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  • The far north Guide | Laos Travel | Rough Guides
    river nestling among some of the region s most dramatic scenery with limestone mountains all around and excellent opportunities for exploration Striking east from here takes you to Oudomxai a town with little to recommend it other than as an important transport hub from here it s possible to connect to most other places in northern Laos as well as Vientiane The most popular northern town is undoubtedly the tourist centre of Luang Namtha a good place to relax for a few days if you re after some home comforts More laidback is nearby Muang Sing reached by a stunning road journey through Nam Ha NPCA a pristine and beautiful protected area of the country Both towns have become popular bases for trekking due to their comfortable accommodation and easy access to nearby Akha Mien and Tai Dam villages While boat traffic on the rivers isn t quite what it used to be the border town of Houayxai is the popular starting point for the memorable slow boat down the Mekong via the port town of Pakbeng to gracious Luang Prabang It s now also the starting point for the fantastic Gibbon Experience which provides a great opportunity to explore the jungle on foot and by zip line Many visitors see comparatively little of the region travelling from the Thai border down to Luang Prabang on the Mekong perhaps swinging first up to Luang Namtha for a couple of days trekking and then maybe travelling up to Nong Khiaw and Muang Ngoi from Luang Prabang But if you ve got time the area deserves further exploration and can easily be covered in a broad loop that covers both river and road beginning with the wonderful journey up the Nam Ou from Luang Prabang to Phongsali via Nong Khiaw Muang Ngoi and Muang Khoua then dropping down to Oudomxai to reach Luang Namtha and Muang Sing before heading to Houayxai to pick up the slow boat back to Luang Prabang Read More More about Laos Features Where Next Check out Vientiane and the northwest Book a hostel in Laos Travel Offers Travel insurance Hotels Hostels Car hire Tours Explore The Nam Ou River Valley Oudomxai Luang Namtha and around Muang Sing and around Houayxai and around Pakbeng and around Find out more Muang Long Around Muang Long Xieng Kok and around A brief history of opium A brief history of opium Opium was introduced to Laos from two directions Opium cultivation and use was known among tribal peoples such as the Hmong and Mien who brought the poppy s seeds with them as they migrated south into Laos during the nineteenth century Because the best parcels of arable land in Laos were already occupied by the lowland Lao and Tai Leu the tribal immigrants were forced to live at high elevations But the newly arrived minorities soon made an important discovery opium poppies used up less of the soil s nutrients than other crops reducing the frequency with which farmers had

    Original URL path: http://www.roughguides.com/destinations/asia/laos/far-north/ (2016-02-16)
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  • South central Laos Guide | Laos Travel | Rough Guides
    the country will find that there is much more to the region than the main Mekong towns not least the otherworldly beauty of the Mahaxai stone formations at the edge of the Khammouane Limestone NBCA near Thakhek and the largest of all Laos s conservation areas the massive Nakai Nam Theun NBCA to the northeast The three narrow provinces that dominate this part of Laos namely Bolikhamxai Khammouane and Savannakhet are squeezed between mainland Southeast Asia s two most formidable geographical barriers the Mekong River and the Annamite Mountains The mighty Mekong has long served as a lifeline for the inhabitants of this stretch of the interior providing food and a thoroughfare for trade and transport In the late nineteenth century European colonialism turned the life giving Mother of Waters into a political boundary and the Lao on its west bank were incorporated into Siam During the 1970s and 1980s the river became a further political and economic divide when short lived but draconian post revolutionary policies forced large numbers of the inhabitants of the towns along this stretch of the Mekong primarily ethnic Vietnamese and Chinese to flee across the river into Thailand East of the river the elevation gradually increases culminating in the rugged Annamite Mountains which throughout much of recorded history have divided Indochina culturally into two camps Indian influence prevailing west of the chain and that of China dominating the east Until very recently these mountains made up one of the region s least inhabited areas and were teeming with wildlife including some of Asia s rarest and most endangered species such as the tiger Javan rhinoceros and Indian elephant In recent years however this area has been the target of heavy logging and some observers claim that the damage done to the forest since the start of the new millennium is irreversible As might be expected the three principal settlements and provincial capitals of south central Laos Paksan Thakhek and Savannakhet are all on the Mekong Paksan the smallest of these lies at the mouth of the Xan River which flows down from the 2620 metre Phou Xaxum on the Xieng Khuang Plateau Thakhek now sees few foreign visitors though it was once a casino town that drew gamblers from Thailand East of Thakhek is a dramatic landscape of imposing and impossibly vertical mountains of the kind often depicted in old Chinese scroll paintings which forms the southern boundary of the Khammouane Limestone NBCA Easily visited on a day trip from Thakhek these awesome limestone formations are riddled with labyrinthine tunnels and caverns Savannakhet has been described as southern Laos s equivalent of Luang Prabang its inhabitants living comfortably among architectural heirlooms handed down by the French Situated at the junction of two ancient trade routes the town also displays evidence of other cultures Vietnamese Thai and Chinese that have left their mark while passing through Aside from the main north south artery of Route 13 central Laos has three important highways Routes 8 12

