Laos
Laos

Description Laos

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Laos, bordered by Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma and China, is a country that will surprise you by its nature and authenticity. Laos, previously nicknamed "The Land of the Million Elephants", opened to tourism in 1990. You will be far from mass tourism as the country has suffered the conflicts of its neighboring countries and has experienced a tourism boom that for twenty years.
 
Mountain territory crossed by rivers and especially by the grandiose Mekong Delta, 70% of the land of Laos consists mainly of mountains and plateaus. You will also explore the beauty of the many temples and listen to the past of the ancient kingdoms of Laos, a rich history awaits you.
 
Traveling across the country, you will not miss to meet a very welcoming and endearing population as well as to discover an intact Buddhist heritage, especially in the former royal capital, Luang Prabang.
 
From now on, you will feel a strong contrast between the North and South of the country. Indeed, from an ethnic point of view, Laos is a real complex puzzle that is divided up with no less than 130 ethnic groups, sub-ethnic groups and numerous clans. It has the most minorities in any of its neighboring countries, making it the most ethnically diverse territory in all of Southeast Asia.
 
These Laotian peoples will be able to show you their authenticity and their savoir vivre thanks to their kindness.
 
Laos has a great diversity in vegetation, it has multiple varieties associated with tropical rainforests and bamboo. You will find many ordinary animals such as: Concolor's gibbon, langur and dog raccoon. But you can also discover exotic species: Mongoose Javan, Siamese hares, leopard, tiger, Irrawaddy dolphin and some Javan rhinos that survive in the Bolaven plateau.
 
Laos is a nature destination that will truly delight lovers of open spaces and jungles. But do not forget that if you are looking for a new culture or if you are curious, this destination is totally for you.
 
Have a nice trip to Laos!

 

SPLENDORS OF LAOS

A circuit full of colors and discoveries, from North to South of Laos
Visit Wat Sisaket temple. Discover the many monuments of Luang Prabang. Excursion to Kuang Si Waterfall. Participation in a typical ceremony of Laos. Meeting with the inhabitants of the country. Visit of several ethnic villages. Boat trip on the Nam Ou River. Discovery of many trades and working methods. Boat cruise to the Done Det and Done Khone Islands. Elephant ride.
  • Laos
  • 14 Days 13 Nights
  • Classic & cultural

FABULOUS LAOS

Come touch the essence of the country
Crossing the Mekong by motorized boat. Visit of the Souvanakhounkham site. Elephant ride. Excursion to Kuang Si Falls. Canoe ride through the labyrinth of waterways. Walk on the island of Khone. Visit of ethnic minority villages.
  • Laos
  • 14 Days 13 Nights
  • Classic & cultural

MYTHICAL LAOS

Overview of Laos
1h30 boat ride to Shampassac, the former capital. Visit of the island of Done Khone. Walk to Lippi Falls. Visit of the biggest Mekong waterfall in Laos. Elephant ride. Hmong Market Tour. Participation in a typical ceremony of Laos.
  • Laos
  • 10 Days 9 Nights
  • Classic & cultural

IN THE HEART OF LAOS

From Vientiane to Luang Prabang, passing by the country's most famous sites
Visit Wat Sisaket temple. Typical country meal. Discovery of the former Royal Palace. You can enjoy the panoramic view at the top of Mount Phousi. Mekong ride on a local boat to the sacred Pak Ou Caves. Excursion to Kuang Si Falls where you can swim.Visit of homemade mulberry paper mills in Xang Khong
  • Laos
  • 5 Days 4 Nights
  • Classic & cultural

PLAIN OF JARS

Discovering a Laotian site full of mystery
Visit of ethnic minority villages. Exploring the fabulous "Plain of Jars". Walk in the Wet Market. Discovering Navang Crafts.
  • Laos
  • 3 Days 2 Nights
  • Classic & cultural

LUANG PRABANG - Elongated

The essentials of Laos
During a trip of 4 days and 3 nights, you will discover the unmissable places of Laos. Notably, Luang Prabang, former capital of Lane Xang Kingdom or the sacred caves of Pak Ou.
  • Laos
  • 4 Days 3 Nights
  • Classic & cultural

