Excursions in Vientiane
We take a drive on road No. 13 north to Nam Ngum Dam (90km), where a huge beautiful artificial lake has been created after damming the Nam Ngum River, which flooded around 250 sq km of forest. The lake is dotted with picturesque small islands and a cruise is well worth arranging to explore the fishing villages on different islands. We stop to visit the Hmong market at KM 52, a small Mon-Khmer sanctuary of 10-12th centuries at Vang Xang and a Hmong village. After lunch in a local restaurant, well take an hours long tail boat ride to Dansavanh Resort, an ideal place to escape the heat of the city. En route we visit some beautiful islets and take a short walk to explore the lifestyle of the fishermen. We visit Ban Keun and Ban Bo, a traditional salt extraction plant, on our way back to Vientiane in the late afternoon.
Enjoy a 3 hour drive on the national road No. 13 north through beautiful landscape and mountain range. On the way visit the fishing villages of Ban Mo, Hine Heub and other ethnic minority villages of the Lao Loom. Then visit the city of Vang Vieng, where we visit the Jang Cave, visit a local plantation & the traditional Lao Lum minority village of Ban Pha Tang and enjoy a boat trip on Nam Song River. Return to Vientiane on the way stop at Hmong Village and local fresh market where people barter their agricultural products. Lunch at a local restaurant.
Our city tour to include visits to Wat Sisaket with its thousands of miniature Buddha statues; Wat Prakeo, the former royal temple that now serves as a national museum of religious objects; Wat Simuang, the site of the city pillar and home of the guardian spirit of Vientiane; the famous Pha That Luang, the most important national monument in Laos and a symbol of both the Buddhist religion and Lao sovereignty & Patuxai, a large monument reminiscent of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
Visiting the Lao Revolutionary Museum and Wat Ong Teu Mahawihan. The Lao Revolutionary Museum was originally built in 1925 as the French governors residence, but after independence the building has been used as a royal residence, as a state guest house and as various ministerial offices before becoming a museum in 1985. For the most part, the museum contains artifacts and photos from the Pathet Laos lengthy struggle for power. Many of the displays consist of historic weaponry. Continue to visit Wat Ong Teu Mahawihan, one of the most important temples in all of Laos. It was originally built in the mid-16th century by King Setthathirat and as such is a contemporary of Pha That Luang, but like every temple in Vientiane (except possibly Wat Si Saket), it was destroyed in later wars, & then rebuilt in the 19th and 20th centuries. The Deputy Patriarch (Hawng Sangkhalat) of the Lao monastic order has his official residence at Wat Ong Teu and presides over the Buddhist Institute, a school for monks who come from all over Laos to study Buddhist Philosophy in the capital.
Visit to Carol Cassidys workshop and the central market. Meet someone unique and with an unforgettable story to tell. Her name is Carol Cassidy. She has single-handedly revived the fine art of Laotian silk weaving. Cassidy, a native of Connecticut, saw a dying art on a trip she took to Vientiane as a UN worker in 1989. Old techniques were fading fast, Laotian mothers no longer passed their skills on to their daughters. Today, Cassidy runs a successful business that employs 32 weavers, and 3,000 farmers supply them with silk from their mulberry trees. Each museum-quality piece of hand-loomed silk is a work of art, each one unique. The finished products are sold to New York designers, to London art collectors, to Danish royalty and to Hollywoods A-list. Proceed to the central market where all kinds of local handicrafts can be found, such as silver and gold ware, wood carvings, cotton and silk products.