Out of Laos' many destinations for peaceful reflection in nature, Muang Ngoi Neua is one of our favorites.
The mountainous town here is perfect for those that prefer walking, trekking and driving along river and mountain terrain, and enjoying the sounds of birds chirping. Follow the river in northern Luang Prabang upstream for about an hour, and you'll find yourself in Muang Ngoi Neua. Spend a few days here - rent a scooter, take a motorcycle tour, go tubing, trekking - and prepare to manually close your jaw as you gape at one of Laos' most stunningly picturesque spots.
Thanks to the iron fist of the Lao government finally making its presence felt in 2012 (when the river rave bars were finally closed down), the increasingly toxic party scene has been banished and the community is recalibrating itself as an outdoor paradise home with some achingly lovely boutique hotels and a raft of adrenalin-inducing and nature-based activities. Like a rural scene from an Oriental silk painting, Vang Vieng crouches low over the Nam Song with a backdrop of serene cliffs and a tapestry of vivid green paddy fields. Pha That Luang is about 4km northeast of the city centre at the end of Th That Luang.
The cloister measures 85m on each side and contains various Buddha images. A high-walled cloister with tiny windows surrounds the 45m-high stupa. Controlling the Bolaven Plateau was considered strategically vital to both the Americans and North Vietnamese, as evidenced by the staggering amount of UXO (unexploded ordnance) still lying around.
Many of the French planters left following independence in the 1950s and the rest followed as US bombardment became unbearable in the late '60s. The area wasn't farmed intensively until the French started planting coffee, rubber trees and bananas in the early 20th century. Weaving and dyeing courses are possible here and accommodation is available.
Or try a cup of the surprisingly pleasant worm-poo tea - yes, a unique infusion made from silk-worm droppings. If you're waiting for a tour, there's plenty of information to peruse, along with a great river-view cafe serving drinks and excellent Lao food. Boat cruises potter past from the Thai side, while on the Lao bank speedboats await but foreigners can't cross the border without prearranged authorisation.
Here is the famous Golden Triangle, where Thailand and Laos face off, with Myanmar sticking a long nosed sand bank between the two. This is Laos's' surreal Las Vegas, a casino and entertainment. Golden domes and pseudo-classical charioteers rear beside you.
Suddenly you're gliding along a two-coloured paved avenue, lined with palm trees and immaculately swept by teams of cleaners. Around 5km north of Tonpheung, dusty Rte 3 abruptly undergoes an astonishing transformation. Stay overnight in your private bamboo bungalow and enjoy the view on the majestic lake surrounded by tropical forest.
Welcome to the Land of the Asian Elephant! Keeping anything edible in the provided strong box is essential Things to do shouldn't missed in Laos avoid the forest rats being attracted.