Thursday, December 8, 2011

Daeng Namnueng - best Vietnamese kitchen in Nong Khai

In my opinion still the best Vietnamese restaurant in Nong Khai - Deang Namnueng. The restaurant offers authentic Vietnamese cuisine. The menu features many different dishes, ranging from Vietnamese fresh and fried spring rolls, sausages, grilled dishes, noodles and rice dishes.

The restaurant is located directly on the Mekong River banks. While enjoy the lovely food, overlooking the Mekong River, you can glimpse into Laos. A truly multicultural experince.

Address: 526-527 Moo 4, Rim Khong Rd., Nai Mueang, Muang Nong Khai, Nong Khai 43000 Thailand

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ongoing dispute, but Ta Muen Thom temple is open again

Ta Muen Thom temple in Surin is open again for visitors. Although the border and temple dispute between Thailand and Cambodia is still ongoing, it has been calm for almost two months and there has been no violence. The temple can be visited between 9am and 3pm daily.

The border dispute between the two neighboring countries is now staged at the International Court of Justice and the UNESCO. Thailand wants to solve the dispute by diplomatic efforts.

The first group of domestic visitors has return to the temple ruins. Visitors intending to visit the temple area have to inform the Thai military in advance of their visit in their own interest.

The Thai army removed earlier erected fences who blocked access to the temple form the Cambodian side - an act which will certainly help to relieve tensions along the border.

An earlier article about the border dispute can be read here.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A weekend retreat at the Nam Ngum – Nature, River, Jacuzzi and Peruvian Red wine

No one would assume that only a few kilometers outside of Laos’ capital Vientiane, a beautiful countryside with forests, rivers and rich in agriculture could be enjoyed.

The Ngum River flows from the Plain of Jars in Xieng Khouang province southwards.

In Vientiane province the River streams into the Nam Ngum Dam. Nam Ngum Reservoir was the Lao PDR's first hydro power dam. The dam was financed with the assistance from ten countries, under the auspices of the United Nations. It was constructed and completed in 1971 by a Japanese firm. The dam generates most of the power used in the capital, Vientiane. The government of Lao PDR looks to hydro power development as the primary source of income for the country in the future.

Nam Ngum River continues its way to the Laotian capital and finally releases its waters into the Mekong River.

Following the high way number 10 out of Vientiane towards north, near Ban Tha Ngon a bridge crosses the Nam Ngum River. Several floating restaurants reside at the river banks below the bridge and offer their fresh fish and other Laotian specialties. One can dine and enjoy a boat ride on the same time. Some of these swimming tables are even equipped with a Karaoke sound machine much to the pleasure of its customers. Fish is just excellent here and it is a must to try one.

The area offers lots of activities. Boat rides on the Nam Ngum, small village temples can be observed, and fish farming and other agricultural activities can be seen. There is a small museum with an exhibit about Laotian dresses and costumes. The nearby Dansavanh Nam Ngum Resort, Golf & Casino offers an 18-hole course in a picturesque landscape. The casino attracts with its 60 table games - the largest amount in all of Southeast Asia - , and 150 gaming machines. The casino floor is open 24 hours a day.

Until recently there were only a few options to stay overnight and none to stay in style.
But with the new River View resort, that has now changed. The River View Resort resides only a few minutes’ drive from Tha Ngon Bridge and directly on the river banks of the picturesque Nam Num River. The resort offers two categories of room, 7 Garden rooms and 7 Riverside rooms. All rooms are fully equipped with wide screen plasma televisions, Internet, luxury bath rooms and comfortable living rooms.

The Riverside rooms allow the guests to enjoy overlooking the serene landscape of the Nam Ngum River from a private balcony. It is a true relaxation to enjoy a glass of red wine on the balcony after a bath and a relaxing treatment in the Jacuzzi. I was surprised by the quality of the wine, a Peruvian Tabernero Gran Tinto, a Merlot.

