#Laos – Pakxong – a fine place to chill out

 
People who are lucky enough to spend a few days on the Bolaven Plateau in southern Laos always want to return because of the pleasant climate – it never gets really hot, either in the dry or wet seasons.
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The Bolaven Plateau, which is often referred to simply as Pakxong, is located in the hills of Champassak province. I feel I know the area pretty well.
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A long time ago I made many visits there when my wife was working for a coffee project in Pakxong. I have never forgotten it and liked this place very much as it was always cool throughout the year, both day and night.
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The town of Pakxong is about 50 kilometres from the provincial capital Pakxe. I once went there in April when it’s usually extremely hot in Laos, especially in the south. 
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I stayed at km 35 and always felt comfortable but as soon as I ventured beyond Pakxong, the temperate spiked and it was really hot.
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At that time of the year, many people can’t sleep because of the hot weather. Residents of large towns such as Vientiane and Pakxe have to use air conditioning to help them sleep.
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But in Pakxong there is no need to use an artificial cooling device and Mother Nature will ensure you remain comfortable. The fresh air that surrounds you throughout the night will keep you refreshed so you don’t wake up feeling exhausted.
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Some Thai visitors have been known to say they don’t need to go to Europe to enjoy a cool climate but can come to Pakxong district instead.
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I don’t know if things are still the same in Pakxong because I haven’t been there for 15 years. But some people who have spent time in this beautiful area recently tell me that it’s as pleasing as ever.
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The Bolaven Plateau runs through Champassak province’s Pakxong district, Saravan province’s Lao-ngam, and Xekong province’s Thataeng district, and boasts a wealth of scenic beauty.
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Some of the most dramatic waterfalls in Champassak are Nheuang, Fan, Phasuam, Nong Luang and Champee Nang Sida.
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There are also three more waterfalls of note in Saravan province, namely Lo, Hang and Xeset, and then there is the Sinouk Resort in Xekong province, which are all very popular with both local and foreign visitors.
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The Bolaven Plateau is set to be developed as the country’s top agri-business and agri-tourism destination thanks to its year round temperate climate and picturesque landscape.
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When visiting Champassak province over the past few years, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith has advised officials to seek more investment from domestic and overseas sources so that the coffee industry can be further developed and other crops can be cultivated on the Bolaven Plateau and nearby.
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From Vientiane, tourists can reach Champassak by either road or air transport. And thanks to shared borders with Thailand and Cambodia, there are close tourist links with both those countries.

The local food is another attraction, with a wide variety of dishes on offer that will satisfy all palates. Set a date for a visit soon!

Source – Vientiane Times

 

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#Laos Saw More Chinese, Less Korean Tourists in Past Six Months

The number of tourists visiting Laos has increased 5 percent in the past six months thanks to a rise in the number of Chinese visitors.
 
More than 2.2 million people visited Laos between January and June, according to Laos’s Tourism Development Department, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.
 
The number of Chinese visitors jumped by 13 percent while that of Vietnamese visitors increased by 11 percent. The number of visitors from Thailand also rose by 1 percent.
 
Vientiane Times quoted an unnamed government official as saying that he believed visitor numbers were up because of the ongoing Visit Laos-China Year campaign.
 
However, the number of South Korean visitors plummeted by 20 percent while that of Japanese visitors sank by 13 percent.
 
The official told Vientiane Times that the decline in arrivals from some countries was due to circumstances beyond the authorities control.
 
“Some people stayed away because they were unsure of the quality of services here. And although Laos has many enticing tourism products there are several inconveniences, such as poor road access to tourist sites,” the official added.
 
Laos attracted more than 4.1 million foreign tourists last year, an 8.2 percent increase from the previous year. Tourism generated revenue of more than USD 755 million in 2018.
 
Meanwhile, it is expected that at least 4.5 million people will visit Laos this year, generating revenue of more than USD 700 million.
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More Chinese tourist expected
 
Officials believe that, out of 4.5 million expected tourists, 1 million would come from China.
 
