Lost in Laos: River Cruises, War Caves and Mysterious Stones
Hidden in the northern limestone karst mountains of Laos, lie Sam Neua and Viengxay. Far from the main roads and unfrequented by visitors from the West, ethnic hill tribes live their daily live of growing rice, washing clothes in the river and preparing their evening meal of rice and some vegetables.
On an itinerary we like to name Lost in Laos, Khiri Travel Laos takes travelers out to experience the ruggedness of this Southeast Asian country. Combine a visit to this northern area with Luang Namtha, the Plain of Jars in Xieng Khoung province, or en route between Hanoi and Luang Prabang.
We reach Sam Neua after a homestay near Nong Khiew. A cruise on the Ou River and a journey through the calm Lao landscape bring us to the village of Sam Neua. The road twists and turns along a paved mountain road for about 340 km, we arrive in the evening. Notice the distinctly cooler air here as we are almost 1 km above sea level. Bring a light jacket as the mornings and evenings can be chilly.
The next morning we take a walk through the morning market along the Xam River. See the interesting produce available. After a freshly brewed cup of Lao coffee, we depart for Viengxay. The nearby caves were home to the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (Pathet Lao) during the 2nd Indochina war. With help of a local guide and an audio tour we explore the caves and information center near our guesthouse to learn more about the war. Marvel at the amazing karst landscape in the middle of this charming town and spend time to relax on your own.
From Viengxay we travel to Xieng Khoung. Break at the mysterious menhirs (standing stones) at Hintang. No one is quite sure who built them or why, perhaps they are burial sites or markers of some sort. The stones were first inconclusively studied by the archaeologist Madame Colani and her expedition team in the 1930s. Enjoy a local lunch in Nam Neun and continue on to Thampiu Cave, the scene of a tragic loss of a huge number of lives during the Indochina War. In the early evening, we arrive in Xieng Khouang. The town is typically known for the mysterious Plain of Jars. Thousands of gigantic stone reservoirs are scattered on the hills. When in Xieng Khoung we also recommend a visit to the Mulberries Project and the Lone Buffalo Foundation.
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