The River View Resort offers its clients a yacht, speed boats and Jet Ski rental. They also have some bicycles and ATV’s in their car park to explore the surrounding area.

By coincidence the last weekend was also Boun Ok Phansa (end of the three-month fast and retreat' of the monks), where the Lao people set their krathongs (small floating devices made from banana trunks and leaves, skillfully decorated with flowers, and equipped with candles and incense sticks) adrift in all Rivers to pay respect to the ancient (Naga) river spirits… I got a very charming and touching experience of the Nam Ngum – a great weekend retreat from the bustle of Vientiane.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Oudomxay - the heart of Northern Laos

The Oudomxay province was founded in 1976, as a split off of the much larger Luang Prabang province. In 1987 Muang Xay became the capital of the province.

The first documented settlers of the province where "Khom" or people nowadays known as Khmu. In 1260, Lao Ly arrived from the Sipsongpanna "12 thousand rice fields" area in Southern China and build Ban Luang Cheng in the area of Muang Xay. Ly culture marked by a fusion of Buddhism and the old animist beliefs of the Khom grew and became influential in the region of Oudomxay. The Khmu are the largest minority in Laos (+500'000 members) and in Oudomxay they form the majority of the population with a 60-80% share.

Around 1828, Hmong tribes coming from Southern China moved into Laos and built their hamlets and settlements in Oudomxay. Hmong people count for a 15% of the total population of the province.

Other ethnic groups living in Oudomxay province are the Akha, the Phouthai (Thai Dam & Thai Khao), the Phou Noy (Phou Xang, Phou Kongsat, Phou Nhot), the Lao Houy (also „Lenten“), the Phouan, the Lue, the Yang, the Ikho and the Ho. Oudomxay is one of the most ethnic diverse provinces of Laos...

Oudomxay is very mountainous and altitudes vary between 300 and 1'800 meters above sea level. Due to these particular difficult topographic conditions in the province of Oudomxay, infrastructure projects and improvements are progressing slowely and maintenance costs are high. Road conditions are poor to bad, and sometimes in the rainy season roads are impassable.

There are still villages and small settlements in the province who do not have any access to roads, hospitals and higher education facilities.

Oudomxay province shares borders with the following Laotian provinces: Phongsali, Luang Prabang, Xayaboury, Bokeo and Luang Namtha. In the northwest is a border with Xishuangbanna, People's Republic of China.

However, Oudomxay province offers a large range of attractions. The provinces' key characteristics are its nature, its people and its diverse culture. An overview of possible tours in the area can be found on the web sites of Samlaan Cycling and the Provincial Tourism Department.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Khmu culture and lifestyle

Shortly after breakfast we meet Ken of Samlaan Cycling and started with our visit of one of the oldest and largest communities and original inhabitants of Laos - the Khmu. The Khmu are an agricultural society, but also gathering, hunting, trapping and fishing are important parts of their lifestyle. Their language is also called Khmu and belongs to the Austro-Asiatic group of languages.

We departed from Muang La resort in the morning and enjoyed a pleasant transfer along the scenic Nam Pak.

Along the way we encountered rice terraces, small settlements and houses of the Khmu minority. In Ban Mai, a small Khmu hamlet, we walked through the village and interact with locals. After observing their daily life we then continued to Ban Phavie.

We trekked on a small green path along a little creek. We had the opportunity to meet farmers working in rice paddies and found some bird and fish traps.

After 1 hour and a half walk through the green forest, we arrived at the Khmu village of Ban Phavie, beautifully nestled in the end of a green valley situated at a small creek.

The local villagers prepared a traditional lunch for us: Laap Gai, some freshly collected mushrooms and vegetables and yes, of course also sticky rice. During the preparation of the meal we learned about the Khmu tradition of trapping and hunting. We observed and tested small little traps while they have been shown and explained to us.
After lunch we continued to a small clear waterfall just a little outside the village. We relaxed for a while at the cascades of the waterfall.

