The Mekong in Asia
In September 2009 my wife and me was traveling from Chiang Mai in Thailand to Luang Prabang in Laos PDR. The minivan picked us at our guest house in CM up and brings us over Chiang Rai to Chiang Khong in north Thailand where we slept one night at the Namkhong guest house near the Mekong River. On the next day we took a ferry to Huay Xai to get our Visa for Laos, after some hours here in this cozy village our slow boat starts for the first day of our Mekong trip.
A boat in Laos.
It was six hours on small wooden banks to Pak Beng in north Laos. Here we took a walk in the evening through this small town direct on the Mekong bank in north Laos. After one night at the Phetsokxai Hotel we took the second travel part: 7,5 hours from Pak Beng to Luang Prabang. On this day we just checked in the Vanechalearn Hostel and took dinner in a nice restaurant on the Mekong before we went to bed. Our Lonely Planet travel guide for Laos did a good job on this trip. The last days we spent in LP to explore this UNESCO listed city.
A street in north Laos
We visited many temples and markets but our highlight was for sure the Tat Kuang Si waterfalls about 32 km out of LP town. From Luang Prabang we took a plane of Lao Airlines back to Chiang Mai in north Thailand. It was a good travel trip, especially the tour over the huge Mekong River. I really can recommend to do this if you have time on your backpack trip through South East Asia.
Landscapes around Luang Prabang.
The Mekong River in Chiang Khong
Chiang Khong is a small village direct on the Mekong River in north Thailand. Here in this cozy town is nothing special to see, just some small temples like the Wat Luang or the Wat Phra Kaew temple. The most traveler and backpacker come here for a visa run or for travel to Laos. If you travel to the other side of the huge Mekong you stay already in Huay Xai which belongs to Laos PDR. Just a few people stay here longer than one night; a cheap and good hostel in Chiang Kong in Thailand is the Namkong Guest House which is just 50 meters from the river. For more accommodation take a look in your lonely planet travel guide or ask in any booking office around Chiang Khong. The waterside promenade invite with many nice restaurants for a great dinner or a pleasant walk in the evening. We was leaving after one night to Pak Beng by boot, how the most traveler in Chiang Kong at the north of Thailand.
Chiang Khong in north Thailand
Landscapes at Pak Beng on Mekong River.
Pak Beng is a small city in the Udomxai province of Laos PDR. This village is on the half way from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang. Many tourists come for one night for a break of their Mekong river tour from Thailand to LP in north Laos PDR. The most hotels and guest houses here in Pak Beng are on the bank of the Mekong. We slept at the Phetsokxai Hotel near the boot landing. At this idyllic place in Laos you can see the traditional life of the locals. Many peoples of Pak Beng are fishermen. It’s the right travel destination in South East Asia for all backpacker who want to see some quiet places on their travel tour. Here you can relax and feel the spirit of the Mekong River in the heart of this great country. For more travel tips about PB take a look in your SE Asia travel guide. If you want to read new reports of this travel block, look here.
Locals @ Pak Beng
Sala Pha Bang Temple in Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang is a city direct on the Mekong River in Laos PDR. Many tourists come by boot to this UNESCO World Heritage town. The main attractions are the old and beautiful Buddhist temples and the Royal Luang Prabang national museum. The most visited temples are Wat Xieng Thong, Wat Wisunarat (Visoun), Wat That Luang, Wat Aham, Wat Mai Suwannaphumahamand the Wat Manolom. Many tourists hike as well on the Phu Si hill to see Wat Tham Phu Si, Wat Pa Huak, Wat Pha Phutthabaht and That Chomsi from the year 1804.
A woman sells vegetables on a market in Luang Prabang.
The Royal Palace Museum of Luang Prabang in Laos shows many rare presents from many countries to the Royals and to Laos PDR and the rooms here at this beautiful Palace. In the area is as well the Royal Theatre. Four times a week tourists and traveler can watch cultural performances for 8-20 USD (2009). About 30 kilometers out of Luang Prabang town are the Tat Kuang Si waterfalls which are a visit worth! For 20000 Lao Kip you can enter in a fable world with many waterfalls and turquoise jungle pools who invite you for swimming. Many of the nice colony villas of the French in Luang Prabang in Laos are now shops for handcraft products, tourist and travel information’s, restaurants, hotels and guest houses.
