Sunday, December 26, 2010
Full day tour, Meals provided: L (picnic), Tour Code: KLP‐PKZ‐001
Starting from Khong Island at 8.30am, you explore the Siphandone area with your guide on a boat cruise to Khone Island.
Along the way observe locals engaged in fishing, bathing, swimming or farming activities.
On Khone Island visit the remains of a French locomotive. Take then a bicycle and ride to the spectacular Somphamit Falls.
Cycle back to Muang Khone, and enjoy lunch at Seng Ahroun restaurant.
After lunch, ride to the southernmost tip of Khone Island, where you observe the old French port, and follow the eastern shore, where concrete embankments used to channel logged trees.
Cross over the bridge and experience Det Island, the small island to the North of Khone Island. Det Island is a back backer’s paradise. Follow the road to the other end of the railway, where another pier awaits you.
Late this afternoon you return to Khong Island at 4.30pm.
Discover the Bolaven Plateau: Waterfalls, Gorges,Coffee fields and minorities
Full day tour, Meals provided: L, Tour Code: KLP‐PKZ‐002
You will be met at your hotel around 8.30am for a full day tour of the Bolaven Plateau.
Start your tour by driving up to Paksong, on the way you’ll visit coffee fields, Tad Fane waterfalls and Tad Yeuang ('Wild Goat') waterfall, one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Laos. You make a stop at the local Paksong Market.
Your Lao lunch is served at Ban Ta Thang nearby the market or at Tad Lo Waterfall.
After a short rest, you'll drive to Ban Kok Phoung to meet the Katou, one of the indigenous Mon‐Khmer ethnic groups in this area. Khmu, Alat, Ngae, Kalung, Lavane, Lavere, Katung ethnic groups you can be observed here, too.
You'll then continue your visit to Ban Houay Houn, a traditional weaving village. From here drive to Tad Phasuam and visit a small nearby ethnic cultural park.
Return to your hotel at 4.30pm.
Explore Wat Phou, Wat Muang Kang and Wat Tomo
Full day tour, Meals provided: L, Tour Code: KLP‐PKZ‐003
Meet at 8am at your hotel; and visit Pakse’ fresh market, where your guide explains you local products. Then drive to Champassak. On the way you visit Wat Phou Ngoy.
Visit Wat Phou. This Khmer temple Wat Phou was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2002. The walk to the upper part of the temple is steep, but the view over the surrounding countryside is rewarding.
You have a simple lunch 'fer' at the local noodle soup shop.
After lunch continue by boat to a nearby temple, Vat Muang Kang. Vat Muang Kang is the oldest temple in Champassak. Its French‐Lao fusion style library (tripitaka) is a unique architectural example of the colonial past.
Continue to visit Um Muang by boat. Um Muang (aka Wat Tomo) is a small Khmer temple ruin in the forest.
Return by car back to Pakse at 4.30pm.
There was a temple on the site as early as the 5th century, but the surviving structures date from the 11th to 13th centuries. The temple has a unique structure, in which the elements lead to a shrine where a linga was bathed in water from a mountain spring. The site later became a centre of Theravada Buddhist worship, which it remains today.
Another, yet less known temple of Champasak town, is the on the Mekong riverside located temple of Wat Muang Kang. Wat Muang Kang, also known as Wat Phuthawanaram is the oldest temple in Champassak town. Its French colonial and Lao fusion style library (tripitaka) is quite unique architectural example of the colonial past. Wat Muang Kang can be reached by following a small path through lush bamboo, coconut and banana tree vegetation along the riverbanks of the mighty Mekong downstream for about 2 kilometers.
By crossing the Mekong River and cruising downstream, the nearby forest temple Oum Muong also known as Wat Tomo can be reached. Wat Tomo was built in the 13th or 14th century, probably as a rest house for visitors to Wat Phou. Covered by big trees and located on a tributary river to the Mekong, Wat Tomo has a unique charm and atmosphere.
Wat Phou Asa, a ruined Buddhist monastery, is located on the top of a sandstone hill next to Ban Kiet Ngong in the area of Pathoumphone (Phia Fai). Wat Phou Asa was built during the 19th century. The temples unusual shape and layout is probably inspired by Indian models. One hundred eight cylindrical stone piles made of slabs without mortar surround the centrally located sim. Many champa trees have been planted along the walls. The place, isolated in a dry and rocky area, inspires through mystery and wild grandeur. Although its origin is still in the dark, legends say that Wat Phou Asa is the burial place of the jewels, sent by the "Kha" to adorn the palace that Prince Kammatha was building near Wat Phou. When they learned that Prince Kammatha died without finishing the palace, Wat Phou Asa was built as citadel to protect the buried jewels.