LUANG PRABANG - SHORT

The must-see touristic sites in Laos
Visit of the old Royal Palace. Trekkig on Phousi Mount to enjoy the wonderful view over Luang Prabang. Visit the sacred cave of Pak Ou. Cross the Mékong. Visit artisanal workshops of paper of mulberry Xang Khong
  • Laos
  • 3 Days 2 Nights
  • Classic & cultural
Culture
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POPULATION
  • Laos has a great identity at the level of these ethnic minorities. There are about 130 different ethnic groups in Laos. The population is divided into 4 major categories: Lao Loum (50%), Lao Thai (around 15%), Lao Theung (25%) and Lao Sung (10%). Each ethnic group comes from a region that is distinct from the others. For example, Lao Loum, meaning Bas Lao, comes from the lower part of Laos, from the Mekong Valley. Lao Theung means Lao from the top and Lao Sung come from Upper Laos. About 40% of the Lao population is made up of minority ethnic groups of mountain origin, including the Hmong and Khmu, who represent the largest groups. 
  • For the Laotians, the family remains the center of their lives, they mostly live in rural areas and have this very important aspect of the family.
  • A golden rule applies in Laos, it is better to keep calm, not to be aggressive or angry and so to be patient. You must not be demanding and capricious, do not impose yourself, it can be very badly seen by the Laotians.
  • It is strongly discouraged to touch the head of a Laotian, in Europe touch the head of someone can be perceived as a friendly gesture, however it is not at all the case in Laos, it is for them a gesture that is very badly perceived. Indeed, the Laotians believe that the head is sacred since it is the seat of the soul.
  • Laotian culture is a culture of non-contact and Laotians are generally calm people, discreet and not very demonstrative. During a conversation, it is customary to keep a certain distance with the other, an arm length being acceptable.
  • Finally, a last rule to remember regarding appearance: Laotians attach great importance to personal hygiene and cleanliness, so it is important for you to maintain a healthy lifestyle, otherwise you will be a source of mockery for Laotians.
RELIGION
  • The official religion of Laos is Buddhism. Laos is home to about 22,000 monks. It will be impossible during your trip to miss them. You will notice them dressed in the same yellow and orange hues, because they are the ones that are the closest to saffron, sacred spice of Buddhists, but also those of aurora and gold that symbolizes purity . The wearing of this dress becomes a sign of renunciation and wisdom.
  • Regarding a rule of manners, remember to take off your shoes when you enter a temple or a house.
THE FOOD
  • Due to its geographical location, we find in Thai dishes Thai and / or Vietnamese influences. In Laotian cuisine, a large quantity of aromatic herbs is used as well as coconut milk, which is the main fat used.
  • Rice, which is generally sticky, is part of the food base in Laos. With that, you add pork, beef, duck, chicken or fish.
  • Laap is the most famous national dish in Laos and is also served during traditional ceremonies. It is a specialty of raw meat or fish, pounded in mortar with garlic and chilli and marinated in lemon juice. The whole is then mixed with uncooked rice grains that have been previously fried and crushed. Another very popular specialty is "Tam mak houng". It is a green papaya salad finely grated and well raised. You can find pepper, kapi (shrimp paste) or nampou (crab paste), with lemon juice and nampa (salt fish sauce) and peanuts.
  • The "Som pa" and "Som soft" are made from fish or pork meat kneaded with fermented rice, which is presented wrapped with chilli in a banana leaf.
  • Finally, you can taste the inevitable "Pho" (to pronounce "fire"). It is a noodle soup very popular with the local population. It looks a lot like the traditional Chinese or Vietnamese noodle soup. You will find it all over the country.
  • In addition to these Laotian dishes, there are steamed dishes, such as "moks", meat or fish cut into small pieces, cooked with coconut milk and spices in a banana leaf.

