Pakse

 

Pakse Travel Guides

At the confluence of the Mekong and Xe Don rivers, Pakse is the capital of Champasak province and regarded as the far south's biggest town in Laos. Pakse is synonymous with Wat Phou like Siem reap and Angkor Wat. If you plan to go to the Bolaven Plateau or Si Phan Don you will probably have to spend some time here.

What to do?

While in town, there are several wats worth seeing: Wat Luang, by the metal bridge high above the Si Phan Don, and Wat Tham Fai or Wat Phou next to the Champasak Palace Hotel. 

There is a good museum, small but with a range of natural and cultural exhibits, and the market is endlessly fascinating though sometimes, with the birds, frogs and fish being sold for the pot, you need a strong stomach just to look. 

And there are places to see around Pakse: take a look at the villages, plantations and waterfalls of the Bolaven plateau. The Ho Chi Minh Trail is not too far away but, by all accounts, there is little to see and it is worth remembering that the whole area was saturation bombed during the Secret War and most of what failed to detonate is still lying in wait for those wandering off the usual roads and tracks. 

In addition, Pakse is becoming an increasingly popular starting point in Laos because there is an excellent road link, via Chong Mek, to Ubon Ratchathani a lovely city, easy to reach from Bangkok, and well worth a couple of days of anyone's time (add an extra day to see the Khmer ruins just inside Cambodia; you can get in without a visa to see the site).

Getting there

There are road links north to Savannakhet and on to Vientiane; and links south to Champasak (for Wat Phou), Si Phan Don and the Cambodian border. There are frequent Lao Aviation flights between Pakse and Vientiane.

When to go?

The best time to visit Laos is in the cool season, between November and February. The rain is usually over, all rivers are navigable, and roads are good for driving during this time.

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