Thakhek grows to be an attractive tourist destination in Laos thanks to the exceptionally tranquil atmosphere and charming highlights. People travel to Thakhek and conclude that it takes days and nights to discover the town fully. So, what is your next place to see? Please pack and go to Thakhek of Laos!
About Thakhek in Laos
Thakhek is the pretty town in the south-central of Laos on the Mekong River and is the capital of Khammouane Province. It faces Nakhon Phanom across the river in the northeast of Thailand. Thakhek is linked to Nakhon Phanom of Thai via the Third Thailand -Lao Friendship Bridge commemorated on November 11th, 2011. The Bridge connects the Khammouane Province (Laos) and the Nakhon Phanom Province (Thailand). There are also international buses between Thakhek and Nakhon Phanom. According to many visitors, in compared to the First Friendship Bridge (between Vientiane of Laos and NongKhai of Thailand) and the Second Friendship Bridge (between Savannakhet of Laos and Muddahan of Thailand), then the Third Friendship Bridge is most beautiful. It has the half-moon shape. On the two heads of the Bridge are the two golden stupas, looking very stunning from a distance. The town of Thakhek was established in 1911 – 1912 during the French colonial time. About its name, Thakhek means “Visitor’s Landing.” The town itself is famous for the French colonial buildings, shops, and villas, making it the most outwardly French-style town in Laos. In and around Thakhek in Laos, there lie numerous tourist attractions of caves, lakes, rivers, and religious sites for the visitors to spend days and nights discovering. Most of the time, the atmosphere in Laos motivates people to calm down and relax, and this is thoroughly right for Thakhek.
Thakhek Laos Things to Do
That Sikhot is one of Laos’s most sacred place. It includes the holy and gorgeous caves, overlooking the mighty Mekong River. This is the major attraction in Thakhek, which is conveniently reached by tuk-tuk. Historically, people say the establishment of That Sikhot was from the 15th century and contained the relics of Chao Sikhot – the local hero that founded the old town. If coming to this attraction, you might hear a local legend about the hero Sikhot; just enjoy it. Here, you also find the big gold stupa at the height of 29m on a plinth. That Sikhot receives the influx of visitors during the annual festivals in July and February. People praise this holy pilgrimage site for the spiritual value as well as the scenic landscape, best at sunset. July is the best time to attend the carnival-like atmosphere in That Sikhot!
Kong Leng Lake
Kong Leng Lake has the depth of 100m in which the locals believe that there is the underground Kingdom beneath the water surface. Note that the local village authority appreciates the Lake much, and they require the visitors to ask for their permission to swim in the specified swimming zone. Also, fishing is not allowed in Kong Leng Lake. Besides being holy and mysterious, this Lake owns the stunning and green landscape. Its charm ranges differently from season to season due to the dissolved calcium from the limestone crops around. Traveling by foot is the best way to see Kong Leng!
Tham Pha (Buddha Cave)
In April 2004, Tham Pha was accidentally discovered by a farmer who hunted for bats. Once the farmer climbed to the mouth of the cave, he found 229 bronze Buddha statues which could be over 450 years old, plus the antique palm leaf scripts. The Buddha statues were believed to the belongings of the royal Laos. Since the discovery, this Buddha Cave widely attracts the pilgrims all over the world, especially during the Pi Mai (Lao New Year Festival). The holy merit of Tham Pha goes beyond what can be described by words. For the most comfortable discovery of the Cave, you should work with Thakhek Tourism Information Center in advance. Together with the ultimate holiness, Tham Pha is intriguing with the gorgeous karst structures which look similar to the giant dinosaur teeth. You are sure to love taking photographs of every feature in the Buddha Cave. Of course, don’t forget to treat the site respectfully!
The karst formations in Mahaxai Caves are the big magnets drawing the visitors to Thakhek. They look truly impressive and appealing. You can drive from Thakhek along the Route 12 to reach the beautiful and holy Mahaxai. The Caves seem to hold lots of unexplained secrets, from the limestone creations to the antique look. The farther you go into the caves, the more mystic it is. In fact, people cannot help mentioning the title of Mahaxai whenever they talk about Thakhek Laos things to do.
Tham Xang (Elephant Cave)
Tham Xang is the significant Buddhist shrine that brings auspicious feeling to the visitors. Inside the shrine is the Buddha status, and believably there are the calcium deposits of the “elephant head.” During the Lao New Year, the local people sprinkle the water on that deposit as this is considered lucky and healthy. Tham Xang becomes most crowded during the New Year Festival in Laos, and most local people have faith in the auspicious spirit that the long-lasting Buddha statues preserve. The shrine itself looks intriguing and eye-catching enough to capture.
Tham Xieng Liab
This is the impressive cave at the bottom of the 300m-high limestone cliff where you can stop for Thakhek trekking. It has the little swimming hole which is only available during the dry season (in the wet season, the cave gets flooded). Tham Xieng Liab (meaning ‘sneaking around cave’) is named after a local legend: there was an old hermit meditating in the cave together with his gorgeous daughter. The daughter later met a novice monk, and the two fell in love with each other in a sneaky way around the cave. Unfortunately, their tryst was found out as by the hermit, and he prevented them; the novice monk was dispelled while the daughter was jailed in the cave for the rest of her life. The visit to Tham Xieng Liab is interesting and memorable, whether or not you are interested in that legend. Don’t miss this cave whenever you have chances to arrive at Thakhek in Laos ; in particular, trekking around then swimming in the natural hole offers the fascinating photographic object.
How to Get to Thakhek Laos
You can take a bus from Vietnam (Danang, Hanoi, or Vinh) and Thailand (Nakhon Phanom) to the bus terminal in Thakhek. Such bus terminal is set along Route 13, around 500m south of the intersection with Route 12. Once coming to the town, it is easy to find the tuk-tuk to move around. As pointed out above, Route 12 is filled with the amazing attraction of Mahaixai Caves. Also remember that there is the Third Friendship Bridge between the Khammouane Province of Laos and the Nakhon Phanom Province of Thailand, which facilitates everybody to travel from Nakhon Phanom to Khammouane in general, and Thakhek in particular.
The other comfortable way is to take the local bus from Vientiane to Thakhek. This bus route might last around 6 or 7 hours. One more alternative between Vientiane and Thakhek is the minivan. What’s more, it is possible to have a ride from Thakhek to Pakse; the ride might take 7-10 hours due to various conditions of stops/delivery.