Tuesday, 15th March 2016
Highlights of southern Laos
Southern Laos is a wonderful world of paddy fields, pretty villages and jungle karst formations, all accompanied by the Mekong River, which runs through the region. This has led to many tributaries and the famed Four Thousand Islands, as well as the opportunity to spot rare Irrawaddy dolphins. Such a combination makes it a must-visit destination on any itinerary to explore Laos.
Exploring colonial Tha Khaek
The capital of Khammuan Province, Tha Khaek is a pleasant former outpost of France that still displays the villas built by colonialists, which although now fading, retain much of their charm. Its name translates as guest landing, highlighting its welcoming spirit to travellers.
The atmospheric Tham Kong Lor
This 7.5-kilometre network of caves is best explored by longboat and represents a stunning feat of natural engineering. Huge stalactites can be seen emerging from the darkness as you drift by, making it one of the most atmospheric boat journeys you’ll ever experience.
Jungle walks and zip lining
Opportunities to explore the region’s jungles on foot abound throughout southern Laos, but there’s also a far more exhilarating way to see the rainforest. With no fewer than 11 zip lines, one of which takes visitors through waterfall spray, the Tree Top Explorer is a lot of fun.
Coffee growing on the Bolaven Plateau
Ever since the 1920s, the Bolaven Plateau has been used for growing coffee in Laos. Its high elevation and volcanic red soil provide the perfect conditions for coffee plants to grow and visiting the plantation is both interesting and tasty if you get a sample as part of your trip.
Located at the confluence of the Mekong and Don rivers, Pakse is a place many travellers pass through. Those who decide to stay are rewarded with the chance to watch the world go by from cafes and bars on the riverfront, as well as seeking out fascinating sights, such as the grandiose Chinese Society Building.
Laos is well known for being laidback, but Champasak takes it to a whole different level. 30 years ago it was the seat of the nation’s royal family, but since then it has taken on a distinctive feel of faded grandeur, which is certainly not without its charms.
Four Thousand Islands
The name alone of Four Thousand Islands has a special romance to it and that’s what you’ll find in this archipelago in the Mekong River. Look out for the local population of Irrawaddy dolphins that can be typically seen early in the morning and late in the afternoon.
Related news stories:
What to know before you go to Laos (23rd April 2015)
The Laos reading list (6th October 2015)
10 reasons to make Laos your next destination (16th September 2015)
Eat your way through Luang Prabang?s night market (26th May 2016)
The iconic temples of Laos (15th December 2014)