That is one phrase you are guaranteed to hear people say while you’re travelling. Everybody wants to get “off the beaten track” to find somewhere unique and different and away from it all. We managed to find this in a tiny town called Kong Lor.
Kong Lor Cave
Tham Kong Lo is a huge limestone cave, 7.5km long and up to 100m high in some places, in Phu Hin Bun National Park and flowing right through it is the Nam Hin Bun river. As you enter the gaping mouth of the cave you loose all sense of direction as you float into the darkness.
Eventually you hit a sandy bank and disembark, a minute later you are dazzled by lights that, thanks to a huge amount of funding from outside sources, have been placed to light up the humongous rock formations as you meander through back to your boat, which has been carried across the shallows and waits for you.
The lights are switched off and it’s so unimaginably dark that your eyes would never adjust to it. Somehow your guide knows exactly where he’s going and expertly rows you towards a tiny pinprick of daylight which slowly turns into the open river and the place you will stop for lunch before making your way back into the darkness the way you came.
The whole tour took about 2 and a half hours and cost us 50,000 kip (£4) including the entrance fee so it’s an extremely good deal and well worth every penny.
The village itself is made up of one main road that ends at the river by the caves. There are two or three options for accommodation, we chose to stay at the Konglor Eco Lodge.
If you get restless in the evening take a walk through the village and you will see how friendly the locals can be. It’s a huge difference from the rude and sometimes scary locals you encounter in the main tourist destinations.
Be very careful walking off the road, here and anywhere in Laos, as you may be one of the unlucky people to come across an un-detonated mine left over from the Vietnam war.
Getting to Kong Lor
Take a long and bumpy bus from Vientiane to Ban Khoun Kham and take a truck to Kong Lor. They run quite frequently, and are very cheap.
If you’re heading south towards Cambodia afterwards simply catch the truck back to Ban Khoun Kham and head south towards Si Phan Don.
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