We’ve finished our update of Laos’ backpacker mecca Vang Vieng including photos of all the places to stay and a completely new and expanded map — if you’re heading to Vang Vieng it’s well worth a read. You can read the full coverage here.
Well it’s been a busy weekend and we managed to wrap up two more Travelfish Guides over the weekend. They’re both going for the bargain price of US$2.95 each — cheaper than a few BeerLaos and a BBQ fish!
The first covers the remote southern Lao provinces of Salavan, Sekong and Attapeu, while the other covers the far more popular Champasak province.
So it’s one for those who love to get off the beaten track and another for those looking for an island break in a land-locked country.
If you’re heading to the southern Lao town of Savannakhet, you may want to take a look at our revised coverage for there. Savannakhet on Travelfish
We’ve just added another feature into our How Do I? series. Of all the border crossings in the region, the overland crossing between Cambodia and Laos has been one of the most changeable. In some ways, the Veun Kham / Dom Kralor has all the ingredients of a pain in the posterior crossing — corrupt border officials, unscrupulous boat men, inconsistent travel advice and of course wildly varying traveller tales. Read on to find out the best way to cross this ever-changing border. You can read the full story here.
We’ve just added a new feature to Travelfish — a trip planning guide to exploring Laos’ Bolaven Plateau. The story includes details on what there is to see, photos and sample itineraries for both day and multi-day trips. You can read the full Bolaven travel planner here.
Here’s a link to a story by AP writer Denis Gray about a 2001 visit to Vang Vieng. While the story is somewhat dated, its conclusion — that Vang Vieng is doomed — is pretty much spot on.
For some, Vang Vieng is the first stop on a touristic opium trail which weaves through Luang Prabang and ends at Muang Sing in northwestern Laos. But most come to savor the atmosphere of old Asia rapidly vanishing in much of the continent, and probably also doomed in Vang Vieng.
Anyone who visited Vang Vieng before it’s rapid rise in popularity would hardly recognise the place today. Despite independent travellers often bad-mouthing package tourists for the “damage” they do to destinations, in the case of Vang Vieng, the damage has been wrought almost entirely by these very backpackers and independent travellers.
Why is it that when people travel across the world they end up demanding banana pancakes, internet access, TV (we all know about the Friends cafes in Vang Vieng) and iPod download cafes?
ETTR Daily reports that Laos visitor rates are inching closer and closer to one million, with overall numbers jumping 11% on the previous year’s numbers.
For the first nine months of 2006 the total was 867,405 people. Big players included:
Thailand: 478,193 (55%)
Vietnam: 141, 653 (16%)
China: 36,090 (4%)
USA: 32, 308 (4%)
France: 23,405 (3%)
UK: 23,273 (3%)
We’ve just polished off our updated coverage of the Lao capital of Vientiane. We’ve (finally) added a detailed map, more bars and restaurants, expanded the sights coverage and of course reviewed and broadened our reviews of the best places to stay in town. Read our revised Vientiane coverage here
TTR reports that Vietnam and Laos have opened a bus link between Qui Nhon in Binh Dinh province and Pakse in Champasak, Laos . The route is intended to draw overland tourist across border between Thailand and Vietnam . The new service launched on July 4th takes about 12 hours and costs US$16. The busses currently run four weekly trips on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday.
The trip runs through Pleiku and Kontum provinces in Vietnam and Attapeu, Sekong and Champassak in Laos.