Laos Highlight

Laos Highlight

Discover Central Provinces - Discover Central Provinces - Discover Central Provinces - Discover Central Provinces

Vientiane Province is located in the central of Laos, far from Vientiane Capital around 85 kilometers. It has total area of 22.554 square kilometers 2/3 of the land is mountainous and 1/3 is land field. It shares border with another provinces such as : Luang Prabang to the north, Xieng Khouang to the north east, Bolikhamxay to the east, Vientiane Capital city to the south, Sayabouly to the west and Loei Province (Thailand) to the south west which 97 kilometers length. The provoince has a total population of 450.329 people, female 224.065 people, Vientiane Province consist of 13 districts: Thoulakhom District, Viengkham, Keo-oudom, Phonhong, Hinherb, Vang Vieng, Kasi, Meuang Mad, Meuang Feuang, Sanakham, Xaysomboun, Hom and Meuane District. The capital city of Vientiane Province is Phonhong District. The landscape in Vientiane Province varies from the flat, fertile alluvial plains of the Mekong River Valley to rugged limestone mountains in the northern and western part of the province. Vientiane Province is well-known for having the highest mountain peak in Laos 2,819m Phou Bia Outside of the main provincial towns the countryside is a beautiful, lush green mosaic of rice paddies, tropical fruit trees, and jungle vegetation dotted with quaint villages where traditional architecture and lifestyles can be seen. The small town of Vang Vieng 150 km north of the capital is set in a dreamlike landscape of bizarre limestone mountain peaks and sheer cliffs with the Nam Song River bisecting the town. At the base of the town’s limestone mountains are a network of caves to explore. There are a variety of well-developed tourism services in Vang Vieng and a wide range of accommodations.  Water sports such as kayaking and tubing are popular and rock climbing is also a growing pastime. For those who prefer less exhausting travel, Vang Vieng’s sights include several 16th and 17th century monasteries and the small Hmong villages of Nam Som and Nam Muang.

Located on a curve of the Mekong River, Vientiane Capital has a recorded history that stretches back to around 1,000 AD. The area was originally settled because of the fertility of the surrounding alluvial plains, and Vientiane became the capital city of Laos around the mid-16th century. Vientiane Capital is the home to the most significant national monument in Laos: That Luang (Great Stupa), which is the symbol of Lao and an icon of Buddhism in Laos. Of the many beautiful Wats in Vientiane, a visit to Wat Sisaket is a must; built in 1818, this is one of the oldest temples in Vientiane. Other Buddhist holy places are Wat Ong Teu Mahavihan, known for its 16th century bronze Buddha sheltered by a carved wooden masterpiece, and Wat Si Meuang, the site of the Lak Meuang or pillar-stone of Vientiane. Wat Si Meuang is also home to the guardian spirit of the city. Hor Phakeo, across the street from Wat Sisaket houses a beautiful collection of Buddha statues, including traditional Lao style of the "Calling for Rain" and "Offering Protection". Spend a morning in the Lao National Museum, which displays an interesting mixture of revolutionary and contemporary exhibitions. The main sights in Vientiane are only a short walk or bicycle ride from most hotels. Wat Xieng Khouan, better known as the Buddha Park should not be missed: take a tuk-tuk to this unique park that includes Buddhist and Hindu. Shopping for handicrafts is easy in Vientiane Capital; visit Talat Sao (morning market) for a wide range of colourful textiles including silks, wall-hangings and other decorative pieces. For very fine handicrafts, try one of the many upscale galleries in the city center. Keep your eyes open for traditional wood carvings, mulberry paper and a variety of basketry made from bamboo and rattan.

Xaysomboun Province was established on 13 December, 2013 as is the 18th Province of Laos. It is located in the central part of Laos, bordering Xiengkhouang Province to the north and the east, Bolikhamxay Province to the south and Vientiane Province to the west. The Province consists of 5 districts which include Anouvong, Long Cheng, Long San, Hom and Tha Thom District. The total population is around 80,000 with Hmong the majority of its people. This province does not share any borders with neighboring countries. Xaysomboun Province has abundant natural resources scattered in high mountains and steep valleys. Due to this contour, the climate in Xaysomboun is pretty cool with the annual average temperature of approximately 20˚C. Furthermore, this province has rich culture and tradition coupled with generous hospitality of local people.

Bolikhamxay Province, located just south of Vientiane in central Laos, is a center for ecotourism activities with its two national protected areas and extensive system of wetlands. The journey from Ban Khoun Kham to Lak Sao on Route 8 offers spectacular scenery of karst mountain landscapes and is considered to be one of the most impressive passages in the country. Wat Phabath, located on the road between Vientiane and Pakxan is an important pilgrimage site and sacred temple that houses a shrine containing a giant footprint of the Lord Buddha (phabath). It is believed that all travelers passing by the temple should stop and pay their respects to the spirits for a safe journey and strong health. Phou Khao Khouay National Protected Area (NPA) covers an area of 2.000 km2 in Bolikhamxay and Vientiane Province has excellent evergreen, mixed decidous and coniferous forests in addition to extensive fire-clima grasslands which support key species that include wild elephants, white-cheeked gibbons and green peafowl. A commuity managed elephant watching tower in Ban Na provides one of the best opportunities to view large wildlife in Laos. One can take nature walks with village guides through the park's old growth forests and well-known waterfalls-Tad Leu, Tad Xay and Tad Xang. Self-guided walks are also available from the visitor center at Tad Leuk which has camping facilities and tents for rent. Nam Kading NPA is abundant with wildlife dueits low population density and biologically diverse forest ecology. Elephant, gaur, giant muntjac, gibbon, the sooty babbler, rufous-throated fulvetta, river lapwing, wreathed and great hombills and large otters are just some of the many species that inhabit the area. One of the country's most extensive wetland systems is located southwest of Pakxan town and is known to have a very unique and abundant population of migratory birds. The wetlands can be reached by motorbike or truck via a number of dirt trails leaving town. Also of interest is the natural cool springs along the Nam Mang River, a pleasant site for swimming and picnicking.