    Original URL path: http://www.roughguides.com/destinations/asia/laos/south-central-laos/ (2016-02-16)
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  • The far south Guide | Laos Travel | Rough Guides
    and Attapeu you ll witness the resilience of the land still home to a diverse variety of wildlife Pakse the region s commercial and transport hub provides the most convenient gateway to the far south with travellers arriving either from Savannakhet or from Thailand via the Chong Mek border crossing It s also possible to arrive from Stung Treng in Cambodia by road or from Vientiane by air The most pleasant time of year to visit the region is during the cool season Nov Feb when the rivers and waterfalls are in full spate and the scenery is at its greenest Some history The early history of the far south remains a hot topic of debate among archeologists Although the ruins of an ancient city buried near Champasak and not far from Wat Phou indicate that the area was the centre of a thriving civilization as early as the fifth century no one seems sure if the town was part of Champa a Hinduized kingdom that ruled parts of central Vietnam for more than fourteen centuries or the Chenla kingdom which is thought to have been located near the Mekong River in present day northern Cambodia extending through what is now southern Laos The Khmer were the first people to leave a clear imprint on the area and the temple ruins that survive throughout the far south along the Mekong River suggest the region was an important part of the Khmer empire from the eighth to the twelfth century when the Angkor empire was at its height It is also thought that the better part of southern Laos was dominated by ethnic Khmer in particular the Mon Khmer ethnic groups that still inhabit the Bolaven Plateau region and the Annamite Mountains The ethnic Lao are relative newcomers to the region having made their way slowly south along the Mekong as Angkor s power and its hold over present day southern Laos waned By the early sixteenth century King Phothisalat was spending much of his time in Vientiane and eventually in 1563 the capital of Lane Xang was shifted from Luang Prabang to Vientiane While the origins of the first ethnic Lao principality in the Champasak region are unclear legends trace the roots of the Lao kingdom of Champasak back to Nang Pao a queen said to have ruled during the mid seventeenth century The story goes that Nang Pao was seduced by a prince from a nearby kingdom and gave birth out of wedlock initiating a sex scandal for which she has been remembered ever since The queen supposedly acknowledged her mistake by decreeing that every unwed mother must pay for her sin by sacrificing a buffalo to appease the spirits a tradition continued into the late 1980s by unwed mothers known as Nang Pao s daughters from some of the ethnic groups in the area Legend has it that Nang Pao s actual daughter Nang Peng ceded rule over the kingdom to a holy man who in turn sought

    Original URL path: http://www.roughguides.com/destinations/asia/laos/far-south/ (2016-02-16)
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  • Map of Laos | Laos Regions | Rough Guides
    intriguing destinations Whether you feel like trekking through little visited hill tribe villages or finding your own slice of paradise on one of thousands of tropical islands let our map of Laos below guide you through this beguiling country Float down the Mekong River by slow boat to Luang Prabang the former royal capital where you can eat like a king at the city s vast array of restaurants which showcase the richness and diversity of the country s cuisine Travel along misty mountain roads to glittering temples plunging waterfalls and remote towns that still bear the scars of the country s troubled past At Wat Phou the Mountain Monastery marvel at Khmer ruins set amid lush scenery this UNESCO World Heritage Site offers an insight into Laos s fascinating history against a backdrop of stunning countryside Find out more about Laos Interactive Laos Map Regions of Laos Click the links below to find out about your chosen region 1 Vientiane and the northwest 2 Luang Prabang 3 The northeast 4 The far north 5 South central Laos 6 The far south Related Ebooks The Rough Guide to Laos View Guide The Rough Guide to Southeast Asia On A Budget

