The Patuxai War Monument in Vientiane, Laos

The Patuxai War Monument in Vientiane, Laos

 They say you haven’t been to Laos if you haven’t visited the Patuxai War Monument in the country’s capital, Vientiane. With good reason too, as this special landmark represents the country so proudly and it stands large and mighty for everyone to see on the famous Vientiane strip, Ave Lane Xang.

 

Patuxai Monument, Laos

Entering the Patuxai.

Patuxai Monument, Laos

The Patuxai from the down the road.

 

The meaning behind the Patuxai War Monument

The construction of the monument was completed in 1968 and it took a good ten years to construct. The Monument is dedicated to people of Lao, who struggled their way for independence from the French, who colonised the country from 1893 to 1953. The Patuxai is also know as the Victory Monument and for obvious reasons too.

Patuxai Monument, Laos

Great structures of the Patuxai.

 

The Happenings in, around and on top of the Patuxai

There is a lot happening around the Patuxai War Monument during the day. First, there is Patuxai park, which great to stroll around the gardens, with the magnificent Monument standing large in its grand structure in the background. There is often plenty of entertainment and ceremonies happening within the park grounds on any given day and particularly important public holidays.

Patuxai War Monument

The view from the top over the Patuxai Park.

 

Inside the walls of the Patuxai itself, there are plenty of market places as you elevate and struggle your way to the top with many steps to confront. Each separate floor has market stalls that sells a variety Laos souvenirs and a very reasonable price, so purchase an item without fear of being ripped off. Also take in some great artwork with in the walls of the Monument.

Patuxai, Vientiane

Great artwork inside the Patuxai.

Once you make your way to the top and I can’t stress strongly enough about going on a clear day, you get a brilliant 360-view of the Vientiane city. It is a breathtaking scenery as you stand on top of this precious landmark and marvel on all things around you. The best bit is, Vientiane doesn’t have many sky rise buildings to block your gorgeous view.

Patuxai War Monument

Structures on top of the Patuxai.

Vientiane, Laos

A view of Vientiane, Laos.

All smiles at the Patuxai Monument in Laos.

One Night in Bangkok – Transit at Thong Ta Resort

One Night in Bangkok – Transit at Thong Ta Resort

The convenience of the Thong Ta Resort cannot be underestimated. Being literally a stone throw away from the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand, it makes the perfect transit resort to spend a night or two in the fine confines of a neat and tidy accommodation at a budget price.

Thong Ta Resort

Thong Ta Resort, Bangkok, Thailand

 

The Shuttle Bus

Getting to the resort from the Suvarnabhumi Airport is as simple as riding a bike. Once you make your way out of customs, make your way to gate 3 to 4, and in-between you will see bunch of guys carrying signs to certain hotels. Find the sign that says Thong Ta Resort and in a moment, you are in a shuttle bus and five-minutes later you are at the resort.

Even better, upon your return to the airport, the same shuttle bus will return you to the airport free of charge, it is as simple as that. The buses leave the resort every half hour throughout the day or night.

Thong Ta Resort

Take a convenient shuttle bus to Thong Ta Resort.

 

The Resort

The Thong Ta Resort has the basic facilities but at the price you could let it pass for luxury. It is surrounded with lovely gardens, decorated artwork throughout the grounds of the resort, a neat restaurant which serves daily breakfast, a spa centre and a souvenir store to buy that little piece of Thailand.

artwork of Thong Ta

Great artwork at the resort.

Thong Ta Restaurant

Thong Ta Restaurant.

 

The Rooms

Thee rooms are spacious; the beds are comfortable and each room comes with a balcony to peek at what’s around you (sorry no big city views). Whether you are after a single, double or triple room, you will find whatever you are after for any number of travellers. If you do need an extra room, at least it won’t break the bank.

Inside the room, is tea and coffee amenities, air conditioner, television with about a hundred cable channels, a private bathroom, slippers and dressing gown to rug up in the evening and even a quick and easy room service, with a decent menu. It is hard to believe these rooms are only around thirty bucks a night.

Thong Ta Resort

The spacious rooms

 

Around the Resort

Even though the resort is still a little way from the action of the city, there is still plenty of life going on around the resort. There is an abundance of food stalls, drinking bars and restaurants in the area, as well as massage parlours and market stalls in the area, so you can still rush around and grab your souvenir of Thailand.

Even if you do want to make it to the heart ofBangkok, and time allows it, grab a city tour through the resort and enjoy the hustle and bustle of the big city lights.

