Located along the Nam Song River you find the town called Vang Vien. The town is located north of Vientiane, about 4 hours travel with bus from Vientiane. The small, sometimes dusty, town has made huge changes in the past years. Due to these positive changes Vang Vien is becoming a renewed trekking and activity area. The renewed Vang Vien is focusing mainly on the tourist with a high desire for activities.
Vang Vien offers many opportunities for trekking, which can easily be combined with entering natural caves, climb on smaller mountain. The town has the gift to have many natural caves in the area. Some of these are more touristic, however part of the caves in the area are off route of the huge touristic crowd. This gives possibilities to add cave visits and climbing when planning a trek.
Start of this trek began with crossing the Bamboo bridge across the Nam Sang river. Here is also a start point for people which want to head out for a Kano trip on the Nam Sang river. Crossing the bamboo bridge gives you a fantastic view across the river however also towards the mountains too. Arriving at the other side of the bridge you spot some hotels and places to relax near the river.
Here on the other side of the river you find most people relaxing at the end of the day. Continuing the hike straight forward direction you be you of Vang Vien in a few minutes and in the open field area. When viewing straight forward and right you spot the area where the path will take you to.. First passing the rice fields towards the mountain and somewhat later near the farm the path bends to the right.
Following the signs on the path you will arrive at the Pha Poak mountain. Already far ahead you can spot the orange flags telling you the entrance of Pha Poak mountain. After paying the small donation for entrance to the friendly keeper, you can start the climb. At this start the wooden ladder helps you to climb up the the rock wall. The path to climb continues steep upwards towards a viewpoint on top of mountain.
During the climb sometimes you be helped by the ladders used as a bridge to cross the less safe places. However mainly the climb up mountain consists of making your way up through the rocks. Making the way up there are some challenges of your skill, patience, physical and mental condition. On route the are some incredible viewpoints offering a magical view over the area. The biggest reward is reaching the viewpoint at the top.
Reaching the top of the Pha Poak mountain means fulfilling your goal, however you will have to head back down again. After returning to the entrance where climb was started, the hike continued along the foot of the mountain towards the Pha Puak cave. The path continued towards a foot/bicycle bridge across a small stream. In the stream the cows where cooling down in the sandy water, as the noon temperature reached 34* Celsius..
Fortunately from there the path followed its way away from the open area. The trek continued through an area with high bushes and less high trees offering cover from the direct sunlight. This part of the trek brought its beauty with is various vegetation. The green area was combined with some blossom trees, fruits and smaller animals crossing the path.
On some occasions old shelters gave their remembrance of passed human activities. After enjoying this part of the path the entrance to the Pha Puak cave was in sight. The entrance to the cave area is at the foot of the mountain. First there is a climb up mountain to be made before can enter the cave. This climb is steep up the ladder at first. After that the wooden pole fence is there to help you upwards towards the narrow cave entrance
Tucked into the karst the Pha Puak Cave is considered scared by some. As the cave is of the main touristic route it is usually more quit there. Also this cave has been spared from artificial lights and routes. At the entrance a helmet with lamp is given by the keeper. So will have protection and light on your discovery. At some places in the cave warning signs will inform you about dangerous spots to prevent you having a deep fall.
When respecting the warning signs in the cave you can do the trip safely. The cave itself is a beauty with variation from smaller or wider parts, narrow corridors and parts with water on floor. More a the end of the trip in the cave you arrive at a natural pool. The pool isn’t too deep so you can sit and refresh your feet there. Another advantage of a visit at this cave that you can take your time without being pushed by a crowd.
At the time exiting the cave it was already near the end of the afternoon. Still time for some hiking in the direction of Vang Vien. At this time the sunset was already beginning. Hiking back around the mountain the sunset guided the trip back with with some spectacular views. With colors changing to orange and red, the evening dew began rising at around the area.
While heading back still took enough time to make some magnificent sunset photos. At the time of return at the Bamboo bridge at Vang Vien the sun was down and evening begun. Ending a rewarding day time for dinner in the town-center…
Read More about beauty of Laos on the next pages:
Laos 4 days in Vang Vien
Laos highlights of Vientiane