The average stay of tourists in Luangprabang is 2-3 nights. The common activities are temples (Wats), the old Kings Palace and walking along the Mekong river. But there is another attraction, a bit outside and off the track: The Laos Bears - Luang Prabang Rescue Centre.
It is located at the stunning Tat Kuang Si Park with its beautiful scenery and waterfall, approximately 30 km south of the centre of Luang Prabang. There is a waterfall here, with views across the surrounding countryside and many cool pools that you can swim in.
With the recent opening of the Trung Luong Highway, the Mekong Delta is now a mere 90 minutes’ drive away from HCMC. Yet given its proximity to the metropolis, allied with its sleepy, laid-back ambience, its friendly people and its beautiful countryside, it’s amazing that so few HCMC expats bother to spend much time down there.
I suspect it’s because we all visit the Delta soon after arriving in Vietnam, usually on a rushed one-day tour being dragged from one fake ‘tourist village’ to another, and end up wondering what all the fuss is about. The fact that there is little in the way of decent accommodation in the region doesn’t help either.
I wrote this piece a couple of years ago for the Duxton Hotel blog. If anything the taxi situation in the city has gone from bad to worse, so time to tweak & repost it!
A frequent complaint from foreign visitors is of being overcharged, ripped off and generally mistreated by the city’s taxi drivers, particularly those operating at Tan Son Nhat Airport. Indeed, a 2007 survey discovered that the number one reason cited by tourists as to why they would not return to Vietnam was being overcharged by taxi drivers.
The Jayavarman luxury cruise ship was in port today so I decided on a visit to give it the once over in comparison to the other cruise ships on offer between Saigon and Phnom Penh and beyond. It compares very favourably with the larger RV La Marguerite, which plies the same route and which has 46 cabins compared to the Jayavarman's 26, which includes two state rooms. Named after the great Khmer king of the 12th century, each of its cabin has a balcony, good cabin space, nice sized bathrooms, air-con and all mod cons, except tv's.
Lao Cai Province has long been famous for the former French hill station of Sapa, renowned for its all-year-round temperate climate, beautiful landscape and colourfully dressed ethic people. But another place that is well worth a visit is the rugged provincial market of Bac Ha, with its vividly garbed H’mong people and sweet smell of corn wine will leave you with more unique, unforgettable experiences.
For those who like would to learn more about the history of Laos, about America’s involvement in the secret war in Laos and see first hand unexploded bombs and craters. This is a half-day trek amongst nature in the forests. It is and interlectual and educational hiking trip only thirty minutes outside Luang Prabang.
Walk into any tour operator in Saigon & ask for a 1 or 2-day Mekong Delta trip, & chances are they’ll all propose exactly the same itinerary, involving My Tho, Vinh Long, a couple of ersatz ‘tourist villages’ (a term that fills me with horror!), an unsatisfying lunch, and back to Saigon before you’ve even caught your breath.
From sleepy, down-at-heel beachfront town to a modern resort destination, Kep is on the move and, hopefully,
in the right direction
Once a playground for the well-heeled citizens of pre-war Cambodia, the seaside resort of Kaep Sur Mer (“Kep”) is experiencing a development boom that will either confirm its place as Cambodia’s premier holiday destination or turn it into a naff holiday camp to be avoided at all costs.
How many times have you heard that perennial whinge during the school holidays? Yet, as all expat parents will know, there is a natural limit to the number of child-friendly distractions even the most resourceful of us can conjure up in and around our beloved Phnom Penh.