To achieve such a goal, Laos is currently intensifying its efforts to improve services and create more facilities for visitors.
 
Vang Vieng, one of the most famous tourist destinations in Laos, for instance, has improved the quality of services and made changes to the price of food, accommodation, and the fees charged at tourist attractions.
 
In Luang Prabang, meanwhile, restaurants have added Chinese dishes to their menus and installed signs written in Chinese at popular tourist sites.
As for Luang Namtha Province, the authorities are encouraging officials to supply useful information to Chinese visitors.
 
There have also been some other positive developments that might boost the number of Chinese visitors to Laos.
 
Banque pour le Commerce Exterieur Lao Public (BCEL) has recently teamed up with Chinese payment service provider UnionPay International (UPI) to roll out new QR code payment services in Laos.
 
The move will enable UnionPay app users to make payments by scanning QR codes at local stores in the country.
 
UnionPay currently operates one of the most popular mobile payment apps in China, and this means BCEL’s collaboration with UPI would help Laos’s local businesses to reach out to more Chinese visitors, who make up one of the largest sources of tourists.
 
Separately, Thailand is currently preparing to launch the country’s first bullet train that will run between Bangkok and Beijing, China, with Laos as one of the intermediate stations.
 
In particular, the first route, a Thai-Sino project linking Bangkok, Nong Khai, Laos and a Chinese city Mohan in the far Northeast, is currently under construction and is scheduled to be completed by 2023.
 
Where are the Koreans?
 
Laos has been one of the most popular destinations for South Korean tourists thanks to the reality TV show, “Youth Over Flowers,” which aired in 2014.
 
The number of visitors from South Korea to Laos grew in 2015 and 2016, finally beginning to plateau in 2017. The overall market share of South Korea rose to 4.4 percent in 2017, however, according to a report by Laos’s Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism. The number jumped from 96,085 in 2014 to 170,571 in 2017.
 
However, local tourism experts have repeatedly suggested that such a number is decreasing, but there had been no official number released by the Lao government until now.
 
Confirmation from the tourism ministry that the number of South Korean visitors plummeted by 20 percent in the first six months is therefore highly significant.
 
One Vientiane-based tourism expert cited a lack of promotional efforts as one of the reasons to contribute to the drop in such number.
 
“The TV show that led to the surge came out five years ago. Out of sight, out of mind. No one made any more major Korean TV shows or films, to my knowledge,” the expert told The Laotian Times.
 
As he pointed out, several South Korean broadcasters released similar shows to repeat the success of “Youth Over Flowers,” but none of them was able to attract similar viewer numbers.
 
The expert also noted that not enough has been done to promote and encourage people to return to Laos.
 
According to the latest survey conducted by the tourism ministry, only 7.9 percent of respondents said it was their returning visit to Laos. In contrast, first-time visitors accounted for 75.2 percent.
Time for a Diversification?
 
The Lao government invited 12 representatives from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, China, Japan and South Korea to Bolikhamxay and Khammouane provinces, in a bid to promote other parts of the country.
 
The familiarization trip to the two provinces took place between July 12 and 17 and was designed to publicize some of Laos’ tourist attractions and encourage the tour operators to include some of these locations in their package tours.
 
It marked the Lao government’s latest effort to promote lesser-known tourist sites to foreigners, and this work is expected to continue in the coming years.
Source – The Laotian Times
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Tad Xai waterfalls, Laos

Tad Xai waterfall: the trek is what makes it special
 
For Visit Laos-China Year 2019, Vientiane Times
is publishing a series of feature articles and images promoting the
two countries’ collaboration in tourism and hoping to inspire more
people, especially from China, to experience the nature, culture,
history and hospitality of Laos, the jewel of the Mekong.
 
Tad Xai waterfall in Borikhamxay province is not just a place to go for
the wonderful scenery, a picnic, and the waterfall itself, but is also
a great place for trekking. 

In training for a Vangvieng Trail hike at the end
of this year, my friends and I would normally walk along the Mekong
riverbank to prepare for such an event but one recent weekend we
decided to try somewhere different. 