    Original URL path: http://www.roughguides.com/maps/asia/laos/ (2016-02-16)
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  • Laos Travel | Places to visit in Laos | Rough Guides
    the middle of the two Indochina wars and long isolated from the rest of the world the country retains a slow rather old fashioned charm and its people incredibly laidback and friendly even by Asian standards are undoubtedly one of the highlights of any visit Laos s lifeline is the Mekong River which runs the length of the country at times bisecting it and at others serving as a boundary with Thailand the rugged Annamite Mountains historically have acted as a buffer against Vietnam with which Laos shares its eastern border Most people visit the country as part of a wider trip in the region often entering from Thailand and following the Mekong further south However Laos alone rewards further exploration and with a little more time it s not hard to feel like you re visiting places where few Westerners venture Stretching from the forest clad mountains of the north to the islands of the far south there s enough here to keep you occupied for weeks and still feel as though you d barely scratched the surface For such a small country Laos is surprisingly diverse in terms of its people Colourfully dressed hill tribes populate the higher elevations while in the lowland river valleys coconut palms sway over the Buddhist monasteries of the ethnic Lao The country also retains some of the French influence it absorbed during colonial days the familiar smell of freshly baked bread and coffee mingles with exotic local aromas in morning markets and many of the old shophouses of its larger towns now appropriately house French restaurants The effects of the wars and of its communist government are unmistakable it remains completely inadvisable to strike out into the countryside without following paths for fear of UXO unexploded ordnance and the country remains heavily

    Original URL path: http://www.roughguides.com/destinations/asia/laos/?wpfpaction=add&postid=43904 (2016-02-16)
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  • Explore Destinations | Travel Guides | Rough Guides
    all destinations Laos Overview Introduction Fact file Where to go When to go Getting there Entry requirements Getting around Accommodation Food and drink Health The media Sports and outdoor activities Alternative therapies Culture and etiquette Crime and personal safety Shopping Travelling with children Travel essentials Inspiration Things not to miss Features Gallery Explore Vientiane and the northwest Luang Prabang The northeast The far north South central Laos The far south

    Original URL path: http://www.roughguides.com/destinations/asia/laos/explore/ (2016-02-16)
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  • Malaysia Facts | About Malaysia | Rough Guides
    View Guide The Rough Guide to Southeast Asia On A Budget View Guide The Rough Guide to Malaysia Singapore Brunei View Guide The Yangzi Basin Rough Guides Snapshot China View Guide The Rough Guide to First Time Around The World View Guide Rough Guides Snapshot Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City View Guide The Rough Guide to Japan View Guide The Rough Guide to Beijing View Guide Central Honshu Rough Guides Snapshot Japan View Guide Rough Guides Snapshot Vietnam Hanoi View Guide Malaysia Fact file With 28 million inhabitants Malaysia is divided into two distinct regions Peninsular Malaysia where the capital Kuala Lumpur is situated is separated by more than 600km of the South China Sea from East Malaysia comprising the states of Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo Malaysia is a British style parliamentary democracy with a ceremonial head of state known as the Yang di Pertuan Agung the post rotates among the sultans from each state of the federation The world s largest flower Rafflesia is a Malaysian rainforest plant measuring a metre across and smelling of rotten meat It s named after the naturalist and founder of Singapore Sir Stamford Raffles Malaysia s economy historically dominated

    Original URL path: http://www.roughguides.com/destinations/asia/malaysia/fact-file/ (2016-02-16)
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  • Where to go in Malaysia | Rough Guides
    atmosphere making it a must on anybody s itinerary Much further up the west coast the island of Penang was the site of the first British settlement in Malaysia Its capital Georgetown still features beautifully restored colonial buildings and a vibrant Chinatown district and is together with Melaka recognized for its cultural and architectural diversity as a UNESCO World Heritage Site For a taste of Old England head for the hill stations of Fraser s Hill and the Cameron Highlands where cooler temperatures and lush countryside provide ample opportunities for walks birdwatching rounds of golf and cream teas North of Penang Malay rather than Chinese traditions hold sway at Alor Star the last major town before the Thai border This far north the premier tourist destination is Pulau Langkawi an island with international style resorts and picture postcard beaches The Peninsula s east coast is much more rural and relaxing peppered with rustic villages and stunning islands such as Pulau Perhentian and Pulau Tioman busy with backpackers and package tourists alike The state capitals of Kota Bharu near the northeastern Thai border and Kuala Terengganu further south showcase the best of Malay traditions craft production and performing arts Crossing the Peninsula s mountainous interior by road or rail allows you to venture into the majestic tropical rainforests of Taman Negara The national park s four thousand square kilometres hold enough to keep you occupied for days trails salt lick hides for animal watching aerial forest canopy walkways limestone caves and waterfalls Here you may well also come across the Orang Asli the Peninsula s indigenous peoples a few of whom cling to a semi nomadic lifestyle within the park Across the sea from the Peninsula lie the east Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah For most travellers their first taste

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