The mini-bus to Mong Khiaw is not as nice as the one we had from the border to Luang Nam Tha. After passing Oudoxai, the driver has to change the oil, and it takes him 1h to go back in the town to get one bottle. As he goes further to Luang Prabang, we stop in Pakmon and we finish the leg in the back of a truck.
Nong Khiaw (NK) is quite a beautiful place on both sides of the Mou river. We big caves we visit there were once used by the locals during the WWII to avoid the heavy bombs this region got!
NK is good, Muang Ngoi Neua is better! The village is only reachable by boat, a 1h journey from NK. It makes it a very peaceful place to chill out in a splendid landscape: mountain, jungle and river! This might change quickly since a new road just connects the village to the road network.
Our next stop is Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is a lovely mix of colonial houses, temples –the mosaics in Xieng Thong are impressive– and a palace, along the Mekong and one of his affluent.
After the “all you can eat” buffet in Muang Ngoi for 15000 Kips (1.5€), we experience the plate à 10000 kips on the huge Night Market of Luang Prabang. Interesting way for the Falang (Westerns) to get full, even if the mix of everything is not always the best…
32km south from LP, the Kuang Si Park hosts some bears and splendid waterfall. Definitely worth a stop!
Vang Vieng is yet another very beautiful place between LP and the capital Vientiane. It used to be THE place for tubing (going the river down on a truck tube) and party in Laos, but letting people drunk jump into the rocky water led to some death among the tourists. When a son of a Chinese diplomat got involved last year, the Lao government decided to stop this craziness and all bar along the river got closed. Now the place is not far from a ghost town: still some tourists but much less than before, and thus the all is now quiet. We bike until the “blue lagoon” which is actually a river close to a huge cave. Very nice! You could actually get lost there! All tourists not on the tubes seem to relax there and jump into the river.
We enjoy 8km on the river down to VV on a kayak. Some rapids make the journey quite nice, even if the global rhythm is quite slow. There is not so much water on this period. We pass some tourists who seem to be stocked on their tubes: tubing on a slow stream without alcohol looks quite boring.