Laos Journals

Laos Highlights

A January 1999 trip to Laos by Heather F

Plain Old Jar Photo, Laos, Asia More Photos
Quote: A slowly awakening land dominated by the mighty Mekong River, rugged tall mountains, friendly people whose lives are dominated by Buddhism and the ever-present monks readily identifiable in their brightly coloured saffron robes. This is Laos, still in its infancy as far as tourism goes.

Laos Highlights

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Overview

Glass pictures Photo, Laos, Asia
Quote:
Plain of Jars
Travelling the Mekong River in a "fast boat"
Wats of Luang Prabang
Kuang Si Falls
Local Markets
the Food
Four Thousand Islands

Quick Tips:

Be prepared for some rough travel
Interact with the friendly locals
Take lots of film as its very photogenic
Chat with the monks
Sample food from the market stalls

Best Way To Get Around:

Walking is best in towns. Between towns go by river if you can as the roads are bad!!!

Wats of Luang Prabang

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Attraction

Wat Mosaic Photo, Laos, Asia
Quote:
The most famous of the many wats in Luang Prabang is Wat Xieng Thong (Golden City Temple) built in 1560. The sim and surrounding chapels and stupas are richly decorated with bright mosaics in coloured glass and gold leaf used in the depiction of traditional scenes. One of the most ornate wats in Laos it is an excellent place to spend some time exploring the history and artistry of Laos Buddhism. This is just one of the many wats found on the peninsula formed by the junction of the Mekong and Khan Rivers. The best idea is to take a leisurely stroll and visit any that appeal. Like me you may find the monks make more of an impression than the buildings themselves. As most the novice monks attend s...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 20, 2001

Plain of Jars

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Attraction

Plain Old Jars Photo, Laos, Asia
Quote:
Better known than all of those mentioned previously is Laos greatest attraction, the Plain of Jars, in north-east Laos. Here large stone jars weighing up to one ton are scattered over bare hillsides. The latter a legacy of the Vietnam War. Another interesting sight which has resulted is the use of bomb casings in nearby villages for uses as diverse as feed troughs for pigs, stilts for rice barns and planters for herb gardens. Even today with all the advances in science and technology, the origin and use of these huge jars still remains a mystery, just like those of Machu Picchu, Easter Island and the Nazca Lines.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 20, 2001

Four Thousand Islands

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Attraction

Wat Phu Photo, Laos, Asia
Quote:
Just as fascinating but less well-known is the area in southern Laos along the Mekong River adjoining Cambodia known as Four Thousand Islands. Here there are islands ranging from large permanently inhabited ones to small sandbars.

With the river reaching a breadth of fourteen kilometres it is possible to travel among these islands and see fisherman using hand nets and canoes paddled by oars, freshwater dolphins, colonial villas, impressive rapids and waterfalls, a railway bridge and rusting locomotive and village life at its most relaxed.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 20, 2001

Pak Ou Caves

Attraction

Quote:
More renowned are Pak Ou Caves, twenty five kilometres from Luang Prabang, up the Mekong River. Here two caves in the lower part of the limestone cliff are packed full of Buddha images of all sizes and styles. With its impressive setting and surprising contents, a boat trip to the caves is a very relaxing experience. It is also an opportunity to see local village life as the boat cruises along the river.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 20, 2001

Pak Ou Caves
Overlooking the Mekong River
Luang Prabang, Laos

Meking Fast Boat

Attraction

Quote:
For the adventurers and thrill-seekers, it is possible to travel from Luang Prabang to the Thailand border at Huay Xai along the Mekong River by “fast boat”. They are three metre long wooden boats, powered by four-cylinder Toyota motors resulting in a loud journey travelling at fifty to sixty kilometres per hour along the river. Attired in life jackets, helmets, ear plugs and sunglasses it certainly does produce an adrenalin rush initially but gradually the body adapts and relaxes to observe the passing scenery.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 20, 2001

Ban Phanom

Attraction

Quote:
Just outside Luang Prabang is Ban Phanom, a small village well-known for its hand-weaving of cotton and silk. It is an opportunity to see both the weavers at work and the vast range of goods produced. Large wall hangings are suspended from the rafters and shop fronts. Most have geometric designs and patterns but some have pictures such as animals. Other goods include shawls, vests, sarongs, bags and backpacks. As this village is a regular stop for visitors buying can be a real test of your bargaining ability. Treat it as fun and don’t be in a rush. It can be a great afternoons entertainment.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 20, 2001

Buddha Park (Wat Xieng Khuan)

Attraction | "Buddha Park"

Quote:
Wat Xieng Khuan, also called the Spirit City Temple or Buddha Park by the locals, is not a true wat since there are no monks in residence. Rather it is a bizarre collection of Buddhist and Hindu sculptures next to the Mekong River. The park was designed and built in 1958 by a yogi-priest-shaman, Bunleau Sulilat, who used concrete and unskilled artists to create the unusual structures. There is one building in the park amid the statues, a pumpkin-shaped structure with three levels representing hell, earth and heaven. The uppermost level leading to a viewing area on top from where a view over the park can be obtained. With its reclining Buddha, collection of gods and deities including Shiva and Vishnu, ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 20, 2001

Buddha Park (Wat Xieng Khuan)
25 Km SE from Vientiane
Vientiane, Laos