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city located in north central Laos
A large multi-tiered waterfall, accessible by boat or truck hire. You can also rent a motorbike to transport yourself there. There are food and tourist stalls outside the waterfalls. It is worth putting a whole day aside (or more) for seeing these because they are a great place to relax and meet other travellers. There are multiple pools at different levels, all of which are reportedly safe to bathe in, and are extremely picturesque. Shared tuk-tuks charge about 30,000-50,000 kip (cheapest seems to be near slow boat pier, though you can get them for 40,000 kip near Joma Bakery). You may have to wait until the tuk-tuk fills up. Tuk-tuks are legally only allowed to take six people, and there is a checkpoint at the falls, so some drivers may try to get a 7th person in the front seat. Private tuk-tuk will cost you at least 150,000 kip, but you will need to bargain for some time; don't hesitate to start from 100,000 kip if the driver tells you 150,000 kip. Drivers may try to show you documents that quote 200,000 kip or more depending on driver. Just ignore this and insist. Try to go with 5 people and insist on 30,000 kip each. The driver should wait for 3-4 hours at the waterfall gate area. Make sure your 150,000 kip includes there and back. Bargain, bargain, bargain. Just remember that there are dozens of tuk-tuks around, so you have the advantage. If you lack companions, offer 30,000 kip and wait until he finds more passengers. A seat in a minibus costs 40,000 kip, more if booked through a travel agent.
The hill that dominates the city from which you have a good view of the whole area. It's not a very steep climb from the bottom. Sunrise and sunset are the most sensible and rewarding times to go. There is a near-panoramic view from the top. The ticket office closes at 18:30, so climbing to the top is virtually free afterwards, which gives you about 30 minutes before it gets dark. This is not the place to go however if you are looking for a romantic sunset with not so many other people around. In this case go to a remote section of the shoreline or book a sunset tour on a small boat.
The famous "Buddha caves" are north of the city on the Mekong and can be reached by road (approximately 1 hr) or river boat (around 1.5 hr). Alternatively, you can hire canoes and a guide for the day, which would allow you to view the beautiful scenery and visit the caves without throngs of other tourists. It's also possible to finish the trip at the "whisky village" where the local Lao lao (rice spirit) is made. There are two caves, one on the entry level and another, the upper caves, on top of the hill. A very steep climb, but worth the effort. A torch is needed to see the upper cave. Simply cross the river at Pak Ou village for 13,000 kip per person (25,000 kip if you're the only one on the boat), walk up the hill and turn right, crossing the school grounds, to find your way to the caves. Motorcycle parking at Pak Ou village 5,000 kip.
province of Laos
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