Visit Laos > Discover the country
Along the Mekong
In the north, from the Thai border to Luang Prabang, is a long ribbon that crosses impressive mountainous landscapes, dotted with villages and sacred grottos. In the south, from Champassak to the 400 Khong islands, there is a line of Khmer temples, traditional villages and breathtaking landscapes.
The capital of Champassack is Pakse, which located at the confluence of the Mekong and the Sedon rivers. Southeast Asia's biggest waterfalls, Khone Pha Pheng, are within easy reach by boat or by road. Champassack lush, fertile land encouraged rice cultivation. It's one of the largest producers of rice in the country. Parts of Bolaven Plateau, which rests on the border of Saravane and Champassack are used for cultivation of coffee, cardamon, bananas, and other crops. Other parts, however, still offer pristine nature, especially in the mountainous central part constituting Dong Hua Sao Forest reserve, a proposed protected area which has dense jungle and abundant wild animal life. It locates at Phapho Village: located 67 kilometers south of Pakse on the road No.13. When the water level falls back again in the dry season, thousands of small islands rise from the river, giving the area the name Si Phan Done (4000 islands). The biggest island with 55,000 inhabitants is Done Khong, a peaceful place for an overnight visit. Several waterfalls drop over the escarpment. Some of the most spectacular are Tat Phan with height of 120 meters and Khon Pha Pheng. Another interesting island in this area is Done Khone, where the French built a 14 km long railway to by pass the rapids. Visitors can follow the old railway line, view and old locomotive, pass a massive French built bridge and watch a series of huge rive cascades called Tat Somphamit, also know as the Li Phi falls.
From the southern tip of Done Khone a small island is accessible from which Irrawaddy dolphins can be watched during the dry season and it is exited only on place in Asia. Mekong Dolphin Conservation Center is located on Done Khone Island. Tourists are welcome to visit the center. To visit the center, visitors must go by road to Bane Veunkham village and then take a boat north a few kilometers to the center. Forty six km south of Pakse, Wat Phou, one of the most important sights in Laos, is located. Wat Phou literally means mountain temple. The different levels of the temple structure, built along the slope of the adjacent mountain, date from the 6th century to the Angkor period of the 9th to 13th century.
The upper platform of the temple affords a wonderful view of the Mekong plain. Energetic visitors may want to climb the near by Phou Passak, whose peak is shaped like a lingam or Shiva phallus. Another Khmer monument, Muang Tomo or Oum Moung, can be visited on the opposite side of the Mekong. It is, however, less accessible than Wat Phou. The area has the remains of an ancient Khmer stone temple on Mount Phou Asa.At the most southwestern tip of Laos, along the Cambodian border, the Mekong river reaches its maximum breadth of 14 km (during the rainy season).
Luang Prabang is a charming royal capital and a typical old Asian city with about 50 monasteries and pastel temples. Nearby is Vang Vieng and its landscapes of peaks and high plateaus.
At the Chinese-Vietnamese border discover tranquil villages set against a backdrop of secret mountains, created by the turbulent Mekong tributaries.
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