Then we returned to Muang La.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Zip Through the Tree Tops in Laos

Khiri Travel Laos is offering two- and three-day tours to join Tree Top Explorer in Paksong, southern Laos. This is your chance to sleep in the Jungle Hotel 10 meters above the ground in a tree house. During the day, ride the zip line for an adrenalin rush. ‘Fly’ over deep ravines almost within touching distance of the roaring water and the green roof of the trees.

Guests can also trek in pristine forest and through coffee plantations. Discover the hidden world of the forest canopy from a sky-high walkway. Experience the jaw dropping – but safe – via ferrata (cliff walkway with support cables).

All this takes place in the Dong Hua Sao mountain range, one of 20 National Protected Areas in Laos. The park spans over 1,100 sq km, half of it truly mountainous with steep to very steep slopes rising to the edge of the Bolaven Plateau at an elevation of around 1,000m. Some peaks near the plateau rim rise up to almost 1,300m. The other half of the park is lowland with rolling hills and elevations from 100 to 300m.

To get a feel for the ‘deep forest’ experience that Khiri Travel Laos can arrange for your clients, visit

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

It is calm again in Southern Isaan

One has to go back in history to understand the problem along the Cambodian and Thai border. Cambodia first has been occupied by France in the past. Thailand and Cambodia use therefore different maps from the past to define their common border.
Cambodia then suffered under the tyranny of the Khmer Rouge regime, which had its final stronghold at this border...

As a legacy of the late Khmer Rouge regime, the Thai - Cambodian border area is still heavily mined. As a result the common border was never properly demarcated, although both countries worked hard to resolve this issues.

The status of disputed areas around Preah Viharn /Preah Vihear and some other temples of Khmer origin remains unresolved for the moment.

The ruling of an International court states that Preah Viharn /Preah Vihear belongs to Cambodia - a fact which Thailand has accepted.

After the latest border clashes between Thailand and Cambodia, both countries have today agreed to send Indonesian observers to the disputed area. They will monitor the border and make sure that the ceasefire between the two neighboring countries remains intact.

The Chong Jom border pass connecting the two countries has opened again and borer trade between Thai and Cambodian vendors continued as before the clashes. Vendors reopened their stalls at a local market near the border pass on the Thai side.

Living in Isaan now for many years, I am relived that this step of monitoring the border has been taken and that live continues along the border.

In fact it was always save to travel to Isaan as the disputed border areas are fare away from any tourist side in both countries (except Preah Viharn /Preah Vihear). I also strongly believe that Thailand and Cambdodia will find a solution in the not to distant future.

Isaan is a great place to travel as people are very welcoming and charming. Great National Parks, bustling cities and abundant nature and culture await you.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Nong Khai's aquarium - a closup look at the Mekong River fish

The biggest aquarium in Northeastearn Thailand is located located at Khon Kaen University’s Campus in Nong Khai.

The University campus is a satellite campus of Khon Kaen University, located on the bypass road to Vientiane. If you come from Udon Thani take a left turn just before you enter Nong Khai and follow the signs "Vientiane". After few kilometers another sign board will direct you to the campus and the aquarium.

The construction of the aquarium began in 2004 in collaboration of Nong Khai Province and the University.

The idea of the aquarium is to conserve freshwater fish in the Mekong River as well as to stimulate tourism in the province - conserving Mekong's freshwater fish has become recently more urgent as Laos proceeds with the construction of its vastly critisized Xayabouri dam project.

There is a small saltwater fish selection on display, which in my opinion is not that special. However, considering the remote location from the next sea it is ok.

Indeed spectacular are the many freshwater fish species and their habitats as they could be found in the Mekong River. The displayed tanks vary in sizes and shapes. A highlight is the 25 meter tunnel tank featuring all kind of large Mekong River fish.

