Khammouane province can be reached from Vientiane by
bus. The area is presently being researched for its potential
as a location for ecotourism. Its interesting limestone caves,
formations, rivers and jungles make it an ideal atmosphere.
Tha Kek, its capital is a great starting place to visit other attractions,
such as the That Skihotabang,
an amazing stupa built by King Nanthasen in around the tenth
the Tham Xieng Lap Caves.
Savannakhet province can be easily reached by bus from
Khammouane. Located between Vietnam and Thailand, the province functions
as the perfect trading junction between the 2 countries. Much of the town’s
architecture is French colonial, including a huge Catholic church,
although there are several Buddhist temples worth a visit such as Wat Sainyaphum.
One can actually walk through the Ho Chi Minh Trail, a former secret
supply route used by the North Vietnamese Army to move military
equipment to South Vietnam. During the Vietnam War, the trail was bombed by the United States
and areas of this destruction can still be
seen. However, the trail can only be visited with a guide as large
areas of the trail still have unexploded bombs.
Champassak province has the capital called Pakse which is quite
easily accessible by air from Vientiane. Pakse has various ethnic minority
groups, much of the Bolaven Plateau and the renowned, although
rarely visited, Wat Phu temple. Wat Phu was built around the 5th century close to the fresh spring water on top of a mountain by
the Khmer Hindus, who consequently settled their empire at its former
capital – Angkor Wat (Cambodia).
Visitors can enjoy the magnificent views across the Mekong valley from
the temple. The complex is easily accessible by chartered boat along
the Mekong River. Additional excursions worthy of taking are to
the Bolaven Plateau, where visitors can ride elephants and
enjoy trekking. Also to Sii Pan Dan (4,000 Islands), where islands form during the rainy season on
the Mekong River. One can also see amazing waterfalls and the endangered irriwaddy dolphins.