The Bolaven plateau, an area well known for its high altitude and therefore all year round cool climate, is best described in two words: coffee and waterfalls.
In the near future coffee will not only contribute to Lao’s economic income as an export product but also as a major tourism attraction. Already today many oversee clients visit the coffee plantations during their stay in Pakse or on the Bolaven Plateau.
Mr. Sinouk Sisombat, the president of the Lao Coffee Association is currently building a resort on a 50 hectare coffee farm near Pakxong, about 80 km outside of Pakse. He plans to offer an agro-coffee tourism package, where clients staying at the resort can pick and process their own coffee beans during their stay…
Champasak is already today one of the top tourist destinations in Laos, with an annual tourism growth of around 10% over the last five years. In absolute figures around 300’000 people visited the province during 2009 and 2010. Most of these people visited Wat Phou, the Sipandone area and the province many waterfalls.
Coffee tourism is a new idea for Champasak province and could and would be a welcomed addition to any tour program in the area. Khiri Travel Laos offers already today some interesting tours and programs in the province and on the Bolaven plateau…
The Bolaven plateau offers also some very nice accommodation: Tad Fane Resort, which is hidden amidst the dense rainforest and overlooking the foaming twin waterfalls. The water of Tad Fane plunges 200 meters down a gorge which is really an amazing sight. Other nearby waterfalls such as Tad Yeuang, Tad Champee and Tad E Tu can be discovered during a day tour or on own along with coffee and tea plantations.
More reading information can be found here:
- Waterfalls on the Bolaven Plateau
- Lao Mountain Coffee in Vientiane
- Khonephapheng waterfall in Southern Laos Sipandone area
- Lush river life... some impressions...
Sunday, December 19, 2010
In 1968, Their Majesties the King and Queen arrived from Bangkok and visited Nong Khai town to preside over a ceremony for the construction of the Nam Ngum dam and the resulting power supply from Lao PDR to Thailand.
Their Majesties the King and the Queen used the boat landing in Nong Khai's Muang district, to embark on a ferry to cruise on the river to reach the raft pavilion moored in the middle of the Mekong. Since then, local people have referred to the Tha Daan jetty as "Tha Sadej" (Thai: “sadej” means "go", but it is the verb form used only for the Their Majesties the King and the Queen).
Nowadays, the international border check point for immigration and customs has been moved from Tha Sadej to the 5 kilometers further upriver located Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge. Tourists wishing to visit Laos are obliged to use the Friendship bridge check point only.
However, Tha Sadej still serves as a convenient area for local merchants and traders to cross between Thailand and Laos. The market known as Tha Sadej is also known as Tha Sadej Indochina market, where duty & tax - free goods from China, Vietnam and Laos can be found. The products on sell include electrical goods, chinaware, ceramics, silk and cotton. Fabrics and food delicacies from Nong Khai province can be found too.
The rich selection and variety of available products at Tha Sadej Indochina market make it a famous and popular shopping area for tourists and locals visiting Nong Khai town.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
In November 2010 plans to extend the service from Thanalaeng to Vientiane were abandoned. A new high-speed rail link from China to Thailand through Laos would make the extension redundant.
The Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge was first opened on April 8, 1994. The bridge was the first of four bridges over the Mekong River and connecting Laos and Thailand.
The Second bridge is connecting Mukdahan with the Lao town of Savannkhet, while the third one will connect the Thai city of Nakhon Phanom with Thakhek in Laos upon completion. The fourth bridge is in planning stage and will connect Ban Hoei Xai with Chiang Khong in Thailand's Chiang Rai province.
The whole construction costs for the first Friendship Bridge was about US$30 million and funded by the Australian government.
The traffic on the bridge drives on the left hand side as in Thailand. However traffic in Laos drives on the right. Therefore a traffic change over is needed on the Lao end.
A regular shuttle bus service operates across the bridge, between the Lao and Thai border posts. A ticket costs 15 Thai Bath or 4'000 Kip.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
The centuries old Phra Sai Buddha is cast from gold in the posture of "Subduing Mara". The Buddha image is believed to date back to the ancient kingdom of Lane Xang.
