Ecotourism in Laos
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World Heritage Sites

Luang Prabang: The Ancient Town of Luang Prabang in the center of northern Laos has been described as one of the most charming and best preserved towns in Southeast Asia. There are 34 Buddhist temples among colonial and Chinese architecture, all set in a backdrop of lush green mountains. The mighty Mekong River frames the town's western border, and is still used as an important commercial and recreational transportation link. Vibrant cultural traditions, rituals and distinctive artwork that include temple murals, woodcarving and pottery make Luang Prabang an attractive destination for a wide range of interests. Due to its outstanding cultural and natural features, the town was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. The town is accessible by air directly from Bangkok, Vientiane and Chiang Mai. For more adventuresome travelers, overland travel is an option from all directions. There is also regular boat service on the Mekong (a two-day voyage) to and from Houeisai, which borders Chiang Kong in northern Thailand

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Vat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang
Vat Phou: The Vat Phou Temple Complex and surrounding Champassak Heritage Landscape is located 500 km south of Vientiane of the right bank of the Mekong River in Champassak Province. Vat Phou is an excellent example of early and classic Khmer Architecture, dating from the 7th to 12th centuries AD. At the foot of Vat Phou is the Ancient City of Shestupura first settled in the 5th century AD and believed to be the oldest urban settlement in Southeast Asia. Besides the main Vat Phou Temple Complex, there are many lesser know ancient archeological sites and natural areas nearby that can take some time to adequately explore. The quiet town of Champassak , gateway to Vat Phou, is accessible via a short car or bus ride from Pakse. From Pakse, there is also regular boat service on the Mekong to Champassak; the trip takes about 2-3 hours.

Vat Phou
The Plain of Jars: The Plain of Jars is situated on the Xieng Khouang Plateau in north central Laos'. The site is comprised of thousands of stone jars, varying in height from one to over three meters, in clusters of up to 300 jars. One local legend states that the jars were originally constructed to distill an alcoholic brew to celebrate the victorious military campaign of an ancient king; however archaeological evidence suggests that the jars are funerary urns, carved by a Bronze Age people around 2,000 years ago. More recently, due to its strategic location, the Plain of Jars played a pivotal role in the Second Indochina War and was the site of many ground battles and intense aerial bombardment. Xieng Khouang is now a peaceful place with wonderful cool weather, vast grasslands, many ethnic minorities, hot springs and caves. Based on the Plain of Jars' extraordinary heritage, the Lao Government is preparing a nomination dossier for submission to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and expects the site to be inscribed as a World Heritage Site by 2006. The Plain of Jars is accessible by air from Vientiane and Luang Prabang. Overland travel from northern and central Laos and central Viet Nam is also a popular way to reach Xieng Khouang.

Plain of Jars