Luang Prabang Surrounding Area

Located outside of Luang Prabang is a number of other fantastic sites and attractions and scenery. Located along the Mekong are numerous villages, shrines, and caves to be explored. Many of this caves hold historical religious sites and are a fantastic experience. Also located near Luang Prabang is Kuang Si Falls, a collection of stunning blue waterfalls and pools that an be swum in. This is a fantastic way to spend a hot afternoon in nature. If you do manage to find yourself with a spare day or two while in Luang Prabang, make sure to explore and enjoy the surrounding area.

 

http://www.laos-guide-999.com/Kuang-si-falls.html

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Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi is Thailand’s western province, bordering Myanmar. This part of the country is far removed from the tourist hub of Phuket or the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. In Kanchanaburi you will find farmland and lush forest landscapes. This part of the country is however home to a number of famous tourist attractions including the infamous Tiger Temple, which I had the common sense to avoid due to its horrific animal cruelty and black market smuggling activities. Aside from that, you will find Erawan Falls, Thailand’s famous floating markets, the bridge over the river Khwae and Death Railway amongst others. If you have a spare few days in Bangkok, I would suggest spending it here instead as it isn’t a far drive and there are plenty of tours available to take you. If you have yet to see monkeys in the wild, this is the place to do it, because they are literally all over the place in this region. Floating hotels built on the rivers are common in this area too if you would like a unique experience.

 

Floating Markets

The floating markets are one of Thailands best known attractions and normally feature on the walls of Thai restaurants in other countries. These markets are an amazing experience, but an enormous tourist trap. I recommend browsing at these markets for fun, but buying elsewhere, as you will find the exact same items for a fraction of the price. If you pay for a markets tour, you will be taken by boat through the floating market place itself and then on a brief tour of the canals in the surrounding area, passing through farms and housing areas. It’s a great experience and definitely worth doing.

http://floatingmarketthailand.com/index.html

 

Erawan Falls

Erawan Falls are part of Erawan National Park and are a protected area with some of the most stunning sites I have ever seen. The waterfalls and pools in this park are cleaner, clearer and bluer than anything I had ever seen before or have seen since that day. You can easily spend hours exploring the park, swimming in the pools and having a free foot massage from the local fish.

https://www.thainationalparks.com/erawan-national-park

 

Bridge on the River Khwae

This bridge is what inspired the famous 1957 film, The Bridge on the River Kwai, which went on to win 7 academy awards. The film focused on the building of the bridge for the Burma Railway, a horrific two year project by the Japanese during WW2 which led to the deaths of 330,000 labourers through forced labour conditions. Of theses deaths, the vast majority were civilians and prisoners of war, all dying  in order to construct a 415-kilometre stretch of railway between Thailand and Burma. The bridge and the railway still stands and operates to this day. The bridge has become a pilgrimage for many who fought in the war or who lost family or friends in the war, as well as for film enthusiasts wanting to see the bridge from the movie. In actuality, the film was shot in Sri Lanka using a similar looking bridge, but the meaning of this bridge remains the same regardless.

http://www.bridgeriverkwai.com/

 

Death Railway

Death railway as discussed above was the forced labour project of Japan during WW2, resulting in the deaths of 330,000 prisoners of war and civilian labourers. The railway still operates and can be ridden in order to experience a portion of what was build at such an immense human cost.

http://www.deathrailwaytours.com.au/

 

Floating Hotel

You will find plenty of floating buildings including hotels built on the Khwae River. If you get a chance, I highly recommend staying in one for a unique experience and the chance to watch the sun rise and set over the river.

 

Monkeys

If you still have yet to see monkeys in the wild in SE Asia, then this region is the place to go, as there are plenty of  them to be found and they are relatively friendly and playful.

New Zealand’s West Coast

Fox Glacier

Located on the West Coast of the South Island, Fox Glacier is one of two famous attractions in the region known as Glacier Country.Fox is the name of both the glacier itself and the local village. While the glacier itself is the lesser known of the two in the region, it is definitely worth the visit. For a price, you are able to fly by helicopter and land on top of the glacier in order to explore its ice caves. Sadly on the day that we visited, the weather was too unclear to fly safely and all flights were suspended. The trail to view the glacier itself is short, but the scenery is stunning, particularly on a misty day. Be sure to bring a raincoat if visiting the West Coast, because you are guaranteed to experience plenty of it.

http://www.glaciercountry.co.nz/

 

Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef, just like Fox, is the name of both the glacier itself and the neighboring village.To reach the glacier viewing point, a longer hike is required than that of fox glacier. The trail itself is absolutely stunning and gives you a clear view of the edge of the glacier. If you decide to stay in the Franz Josef village, I highly recommend Sir Cedrics Chateau Franz for accommodation, they’re a great backpackers located right in the middle of the village center. If you need evening entertainment, I suggest visiting Snakebite Brewery, they’re located on the main street of the village and have some of the best craft beers that I’ve had the pleasure of trying, along with the single best cider I have ever had, Cobra Berry Cider.

http://sircedrics.co.nz/hostels-franz-josef/chateau-franz/

http://www.snakebite.co.nz/

 

Blue Pools

The Blue Pools are very easy to miss while driving to the two glacier villages. There is a small roadside stop that is located part way between Wanaka and Fox Glacier that is definitely worth keeping an eye out for. There is a short forest walk that arrives at a fork in a bright blue river with some stunning scenery.

http://www.newzealand.com/us/article/blue-pool-track/