Before leaving
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PASSPORT & VISA
  • In order to enter Laotian territory, you must be provided with a valid passport 6 months after the date of exit from Laotian territory, with at least two blank pages in your passport.
  • All persons traveling to Laos for tourism must have a tourist visa. It is mandatory and remains valid for 30 days. For visitors arriving by land from Vietnam; from Cambodia or Thailand, you must obtain your visa before you arrive in Laos. This formality will be simple, you just need to go to the Embassy of Laos in your country of residence or stay. Remember to have a photo ID.
  • Before leaving, we advise you to photocopy all important documents (passport, electronic equipment invoices, insurance policy, plane tickets, driving license ...). A handy tip if you lose your papers or valuables.
HEALTH AND VACCINES
 
  • No vaccine is required to visit Laos. However, we advise you to be up to date in all your classic vaccinations (diphtheria, tetanus, typhoid, poliomyelitis, meningitis, typhoid fever, hepatitis).
  • Some people recommend getting vaccinated against hepatitis A and B and Japanese encephalitis, especially if you are traveling in a rural area. To find out if this is relevant in your case, make an appointment at a vaccination center for advice.
  • It is important to protect yourself from malaria, which is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes. For more information, do not hesitate to ask your doctor for advice. Make sure you do not forget about anti-snake repellents for your comfort.
  • Do not hesitate to provide a small kit of pharmacies with some basic products, it will be very useful in case of first aid.
  • Namely: The most common reported infection is hepatitis A that can be transmitted through food and water. Hepatitis B is spread through blood and saliva. The most common health problems among travelers are digestive problems and diarrhea, which can be treated by avoiding spicy dishes and drinking plenty of water.
CLIMATE
  • There are two distinct seasons in Laos: the dry season from November to March, and the wet season from April to October.
  • April to June is the hottest month, with average temperatures of 32 ° C. The months of December and January are cooler, with an average of 23 ° C and 5 ° C in the heart of the mountains. July and August are the rainiest months with nearly 500 mm of rain a month. In summary, from May to October, you will be in the middle of the monsoon season, so do not forget your k-way or umbrella! On the other hand, in full summer the temperatures are stifling and the abundant rains, we advise you to avoid to travel in Laos during this period.
  • If you want to travel to Laos while enjoying the best climate possible, prefer the months of November to February, and do not forget to bring hat and sunscreen. During the mid-season, from March to May, it is hot but the rainfall is reasonable.
INSURANCE

All travelers have the obligation to take out an insurance policy for their trip before participating in our tours. Although there are international standard care cells in Vientiane, the country still lacks infrastructure and equipment in cases of serious illness or injury. We also advise you to provide good health insurance and repatriation insurance.

MONEY 
 
Be sure to ask your bank about the use of your credit card and the fees for using it. Travel options exist, so consider traveling at no extra cost.
 
ADAPTER
 
Plan to bring with you a universal adapter, since in Laos the electrical system is 220 volts but the outlets are not always standard.

On the spot
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THE NATIONAL CURRENCY: THE KIP (LAK)
  • In the capital, you will realize that it is possible to change euros, to use your Visa or Master credit card in hotels and restaurants.
  • However, outside of Vientiane, it will be easier for you to pay with the local currency or to have American dollars or Thai baht on you to exchange them.
  • There are banknotes of 100, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 Kip. If you intend to go to more remote parts of the country, we advise you to prepare a good reserve of Kip.
  • The current exchange rate is 1 USD = 8,323 Kip.
PHONE
  • To call Laos from France, dial 00 856 + city code (without the 0) + number of the correspondent.
  • To call France from Laos, dial 00 33 + number of the correspondent (without 0).
BANKS
  • You will find many vending machines in the big cities but also in small towns and sites frequented by tourists.
THE WATER 
  • Be very careful about the water you drink. Never drink tap water, always drink bottled water and check that it is properly capped. It is necessary to be vigilant also with ice cubes, consume only cubic ice cubes or with a cylindrical hole shape in the middle.
TRANSPORT ON SITE
  • Once there, you will have the choice to take different modes of transport:
    • The car: all the vehicles used for our tours are modern and air-conditioned vehicles, which range from the classic car to the bus for 45 people.
    • The boat: Local boats with 12 to 24 seats are used for cruises on the Mekong River.
    • Airplanes: Lao Aviation is the national aviation company. It is quite common to face flight delays or cancellations due to heavy rains during the monsoon season.An airport tax is required for both domestic and international flights. It is 10 US dollars for international flights. Note that the maximum weight of checked baggage in economy class is 20kg for adults and children, with the company Lao Airlines.
A FEW USEFUL VOCABULARY WORDS
  • Hello / Good evening: Sabai dii / None lap fan dii
  • How are you ? : Sabaï dii bo ?
  • Very well thank you and you ? : Sabaï dii, khop tchaï, lè tchao dè ?
  • I do not understand: Khoï bo khao tchaï
  • Pardon: Kho thot
  • Goodbye: La kone
  • Welcome: Nyinditonhab
  • Thank you (a lot): Khop tchaï laï laï
  • Excuse me / Please: Excuse khaphachao / Kalounaa
  • Yes / No: Tchao / Bo
  • No thanks: Bo khop tchaï
  • How much is it ? : Laka tao dai?
  • I would like to buy ... this, this one: Khaphachao yakcha su ... thini
Attractions
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Serenity, charm, harmony and mystery, like the dancers of Khmer ballets, are the symbols of this country long isolated from the rest of the world. Laos, bathed by the magical waters of the Mekong "mother of waters", has kept intact all its treasures. Laos will give you a generous welcome from the people who, in the absence of other things, offer you to share their heart and their gaiety!
 