Markets in Bangkok

Hairdresser’s in the markets, close to the resort.

Suvarnabhumi Thailand

More great street artwork in the Suvarnabhumi of Bangkok.

 

The Verdict

It is the perfect transit resort, simple as that, and even if you are seeking a few nights stay in Bangkok, you won’t go wrong at the Thong Ta Resort. It is clean, convenient and most of all, a very affordable resort.

Want to stay at Thong Ta Resort? Check out TripAdvisor for reviews.

 

Bangkok Resort

Enter the resort.

Thong Ta

Villas of Thong Ta.

Artwork of Thong Ta, Bangkok

More artwork

A Guide to Picturesque Vang Vieng – Laos

A Guide to Picturesque Vang Vieng – Laos

The picturesque Vang Vieng and its stunning surrounds is the first thing that will captivate you as you drive into this Popular tourist town in the country of Laos. The bubbly townships, the epic mountains that are visible throughout the town and the flowing rivers are what make Vang Vieng the perfect adventure for those who love the outdoor life.

Vang Vieng

Nam Song River, Vang Vieng.

Where is it

Vang Vieng is situated in the Vientiane Province, a good three hours north of the Laos Capital, also known as Vientiane. Although it is only about a hundred kilometres from the capital, poor and bendy roads make the trek that little bit longer.

Vang Vieng

Enter the streets of Vang Vieng.

 

Where to stay

Affordable accommodation can be found throughout Vang Vieng, whether it is crowded hostel for next to nothing or a cheap hotel for around $25 a night, whatever it is you seek you will find suitable accommodation to suit any budget.

I strongly recommend the Laos Haven Hotel and Spa, nice hotel that cost around 30 bucks a night, it comes with tidy private room, air conditioning, television and a bathroom. The hotel also comes with a boutique swimming pool which comes in handy when keeping cool in the Laos heat.

Laos haven Hotel

The swimming pool of Laos Haven.

 

Eating and drinking in Vang Vieng

You will not go hungry or thirsty in Vang Vieng with several great bars and restaurants to drink or dine in and at all a great price. Whether it is a meal at one of the many restaurants by the river with epic views or any basic restaurant along the busy streets, you will find great local and international meal to suit any taste bud.

If dancing, drinking and mingling with other party goers is your forte, then you will love the Sakura Bar. It is full on entertainment with crazy music, beer ping pong and cocktails to keep those bodies shaking for a great night out. Also, the staff love to hand out plenty of complimentary drinks to keep the party going. Perhaps the free drinks is to compliment the higher price it cost for an alcohol Beveridge, but heck, it all evens out in the end.

Sakura Bar

Get the party started at Sakura Bar.

The Riverhill Vang Vieng

The Riverhill Restaurant in Vang Vieng

 

Things to do in Picturesque Vang Vieng

Picturesque Vang Vieng is a must for any traveller who loves the great outdoors, with the stunning mountains and the beautiful Nam Song River well utilised on the many day trips that are available in area. At a very affordable price you will be able to create many adventures.

Here is a list of activities to do in Vang Vieng.

  • Kayaking the Nam Song River – Stunning views, but rapid waters give you a kayaking experience to remember. At one stage, you are admiring the views the next you are paddling furiously through the shallow water and trying to remain upright on the kayak.
    Picturesque Vang Vieng

    Kayaking the Nam Song River in Picturesque Vang Vieng.

  • Hot air Balloon – Witness picturesque Vang Vieng with a glorious bird’s eye view of the surrounding area. Don’t forget your camera as memories are bound to be made and captured while navigating the friendly skies.
  • Get an Adrenalin rush with Zip-lining – Get ready for a rush at high speeds with a zip-lining thrill adventure that will get the blood pumping and maybe for a few of you, the lungs screaming. Throughout any nerves that may come your way while participating in the zip-lining, don’t forget to pause for a moment and admire the amazing views around you.

    Zip-line and witness some thrills and glorious scenery.

  • Adventures in a dark water cave – I hope you are not afraid of the dark as you embark on an adventure that Indiana Jones would be proud of. Swim in cold water, slide down muddy slides and crawl in dark caves as you conquer the caves with a headlight as your only companion. Beware of spiders, they are everywhere in the caves.
    Vang Vieng

    Have an adventure in the caves.

