A few random pics from our recent Mekong Adventure tour; a 2-week and 1,000-kilometre journey by land and by river through the heart of Indochina from Lao’s laidback and scenic capital of Vientiane to Cambodia’s bustling and fun Phnom Penh.
The first stop on leaving Vientiane was a great local market set up by Hmong women aside the highway near Pakxang. After a while spent perusing the myriad weird and wonderful products on display and chatting to the friendly vendors we headed into the interior and away from the Mekong to pass through the truly awe-inspiring mountain scenery of the Hin Boun region.
We’d have thought the dramatic – almost surreal – karst landscapes would be a shoe-in for the next Lord of the Rings movie without needing to go all the way to New Zealand?
Overnight accommodation was in chalets at a tiny and delightful riverside resort. The view, below, from the house restaurant, wasn’t too shabby for our well-earned end of day cold Beer Laos.
Next day was up the river to the spectacular Konglor Cave with its famous 7-kilometre underground river.
Once in the hidden interior of the ring-shaped, mountain it proved too hot to hike far so, after a brief village stroll, we headed down to our next stop, Thakaek, a cute old French period port on the banks of the Mekong.
The next day was a hike through some of the region’s spectacular limestone scenery including a trek through a cave and some well-preserved and thankfully shaded primary forest plus a grilled fish picnic lunch by a scenic lake. Hot and sticky with a fair bit of scrambling over rocks involved though fortunately, rewarding and very interesting seemed to be the verdict!
Following the river south, we reached another old French period river port, Pakse, which again offered some pretty fine views for our regular evening sundowners! Our Pakse programme involves a day tour of the picturesque Boloven Plateau to visit waterfalls and a coffee plantation followed by a boat trip down the Mekong to the village of Champassak with its neighbouring UNESCO World Heritage Site of Wat Phu.
At the foot of a sheer cliff and overlooking the verdant valley of the Mekong Wat Phu is certainly one of the most dramatically sited of Angkor period temples.
The next day’s journey to the fantastic 4,000 Islands began with an old-style ferry across the Mekong,
Our first stop in this remarkable inland archipelago was Khong Island and another superbly-situated riverside resort.
The following 2 days were spent exploring this superb area; by boat, on foot and even with a jungle tuk-tuk ride on Don Khone. Highlights included the spectacular Liphi Falls, Khonepapeng – which in the rainy season is the largest waterfall in the world in sheer water volume – and a glimpse of some freshwater, Irrawaddy dolphins that we spectacularly failed to capture on photograph!
Next stop was further down the Mekong by boat to Stung Treng and Cambodia which may have to wait for another blog post so here’s our favourite image from that part of the tour – a dog in the arms of Buddha at Wat Hanchey Kompong Cham Province.
Great tour if we do say so ourselves and many thanks to our wonderful group of travelling companions and of course our excellent local guide Sone for her constant good humour, organisational skills and not least impressive knowledge of local food!