For this Laos trip, I am sticking with Lonely Planet Laos (Country Guide) for the travel guide book for information on country background, accommodation, maps, restaurants and places of interest.
Day 7 (Vang Vieng to Vientiane)
I took a morning stroll around Vang Vieng. There was little motivation to do anything more. Long rides into similar landscapes and settlements were dulling my senses, diminishing my power of observation. To continue making the ’best’ of my time here by forcing myself to visit popular sights seems to defeat the purpose of a relaxing holiday.
Early morning at Vang Vieng
Vang Vieng scenery
Day 6 (Phonsavan to Vang Vieng)
The Plain of Jars is an area around Phonsavan where huge jars of unknown origin can be found. Most of these jars are situated in 3 major sites. I left my guesthouse for the Plain of Jars at 730am and easily found Site 1.
Admission ticket to Site 1 (and other sites) costs just about a buck. Maybe it’s still early but Site 1 was not crowded with tourists and I find wandering around the sites a very peaceful experience. But make sure you stick to the marked walking trail as they are still UXOs (unexploded bombs) lying around. Site 2 and 3 were slightly harder to locate but manageable with the excellent gt-rider Laos map.
The enigmatic Plain of Jars are said to be about 2000 years old
Day 5 Part 2 (Xam Neua to Phonsavan)
I had wanted to visit the tourist office to get some directions to the Suan Hin (Sao Hin Tang). But the staffs were out for lunch so I decided to find the stone garden myself. There are a couple of Hintang signboards (white stone pillars on red background) on the road to direct the traveler. But the signs were not very obvious and you might find the GPS coordinates N20 07.388 E103 53.737 helpful.
Road to Suan Hin – Guarded by staring cows
No admission tickets were required for Suan Hin. When I reached the place, nobody was around – no staffs, no tourists. If it wasn’t for the huge signboard, I would have thought I had gone to the wrong place. The stone slabs might look nondescript at first but you might find them more interesting after reading the legend behind them:
Day 5 Part 1 (Xam Neua to Phonsavan)
Often known as the birthplace of Lao PDR, Vieng Xai is home to the former Pathet Lao headquarters. In Vieng Xai, the Lao communist movement built an extensive network of caves to shelter themselves from the constant bombings during the Second Indochina War (aka Vietnam War). For the best part of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the hidden city of caves were homes to the people. Visiting the caves, with some artifacts still on display, offered a great insight of their lives during the period of uncertainty.
I left Xam Neua at 730am for Vieng Xai, a short 30km away. Route 6 was under repair and the ride was slow. Along the way, I tried to locate the Tat Nam Neua waterfall. But I was unable to find it with Lonely Planet’s directions. I could hear the water gushing but just couldn’t find the trail to a view of the waterfall. I moved on and reached the Kaysone Memorial Cave Tour Office in Vieng Xai at 855am, just in time for the 9am tour to the Pathet Lao caves.
Kaysone Memorial Cave Tour Office in Vieng Xai