THE ATTRACTIONS
Vientiane
Vang Vieng
Luang Prabang
Plain of the jars
Pakse
Bolaven Plateau
Balinese dance
 
 
VIENTIANE

The capital 
 
Vientiane (ວຽງ ຈັນ, Viangchan en lao) is the capital of Laos (Lao People's Democratic Republic), with an estimated population of about 783,000 in 2018. It is located on the left bank of the Mekong, which marks the border with Thailand , almost in front of the Thai town of Nong Khai. His former name is Sri Sattanak, or Sisattanak (Lao: ສີ ສັດ ຕະ ນາກ). Sisattanak is today one of the districts of its suburbs.
 
Vientiane ("port of the moon" according to a translation) is a city that gives the impression of smallness, compared to many other capitals. The city center is marked by the French style of the old buildings, and by the Soviet utilitarianism of the newer buildings which were built in the period when a great friendship reigned between Laos and the USSR which then sent advisers and technicians to help the country.
 
There are very few really old historical monuments to visit, as the city has too often been the target of Burmese and Thai raids. It is however a charming place of residence, nestled in a meander of the Mekong, ideal for those who do not seek the intoxication of a large active city.
 
Legendary city of Indochina, Vientiane has kept from this time great arteries with sidewalks, and beautiful colonial mansions. Going up Thanon Lan Xang street to the Patuxai, we can not help but see the reference to the Champs-Elysees with the Arc de Triomphe, Laotian scale of course! Heavily destroyed during the Siamese invasion of 1828, Vientiane is a city that does not have the architectural wealth of Luang Prabang. A number of monuments are however worthy of interest! Let's mention the Pha That Luang, symbol of the Lao nation, the museums of Vat Si Saket and Vat Pha keo, the huge bronze Buddha of Vat Ou Teu ... The banks of the Mekong are a pleasant walk, especially at sunset , and the morning market, Talat Sao, is the best place to shop, as there is almost everything Laos produces: coffee, traditional crafts, textiles, wood, gold jewelry in silver.



Buddha park
 
Located about 20 km from the capital, this amazing park is home to many statues taking more fantastic shapes than others.




Wat Ho Phra Kaew
 
The dating of Wat Phra Kaew is still controversial. The temple was probably built around the 16th century during the reign of Setthathirat. In 1548, he inherited the throne of Chiang Mai from his mother's side, and the throne of Vientiane from his father's side. He had Wat Phra Kaew erected to house the two most sacred Buddha statues of the new kingdom: the Phra Bang and the Phra Kaew "Emerald Buddha" which he had just transferred from Chiang Mai.
 
In 1778, the Siamese destroyed the temple and took away the two Buddhas, objects of all lusts. The Emerald Buddha is now at Bangkok's Wat Phra Kaew, the Thais believing he has always belonged to the kingdom of Chiang Mai, an integral part of Siam. Fine players, they made the Prabang in Laos in 1867. The current temple of Vientiane was rebuilt in 1936, according to original plans found by the French School of the Far East. The result showing a Thai style clearly XIX, these documents had to date from an intermediate reconstruction. Today the temple is turned into a museum, the Ho Phra Kaew. It contains a superb collection of bronze Buddhas.