Out of the many places we considered, we settled
upon the Tad Xai waterfall at Ban Hatkhai in Borikhamxay province,
which lies within the Phou Khaokhouay National Protected Area.

Reached by travelling on Road 13 South, it’s near
the border between Vientiane and Borikhamxay province, and is about
three hours drive from Vientiane. 

We chose this place because we heard that trekking
guides are available, which we thought was a good idea because we were
by no means experienced trekkers.  

I have been to Tad Xai a few times before, but
mostly just to have a picnic and enjoy the waterfall, which is one of
the most beautiful of the many that are to be found in the national
protected area. This was the first time I would be able to explore the
area more fully.  

We arrived at Ban Hatkhai around 10 am where a
local tourist officer was waiting to guide us on the walk. The fee for
each of us was 45,000 kip. It was several kilometres from the village
to the park itself and some sections of the road were quite rough.
Drivers would need a vehicle with good clearance or four-wheel drive. 

 
e arrived at the parking place which was shaded by
large trees and bordered by a stream which burbled through various
shaped rocks. It would make a good picnic spot and you could also have a
dip as the water was not at all deep. A sign pointed the way to Tad Xai
waterfall, which could be found at the end of a 400 metre path. 

But we were intent on having a long walk so we went
in another direction along a small trail which passed through woods,
so the tree canopy protected us from the hot sun.

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 We quickly became immersed in our environment and stopped to look at
the unfamiliar plants and flowers that we encountered in profusion. 
 
Our surroundings were so enjoyable that we walked
slowly and took loads of photos, forgetting that the purpose of the
expedition was to get in training for the strenuous Vangvieng Trail.
Never mind, the whole experience was all part of the goal, we told
ourselves.  
 
After a while we heard the unmistakable sound of a
waterfall, which soon came into view. The water cascaded down from a
high cliff, so it is aptly named Pha Xay waterfall, or cliff waterfall.
It was one of those hidden gems that you would only encounter by
walking deep into this scenic area. 
 
After lingering for a while to enjoy the view and
taking more photos, we continued on our way through more oddly-shaped
trees and plants and then came to an open field of green grass
interspersed with rocks.
 
Then we were back in the forest again, walking
through small and large trees, listening to the sounds of insects and
birds against the backdrop of faraway waterfalls, and observing the
strange plant life around us. We became engrossed in our surroundings
and never had time to feel tired. Now and again we saw groups of
colourful butterflies, and stopped to relax near a small stream. 
 
The many streams that traverse the park meant we
sometimes had to walk across wooden bridges and near the end of the
trail we came upon a mass of different sized boulders piled up on top of
each other alongside a large stream overhung with dense foliage. 
 
The tall thick trees were a wonderful sight and
created a calming atmosphere so we took a long break and breathed in
the smells. We felt we had earned a rest as this was the first trek we
had made in this kind of environment. 
 
From here we took a different path back, which led
us to the main Tad Xai cascade where most people come to enjoy a
picnic. 
 
The waterfall has seven levels over which pours a
torrent of foaming white water on its way through Phou Khaokhouay,
creating a spectacular sight. 
 
This made another great rest stop and we loitered
here for some time before making our way back to the parking area,
deeply satisfied with our achievement and our decision to visit this
awe-inspiring area.
 
Source – Vientiane Times 

 

 

Queue No More: Vientiane’s Thai Consulate Visa Appointment Applications Go Online

Visa online

Visa applications to Thailand from Laos via Vientiane are set to get a shakeup with the introduction of an online appointment system, Thailand’s Embassy has confirmed.

Long queues into the Thai consulate in Vientiane are set to become a thing of the past, with all appointments to be made online and walk-ins refused.

Information on the system is set to be released on embassy channels January 28, and come into effect on February 1.

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Apart from saving time, money and streamlining operations in a general sense, the move is set to make the biggest difference in summer, when rising temperatures have occasionally been known to fray tempers and sanity among the queuing applicants of multiple nationalities, many of whom are frequent travelers to or foreign residents of Thailand on “visa runs”, as well as those persons based in Laos seeking visas permitting more than two trips per year overland to the near neighbor via Friendship Bridge.

