Tag - Cambodia to Laos by bus

Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang – top things to do

Posted on: October 18th, 2017

Being an old capital from the Laotian empire, now somehow transformed in a famous touristic destination, Luang Prabang still didn’t lost its charms. Besides the hordes of tourists, it’s still one of the most beautiful cities here! And if you are planning to visit Laos, this is definitely not a place to miss.

Luang Prabang

A peaceful monk walking by and gorgeous architecture on every street, a common sight in Luang Prabang.

The town is an UNESCO World Heritage since 1995, due to the unique mixture of traditional wooden houses, highly intricate temples and leftovers of colonial architecture. Since it was a French protectorate in the past, plenty of cute villas decorate the city. Some of them now are gorgeous little cafés or boutique hotels. Best way to appreciate Luang Prabang is walking around, not only to see the architecture and enjoy the street life, but also to meet some friendly locals. You can join them for lunch or at least for a couple of shots of rice wine – a must in this country!

So why should you visit Luang Prabang and what are the top things to do?

Luang Prabang

Laotian architecture and its unbeatable beauty.

Some ideas for you to start exploring:

  • Haw Kham, one of the city’s symbol. It was the royal palace when Laos was a monarchy – now it became a national museum
  • Chomsy Hill (Phou Si), a small and easy hike to reach the best place scenery in town – perfect for an unforgettable sunrise or sunset
  • Vat Xieng Toung monastery or the smaller Vat Sirimoungkhoun Sayaram, Vat Khili, Vat Sop Sickharam and Vat Sibounheuang
  • Evening stroll along the Mekong’s river getting enchanted by mysterious opaque brown waters and thick jungle on the other side
  • Traditional dance performances
  • Kuang Si waterfalls just outside the city, a great place to relax and cool down from the Southeast Asian heat, meet new travelers and visit the bear rescue center nearby. Organize your tuk-tuk ride with other travelers in your guesthouse to get a better price, and don’t forget to bargain!

Luang Prabang

Kuang Si waterfalls, almost unreal.

There’s also plenty of delicious Laotian food, look for some authentic meals in the less touristic places.

Freshly brewed coffee and proper baguettes, llegacy of the French culture, are very common! A great alternative to more Asian style breakfasts.

In terms of drinking don’t expect much of a nightlife! You can have some drinks in nice locations though, such as Utopia (a pleasant open-air lounge), Icon Klub or Hive Bar.

Luang Prabang

The night market in the downtown.

If you want to go to the countryside not too far, you should go to Nong Khiaw and Muang Ngoi. These two villages are on the river and surrounded by mountains.

Anyway, Luang Prabang is a must see in your Laos trip. Check Camboticket website for transportation options from Siem Reap and start exploring!

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Vientiane

What to see when visiting Vientiane, the sleepy capital of Laos

Posted on: September 27th, 2017

Normally bypassed or used just as a gateway to Laos, Vientiane has more to offer for a traveler willing to stay for a couple of days.

Wind down along the Mekong riverbank with a beerlao in your hand or sit down at one of the many restaurants to try some delicious laotian food. Walk around and explore this relaxed city, way smaller than other Southeast Asian capitals and plan the rest of your trip.

Vientiane is in a perfect location in the middle of the country, not very far from both the north with Luang Prabang and from the south, 4000 islands and Bolaven Plateau.

Vientiane

Traditional architecture

 

Here you can find a slow-paced lifestyle uncommon in capitals. Probably an endangered characteristic since the city is engaging in a fast Chinese-invested growth separating it from the rest of the country mood. While in the whole Laos there are mainly nature or wooden villages, in Vientiane there is a rising middle-class and businesses starting to sprout everywhere to satisfied their needs.

Shortage of bars and restaurants is not a problem, with also the weird sight of luxury cars roaming the city’s streets or families going to new expensive shops. An ironic experience for this proudly communist country!

Nevertheless, an authentic and simple lifestyle is still possible to find in the many small markets and traditional businesses.

Located in the middle of the country, is also an easy stopping point between the south and the north. For instance, if you are coming from Cambodia and go first to 4000 islands, it is on your way to the north. Vientiane makes it a fairly convenient spot to stay for a couple of days and experience something different. Forget about dirty roads and bamboo infrastructure, expect wide boulevards and colonial buildings! The French in fact organized everything during the colonial period.

In terms of things to see and places to visit, have a look at:

– Pha That Luang: a golden-color stupa. It is the national symbol of Laos and its most important monument, a major pride for all Laotians

– Wat Sisaket: a beautiful temple built using the Thai-styled architecture. It is the oldest religious structure here and one of the few survivors of the destruction of the city made by Siam kingdom in the 18th century. Even the famous Emerald Buddha in Bangkok’s Grand Palace was stolen from here!

– Thanon Lane Xang: the widest boulevard in town, starting from the presidential palace

– the Mekong riverfront: where you can find places to eat street food, a small but lively market and a pleasant garden to cool down during the hottest hours of the day

– Lao national museum: where you can learn more about the history of this peaceful country

– Cope visitor center: in case you want to know more about the secret American war. In fact in the seventies USA heavily bombed extensive civilian areas of Laos. Feel free to donate or buy some souvenirs to supports this NGO providing health care to the victims

– Patuxai: a highly kitsch version of the French arc du triumph. Funnily enough it is slightly taller than the parisian one, just as a matter of national ego after independence!

– Black Stupa (locally known as That Dam): a stupa that Laotians believe protects the city

– Street markets: Laos is famous for the incredible wide collection of animals that people eat, so a great memorable experience can be to try some of the local specialties such as bugs or bats. (Although we recommend you to always check on the internet to see if the animal you are about to eat are part of some endangered species. Laos is unfortunately famous for its wildlife protection violations!)

Vientiane

A cool Vietnamese temple

For a bit of surrealism, go to the park in the Vientiane’s suburbs, a short bus ride towards Thai border. The name is Xieng Khuan, or Buddha park, and it has the weirdest religious sculptures you can imagine. It’s kind of an older brother of a similar (and more recent park) on the Thai side of the Mekong. It has been made by same artist and has an endless collection of strange creatures as well. Also if you are up for a daytrip outside the city, Nam Ngum Lake can be a good option. There you can relax while cooling off and swimming in its waters.

Vientiane

The public park near Mekong riverfront

Hope you got an idea of what to visit in this sleepy capital of Laos. Don’t miss Vientiane on your way between the south and the north of the country.

And if you are in Cambodia, have a look an Camboticket website to get some itineraries by bus.

Don’t forget that you will need a visa to enter Laos! For most of the countries available at the border for around 30 USD, depending your origin country.

Don’t forget to bring your smile to greet this friendly and happy people of Laos!

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Pakse

How to travel from Cambodia to Laos by Bus

Posted on: July 29th, 2016

As good backpackers that we are, we didn’t really plan this trip to get from Cambodia to Laos by bus to the minutest details. The only thing we knew was that we had a flight ticket on the 23rd July from Vientiane in Laos to Bangkok in Thailand. How to get there? We had no clue whatsoever. But it’s part of the adventure, right?

The journey between Cambodia and Laos is NOT straightforward. In addition to the difficulty in logistics, there is acute shortage of pointed and updated information about traveling from Cambodia to Laos by bus. This is why I’m sharing this with you, hoping someone will find it useful.

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