Central Laos' natural beauty on loop

From travelling through caves on a rowboat to views of stunning landscapes, the Laos Loop in central Laos gives tourists a unique experience of the country.
(Above) A traditional Baci ceremony at Wat Phabath in the Bolikhamxay Province, where a monk ties a piece of string on a person's wrist as a blessing.(Right) The Sikhottabong Stupa in Thakhek is a revered sacred site with an impressive 29m-tall golde
The entrance to Tham Nang Aen, which translates roughly to the "Cave of Sitting and Flirting", thanks to a local legend about two lovers who did exactly that.PHOTO: JACLYNN SEAH
(Above) A traditional Baci ceremony at Wat Phabath in the Bolikhamxay Province, where a monk ties a piece of string on a person's wrist as a blessing.(Right) The Sikhottabong Stupa in Thakhek is a revered sacred site with an impressive 29m-tall golde
Unusually shaped formations in Kong Lor Cave, which has an impressive rocky interior that reaches heights up to 100m at certain points. PHOTO: JACLYNN SEAH
(Above) A traditional Baci ceremony at Wat Phabath in the Bolikhamxay Province, where a monk ties a piece of string on a person's wrist as a blessing.(Right) The Sikhottabong Stupa in Thakhek is a revered sacred site with an impressive 29m-tall golde
On a hillside close to Na Hin town is the Limestone Forest Viewpoint, which offers a panoramic view of the limestone karsts amid the green canopy of the surrounding Hin Boun forest. PHOTO: JACLYNN SEAH
(Above) A traditional Baci ceremony at Wat Phabath in the Bolikhamxay Province, where a monk ties a piece of string on a person's wrist as a blessing.(Right) The Sikhottabong Stupa in Thakhek is a revered sacred site with an impressive 29m-tall golde
A traditional Baci ceremony at Wat Phabath in the Bolikhamxay Province, where a monk ties a piece of string on a person's wrist as a blessing.PHOTO: JACLYNN SEAH
(Above) A traditional Baci ceremony at Wat Phabath in the Bolikhamxay Province, where a monk ties a piece of string on a person's wrist as a blessing.(Right) The Sikhottabong Stupa in Thakhek is a revered sacred site with an impressive 29m-tall golde
The Sikhottabong Stupa in Thakhek is a revered sacred site with an impressive 29m-tall golden spire and home to Buddhist relics dating back to the sixth century.PHOTO: JACLYNN SEAH
(Above) A traditional Baci ceremony at Wat Phabath in the Bolikhamxay Province, where a monk ties a piece of string on a person's wrist as a blessing.(Right) The Sikhottabong Stupa in Thakhek is a revered sacred site with an impressive 29m-tall golde
Khoun Kong Leng, a little lake just north of Thakhek along Highway 13, is famous for its beautiful cerulean colour and is both a popular swimming hole and picnic spot.PHOTO: JACLYNN SEAH

A low-key route shared mostly among Western backpackers, The Loop offers an up-close experience with nature and religion

Central Laos is a destination I wish I did not have to tell people about.

It is a strange comment to make, as I was invited to Laos to learn about and promote The Loop, a route that takes you east of Vientiane through the provinces of Bolikhamxay and Khammouane.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 11, 2019, with the headline 'Central Laos' natural beauty on loop'. Print Edition | Subscribe