The Village of Kong Lor & Kong Lo Cave, Laos
We were told about the Kong Lo Cave by a lovely Danish couple, both in their 70s who have been travelling for years (Mama & Papa, if you're reading, hello!!). They told us about how impressive the cave was, and the 7.5km trip through said cave by boat.We were not disappointed. The caves are epic...at points it's almost impossible to see the roof with the slightly dodgy (but free) head torch.
The cave costs a total of 136,000 Kip for 3 people (£10.50), 124,000 Kip for 2 and 112,000 for one person. But it's so worth it. This was my first big cave, and I didn't really know what to expect. To start with, the boat that we were taken to didn't work! So we sat in the dark for 10 minutes while our boatman tugged at the engine. Eventually we headed further into the darkness until we stopped at a seemingly random patch of rock. Cue the lights and suddenly the whole amazing underground cavern was illuminated. Stalactites and stalagmites galore.
Once we had explored a bit, we carried on towards the "exit" on the other side of the cave and we could see daylight for the first time in 40 minutes.
After a quick stop, we turned around and headed back through the cave (this way was with the current and it was therefore much quicker) so we could go for a swim at the entrance of the cave.
As well as the darkness that surrounds you, the temperature in the cave is lovely compared to the outside sauna/oven. It was one of the few times that I haven't been completely drenched in sweat all day!
We were staying in Kong Lo village, at the lovely Phounsouk Guesthouse along with Gav, Ruth and Eleanor (we met Eleanor on our last morning in Vientiane while we were waiting for our bus). The village is so quiet and the setting is absolutely awesome; karst mountains rise up on 3 sides of the village, which is sat on a flat plain covered in fields.
There are about 4 places to eat in the village, our favourite of which was right next to our guesthouse. They served up some tasty Laap (minced chicken with herbs and chilli).
Along with tubing in Vang Vieng, the Kong Lo Cave makes it into the list of best bits of Laos, and if you happen to be in the neighbourhood it's definitely worth a visit! And a stay in the village if you can.