Visa update

For those folk wistfully nostalgic about their time spent waiting for a visa appointment in the consulate queue, be sure to make it down in this splendid weather for old times sake.

Source – laotiantimes

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#Laos – Buddha Park Vientiane Undergoes Makeover

Buddha Park Vientiane 1

Vientiane Capital’s Buddha Park (Wat Xiengkhuan) has just received a makeover. How refreshing!

Visitors will now be able to stroll around the park in clean, paved cement pathways as they enjoy the breathtaking sights of the amazing sculpture park with more than 200 religious statues. Travelers will also appreciate the improved lawn and gardening work made within the vicinity. Upgrades are soon to be made to the front parking area as well.

According to many tourists, the ideal place for a great Instagrammable photo-op is from the top of the giant gourd structure which is approximately three stories high. The entrance is designed to resemble a demon’s mouth (about three meters high) with a stone ladder inside leading to a magnificent view of the entire park.

Buddha Park Vientiane 2

According to Visit-Laos.com, Buddha Park Vientiane was built in 1958 by Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat, a monk who studied both Buddhism and Hinduism. This explains why his park is full not only of Buddha images but also of Hindu gods as well as demons and animals from both belief systems.

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The most outstanding ones include Indra, the king of Hindu gods riding the three-headed elephant (also known as Erawan and Airavata), a four-armed deity sitting on a horse and an artistic deity with 12 faces and multiple hands, each holding interesting objects. They are all equally impressive not only because of their enormous size but because they are full of fascinating details and interesting motifs.

Buddha Park Vientiane 3

Recommended by Laotian Times

 

Satri House Secret Retreats (5 Star Hotel) Luang Prabang, Laos

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Satri House Secret Retreats 1

Located in Luang Prabang, the colonial-style Satri House was the previous residence of Prince Souphanouvon. The hotel offers 2 outdoor pools, free Wi-Fi and a spa.

Satri House Secret Retreats 2

The modern rooms at Satri House feature beautiful interiors and a cable TV. Standard amenities include a minibar and fridge.

Satri House Secret Retreats 3

Guests can lounge by the 2 pools and enjoy views of the beautiful landscaped gardens. The hotel’s spa features massage services and sauna facilities.

Satri House Secret Retreats 4

The onsite restaurant serves delicious local and international specialties.

Satri House Secret Retreats 5

This is our guests’ favorite part of Luang Prabang, according to independent reviews.

Satri House Secret Retreats 6

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Satri House Secret Retreats have beautiful big rooms

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S Park Design (4 Star) Hotel, Vientiane Laos

S Park Hotel 1

Situated just a short drive from Vientiane’s must-see destinations, S Park Design Hotel offers a swimming pool and comfortable guestrooms equipped with air conditioning. Suitable for both business and leisure travelers, the hotel also provides free WiFi access and free parking on-site.

S Park Hotel 2

All guestrooms come with a flat-screen satellite TV, a safety deposit box and a minibar. Fitted with a bath or shower, the private bathroom includes towels, a hairdryer and free toiletries.

S Park Hotel 3

At S Park Design Hotel, guests will be greeted by the helpful staff at the 24-hour front desk. Other services such as luggage storage services and business/meeting rooms are also available. For those who want to work out during their stay, the hotel also has a fitness work.

S Park Hotel 4

MUSSO Restaurant & Bar opens daily from 18:00 – 00:00 hrs and serves a variety of international dishes as well as a great selection of imported wine and beers. For a cup of coffee and a light snack or sandwich, guests can also visit The Scenic Eatery open daily from 11:00 – 23:00 hrs. In room dining is also available upon request.

S Park Hotel 5

S Park Design Hotel is approximately a 10-minute drive from Laos National Museum and the famous Wat Sisaket and Hor Phra Keo. Wattay International Airport is 6 km from the property.