The Limestone Mountains are honeycombed with countless caves, some of which for years concealed forgotten treasures. The Buddha Cave (Tham Pa Fa) was discovered in 2004 and houses 229 priceless Buddha images. Kong Lor Cave is perhaps the most well-known in the province. It is 7.5 kilometers long and as high and wide as 90-100 meters in some places. The province has three national protected areas (NPA) that cover an enormous area about 6,295 square kilometers in total. Phou Hin Poun NPA encompasses much of the limestone forest and has 43 recorded species of bats. The Hin Namno NPA is located in the area where the Central Indochina Limestone meets the Annamite Chain, and as a result, has prominent limestone escarpments and caves. The most important area in terms of biodiversity is the Nakai-Nam Theun NPA with its complex range of habitats and newly discovered species of mammals such as the saola, giant muntjac, and Indochinese warty pig. Locally made products include handmade incense sticks, naturally dyed cotton and silk weavings produced in the Kong Lor area. The province’s favorite snack, khaonome parn, is a soft sticky green and black colored sweet wrapped in banana leaves made with yellow soy beans and coconut in the middle. This treat was originally brought to Laos generations by Vietnamese settlers. Today, whenever Lao people visit Khammouane they are obliged to bring back a bag of khaonome parn to their friends and family. Fertile land here is well suited to plantations of rice, cabbage, sugar cane, bananas, etc. Total population is made up of lowland and up-land Lao groups: Phuan, Tahoy, Kri, Katang etc. Thakhaek is the provincial capital, situated across the Mekong from Nakorn Phanom in Thailand. It also has much well preserved French colonial architecture similar to that found in Vientiane. The Lao, Phouthai and other Tai-speaking peoples are the main ethnic groups in Khammouane. Inhabiting mainly lowland river valleys . There are also Mekong or Bru people, a Mon-Khmer-speaking ethnic minority that make up 13% of the provincial population. In smaller numbers are the Kri, Nguan, Atel, Themarou, and Maleng who are mainly found in the mountainous eastern part of the province. The vast forest of the Nakai-Nam Theun National Protected Area is an important watershed that feeds many Mekong tributaries as well as forms the catchment area for Nam Theun 2, the largest hydropower project in Laos.

Savannakhet Province is situated in the middle of the country and the largest province (21,774 square kilometers), being bordered by Vietnam to the East, Thailand to the West, Khammouane Province to the North and Salavanh Province to the South. 60% of land is covered by forests. A wide variety of ethnic groups are found in the province: Lowland Lao, Phoutai, Thai Dam, Katang, Mangkong, Vali, Lava, Soui, Kapo, Kaleung and Ta-Oi. In addition, many Vietnamese and Chinese descendants live in the province as well. This fact makes the province rich in cultural and gastronomic diversity. Savannakhet has long been a center of trade and power. The province is well noted as the birthplace of the Honorable Kaisone Phomvihan, first Secretary of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party and co-founder of the Lao PDR. His house and a museum documenting his life achievements can be visited in Savannakhet Town. The province’s history, however, goes back long before the time of man. The area was once inhabited by dinosaurs as evidenced by the bones found in Bang Tang Wai Village and the giant footprints found in Phalanxay, which are documented in the Savannakhet Dinosaur Museum. Remnants of an ancient civilization can be seen at the Stone temple, “Heuan Hin” a pre-Angkorian building located 40km down stream from town along the Mekong. That Ing Hang Stupa, originally built more than 1.000 years ago and later rebuilt by King Saysethathirath in the 16th century, is the province’s most important religious site. Also of interest is the historic library, Hortay Pidok, which is believed to have been built in the 18th century and was traditionally used to house old “Bai Lan” Buddhist scriptures. Of more recent history is the section of the Ho Chi Minh Trail which passes through Savannakhet. Old tanks, guns and other war equipment left behind on the trail can be seen near villages on Route 9 near the Vietnam border. The Phouthai ethnic group, known for its unique silk and cotton weaving, claimsits origin in the province’s Vilabouly District. The Katang ethnic group, which is loved for its famous folk song, Lam Tang Wai, also has traditional lands in Savannakhet. For nature enthusiasts, trekking in Dong Phou Vieng National Protected Area (NPA) provides an opportunity to see rare Douc and Silvered Langurs. Phou Xang Hae NPA has a population of wild elephants as well as distinctive rocky outcrops and vistas. The Eld’s deer, once considered to be extinct in Laos, were rediscovered in 2002 in Xonbouly District and are revered by local villagers. The Province is a hot spot for crocodiles, which inhabit the confluence of the Champhone and Xe Bang Hieng Rivers. Hundreds of stump-tailed macaques, considered sacred by locals, are easily spotted in the 4-hectare Monkey Forest. Giant Asian soft shelled turtles, also considered sacred, can be easily seen in Ban Done Daeng. In Dong Na Tad Provincial Forest, snakes, monkeys and old-growth forest are well protected by the villagers for spiritual reasons. Locally guided tours to the area are available.

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