 

  • The Magic of Blue Lagoon – You will fall in love with The Blue Lagoon upon arrival, even if the large crowds may make it a little disparaging. Clean fresh water, welcome shade from the heat and to chill and relax in the refreshing water, make the Blue lagoon a perfect pit-stop when you need a break from other strenuous activities in the surrounding the township.
    Blue Lagoon, Vang Vieng

    Blue Lagoon in Vang Vieng

Laos Diaries: Days 15-17 – Goodbye Laos

Laos Diaries: Days 15-17 – Goodbye Laos

 It is time to say, “Goodbye Laos”. Sad to leave, but happy I came and took the opportunity to see this fascinating country. But before I do jet off and head back home to Australia, I had the chance to have one more decent look at the country’s capital, Vientiane. A city like no other but one worth exploring and getting to know. Here is my last entry into Laos Diaries

Ho Phra Keo Temple

The Ho Phra Keo Temple in Vientiane.

 

The highlights of days 15-17

Leaving Volunteering

Quite simply, volunteering and teaching English was one of the greatest experiences in my life. Meeting the smiling school kids, the monks with a crazy sense of humour and the fellow volunteers who I had built a great friendship with during my stay at the Green Lion volunteer house. It was a special two weeks that will always be remembered as one of my favourite travel memories and it was sad to leave the house.

Settling into Volunteering

Great memories with other volunteers.

 

Intercity Hotel

From the volunteer house, I still had two nights left in Vientiane, before a final Goodbye Laos. I stayed at the Intercity Hotel, located right near the Mekong River, with Thailand in full sight. It was quite pretty picture.

The hotel looked crap on the outside but surprisingly the interior inside was quite decorated and of quality. The rooms were spacious, with A/C, large bed, good shower, television and a balcony in some rooms, with the Mekong and power lines in full view. As far as $50 a night rooms ago, the Intercity Hotel was certainly top value for the dollar.

 

Intercity Hotel

Intercity Hotel, Vientiane, Laos.

 

Bor Pen Yang Rooftop Bar

One of the best bars in Laos which I stumbled into by chance. Stylish, laidback, good music, cheap food and beer on the tap. It has everything you need of a bar with good views around you and the bubbly night markets below. The atmosphere never gets too wild and there is no heavy music where conversation is impossible.

The Bor Pen Yang bar was so good that I went back twice. Of course, I could have explored Vientiane for another great diking hole, but then again it is hard to find a bar with a relaxing atmosphere. Check it out when in Vientiane, you will find it close to the Mekong River and at the doorstep to the Night Markets. In fact, just look for the large Carlsberg advertisement. 

Bor Pen Yang Bar

Mingling at the roof top bar.

Bor Pen Yang Bar

At the top is the Bor Pen Yang Bar.

 

Strolling Vientiane Again

The first time in Vientiane was short lived, this time it was good to be able to spend a good amount of time, by foot, exploring the capital city a little more thoroughly. It is an interesting city, if it can be called that, there are no high-rises, although China is making their way into the city with a few modern features built and on its way.

Let’s recap a few places of interest, I visited in Vientiane, Laos on this occasion.

          Ho Phra Keo Museum: A stunning temple design with a lovely garden display on the outside. Wandering the boutique but very beautiful temple grounds, will leave you refreshed and mesmerised being in a temple that was built in 1565 for the Emerald Buddha.

Ho Phra Keo Museum

Ho Phra Keo Museum.

 

          Sisaket Museum: Only across the road from the Ho Phra Keo, Sisaket is another proud temple that was built in 1818. Sisaket comes with an amazing architecture design, that is unique from other temples in Vientiane. The main temple, stands tall amongst the surrounding terraces and any lover of temples will be delighted to get their camera out for a photo or two. Both temples have an entrance fee of about a dollar.

Sisaket Museum

Sisaket Museum

 

          Vientiane Centre: Built by the Chinese, The Vientiane Centre is a modern shopping centre, with great shops, café’s, food court and a major cinema complex. Great to escape the Laos heat for a few hours.

Vientiane Centre.

Vientiane Centre, Laos.

 

          King Anouvong Statue: Situated at the Chao Anouvong Park by the Mekong, this statue represents the king who led the rebellion as the last Monarch of the Kingdom of Lao. Good to see for a photo opportunity.

King Anouvong statue

King Anouvong statue, Vientiane.

          Night Markets: Also situated at the Chao Anouvong Park, the night markets are full of life, and comes with a lot of decent affordable merchandise. It is great stroll through the outdoor night markets, with the luxury of not being hounded by the stall owners to buy stuff. A rare luxury in Southeast Asia.