Legends say that the three daughters of Setthathirath (*), the King of Lane Xang, commissioned three personal Buddha images. Theses images were believed to reflect the faces of the three daughters of the king. All of them were given names relating to the names of the three princesses, Phra Serm, Phra Souk and Phra Sai. An illustrative, and large mural can be seen at Wat Pho Chai. The mural was painted to record this historic event.
The three revered Buddha images were originally housed in Vientiane, Laos sleepy capital on the opposite Mekong Riverside, around 20 km of Nong Khai. However, around 200 years ago, the images were brought to Thailand during the invasion of Laos through the troupes of Rama III, King of Siam.
In a stormy night, Phra Souk fell in to the Mekong River while in transit to Nong Khai. The two surviving and remaining Buddha images were placed in Nong Khai's Wat Pho Chai and Wat Ho Klong. King Rama IV ordered, that the image of Phra Serm should be taken to Bangkok. Only Phra Sai was left in Wat Pho Chai. A visit to this most revered Buddha is rewarding and interesting alike. Wat Pho Chai is on the main highway 212, from Nong Khai to Phon Phisai, at km 2 on the left hand side...
* Setthathirath (Lao: ເສດຖາທິຣາດ; 1534–1572) is one of the greatest leaders and kings in Lao history. He successfully defended the kingdom of Lan Xang against the Burmese conquerors.
Setthathirath erected many Buddhist monuments in Laos and Isaan, including the famous Wat Xieng Thong in Luang Prabang and the Phra That Luang stupa in Vientiane.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Khiri Travel Laos, in cooperation with Tiger Trails, is launching new a range of trekking, kayaking, mountain biking and cooking options starting and finishing in Luang Prabang. The activities are suitable for active travelers with limited time who want to get away from the usual sites and enjoy a memorable Northern Laos experience. The new Khiri Travel Laos options work on fixed departure days with guaranteed starts for groups of two or more people.
The day trek near Luang Prabang shows that even within one day you can walk to places that seem further out of town. Visit Hmong and Khmu tribes as you hike amid amazing mountain landscapes.
Kayaking on the calm Nam Khan river is suitable for beginners but delivers a superlative close-to-nature experience. Paddlers stop in nearby villages, get ethnic village insights, visit the Elephant Village, the grave of a French explorer, the Tad Sae waterfall (in season) and keep their energy levels up with a very tasty barbecue lunch along the way.
The bicycle daytrip option opens up 30km of scenic road and dirt track in and around Luang Prabang. The biking, which is suitable for beginners, includes a trip to the Elephant Village, insights into ethnic village life, and plenty away-from-it-all big country vistas.
Khiri Travel Laos will also show you how to cook Laotian cuisine, which relies heavily on the freshest products. The end result is a range of flavors and textures, many of them different from what westerners are used to. The culinary experience starts with an early morning tour of Luang Prabang’s major food market where we buy our cooking ingredients for the day. At a charming riverside location you then prepare and cook an assortment of dishes under supervision. You then enjoy the outcome of your cooking in a pleasant garden setting. Lao cuisine recipes are provided for all budding chefs to take home.
Marc Albert, Country Manager of Khiri Laos, says: “There is so much to see and do in Luang Prabang that you can base yourself there for a week. You can then choose a range of soft adventure, nature and cultural experiences that will take your appreciation of the Luang Prabang area to a new level.”
For further information, visit Khiri Travel Laos.
Friday, November 12, 2010
Chao Anouvong had long been an ally of the Thai monarchs against the Burmese invaders. Unfortunately his accomplishments and support of the Thai kingdom was not well recognized by them. From 1826 to 1828 Chao Anouvong rebelled against Siam in an attempt to become once again independent from Siam.
Chao Anouvong initially captured the Thai stronghold of Korat (Nakhon Ratchasima) with his army. He assumed, that the local Lao people will follow and support him in his attempt to liberate the mostly of Lao people inhabited Isaan provinces of Thailand. The support however was not as expected and Chao Anouvong had to withdraw his forces. Lady Mo, the deputy governor’s wife, is known for harassing the Lao invaders while they were withdrawing.
Finally Chao Anouvong's army was defeated in a three-day fight near Vientiane. The Siamese King Rama III ordered his troops to sack and occupy Vientiane.
Chao Anouvong managed to escape and tried to return with Vietnamese help. Chao Anouvong was again defeated by the Siamese troops and also captured. The Siamese King Rama III ordered Vientiane destroyed. Only one temple, Wat Sisaket, survived. The precious Buddha statues “Phra Bang” and “Phra Keo” were taken to Bangkok. Chao Anouvong died as prisoner in Bangkok.
