Thakek is another off the beaten track destination. It is a small town, mostly used as a border crossing between Thailand and Laos that lies on the banks of the Mekong River, and offers a pretty cool view of Northern Thailand on the opposing side of the water. The area around Thakek (also spelled Tha kek) holds a surprising number of secrets for the intrepid traveller to explore.
Population: 26,200 people.
Vibe: With strong French Colonial influence, Thakek’s office buildings, villas, and shops give it a historic vibe; although, there is also a playful feel in the town, with street vendors, fun stalls such as air rifle shooting, a number of restaurants and the odd quirky cafe.
Must Do: Phu Hin Bun National Park - with over 1500 sq km of wilderness, beautiful blue streams, luscious forest, and limestone cliffs that stretch hundreds of meters into the sky, this magnificent National Park will not disappoint you. It is easy to book a trip from Thakek, catering to how much time you wish to spend there, and which parts you would like to explore.
Known For: Thakek is known for its small-town feel and being the starting point of many adventures. Its accessibility brings a number of tourists that use it as a chilled out spot for hopping off, branching out and exploring some of the most extraordinary parts of Laos.
TOP THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN THAKEK
Kong Lor Caves
Take an excursion to the phenomenal Kong Lor Caves from Thakek. The Nam Hin Bun River flows through the caves. It allows you to take a dark and exciting boat trip through one side of the cave to the other, revealing huge limestone cliffs and beautiful surrounding jungle.
Tham Pha Fa Cave
Another cool cave accessible from Thakek is Tham Pha Fa, also known as The Buddha Cave. Travelling through dirt roads, and winding through beautiful limestone scenery will bring you to 229 bronze Buddha statues (hence the name) that are over 300 years old!
If you catch The Falang at the right time of year, it will be an experience to remember. It is a river swimming spot. Follow the smiling local children to the Aen Cave’s magnificent rainbow lamps to find a big pool at the rear. Don’t forget to take your torch!
The Nam Theun 2 Visitors’ Centre
The Nam Theun 2 Visitors’ Centre welcomes visitors to learn about Laos’ hydro-electric power project. There is a theatre, exhibition room, and models to explore. It is a great educational and cultural experience for anyone wishing to learn a bit more about Laos, and their economy and social development.
The most obvious and worthwhile place to trek is the Phu Hin Bun National Park. There are many routes you can take, with many wonders waiting for you at the end, including a swim in the beautiful Khoun Kong Leng, also known as the Blue Lagoon.
For the truly adventurous, Tha Kek is also the starting point for a 3-4 day scooter loop throughout the countryside. Hop off here, rent a motorbike, and see a side of rural, undiscovered Laos that many travellers miss out on!
EATING AND DRINKING
Although it is a small town, and not exactly booming with nightlife, it isn’t difficult to find places to eat in Thakek. It offers an array of food types and services to cater for all needs. There are restaurants selling both local and western dishes, as well as one or two modern cafes that sell a selection of cakes and desserts. There are also waterfront food stalls offering local cuisine and snacks.
When the sun goes down, some of the food stalls along the river remain open, using battery lamps to cook delicious hot pork rolls and pancakes – perfect for a late-night-nibble.