Night Markets

Night Markets from above on a wet Laos Day.

 Goodbye Laos

Always sad to say goodbye to a country, especially one you grow very fond of. As much as I loved my stay in Laos, I missed my family back home very much and it is great to be getting back to them. Laos is a very different country to what I have visited in Southeast Asia and I do recommend if given the chance to visit, to take that chance. I will be back to Laos someday and I am sure it will change a heck of a lot in the years to come as it develops and modernises. But for now, it is goodbye Laos.

Check out Laos Diaries: Days 10-14 – Teaching English

Heading to Vientiane, Laos? Check out TripAdvisor for hotels.

Laos Diaries: Days 10-14 – Teaching English

Laos Diaries: Days 10-14 – Teaching English

 Getting back from a couple of nights in vang Vieng, it was time to get into the nitty and gritty of what I was doing in Laos. Teaching English. To be honest I expected to get into the Volunteering a lot earlier than expected, not to say that culture week in week one was not an educating and an enjoyable experience, it was.  I just expected to be teaching English to the locals a tad earlier into the program.

The days from Monday through to Friday, were pretty much similar, the old Groundhog Day you could say. Wake up, have breakfast, teach the monks for a couple of hours, a three-hour lunch, teaching kids in the afternoon, followed by a little volleyball, dinner and downtime in the evening.

Not that the days were not rewarding, it was and much more. The whole program was an experience that I will never forget and forever cherish. It was the life of a Green Lion volunteer and teaching English was the sole reason I came to visit Laos, so let’s get into it.

teaching English

Volunteering the primary kids.

 

 The Monks by the morning

In the morning, we taught the Monks. We would visit the Vat Pana Khoun temple, where the monks from as young as fourteen to an elderly age, meditate, eat, sleep and live. The exact same place where we do our best to teach them English. I say do our best because teaching anyone who barely understands the English alphabet was a challenge. A rewarding challenge I must admit.

The monks desire to learn is strong, even if it is a struggle for both student and teacher. We are helped through our classes with a translator, but still it doesn’t always help erase the confused looks on the students faces. But the monks have a great sense of humour, they are witty and beyond their deep beliefs, they show how human they really are.

The monks made my week, and no disrespect the kids I taught in the afternoon, they were my favourite part of the volunteering experience. To be in their presence was an honour and it was a privilege to teach. And now I have about twenty more Facebook friends. Yes, the monks have Facebook and use it a lot.

Teaching English to the monks

Teaching English to the monks.

Vat Pana Khoun Temple

Monks and teachers at the Vat Pana Khoun Temple.

 

 

The kids in the afternoon

Walking into the primary school in the afternoons makes us feel like rock stars. The kids run up to you, smile at you, wave to you, or in other instances looking at you with odd “you are strange to me” look. Naturally, they are looking upto you, we are about 3-feet taller, but in this case, you are almost idolised.

Each day we are sent to a different class, which makes it hard to fully teach the students or get any proper rhythm going. But the school’s principals are doing their best to share the volunteers around while they have us and of course we understand that, because volunteers are not always available.

Teaching English to the kids is a little bit more challenging. It is hard to keep their attention, they lose focus as any kids do while in school and time in class is spent teaching, singing songs that I have long forgotten and playing games to the best of our ability, where student and teacher try their best to understand each other.

teaching English

kids look on in the classroom.

Laos kids

Teaching the Laos kids a few games

 

Chilling and downtime

The Green Lion household in Laos, is quite far away from anything really, so getting out and about is quite difficult. Around the facilities, there are a few restaurants, markets and shops but besides that any entertainment value is difficult to find.

Most afternoons are made up with a few of the volunteers grabbing a chocolate shake from the market, playing cards, talking about random stuff and a real intense game of volleyball, which is usually against the French volunteers. Besides that, downtime is a given in the house and boredom can sink in.

Nonetheless, the experience was worthwhile and one that will never be forgotten. While it was the hardest thing to be without my family for two weeks, I am glad I came to Laos for what truly was a worthwhile cause. I can only recommend to anyone that is interested in volunteering, whether it is construction, animal care or teaching English, to do it. Memories are made and so are friendships.

Laos Sunset

Beautiful sunset near the Green Lion Volunteer centre.

 

other volunteers

Last night volunteering with a bit of karaoke.

Heading to Vientiane? Check out TripAdvisor for hotels.

Take a look at Laos Diaries – Days 7-9 Vang Vieng.