Close to Vientiane Capital is the Ang Nam Ngum (Ngum Reservoir) a picturesque inland lake formed by one of the country’s major hydropower schemes – the Nam Ngum Dam. Boat trips on the reservoir are a popular day-trip from Vientiane Capital but for visitors with more time, an overnight stay at Ban Na Kheaun or Tha Heua is possible. On a southern corner of the reservoir is the large Dansavan Resort where you can gamble and play golf.
Visit the Thoulakhom Zoo at Ban Keun to see a well-kept collection of local species. At Ban Bo in Thoulakhom District are large natural salt deposits that are processed and packaged into the common table condiment using traditional technologies.
The small town of Vang Vieng 150 km north of the capital is set in a dreamlike landscape of bizarre limestone mountain peaks and sheer cliffs with the Nam Song River bisecting the town. At the base of the town’s limestone mountains are a network of caves to explore. There are a variety of well-developed tourism services in Vang Vieng and a wide range of accommodation. Water sports such as kayaking and tubing are popular and rock climbing is also a growing pastime. For those who prefer less exhausting travel, Vang Vieng’s sights include several 16th and 17th century monasteries and the small Hmong villages of Nam Som and Nam Muang.
Just off of route 13 north are two of Vientiane Province’s better known attractions – a small man-made reservoir known as Nong Nok near Ban Sivilay that has great bird watching and the ancient Vang Xang Buddha images and sculptures that are carved into the side of a sandstone escarpment.
The Riverboat restaurant in Thangone is a great place to relax. Boats can be rented out to travel up river and drift back on the current. People quite often rent them out, order food, drink on the boat and sing karaoke.
Xieng Khuan is set on the banks of the Mekong river overlooking Thailand and is an absolute must-see. It is more known under the name the Buddha Park. The whole park is filled with more than 200 Buddhist and Hindu sculptures. It was built in the late ’50’s by Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat, a shaman who combined the Hindu and Buddhist religions.
Patuxay Monument is an arch and a well known symbol of the city. At the monument, there is a plaque where you can read about the history archway and its significance to the city.
After snapping a few pictures, pay the small fee to climb to the top and take in sweeping views of the city below. There are also souvenir shops inside on the way to the top!
Chao Anuvong park is a great place to mingle and socialize. The sunset views are spectacular and a night market opens up in the park after dusk. This is held by the river each night in the Mekong Riverside Park (which is also a great place for a stroll during the daylight hours!). It is easily recognizable by the red tents that cover each stand. You can find everything from clothes, trainers, local Laos artwork, beautiful silk scarves, and much more!
Laotian cuisine is one of the most diverse in the world.
Laotians usually sit down to an evening meal with the whole family and share the food with others. On the resort we offer clean authentic home cooked Laotian food. The Vongkham bush tucker trial is the best way to get ordained into Laotian food.
Lao meals typically consist of a soup dish, a grilled dish, a sauce, greens, and a stew or mixed dish (koy or laap). The greens are usually fresh raw greens, herbs and other vegetables. Dishes are not eaten in sequence; the soup is sipped throughout the meal.
Beverages, including water, are not typically a part of the meal. When guests are present, the meal is always a feast, with food made in quantities sufficient for twice the number of diners. For a host, not having enough food for guests would be humiliating.
THE COPE VISITOR CENTER
The COPE Visitor Centre deals with a dark side of Lao history: the American-Vietnam war had a great impact on the country. Over 270 million cluster bombs were dropped on beautiful Laos – of which 80% never exploded and are still lying in the jungle and because of the bombs, it is near to impossible to create new farming grounds.
The COPE Visitor Centre shows what the UXO’s do to the lives of the Lao people. This museum is free to visit and if you leave a donation, it will go directly into COPE related charities.
Bikes are available to rent at the resort. All bikes come with laminated maps, so you can mark out the route you want to take.
The area surrounding the resort has spectacular scenery and the best way to see it is by bike. The landscape in the Vientiane Province varies from the flat, fertile alluvial plains of the Mekong River Valley to rugged limestone mountains in the northern and western part of the province.
Outside of the main provincial towns the countryside is a beautiful, lush green mosaic of rice paddies, tropical fruit trees, and jungle vegetation dotted with quaint villages where traditional architecture and lifestyles can be seen.
Vang Vieng has become a backpacker-oriented town, with the main street featuring guest houses, bars, restaurants, internet cafes and tour agencies. The main tourist attraction of the town is the tubing and kayaking on the Nam Song River.
Vang Vieng locals have organised themselves into a cooperative business association to sell tubing as an activity, in a system in which 1,555 participating households are divided into 10 village units, with each village unit taking its turn on a ten-day rotation to rent inner-tubes to the tourists.
Thanongsi Sorangkoun, owner of an organic farm in Vang Vieng, says that tubing inadvertently began in 1999 when he bought a few rubber tubes for his farm volunteers to relax on along the river
Other activities include trekking and rock climbing in the limestone mountains. There are also numerous caves, such as Tham Phu Kham half an hour north of Vang Vieng by tuk-tuk or the Tham Non and Tham Jang caves closer to Vang Vieng.
HOUEY HONG CENTER
If you are interested in learning more about the art of dyeing silk or weaving, then the Houey Hong Center is a perfect place to start to hone your skills! They offer classes in both dyeing silk and weaving and the finished product is yours to keep!
The center itself was founded as a way to provide vocational training to women in rural areas who are disadvantaged or who have little education. They also hope to revive Lao’s traditional crafts such as the dyeing and weaving.