST OF THEM ARE GIMMICKS. THE SIDEBOARD WHICH TELLS WATERFALL AND CAVE IS NOT TRUE.
I've stayed Vang Vieng for 7days and visited 4caves only Blue Lagoon is a real place worth visiting. The cave at the blue lagoon is fantastic and you will find a sleeping buddha in the cave.
Remember ,the road condition in Vang Vieng is no good. Bring some water along for your cave visit.
Pak Au Cave
Day trip to Pak Au Cave is very short. Most of the time I spend on the boat to and fro.
Visiting the Pak Au Cave two main temples was about 30mins ONLY. SIGHHHHHH.
Again, if you're not feeling well or lack of energy. Do not visit the second temple of the Pak Au cave, it's definitely NOT WORTH TO VISIT THE SECOND TEMPLE as you have very limited time.
Not much to see at the second temple.
Luang Prabang Hill, PakAu Cave , KuangXi Waterfall
You definitely do not need a tour guide when you're in LP to visit Luang Prabang Hill, PakAuCave and Kuang Xi waterfall.
Pak Au Cave- simply get a day tour from the local agency. Lots of tour agency or hotel will organise day trip to Pak Au Cave. Strongly advise to join the small group tour.
Kuang Xi Waterfall - Rent a motorbike or car and explore the waterfall, spend your good own time there.
If you're visiting Pak Au Cave, it's not worth to visit the second temple. It's quite far away from the first temple and lots of stairs for old folks ,I think. NOT worth your time to visit the second temple.
Huay Xai - Gibbon Experience
This was the highlight of my trip. I'd booked through email way before going to Laos because it can be difficult to get a slot at the last minute.
The Gibbon Experience is a conservation project to save the Bokeo Nature Reserve using tourists' money for 2 purposes. One is to show the locals that there's an alternative source of income so that they will stop slashing and burning the forest, secondly about 40% of the money you pay goes to a forest conservation fund.
Apart from helping to conserve the forest, it was just good fun zipping around from tree to tree. The canopy of Bokeo is connected by a network of ziplines, which gives you a good view of the forest. There are 5 treehouses and you can choose between the Classic Experience and the Waterfall Experience. I joined the 2-night Waterfall Experience. It was really a very memorable experience but be prepared for lots of uphill trekking.
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