Vientiane these days opened a new park and monument on the Mekong River to celebrate the 450 years anniversary of being Laos’ capital and to honor Chao Anouvong. Interesting to be mentioned, that the statue of Chao Anouvong turns its back towards Laos and eyes once again over the Mekong River into Thailand, where more than 20 million former Lao, nowadays Thais, are living in Thailand’s Northeastern Isaan provinces!
It seems to me that King Chao Anouvong better would have a closer look at Laos and its people once in a while…
Friday, October 15, 2010
VOLUME 3 - OCTOBER 12, 2010
Great river escapes still exist. Mekong River Cruises & Mekong Islands Tours, a Lao-German company, launched the first Laotian cabin river cruiser on the upper Mekong in 2006. Today, Mekong River Cruises operates three boutique river cruise vessels and is the leading cruise company in Laos.
By cruising the Mekong River you can discover some of the remotest parts of Laos, and indeed Southeast Asia. There are insights into villages of Lao and minority people, many without electricity, road access or telephone connections. From the boat itself, and on several land excursions led by the crew, the ever changing scenery of lush green mountains, amazing rock formations and peaceful villages along the river banks acts as a perfect antidote to big city pretensions.
Mekong River Cruises has launched an eight-day cruise from Luang Prabang to Chiang Saen on the Thailand border.
This amazing cruise starts in Luang Prabang, the charming former French colonial town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and probably one of the most beautiful towns in Southeast Asia. The cruise winds its way through the Laotian countryside on the Mekong, passing the sacred Pac Ou caves, the small town of Pak Beng and many small minority villages until it reaches Hoay Xay in Bokeo province. It then proceeds further west up the river to the Thai town of Chiang Saen, its final destination in the Golden Triangle, a border region between Thailand, Myanmar and Laos.
This eight-day cruise on the upper Mekong River is an extraordinary experience traveling on the most comfortable river vessel available in Laos.
Khiri Laos country manager, Marc Albert, took the trip and concluded: “Exploring the Mekong River on Mekong Explorer is an unique way of traveling through Northern Laos. Although I have visited quite a few remote places in Laos, I was deeply impressed by the insights on riverside communities along the Mekong River.”
He adds: “With no modern communication tools, electricity or overland road access, these communities along the Mekong River live their traditional lives pretty much as they did 100 or more years ago. The Mekong Explorer allows you to discover these remote areas and people in a unique and very comfortable way. The slower pace of river travel lets one relax and enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature. It is a lost paradise only accessible by boat.”
Khiri Travel can arrange such cruises as well as pre- and post cruise extensions throughout Laos, Indochina and Thailand. Visit www.khirilaos.com.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Neighboring districts are Bueng Kan, So Phisai, and Rattanawapi - all in Nong Khai Province. On the opposite Mekong river banks is the Laotian province of Bolikhamxai.
Pak Khat is a small but vivid town, nestled along the Mekong river. Sunsets can be amazing as you can see from below pictures.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
The Khonephapheng waterfall (Lao: ຂກົກນເກະ ຜກະ ຜເກະງ) is located on the Laotian part of the Mekong River in the Southernmost province of Lao PDR - Champassak.
The Khonephapheng waterfall are closed to the border of Cambodia.
The Khonephapheng waterfall is the main reason, why the Mekong river is not navigable into Thailand, Burma and China.
The French colonialists made in the late 19th century several efforts to make the falls navigable but all failed.
The only successful attempt by the French was made possible by building two ports, one in the South of Khone Island (below the falls) and one in the Eastern shore of Det island (above the falls), linking the two islands with a bridge and connecting the two ports with a small railway. By doing so, the French were able to circumvent the steepest rapids and allow trans-Mekong-shipment.
The total height of the Khonephapheng falls is 21 meters in several cascades stretching over 10 kilometers of the Mekong river's length. The average discharge of the cataract is nearly 11,000 cubic meters per second, making the Khonephapheng falls the largest waterfall in terms of volume in Southeast Asia.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
It is believed, that some of Lord Buddha’s bones are buried here.
Therefore the place is much respected and worshiped by residents and visitors alike.
Although no one really knows, when the first chedi of Phra That Bang Phuan was built, it is assumed, that it is of the same age as the chedi in Phra Phathom, as it is similar in construction (built with bricks) and style.
In 1559 King Sayaxettha of Chanthaburi (Viang Chan – aka Vientiane, Laos) extended his capital across the Mekong river and built a taller Lao-style chedi over the original as a demonstration of faith.
