1. Creep around Chom Ong Cave
Hundreds of grottoes pock Laos’ mountains but few compare to the Chom Ong cave system located some 45 km from Xay Town. Spelunkers have investigated 13.5 km of the roomy underground maze with overlaying halls, which run along a 4-km long mountain ridge. Several side corridors remain unexplored, though one that was rediscovered ends in an 18-metre drop to the Nam Kaang River, which flows through the lower areas of the cave system. An hour-plus hike leads to the stream inlet in the north, and a full exploration with equipment can take eight hours before exiting at the river’s southern end.
2. Happening Handicrafts in Ban Yor
Handicraft hounds heading to Odomxay can strike the mother lode 57km south of Xay Town in the ethnic Tai Lu and Khmu village of Ban Yor. A hands-on-pottery workshop shows you where villagers find the clay, how they gather and prepare it, and how to distinguish various types of clay and the different styles of pottery and bowls. The course culminates in throwing and decorating your won pot. Those curious about cotton can participate in three separate workshops, where eager weavers learn to yearn, dye and weave cotton. The end result is a piece of handmade cotton cloth you can call your own.
3. Buddha’s Protective Shield
Those stopping overnight at Pakbeng on a Mekong cruise have a great reason to spend a full day..Khamtan Buddha Cave. Prayers to Buddha asking for protection from the bombings led to his name, “Phachao (Buddha) Khamtan (Valuable Protective Shield)”.
4. Hike to Hidden Nam Kat Waterfalls
One day treks lead to Nam Kat Waterfall buried in old growth jungle in the limestone outcrops east of Oudomxay Town. Massive boulders surround Nam Kat’s 20-metre cascade and create a series of smaller cataracts.
5. Meander to Muang La
Muang La, 28 kilometres from Xay Town, offers four tour packages that take you into the district’s mountains and cultural diversity – ethnic villagers, Singkham Temple with 400 year old Buddha images, hot springs, Nam Kai Waterfall and others.
This article is contributed by Mandarin Tour Pte Ltd.