Tag Archive | waterfalls

The Top Places To Visit In Laos

Luang Prabang-LaosOne of the countries that is yet to really embrace the tourism industry is Laos, and without some of the stunning beaches of its coastal neighbors it doesn’t enjoy the same attraction for those who love to relax on golden sands.  However, this is certainly not to say that this hilly country isn’t beautiful, and it still has a tourism industry that is growing, particularly through the capital city Vientiane.  Laos may have a troubled history, but with an improving political stability that is shared across much of the region, Laos is a destination that is starting to reveal its treasures to the tourism industry.


As the capital city of Laos, Vientiane is an important economic hub that is located on the banks of the Mekong river, with a population of close to three quarters of a million. The city itself has a long and colorful history, having in its time been occupied by the Japanese, the French and the Siamese, but is today the seat of government.

For visitors to the city there are a number of historic sites to visit, including Pha That Luang, which is a large stupa fronting on to a large open square that is famed for its ornate surroundings and gold color.  The stone statues at the BuddhaPark and the LaoNationalMuseum are also both worth visiting, while it can also boast one of three bowling alleys in the whole of the country!

The Plain Of Jars

The Plain of Jars is a name that has been given to close to a hundred sites to be found across Xieng Khouang province, with each site including up to four hundred large stone jars.  These sites are believed to date from between 500BC to 500AD, and each jar is at least a meter in height, with the largest jars three meters tall.  All but one of the jars are undecorated, but only a few of these jars have actually had their lids recovered.

The mystery of the Plain of Jars is one that has triggered significant debate about the purpose of the jars, with some historians having found remnants of bone suggesting that they may have been for burning the bodies of the dead.  Local legends for these jars are much more colorful suggesting that they have either been left by a race of giants that used to live in the region, or that they were created by a thirsty ancient king who used these jars to brew vast amounts of rice wine to slake his thirst.


The town of Champasak was once home to the ruling dynasty of the Kingdom of Champasak, but is particularly noted for visitors to Laos because of the proximity of the ruined Wat Phu temple.  The temple complex has been on the location for around 1,500 years, but the ruins to be found there currently date from between the eleventh and the thirteenth century.  The site is still a location for Theravada Buddhist worship, which takes place alongside the significant conservation efforts being made to maintain the temple.

Luang Prabang

This small city is to be found in the north central area of Laos, and like many of the settlements in the country has been the seat of a Kingdom historically.  Until the rise of the Khmer Rouge, it was also the capital of Laos, and has been recognized by UNESCO due to its range of historic buildings.  The HawKhamRoyalPalaceMuseum is a particular highlight with a number of wonderful buildings, on a location that has been chosen so that visiting dignitaries could immediately enter the palace after disembarking from their river craft.

For those craving a site of natural beauty, the nearby Kuang Si waterfalls are set in a wonderful area of forest, and are a particularly popular site to relax for visitors.

Vang Vieng

For those looking for a little more excitement from their visit to Laos, the town of Vang Vieng has developed a reputation as a hot spot for backpackers and younger visitors to the country.  The Nam Song river is used for kayaking and riding in tire inner tubes, while there are also a number of rope swings and zip lines in place for those looking for a thrill.  Due to its popularity among teenagers and younger people, the town has a range of internet cafes, restaurants and bars, which has led some critics to claim it is losing its native culture.

The Top Natural Destinations In China

The Jiuzhaigou Valley For a country that covers so much of the world’s surface and has over ten per cent of the world’s population, it is unsurprising to find out that there are hundreds of national parks to be found across the country.  Many of these have achieved international recognition for their beautiful surroundings or rare species, so here we have picked out some of the very best national parks that are worth the trip for those visiting China.

The Jiuzhaigou Valley

This is truly one of the most spectacular areas in the whole world, and the remarkable thing is that the valley itself was almost completely cut off until logging work began in the late 1980s.  The valley itself is named after the nine villages that lie along the length of the valley, and lies very close to the Tibetan plateau and is inhabited by generally Tibetan people.

The first aspect of the valley that is truly spectacular is the series of lakes that have formed along the valley.  With crystal clear waters many of these spectacular lakes show off a rainbow of colors, and some like the FiveFlowerLake is so clear that the old tree trunks that have fallen into the lake of the year can be clearly seen.  The other aspect of the valley that is amazing is the series of waterfalls that can be found between these lakes, as the water flows down the valley.

Wolong National Nature Reserve

If there is one animal that is associated with China more than any other it is the Giant Panda, and one of the main functions of the Wolong area is to protect these endangered animals.  The researchers that work in the area try to promote the breeding and the recovery of the Giant Panda while trying to protect their natural habitats.  As well as the Giant Pandas, there are over 4,000 species to be found in the area, and these also include species that are under threat like the Red Panda and the Golden Monkey.

The Stone Forest Of Lunan

The name of the site itself will tell people a lot about what they can expect here, and the Stone Forest, or Shilin as it is called locally is a remarkable site where the stone rises in narrow columns.  Although they don’t actually have any trees in these forests, the stone forests do have the aspect of petrified trees.  Much of the areas around these outcroppings have been landscaped, but it is when you stand among the rocks themselves that you will get a real sense of the majesty of the site, and why thousands flock here every year.  The park itself is around 140 square miles in size, and can be reached from the city of Kunming.

Wulingyuan Scenic And Historic Interest Area

Another one of the parks dedicated to China’s remarkable rock formations is Wulingyuan, which boasts some truly spectacular pillars rising thousands of feet into the air.  One of the best locations from which to view these giant quartz-sandstone pillars is the ZhanjiajieNational Park, and the sight of these giant pillars rising from the densely forested valley floor is truly remarkable.

One of the interesting aspects of the area is that one of the pillars has actually been named the ‘AvatarHallelujahMountain’ because of the dramatic similarity between the pillar and the floating mountains in the science fiction film ‘Avatar’.

Guilin-Lijiang River National Park

This is one of the most spectacular rivers in the world, and the natural scenery to be enjoyed along the course of the river is truly amazing.  The dramatic cliffs that rise above the river in pillar-like formations are spectacular when viewed from the river, which is really the only way to get a true feel for this amazing area.  This valley is so iconic in Chinese culture that it has actually been replicated on one of the country’s banknotes, and a trip to this area is certainly money well spent.