As a diver, I felt instantly in love with the atmosphere and the amazing blue World.

A great day excursion just a few kilometers out of down town Nong Khai...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Bueng Khong Long Lake - Isaan's little sea...

Khong Khong Long Lake is situated in the Bueng Khong Long (Thai: บึงโขงหลง) district of the newly established Bueng Kan province. The lake is a massive fresh water reservoir built in 1976 and finished in 1979 by his Majesty the King and the Royal Thai Irrigation Department.

The 13 km long and 2 km wide lake has an approximate size of 8,064 rai or 22 square km and is considered a major eco-tourism site in Southern Bueng Kan province.

The lake attracts water sports enthusiast, hunters, fishermen and nature loving people alike. Small food stalls and water sport gear rental shops are available to serve customers needs. Lakeside huts allow to rest and eat, while guarding playing kids.

In 1981 Khong Khong Long Lake has been registered as a wetlands area of international ranking.

The Lake can be reached by following the highway 212 from Nong Khai to Bueng Kan and further to Bueng Khla. Then take a rigth turn onto road 2026 and follow it until you reach Bueng Khong Long.

Friday, April 8, 2011

High on Coffee in Southern Laos

March 15, 2011 By Khiri News

We would like to give you a high quality caffeine rush. Paksong, 50 kms from Pakse in southern Laos, is the coffee growing capital of the country. Khiri Travel Laos now offers a Mr. Coffee tour up to the Bolaven Plateau at a nice and cool 1,300 metres to inspect the coffee growing region. There are around 5,000 families involved in growing coffee on the plateau.

The tour is highly informative, especially in the coffee nursery. The tour explains about the physical suitability of the plateau and how farmers have to adapt to international demand trends. The coffee story is explained from a Laotian and Western perspective. After learning, comes sampling. All visitors can roast some fresh coffee and enjoy their own freshly wok-roasted Arabica or Robusta coffees.

On the way back, the Mr. Coffee tour visits Tad Yeuang (‘Wild Goat’ waterfall), one of the most spectacular in Laos. We try some local cuisine and visit a village school in Tad Fane.

Knowledge, views, taste and helping local children – all part of Khiri Travel Laos’ Mr Coffee tour. More information:

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Audio Tour Brings Laos’ War Caves Alive

December 27, 2010 By Khiri News

An audio tour launched in late 2009 in a remote corner of Indochina brings alive the story of America’s ‘secret war’ in Laos. Between 1964 and 1973 America, which was at war with North Vietnam, secretly dropped more bombs on neighboring Laos than were dropped on Europe in the whole of World War II.

Over 20,000 people in Viengxay in northeast Laos survived by living in an elaborate network of caves which are now open to the public. Many of the caves had specialist functions such as hospital, bakery, school, shop, theater or government office. A new audio tour of the caves, produced by Sydney-based company, is now available to tourists visiting Viengxay. The remote area is a scenic mix of abrupt limestone mountains and green valleys with rice paddies and hamlets.

“The creation of the audio tour is of historical significance,” says Ms Penny Street, Director and Founder of Narrowcasters, which produced the audio tour. “Forty-nine survivors were interviewed including farmers, doctors, soldiers, nurses, and even mothers who gave birth in the caves. It is the first time a large number of eye witnesses have been tracked down and their testament recorded for posterity and future use by historians.”

The 90-minute audio tour combines eye witness accounts and a narrative that explains the wider conflict of the Vietnam War. Throughout the 1960s and 70s as the cold war dominated geo-political thinking around the world, the ‘domino theory’ compelled decision makers in Washington DC who were trying to contain communism in Indochina. The consequences were dire for Laotian villagers, most of whom were subsistence farmers.

In October, Lonely Planet named the secret war caves at Viengxay among the top ten underground experiences in the world. Khiri Gold includes the remarkable caves on its tours of northeast Laos. See the itinerary here. Listen to an extract of the audio tour.