One of Laosâ€™s treasures which for the moment seems to be off the beaten path for large masses of tourists is Si Phan Don near the countryâ€™s southern border with Cambodia. We made the journey to Si Phan Don from Luang Prabang in the North by flying to Vientiane in the evening, staying overnight and flying from there to Pakse early the next morning. We then continued by bus to the main island of Don Khong. Our next destination was Siem Reap, Cambodia and, since I personally dislike backtracking while traveling, we wanted to find a way to cross the border and continue on by land or by river without taking the bus back to Pakse for the direct flight to Siem Reap.
After a quick breakfast we went directly to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum where we received an emotion-filled education on the brutality used by the Khmer Rouge at this prison camp, located in the middle of Phnom Penh. It was a more powerful experience than our visit to the Killing Fields the day before and weâ€™ve become inspired to learn more about this terrible period in Cambodiaâ€™s history.
At noon we boarded a high speed boat from Phnom Penh to Chau Doc, Vietnam. It was a beautiful ride down the Mekong River, passing fishing villages and other craft of varying sizes. After passing through both the Cambodian check point and the Vietnamese border control, we were officially in Vietnam once again!
Our evening in Chau Doc was relaxing and we took a cyclo to a floating restaurant on the other side of town. The mosquitoes are fierce in this town and after a long day of journeying we retreated into the air-conditioned hotel room for the night.
After a dreamy breakfast at the BoddhiTree, we left for our new guesthouse with the promising name of “Okay Guesthouse”. Turns out it’s more than ok,we got a room on the 4th floor which was well worth the climb with our backpacks since we have a great view of Phnom Penh skyline.
We then started our tour of the city and saw the national museum, art galleries on 178 street, central market (Psar Thmei), royal palace and silver pagoda. Phnom Penh is really great and everyone is very friendly.
We decided late last night that we were ready to leave Siem Reap and continue on. Even though we didnâ€™t reserve a seat on the bus to Phnom Penh, we were able to leave this morning and get into the capital around 2pm. We found a wonderful guesthouse called BoddhiTree Del Gusto, located in a French villa and are going to stay here for one night.