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I'm looking for somewhere for a day trip or weekend trip not far from Vientiane, the capital of Laos.

WikiVoyage doesn't offer anything specifically as it does for many other cities.

The obvious place would be Vang Vieng, but that's a party place for 20-year-old backpackers and I'm now middle aged and I work in a backpacker hostel at home so keen to avoid that stuff.

Luang Prabang looks great but that deserves more time and is a bit far away when you take into account the travel times in Laos.

I know questions of this nature are only accepted on travel.SE if they are specific so here's my requirements:

  • Within a few hours travel from Vientiane.
  • Not just for partying kids.
  • Must have a cheap place to stay, preferably not more than USD $10.
  • Relaxing and laid back.
  • Any Lao cultural stuff going on or local cuisines a plus.
  • A safe place to swim would be a big plus.
  • Off the beaten track or not - I'm not bothered whether or not other tourists go.

If it's relevant I want to hitchhike there and back so no tours, stay about two days, and I have a tent and sleeping bag (though I don't know if it's legal for me to use those!)

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Longer harangue when I get Chat working, but .. there's some places that would be hard to hitch to, aren't there? Places with no there there? Small villages 'in the jungle'. I'm sure hitching gets you to cool places, but are you totally averse to renting a bike (scooter, what-have-you), and riding into the sunset? (Sunrise, I guess - I'd try upriver, or NE-erly, I think.) (No specific or useful ideas, of course) –  hunter2 Sep 17 '13 at 11:22
    
The main thrust of the question is day trips and weekend trips. Somewhere we you can stay a night or two. To be useful to other people I shouldn't really restrict that to hitchhiking, that's just my preference so going by bicycle, scooter, tuk tuk would still be good though if you can get somewhere one way you can get there whichever way. When you know hitching has become hopeless you can always take transport. –  hippietrail Sep 17 '13 at 11:29
    
The kind of places I was thinking would only work w/ private transport, a local friend, or both ... but I did neglect the duration you had in mind. // (Your comment came to my inbox with no at-tag. hmm.) –  hunter2 Sep 17 '13 at 11:34
    
I had a local friend for a day and a half but now I'm on my own again (-: I actually went to the Buddha Park and it was great but as it doesn't fulfil the need to stay a night (yet) I'm willing to accept a different answer. –  hippietrail Sep 17 '13 at 11:38
    
No, no useful ideas from me, of course. I note the last part of jpat's answer - again, better in Thailand. Ha. (Really, I have no idea - if you reretrace/reverse, check out the other one, let us know ...) –  hunter2 Sep 19 '13 at 7:09

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Wikivoyage does list one place you shouldn't miss, only it's semi-hidden earlier in the article: Buddha Park!

Don't be fooled by the name, this is one seriously wacked-out temple/garden/art exhibit full of gigantic concrete statues, which has little to do with Buddhism and a lot to do with its creator Bunleau Sulilat. One of those Salvador Dali-esque crazy artist types, only he developed his own religion, a blend of Hinduism and Buddhism, and starting creating his works to spread the good word. A few pics are worth a thousand words:

enter image description here (Arian Zwegers, Wikimedia Commons)

enter image description here (Thoman Wanhoff, Wikimedia Commons)

He fled Laos after the Communist revolution in 1975 and went on to clone his park as Sala Keoku across the river in Nong Khai, Thailand, which is arguably even better since it's better preserved -- although if you've already crossed the river it's probably not worth the hassle of going back.

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Yes! This is the one place I really wanted to go but haven't yet. I think it could be too close for a day trip though - even though the reason I didn't go is it's too far to walk. In fact I originally intended to say as much in my question but forgot. Any idea if there's accommodation nearby? Because it's easy hitchhiking distance and could be perfect. –  hippietrail Sep 14 '13 at 20:03

Have you considered Nam Ngum Reservoir and the surrounding area?

There are tours going there, there are old Buddha statues, a market in Dong Makkhai etc. It's also close to the Phou Khao Khouay National Bio-Diversity Conservation Area, with Elephant treks and more to see. I am not sure if they charge entrance fees though.

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I should've mentioned I don't want a tour - but that doesn't mean I can't go independently to the same place others go on tour. Looking into it now thanks. –  hippietrail Sep 14 '13 at 8:25
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@hippietrail I did not mean to suggest anyhow that you take the tour. I rather linked to it so you can use it as reference. –  uncovery Sep 14 '13 at 10:20
    
Yes. Thanks for that because it's proving quite tricky to find on my own just with Google, WikiVoyage, etc. –  hippietrail Sep 14 '13 at 10:30

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