The nearby Naga pond or 'Sa Phaya Nak' was used in the past to bath the new rulers as an auspicious gesture.
However, heavy rain caused the chedi in 1970 to collapse. Thailand's Fine Arts Department restored the structure in 1976 and 1977.
The current chedi stands 34.25m high and has several older chedis around it. The lower base of the chedi is 17.2 m wide and consists of five tiers.
This special setting gives the temple of Phra That Bang Phuan an ancient and sacred atmosphere.
Wat Phra That Bang Phuan is 23 km outside Nong Khai direction to Tha Bo.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
The plateau is a reach cultural and agricultural area, crossed by several rivers and scenic waterfalls.
The name of the plateau 'Bolaven' refers to one of its ethnic group which have dominated the region: the Laven. However, migrations by the majority Lao ethnic group has modified the ethnic composition of the region. Other ethnic groups in the Bolaven Plateau are the Alak, Katu, Ta Oy, and Suay.
Nowadays the Bolaven plateau is an important agricultural area which produces one of the best coffee in the world. Another important factor is tourism, which greatly contributes to the regions growth. Lastly, bauxite mining is increasingly becoming more important as well.
Tad E Tu Waterfall
Tad E Tu Waterfall is located between Pakse and Paksong at KM 35. The waterfall can be reached over a small and steam path and stairs. The small pool at its bottom invites with some refreshing swimming opportunities.
Tad Champee Waterfall
Tad Champee Waterfall is located between Pakse and Paksong at KM 38, opposite Tad Fane waterfall. The waterfall is about 3 kilometers from the main road. The Tad Champee consists of one single cascade. Its pool is offering some refreshing bath...
The Tad Fane Waterfall
The Tad Fane Waterfall is 38 KM outside of Pakse and probably the biggest twin waterfall in the Bolaven region. The water dropps over 100 meters!. The best view on this waterfall one gets from the nearby view point at Tad Fane Resort, a friendly lodge overlooking the gorge of the Tad Fane waterfall and nestled within some tense vegetation. For a closer look a small walk of 15 minutes is required to reach the bottom of the falls.
Tad Yuang Waterfall
Tad Yuang Waterfall is a bit further along the way to Paksong at KM 39. This waterfalls comes with a nice pick nick area at the top of the waterfall. A view point at the top allows a great panorama over the whole waterfall.
Tad Phasuam Waterfall
Tad Phasuam Waterfall is on the way to Tad Lo in Salavan province, after leaving Pakse turn left at KM 21 and continue for a further 15km. Tad Phasuam Waterfall is a beautiful cascade in a U form. There is a small cultural village nearby.
Friday, June 18, 2010
The cave, the mountain, the rice paddies and the whole area are very pristine and preserved.
The foot of the mountain is surrounded by a agricultural land mainly used to grow rice. A small path leads along and finally through the paddies for about 200 to 250 meters before it reaches the slop which ascends in a 45 degree angle to the top of the mountain. The path continues to some small bush vegetation and a small mountain side field, containing all kind of crops, such as bananas, pineapple, maize, cassava and other eatable plants. The garden is owned by a Khmu family.
We met the 80 years old grandfather of the family who finally showed us the way to the cave. As our first attempt, lead by a local guide was unsuccessful.
The old man met us at the rock cliffs where we were waiting for him, soaked in our on sweat. The last part just before the slop ends and goes over in a rocky, more mountainous area, the trail was overgrown with grass and bamboo. We used some knives which we broth along for the purpose to make our own path.
I consider myself as a more sportive person, but compared to the old Khmu I had not the slightest chances of keeping pace with him. In fact I lost him after 3 minutes. He even overtook our own 25 year old Lao guide. The old guy was sitting in front of the cave, smiling and waiting for us. While the rest lost another liter of body fluid... I was quite a bit impressed of the old Khmu guys fitness. Well, more than 65 years of gardening on the mountain seems to make one stronger... Some small parts included minor climbing skills.
The cave itself is very interesting and one can see that it has been left for a long time. Some wooden and bamboo structures built by the monks still remain intact, though the time takes its tribute.
Natural light and ventilation make the cave quite a livable place. The cave consists of an small entrance area and one big chamber with some smaller hideaways, which were used by the monks as sleeping area.
All in all a very nice, interesting and "undiscovered" cave, just a few minutes from Nam Khan.
Needless to say that I had to refill my missing body fluids with a couple of beerlaos afterwards.