Thakhek is a rather quiet town located along the mighty Mekong river. This province was founded under the French so as you venture around the tiny streets you will find them lined with French villas. The name Thakhek, which means “Visitor’s Landing”, is relatively new, but is a reference to the town’s importance as far back as the eighth century. The best thing to do in Thakhek is to visit the Mahaxai Caves. These limestone karst formations are a great place to spend a day. There are many caves here, but the most visited one is the Tham En. There is also a small lake inside that glows emerald-green highlighting the limestone formations. Another attraction here is the Wat Pha That Sikhotabong. One of the holiest pilgrimage spots (and tourist spots), it is seen best at sunset.
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244 Kms from Thakhèk
This is the capital and also the largest city of Laos. It is located on the bank of the River Mekong. We started our trip by visiting the oldest Buddhist temple or Wat of the city- Wat Si Saket. The style of the Buddhist architecture is intertwined with the history of the capital. There are thousands of images of Lord Buddha in ceramic, gold and silver. The many carvings and rustic delicate statues of Buddha show the authenticity of this traditional temple. We spent hours cycling around the villages and local markets. There are many places that you can rent bicycles from. Trailing through the countryside we came across some of the most engagingly untouched neighborhoods.
276 Kms from Thakhèk
Pakse is supposedly the fourth largest city of Laos. That’s not saying much considering Vientiane is so sleepy that you barely remember it’s a capital city. It is located 670km away from Vientiane and is nestled along the Sedon River and the mighty Mekong. The town itself is quite cute, with wide roads, open spaces, and actual footpaths you can use, though most are very dusty and muddy and being Laos, there are a few holes in the ground and rogue metal railings poking out so watch your step. Pakse is the logical gateway to the South of Laos, and is primarily used as a base to see the surrounding Bolaven plateau, the Khmer temples, and most famous of all, the 4,000 islands (Si Phan Don).
303 Kms from Thakhèk
We headed towards Vang Vieng, a well-known party place with tubing, kayaking and caving. Draw dropping peaks of limestone formations are the norm, this place is definitely a jewel. What a great place to spend your time and enjoy the new toy. We found an amazing room, with a kick ass 3D view of the Nam Song River overlooking karst formations. We rented 2 semi-automatic motorbikes and explored the Vang Vieng’s landscape. We visited caves, waterfalls and the blue lagoon. The rain was on and off making the ride wet, muddy and interesting.