Last updated: 20/01/2017 [Design & Pictures by Simons Nature]
Laos

Laos

What an ease to arrive in Laos after the very hectic and crowded Vietnam. The country is in something as big as Germany, but has only just of scarce seven million inhabitants. Moreover, the country is not overrun by mass tourism, there are many small, unspoilt towns and even animals have survived. Normally one should stay much longer in this country to see it properly. The Mekong River is the lifeline of the country, Vang Vieng a backpacker’s paradise and Luang Prabang is more for people which are interested in culture. The capital Vientiane, the Laotian name Viang Chang, offers temples and good restaurants. Basically, the people are very open and friendly and it is easy to come in contact with them. Laos can really be recommended as a holiday destination, there is still much to discover.
After a 10h continuous journey, first in the North of Vietnam and then over hills to Laos, we stopped for an overnight in this small village. The people are very different than in Vietnam, open and friendly, the streets are not life threatening by thousands of motor scooters and life has generally a much more leisurely rhythm. There were only a few hours to get a few impressions. But the first impression of Laos was worlds better than Vietnam.
Luang Prabang, or Louangphrabang, is a city located in north central Laos, where the Nam Khan river meets the Mekong River about 425 kilometers (264 mi) north of Vientiane. It is the capital of Luang Prabang Province. The current population of the city is about 103,000. The city was formerly the capital of a kingdom of the same name. Until the communist takeover in 1975, it was the royal capital and seat of government of the Kingdom of Laos. The city is also notable as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Mekong is a river in southwest China and Indochina. It is the world's 10th-longest river and the 7th-longest in Asia. Its estimated length is 4,909 km (3,050 mi), and it drains an area of 795,000 km2 (307,000 sq mi), discharging 475 km3 (114 cu mi) of water annually. From the Tibetan Plateau this river runs through China's Yunnan province, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam established the Mekong River Commission (MRC) in 1995 to assist in the management and coordinated use of the Mekong's resources. In 1996 China and Burma became "dialogue partners" of the MRC and the six countries now work together within a cooperative framework.
Vang Vieng (Lao: ວັງວຽງ) is a tourism-oriented town in Laos, located in Vientiane Province about four hours bus ride north of the capital. The town lies on the Nam Song river. The most notable feature of the area is the karst hill landscape surrounding the town. Vang Vieng was first settled around 1353 as a staging post between Luang Prabang and Vientiane. Originally named Mouang Song after the body of the deceased King Phra Nha Phao of Phai Naam was seen floating down the river, the town was re-named Vang Vieng during French colonial rule in the 1890s.
Vientiane is the capital and largest city of Laos, situated in the Mekong river. Vientiane became the capital in 1563 due to fears of a Burmese invasion. During French rule, Vientiane was the administrative capital and due to economic growth in recent times, it has become the economic centre of Laos. The estimated population of the city is 754,000 (2009) while the number of people living in the Vientiane metropolitan area (the entire Vientiane Prefecture and parts of Vientiane Province) is believed to be over 730,000.
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