Thakaek, I never really got a good vibe from this city. It has a lot of potential along the riverside and the old architecture suggests it may once have been a grand location but it now seems as though not many people are interested in it. The town is usually used as a staging area for those wanting to ride “The Loop” – a few hundred kilometre loop heading up and over a plateau and through some of the most beautiful natural scenery Laos has to offer. Parts of the road aren’t yet paved which only adds to the adventure! Other than that, it seems there’s not much more to Thakaek from a traveller’s point of view.
After spending some time chatting to the very well informed Vientiane tourist office we found out there was in fact a direct bus from Vientiane to the little town of Kong Lor and hence the Konglor Cave. The bus leaves the Southern Terminal in Vientiane at 10am everyday.
Our bus made a few informal stops along the way sometimes to pick up passengers, other times let some ladies on the bus selling boiled sweetcorn or green papaya sticks with dipping spices. Or simply just to let everyone out (ladies included) to pee in the bushes next to the road. As you do on long bus journeys in Laos.
We arrived in Kong Lor just as the sun was setting behind the limestone mountains that cut across the landscape in which we found ourselves between 2 of these un-scalable fortress walls. The bus drops you off outside a clean cheap guest-house in town (which is tiny by the way). We’d read that there are local families that offer homestays in the town of Kong Lor but with all the new looking guest-houses along the road we weren’t too sure of finding one nearby and after the long journey we decided to take the easy route and check in to the guest-house.