 
Wat Si Saket
 
Wat Si Saket, one of the most beautiful temples of the capital, was built by Chao Anou in 1818. This temple-museum is the oldest building in Vientiane as it was the only monument to have been spared by the Siamese , during their incendiary raid of 1828, probably because of the typical Thai style that inspired its builders.
 
The internal walls of the gallery are riddled with small niches containing nearly 2,000 Buddhas in silver and ceramic. A superb collection of statues of different sizes and styles is displayed around the cloister. These pieces, mainly in wood and bronze, date from the 15th to the 19th century. A pile of damaged and half-melted statuettes during the fire of 1828 is open to public curiosity. The interior of the pagoda is entirely decorated with original murals which deteriorate from year to year for lack of restoration. They represent scenes from Buddha's life.


The Patuxai
 
Small triumphal arch, also called Anousavali, is a memorial to the victims of the war in Laos. The name of Patuxai was given to him by the government after the revolution, following a renovation that gives it the appearance that can be seen today. It is the most beautiful point of view on the city of Vientiane.

 
That Luang
 
The country's most popular monument, it is both a religious symbol and a symbol of the unity of the country. Located three kilometers north of the city center, Pha That Luang is a quadrangular stupa 35 meters high, entirely gilded. It is surrounded by a square cloister with two entrances and two pavilions (of the original four). In the immediate vicinity, four modern Buddhist temples have been built (two in the west and two in the east).


Wat Si Muang
 
It is considered the lucky temple of the city. Wat Si Muang was built around the pillar of the city, supposed to house the tutelary genius of the capital. The legend goes back to the 16th century, when King Setthathirat decided to settle in Vientiane. It is said that he had opted for the west bank of the Mekong, but that a sacred Naga brought him to that location. It is also said that a young pregnant woman, named Nang Si, was buried under the huge stone pillar.
In Laos, the cult of geniuses, although officially forbidden, is still very much alive and mingles with religion. This is why Wat Si Muang enjoys great popularity, the offerings of flowers, fruits and incense are continuous and fuel a trade around the temple.

 
 VANG VIENG
 
Vang Vieng is a beautiful site 160 km north of Ventiane. The city lies near the Nam Song River, in a green area populated by Hmong and Yao, famous for its caves and waterfalls, cliffs and sugar loaves. The sacred caves often contain statues of the Buddha and are the subject of pilgrimages during the holidays.
Having become an essential stop on the tourist circuit in Laos, this city seduces with its charm, the beauty of its landscapes and the welcome of its inhabitants.




A paradise for cavers, Vang Vieng is full of amazing caves. The best known and closest to the center is called Tham Jang, quite deep, which is reached by a large staircase offering an exceptional panorama of the valley. This cavity sheltered in particular the villagers during the invasions of the troops of Yunnan. Returning from this climb, outside, you can cool off in a clear water source. A second cave, also to the southwest, the Tham Phu Kam, requires a long hike of 6 km but is worth a visit. The climb is quite laborious but leads to a beautiful bronze reclining Buddha, placed in the middle of the cave. At the foot of the mountain, a swim in the river is also recommended. At the opposite, 13 km from the city, is a series of caves, called "the triangle of Tham Sang". The elephant cave (Tham Sang) contains several Buddha statues and an elephant-shaped stalactite. The Tham Hoi is guarded by a large effigy of Buddha while the Tham Loup contains imposing stalactites. Finally, the Tham Nam, 500 meters long, can be explored on foot, or with a tube during the rainy season, a very fun experience!

 
Moreover, Vang Vieng is the ideal place for all sports activities, including tubing (downhill river tractor tube), the flagship sport of Vang Vieng, practiced by backpackers. But many agencies also offer to kayak down the Nam Song, often after visiting the caves. As for rafting, the possibilities and levels are diverse. Nam Ngum nevertheless has the biggest rapids in the region. You will then have to cross the Saisombun special zone in order to reach this river in one day. Then for climbing fans, the limestone walls of Vang Vieng are among the best sites in the world.