S Park Hotel 6

This property is also rated for the best value in Vientiane! Guests are getting more for their money when compared to other properties in this city.

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You looking for safe holiday destinations in Asia.

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south-east-asia

You looking for a safe holiday destinations in Asia.

We have so many questions about safety in different Asian countries.
We advice you to visit safe countries as Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, Laos, ……

People ask me is Thailand safe ?
We must answer, but we must be careful what we write on the web.
The military coup government use to easily article 44.

But you can ask us this on email or skype.

Our personal advice is to visit for your next holiday in Cambodia.
Rich on culture and very gentle people. (and cheap)

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Bueng Kan, Cascades, caves and chasms #Thailand

Bueng Kan 1Thailand’s newest province, Bueng Kan, has plenty of charms to attract visitors.

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Bueng Kan 2

ONCE PART of Nong Khai, Bueng Kan is Thailand’s newest province and surprisingly one of the most developed in the Northeast, beating out Nong Bua Lamphu, Amnat Charoen, Sa Kaeo and Mukdahan in terms of infrastructure.

At 4,305 square kilometres, it is marginally smaller than Mukdahan (4,340sqkm) and slightly bigger than Nong Bua Lamphu (3,859sqkm) and Amnat Charoen (3,161sqkm) and right now is attracting a lot of public attention, not to mention investment, thanks to the construction of a fifth Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge and an airport.

“The idea for building the fifth bridge came up when we were still Bueng Kan District but was rejected because of being in the same province of Nong Khai, which is home to the first. The new bridge will undoubtedly attract tourists from our neighbours, especially China and Vietnam,” says Vice Governor Tewan Sannikorn in a meeting with the media at City Hall.

“Right now visitors have to take one of three routes to come to Bueng Kan: from Udon Thani, from Sakon Nakhon and from Nakhon Phanom. Soon they will be able to fly right to the provincial seat and we will be more than ready to welcome them,” he continues.

Bueng Kan 3

“Our economy has traditionally been based on agriculture, especially rubber plantations, but the province is rich in tourism resources too,” he adds. “In addition to the airport, the Ministry of Transport has a plan to build a new road that will offer greater convenience to tourists as it cut the distance from Udon Thani to Bueng Kan and bypass Nong Khai.”

But even without the airport and road, tourist numbers are looking up, according to Rachata Samranchalaruk, director of Bueng Kan Tourism and Sports.

“Despite relatively little promotion, we had more than 4,000 tourists visiting Tham Phra Waterfall during this year’s long holidays. When I went I was astonished to see a queue forming at the natural slide although I have to add that one visitor had an accident and was taken to hospital. It’s one of the most beautiful and interesting places in Bueng Kan and draws a large number of tourists. To get there you need to take a boat and because the waterway isn’t wide enough to accommodate many boats, we are looking for a forest path to the waterfall,” Rachata says.

“Another attractive tourist destination is Dongdipkala Phu Sing and the Dongsichomphu Forest Nature Room, especially Hin Sam Wan cliff, which is shaped like a whale. We held a cycling event here not that long ago and when the photos were uploaded to the social networks, we saw a significant increase in the number of visitors. Right now, I’m working on ensuring the area is both safe and clean as we are expecting many more tourists during the winter. Ideally, they should park at the bottom of the reserve then walk or cycle the trail through the forest. I know many people are attracted by the sheer beauty of Hin Sam Wan and are determined to climb it. But it is as dangerous as it is beautiful and we worry that tourists might fall into the chasm. In the distance, you can see Hin Rot Fai, which looks like a train consisting of five bogies and a smokestack.”

Bueng Kan 4

Last Sunday, Bueng Kan was home to the second edition of the cycling series, Tour of Isaan Classic, and hundreds of keen cyclists, from nearby provinces as well as Bangkok, turned out. The event was divided into two categories: a 100km road ride to Wat Phu Thok and a 50km mountain-bike ride to Phu Sing.

