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Last updated : Nov 2009
Northern Laos
Vientiane & Northern Laos - Laos TravelPuppy
Vientiane

One of Asia’s most peaceful and quiet capital cities, Vientiane cuddles up in fecund flatland along the Mekong River banks. Many buildings display the country’s past connection with Europe, such as the old quaint French colonial homes and the capital’s Victory Monument, which bears a striking, if somewhat rococo, likeness to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

A prominent national monument is the 16th-century That Luang (Royal Stupa) that signifies Buddhist and Lao union. Other significant attractions include the Lao Revolutionary Museum, Wat Ho Prakeo (a former royal temple), Wat Sisaket (among the capital’s oldest temples), Wat Xieng Khouang (Buddha Park), located 24 kilometres (15 miles) south of the city and representing amazing Hindu structures and Buddhist.

Xiang Khouang

In the northeast of the country, Xiang Khouang province is identified by Karst limestone and lush tropical high hills. The capital, Phonsavan enjoys a good climate being at an altitude of 1,200 metres (3,937ft). The mysterious Plain of Jars can be reached from the city and boasts the amazing sight of hundreds of stone jars, some weighing as much as six tonnes, spread through the scenery. The jars are more than 2,000 years old and it has ben said that they were used to brew rice wine in the 6th century for celebrating a victorious battle. About 52 kilometres (32 miles) north of Phonsavan, travellers can relax by 1 of the 2 hot springs; Bo Noi and Bo Yai.

Luang Prabang

This ancient royal city was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. It is the cultural and religious capital of the country, situated between the Mekong and Khan River, affording 32 large temple tourist sites.

Among the most remarkable temples, Wat Xieng Thong is adorned with coloured glass and gold. Testament to the fact that it was the royal capital until 1975, the royal palace there boasts gifts made for former kings and exquisite artwork.

Close by, in the heart of town, travellers can climb Mount Phousi for a beautiful spectacular views of the city and surrounding rivers. The Palace Museum, the former royal palace is worth visiting and easily recognized by its golden spired stupa, providing an amazing collection of artifacts from old rulers of the Kingdom of Lane Xang.

Excursions

The nearby Ban Phanom Village is well known for its weavings, offering the chance to visit a traditional community and to buy bargain-priced embroideries and silk. The graceful Pak Ou Caves, approximately 25 kilometres (16 miles) along the Mekong River, are easily accessible by speedboat from Luang Prabang.

The 2 caves, Tham Phun and Tham Ting, contain many Buddha images that were left there by worshipers over hundreds of years. Further down the river sits the small village of Ban Xang Hai, popular for its production of rice whisky. The Kuang Si Waterfalls are also worth visiting, located 30 kilometres (19 miles) from Luang Prabang where travellers can swim in the lower pools.

Luang Namtha

This mountainous province is located in the far northwest of Laos, with lush tropical surroundings and more than 39 ethnic minority groups. UNESCO has proposed setting up an eco tourism project for this area.

The small town of Muang Xing, located on the river plains, was once an outpost for an ancient southern Chinese empire. There are quite a few guesthouses offering hiking trips starting from here.
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