 
LUANG PRABANG

The Royal Palace 
 
One of the city's must-see sights is the Royal Palace Museum, which provides a better understanding of Luang Prabang's history. Built in 1904, around a mix of traditional Lao elements and classic French style, this residence housed the royal family until their exile, from which date it became a museum, retaining most apartments .
In the King's former reception hall, the walls are covered with a beautiful painting, depicting scenes from traditional Lao life, the work of a French artist, Alix De Fautereau. Presents from several countries are on the left of the lobby. There are all kinds of objects: porcelain vases, statuettes, silverware ... Then, to the right of the palace, is a room containing one of the most precious objects of Laos, the Pha Bang , golden buddha, who gave his name to the city. Watch out for your clothes: covered shoulders and legs, for both men and women.


The Wat Mai
 
The temple is famous for its gilded bas-reliefs depicting the life of one of the reincarnations of the Buddha. The roof, formed by five wooden sides, reflects the pure style of the city. The Pha Bang, Golden Buddha, is exhibited at Wat Mai during the celebrations of the Lao Pi Lao Lao New Year.

 
The Wat Sen
 
Its golden facade instantly catches the eye! Wat Sen was built in 1717 by King Kitsarath. When restored in 1932 and 1957, the temple was profoundly transformed. Originally, the roof consisted of only two sides and three arcades or porches of the facade. Today, the temple is higher with three sides and five porches, which gives it a more Thai style than Xieng Khuang as it was the case originally. A new building has been built with respect for the religious architectural unity of the city, intended to house a collection of furniture and statues. It is at Wat Sen that the Gand Satou, venerable chief of the Buddhist community of Luang Prabang, resides.


Wat Xieng Thong
 
Dating from 1560, it is the most beautiful temple in Laos. It is the most important and most sumptuous temple in the royal city. It was built on the Mekong River in 1560, under the order of King Setthathirat. Inside the sanctuary, several stupas contain period Buddhas, but also a 12m high funeral car. On one side, you can see a beautiful mosaic representing the "tree of life". With its roof that goes down to the ground, Wat Xieng Thong perfectly represents the architecture of Luang Prabang!

 
The falls of Kuang Si
 
During your stay in Luang Prabang, do not miss a trip to the magnificent Kuang Si Falls! Located about thirty kilometers from the city, this site remains an almost unmissable step of any tourist circuit in Laos. The setting is simply sumptuous, with its turquoise pools, small wooden bridges, multi-level waterfall, and lush forest. You can even enjoy a refreshing swim in very clear water ... For the bravest, a path, difficult during the rainy season, leads to the top of the waterfall from where an incredible view overlooks the surroundings.


The caves of Pak Ou
 
Located 25 km from Luang Prabang, along the Mekong at the mouth of the Nam Ou River, this place of pilgrimage is worth the detour. To get there, you will have to take a boat and cross the river, which is already a unique experience, thanks to the majestic landscapes and spectacular mountains that surround the cave. We will drop you off at the foot of an impressive limestone cliff, where you can see about 3,000 Luang Prabang-style Buddha-like statues, deposited by the faithful over the years. Two caves are accessible: the Tham Thing, on the first level, is lit by daylight while the upper cave, Tham Phoum, requires the use of a flashlight. When returning to Luang Prabang, ask to stop at the village of Ban Xang Hai, where locals produce lao-lao, which they distil in jars.

 
THE PLAIN OF JARRES
 
Here is one of the most spectacular and mysterious sites of Laos: the plain of jars. This plateau of 1000 km², at 1000 m altitude, has about 460 jars of unknown origin, carved in stone or granite, but proving the existence of a civilization at that time.



Old millennia, these jars would have served either sarcophagus or containers for the fermentation of wine where the conservation of rice. But according to scientists, the most credible hypothesis remains that of funeral urns.
The plain of jars has three sites to visit, a few kilometers from the town of Phonsavanh. On the site n ° 1, is a cave in which the jars would have been manufactured. The second solution would be that this cave served as a place of cremation.
During the Vietnam war, tons of bombs and defoliants were dumped on this area. Thus, it is strongly advised not to go off the beaten track and not too far away from the jars. Today, children still die under the explosion of these bombs, released more than forty years ago.
During your excursion, you will have the pleasure of tasting traditional Lao-Lao in a local village, or visiting the wreck of a Russian tank bombed during the war.

