Pakse is a great gateway for the tourist to reach the southern part of the country, and is the third largest city in Laos. For travellers to Wat Phou, Si Phan Don (4000 Islands), or Bolaven Plateau, there is a great chance of passing through this city. Even though the actual town doesn’t have a lot to offer, it is perfect to use as a short-term base for the other local attractions.
The preferred time to visit Pakse on the Indochina tour packages is when the temperature starts to cool which usually takes place from November to March. The months of March to May are the hottest in the region and likely to reach 40º C or more. The rainy season can present trouble for the traveller wishing to explore the local area, and can last from May to October.
How to get there
For quick and easy access to Pakse, it is possible to use the local airport that is just 2 or 3 km from town. This airport serves several cities throughout Laos, as well as an international service to Cambodia (Siem Reap and Phnom Penh), Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City) and Thailand (Bangkok). From the airport there is only a short ride into town to reach a hotel or guesthouse and costs in the region of $2-$3 by tuk-tuk.
Many of the local travel agencies, hotels, and guesthouses can provide bus tickets for easy access to the local attractions or further out of town. The main drop off point is downtown and relatively close to most of the local guesthouses.
A convenient method to get around town is via tuk-tuk with a trip to the local market costing in the region of $1-$2. Plus, there is the option to hire a bicycle for the day, which costs $2, and a motorbike for the day starts at $7-$8.
A motorbike is great for exploring areas out of town such as Ban Khiet Ngong, Champasak, or the waterfalls of the Bolaven Plateau. Most of the decent hotels and guesthouses have a choice of motorbikes to rent. Most of the local roads are in quite good condition, but there are still areas with sizable potholes and rough spots. Plus, it is important to keep an eye out for road obstacles, such as random piles of debris and dirt, kids playing in the street and cattle and chicken in the road.
Where to stay
Pakse has plenty of comfortable and affordable hotels and guesthouses to stay on the Laos tour packages. Most places are clustered within a relatively small area in the north of town. Plus, they are centrally based to make it easy to reach other areas of town and the riverbank.
A stay at the Alisa Guest House is among the finest accommodation in town and a great destination for the travellers in search of the midrange places (cost is about $10 to $20 per night). Most rooms are fitted out the modern amenities such as air-con, Wi-Fi, cable TV and bathrooms with Western toilets. Plus, the beds are very comfortable and plush to make a great choice for tourists that want quality on a budget.
The Residence Sisouk Boutique Hotel makes perfect use of a renovated colonial building that is very stylish with plenty of tastefully designed rooms. The rooms are well fitted out and spacious to include comfortable beds and all the must-have features. The cost per night is in the region of $50 to $100.
For the budget-friendly traveller, the Royal Pakse Hotel is an old multi-storey building that is available for under $10 per night. Most of the rooms include the usual amenities such as a comfortable bed, writing desk, cable TV and mini fridge.
Eat and drink
There is plenty of variety in Pakse when it comes to food and drink with some decent low-cost local places, as well as the more expensive foreign restaurants, including several serving Indian food.
Most of the best eateries are found close to the Mekong that serves the local Lao dishes. Other choices include the Jasmin Restaurant, which specialises in low-cost Indian food (Biriyani, curries, dosai, roti, etc.) and easily located in the centre of the tourist district.
For a relaxing cafe environment, Bolaven Cafes is perfect for serving up fair trade coffee as well as home-made and rustic pastries and cakes. Other dishes served include spaghetti and a variety of Thai favourites. This isn’t the cheapest place to stop, so rarely attracts the backpackers or other low-budget travellers.
A visit to the Champasak Plaza Shopping Centre is the preferred place to buy gifts or souvenirs for family or friends. Some of the popular items include clothes, electronic products and silks.
Things to see and do
While the local area isn’t blessed with things to see and do, there are several things of interest in the surrounding area.
A visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Wat Phou makes it possible to explore the Angkor style temples. Use a local Laos travel guide to really appreciate the history of the local temples.
One place for the tourist to explore is the Daoruang (Dao Heung) Market that is approx 2 km from the town centre. This is a very large market and one of the finest in Laos. It is easily reached by tuk-tuk which costs in the region of $1
The Bolaven Plateau is an extremely beautiful and natural destination that has amazing waterfalls, a cool climate, and famous coffee. One of the best ways to explore the local area is by hiring a motorbike.
Also, a day trip to Si Phan Don (4000 Islands) is well worth the effort with the ability to explore some truly amazing islands in the Mekong that are within a short distance of the Cambodian border. This is a very relaxing and laid-back place to get a complete break from the traditional sightseeing activities on the Laos tour packages.
A visit to Tad Yuang Gneuang is certain to appeal to the travellers that like to experience the waterfalls. Even though this isn't one of the highest, it is still set in a stunning spot. It is relatively easy to reach by road while a convenient path is available to get to the paths at the bottom for a relaxing swim. This region has seen a lot of development and becoming friendly for tourists.
Remote south by scooter
For the travellers with a bit of time to spare on the Indochina tour packages, a journey that explores southern Laos by scooter is certain to appeal and takes in plenty of regions in the area, including Tad Lo, Salavan, Sekong, Attapeu, Pathoumphon, and return to base.