Wat Phu Thok, which is also known as Wat Chetiya Khiri Wihan, is not recommended for anyone who suffers from vertigo. You walk to the top via a wooden bridge that winds around the steep mountain. While the wooden bridge looked stronger than the last time I was here, when it was bouncing in the wind, it’s still a steep and nerve-wracking climb, probably because it symbolises the path of virtue that leads a righteous man to leave the world and enter the state of freedom through his own efforts.

Phu Thok is still a meditation practice centre as well as a centre and used for religious affairs by the local community. And the climb is well worth the effort: the view from the top is magnificent.

Visitors to the province can also take a boat trip on Bueng Khong Long, which was registered in 2001 one of the World’s Wetlands of International Importance and is the second largest wetland in Thailand. A massive fresh water reservoir initiated by His Majesty the King and the Royal Thai Irrigation Department with the aim of providing water for agriculture during the dry season, it is home to various rare plants and aquatic animals, such as the Mekong bumblebee goby as well as migrating birds like the plumed egret, tailed jacana and the lesser whistling duck.

Bueng Kan 5

Thai-Lao markets abound in town and are ideal places to pick up souvenirs. Our press group was taken to Ched Si and Phu Tham Phra waterfalls though access to the first was cut off due to heavy rainfall. Phu Tham Phra Waterfall, which flows down the 100-metre wide cliff to the valley, reminded us a little of the Niagara Falls, and is well worth a visit.

Dongdipkala Phu Sing and Dongsichomphu Forest Nature Room are home to several curiously shaped rocks, among them the elephant head-shaped Hin Hua Chang and the Kanpaeng Hin (Stone Wall), which feature a Buddha image.

Any trip to Bueng Kan should include a stop at Nong Gud Thing, a swamp with a rich biodiversity, including 20 fish species found nowhere else in the world.

We wrap our Bueng Kan trip by admiring 60 Chinese carved figures at Wat Weruwan and paying our respects to Luangphor Phra Sai at Wat Pho Chai.

Source: The Nation

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A winning heritage, Xieng Thong Temple #Laos

Xieng Thong Temple 1

A Luang Prabang temple is recognised with a Unesco Award of Merit

Xieng Thong Temple 2

Xieng Thong Temple in Luang Prabang province has won an Award of Merit, one of 12 announced last week under the 2015 Unesco Asia-Pacific Heritage Award scheme.

According to the official announcement published on http://www.UnescoBKK.org on September 1, 12 winning projects in five countries, – India, China, Laos, Australia and Thailand – have been recognised in this year’s Heritage Awards.

A panel of international conservation experts met in June to review 36 entries from across the Asia-Pacific region.

The Cangdong Heritage Education Centre, Kaiping City, Guangdong province, and Pingyao Courtyard House, Shanxi province in China as well as Baan Luang Rajamaitri, Muang district, Chantaburi province in Thailand, also received the Award of Merit.

Conservation of the Sree Vadakkunnathan Temple in Kerala, India, received the Award of Excellence in this year’s Unesco Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.

The Award of Merit for the conservation of the exceptionally ornate Xieng Thong Temple has safeguarded the jewel of Luang Prabang architecture and Laos’ most significant landmark.

Undertaken within the framework of technical standards set by the Luang Prabang Department of World Heritage, the project is to be commended for its systematic conservation planning and execution.

The involvement of trained monk artisans in producing the traditional decorative works represents a noteworthy revival of an age-old practice of sustaining Buddhist temples.

Xieng Thong Temple 3

The major initiative has arrested the temple complex’s slow physical decay and reversed previous inappropriate conservation efforts, improving the condition of both the ritual buildings and the monks’ quarters.

By combining grassroots efforts with donor support, the project epitomises the spirit of World Heritage in promoting international cooperation for protecting the world’s most iconic heritage places.

The Unesco Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation programme recognises the efforts |of private individuals and organisations that have successfully |restored and conserved structures and buildings of heritage value in the region. Earlier this year, the Luang Prabang World Heritage Site scooped “Best City” in the Wanderlust Travel Awards 2015, with Bagan in Myanmar taking second place and Stockholm in Sweden coming in third.

Source: The Nation

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