 
 PAKSE
 
Real hub of southern Laos, it is also the capital of the province of Champassak, founded in 1905 by the French. Pakse inevitably passes many travelers, because it serves as a starting point for the big excursions that are Wat Phu, the plateau of Bolaven and the 4,000 islands.
15 kilometers north of Pakse is Don Kho, an island on the Mekong, and the village of Ban Saphai, both famous for silk weaving. This traditional practice is indeed a great specialty of Laotian women throughout Laos.

 
Wat Phu
 
The site of Wat Phu is registered with the world inheritance of humanity by UNESCO. The religious complex of Wat Phu, Khmer architecture and Hindu religion, is located at the foot of a mountain whose culminating point, the Phou Kao, draws particular attention by its form, identified in antiquity with a linga, phallic symbol of Shiva, hence its ancient name of Lingaparvata, and its reputation of sacred mountain. The presence of a permanent spring, at the foot of one of the cliffs, has probably prompted the ancient kings of the region to install a shivaite shrine there.
 
Associated with this religious group is in the plain, on the banks of the Mekong, a pre-Angkorian town whose remains (raw earthen walls, many brick monuments) are currently barely visible on the ground, although they appear very well on aerial photographs. Since 1991, excavations have been conducted by P.R.A.L. (Research Project in Lao Archeology), which has established a precise archaeological map.
 
The cultural landscape of Champassak, including the entire temple of Wat Phu, is a planned landscape area more than a thousand years old and remarkably well preserved. In order to express the Hindu conception of the relationship between nature and man, it has been shaped along an axis between the summit of the mountain and the banks of the river in a geometric intertwining of temples, shrines and hydraulic structures. stretching for about 10 km. The site also includes two ancient cities, built on the banks of the Mekong and the Phou Kao mountain, the ensemble representing a process of development spanning more than a thousand years, from the 5th to the 15th century, associated mainly with the Khmer empire.


The island of Don Khone
 
The island of Don Khone, connected to Don Det by an old French bridge and famous for its bamboo, coconut and kapok culture, is bigger. Lined with coconut trees on both sides, it also offers beautiful walks, including the 5 km along the railway. To the west of Don Khone are the Liphi Falls, impressive for their rapidity and intensity. According to the Laotians, they would contain spirits, which is why the villagers never venture there.

 
THE BOLAVEN TRAY
 
One of the most bombed areas during the war, the Bolaven plateau is spread over three provinces: Salavan, Sékong and mainly Champassak. Boasting a pleasant climate and very fertile land, the Bolavens are the most important coffee producing region of Laos. Many families have moved to this plateau to take advantage of coffee harvests, introduced by French colonials from 1920.
 
During an excursion, you can go hiking in the heart of these farms, taste the excellent coffee, and even buy a few bags, sold as part of fair trade. Green tea is also grown, but in smaller quantities.

Between Pakse and Paksong, the coffee capital and important market, one can discover ethnic minorities with traditional dress and lifestyle and ancestral customs, including Katu, Alak, Tahoy or Ngai. The Katu villages consist of palm and thatch houses, arranged in a circle around a perched hut, serving in turn as a bridal chamber for the men of the tribe. They are known for practicing animal sacrifices, intended to pay tribute to the spirit of the village, during impressive ceremonies. However, the majority of the population of the region belongs to the Laven family, with Bolaven meaning "Laven homeland".
 
In addition, the plateau has some very picturesque falls, some of the most impressive in Laos. Tad Fan, located in the National Protected Area of ​​Dong Hua Sao, is probably the highest in the country, as it consists of two arms plunging over 120 m. An extremely sporty trek, but quite dangerous during the rainy season, can bring you to the top of this fall, offering an unparalleled view. Tat Yuang Falls, in the heart of the lush forest, is also spectacular with two torrents over 40 m. You can swim at the bottom of the falls, but pay attention to the current. Other waterfalls are accessible in the Bolaven Plateau, often from Paksong, like that of Tat Meelok, whose access remains difficult.

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