French tarts and temples – Luang Prabang, Laos

DSC_0823 As soon as you step on to the streets of Luang Prabang, you know you are somewhere regal and very different to the rest of Laos.  It’s not just the clean and well maintained streets, the manicured gardens, the French colonial architecture and magnificent temples.  Luang Prabang is classy, sophisticated and culturally rich – a direct legacy from being the former capital and home to the now abolished Lao Royal family.  This legacy has been cultivated and fine tuned to attract mainstream tourists and their $$’s; it became a UNESCO World heritage site in 1995.  Old colonial buildings are now converted into shi shi boutique hotels, guest houses and cafes and a newly built international airport now makes Luang Prabang the second gateway for tourists exploring Laos. Continue reading

Laos – Nong Khiaw and Muang Ngoi Neua, Luang Prabang province


Nong Khiaw and Muang Ngoi Neua are great places to break journey’s between Luang Prabang and the north-east of Laos.  The area is very scenic, relaxing and is geared up to international tourists, catering for all standards.  I arrived at Nong Khiaw after dark, and extremely weary following  the long bus ride from Xam Nua. In the faint moonlight, I could see the silhouette of the mountains sweeping down to the River Ou.   Continue reading

Laos – Pathet Lao Caves, Viengxay, Houaphanh province


When I first read about the Pathet Laos caves at Viengxay, I instantly knew I had to visit them. The statue above marks the 1973 second Indo China war victory claimed by the Pathet Lao at Viengxay, and recognised as the birthplace of current Peoples Democratic Republic of Laos.  To understand why Vinegxay was chosen and what went on here between 1964 and 1973, a basic understanding of Laos history since 1945 helps.  This was a very turbulent time in Laos history, with many twists and turns . Plus Laos was impacted by events in neighbouring Vietnam.

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Laos – Phonsavanh and the Plain of Jars, Xieng Khouang province


A Laotian couple wave from behind the largest of the jars at site number 1, Plain of Jars

There are two main reasons to visit Phonsavanh and Xieng Khouang province – the Plain of Jars and 1960’s/early 1970’s military history. The town draws backpackers and bikers driving round Indo China, as well as archaeologists and military historian types.  I was interested in the jars, but more so the military history, and I started to see evidence of this as my flight approached Xieng Khouang airport.  These are not a golf course bunkers, they are bomb craters… Continue reading