Young Monks in Laos
We choose the Vanechalearn Guest House on the bank of the Mekong River here in Luang Prabang in Laos. From Luang Prabang we took a flight back to Chiang Mai. From the International Airport in Luang Prabang you can fly to many destinations in Laos and Southeast Asia. Bangkok Airways, Lao Airlines and some other airlines operate the Airport in Luang Prabang in Laos PDR. Click here for more Travel Reports.
The Mekong River near Luang Prabang in Laos
In the beginning of February 2009, my wife and I was travel with a boat from Siem Reap to the capital Phnom Penh. The ride over the Tonle Sap River took us six hours and coasted 24USD. A bit more than with the bus, but the view was amazing to the small fisherman’s village on the river. In the early afternoon we arrived at the Royal Highness Hotel in Phnom Penh. We paid 20 USD per night for two person include TV, air-condition, fridge and a warm water shower.
Monkeys in Phnom Penh
Our first “sight” was the Tuol Sleng Museum“. In 1975 the Tuol Svay Prey High School was taken by the clique of Pol Pot. The Khmer Rouges turned this school into the S-21 prison. Between 75 and 78 seventeentousend people are hold and lost they life by barbarism torture acts. When 1979 the Vietnamese army comes into Phnom Penh they found 21 prisoners, 14 dead and just 7 alive. We felt really bad after the visit of the security prison 21. We were driving back by a tuk tuk to the Royal Highness Hotel to relax and take a nap. In the evening we eat some Khmer food in a riverside restaurant and took a massage opposite our guesthouse. On the next day we had full program of sights, first we visit the National Museum of Cambodia.
National Museum of Cambodia
The Museum is home of many old Khmer sculpture. The building is built in 1920 in terracotta structure of traditional Asian temple design. One of the highlights is the eight armed Vishnu statue of the 6th century. In the middle of the national museum of Cambodia is a nice Asian garden with four lotus pools and a Buddha statue in the middle. The admission fee was 2 US or 8000 riel per person. After we visit the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda of Cambodia. All maps we used are from the Lonely Planet travel guide Cambodia. The picture shows the Chan Chaya Pavilion which build for classical Cambodian dance.
The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh
The tower of the throne hall is 54 meter high. It replaces since 1919 a wooden building of 1869. The Royal Palace from the Kingdom of Cambodia is built in classical Southeast Asian architecture. The silver pagoda is covered by over fivetousend silver tiles. Every tile is about one kilo heavy. Inside are the Emerald Buddha and a golden statue of Buddha with nearly 10000 diamonds. The heaviest of this stones are 25 carats. In the late afternoon my wife and i went up to a hill in the Southeast Asian capital to visit Wat Phnom. The first pagoda here was erected in 1373 for four Buddha statues. The name of the woman who discover was Penh. The temple that stands here now is rebuilt in year 26 of the 20th century.
Temple Drum of wat Phnom
On this evening we were going in the “Chiang Mai Riverside” restaurant at the Tonlé Sap River for dinner. The Thai restaurant was about 15 minutes away of our hotel. We pass a Khmer food market. The Asian market was busy, everywhere was stands with fresh fruits, meat, dead or living fish and clothes. Many locals buyed food here for cocking. An interesting spectacle for a European guy like me.
Market in Phnom Penh
The next day we travel back to Koh Chang in Thailand, the tuk tuk who brang us to the travel bus picked us up at 7o´clock in the morning. We arrived the center point ferry pier at about five pm. From the ferry to Ko Chang we saw a beautiful sunset at the mountains of Klong Son.
Sunset on Koh Chang
Phnom Penh on the Mekong River is one of the dirtiest cities in Southeast Asia I ever saw! Many traffic islands of waste are in middle of the roads. The kids are peeing and do their big business on the walking line, many organic waste rott on the streets and smell. But still the capital of Cambodia has many fantastic sights and a long history. It was interesting to visit this Asian metropole with about 1.5 million habitats.
Report by Travel Reports & Pictures.