return to main page

Southern Laos, among the most preserved regions in Southeast Asia

  • By Easia Admin
  • August, 10, 2017

The ancient “kingdom of a million elephants” is a country of nonchalant charm, beating to the rhythm of yesteryear in the meandering of its nourishing river. It is the last country in Southeast Asia where one can still taste the perfumes of a lost colonial East. To be discovered urgently before the next invasion of mass tourism …

The song of the geckos and the melody of the toad-buffalos should not deceive. Soon, the twilight will wrap the Mekong, and night will cover the jungle around. The river traffic must stop. On the Mighty Mekong River, navigation is subtle. Sometimes dangerous. On this royal path that crosses the country for nearly 2000 kilometers, one must maneuver by sight and sound alone. This nourishing river around which the heart of Laos beats is sure of its eternity and its strength.

Pic: Don Daeng

From a sumptuous boat-hotel made of teak wood, the captain chugs through the dense and voracious jungle vistas at slow pace, winding around the sandbanks dotting the Mekong River.

Here, no sonar or sophisticated map will reveal the pitfalls of the course. It is only thanks to passed-down information from generations of fishermen that one progresses on the Mekong. Driven from the port of Champassak, the “Vat Phou Cruise” invites you to reverie in one of the twelve air-conditioned cabins, overlooking the delightfully mysterious landscape.

The boat takes its name from the Vat Phou temple, located at the foot of Mount Phou Passak. Lost in the midst of nature, built between the 6th and 12th centuries, it belongs to a group of pre-Angkorian religious sites. It is not as prestigious or spectacular as the famous Angkor Wat in Cambodia, but there is something there than you would not find in the latter: the absence of mass tourism allows the visitor to stroll on historical paths paved with stones, along decorative lintels and bas-reliefs, without the crowd around, giving an exceptional feeling of uniqueness hard to find in the surrounding countries of Laos. The ascent to the summit is made by a rather steep staircase which discourages some, then rewards the other with a panoramic view overlooking the jungle behind.

Pic: Vat Phu

Back on the shaded promenade, the rattan deckchairs will calm the most restless. The ship’s staff slip silently, and barefoot, like everyone else, on the pearly wooden floor without interrupting the reverie which, when immersed in, one is surprised to find the day is already passing by. The “Vat Phou” winds gently on the muddy waters, crossing the rows of small fishermen’s boats dwarfed by the 34-meters ship. No reproach from the fisherman, only a smile, as it is the tradition in Asia. Below the south is the border of 4000 islands, known as Si Phan Don, an archipelago that stretches in the middle of the Mekong. It is here that the river sometimes overflows to spread over 14 kilometers wide. The navigation is practiced in slow motion, and aboard a much lighter boat. Hundreds of islands are scattered across the meanders of the river. It was here that the great French dream of a line linking the whole colonial empire broke. On the island of Don Det one can also see the remains of the only Laos railways, and even the carcass of an old rusty locomotive. In this landscape, each island invites docking, and you have to choose one; Don Khong island offers a relaxing paradise, half-way between a tropical island and the relaxing ambiance of the Lao countryside.

(Pic: Liphee waterfall ) Description: Liphee Waterfall

(Pic: 4000 Islands) Description: Si Phan Don (in Lao) or 4000 Islands

Located near the border post of Cambodia, in the extreme south of Laos, Khong Phapheng falls are the most impressive waterfalls in the country. A kiosk-promontory allows the view of the 13 kilometers of rapids to stretch before one. They run on barely 18 meters of uneven ground but their arms are broad of 300 meters and break on the submerged rocks. Here bathing is not an option, however, some locals do not hesitate to brave the fury of the waves. In the morning, fishermen take advantage of the power of the flow to catch the fishes, which are dragged by the current into their nets. With the help of two poles, they direct the operations suspended from a bamboo bridge – one wonders at every moment how it does not break.

(Pic: Khonephapheng) Description: Khone Phapheng Falls

Laos is one of the most unexplored countries in Southeast Asia, still hiding remote traditional villages, untouched nature and preserved culture. Come and try the laid-back atmosphere of Southern Laos. Easia Travel offers a wide range of tailor-made tours to the most unexplored sites of this beautiful region and ensures you long-lasting memories in this discovery journey throughout Laos.  For more information, please contact marketing@easia-travel.com.

Destination news