Panoramic view of Si Phan Don (4000 Islands) in Laos
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Pakse Travel Guide

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A small and serene city, Pakse is located in Southern Laos, where the Mekong River and Sedone River meet. Though widely known as an important gateway to the Bolaven Plateau and 4000 islands, the city itself is charming enough, with a laid-back atmosphere, authentic Lao life, very ancient French charm, stunning river views, antique temples, and tasty food from around the world. For most tourists, the best highlight of a Pakse trip is the side trip to Bolaven Plateau, where you can explore lush coffee plantations, sip excellent local-produced coffee, and take in remarkable landscapes.

Here is a Pakse travel guide with a list of top things to do and other helpful travel tips. Scroll down to find out more about what the riverside Pakse can offer.

Wat Phou in Champasak Laos
Wat Phou

Top Things to Do in Pakse

1. Visit Champasak Historical Heritage Museum to Look into Local History and Culture

For history buffs, the Champasak Historical Heritage Museum is a can’t-miss place in Paske, offering a glimpse into local ancient history and culture. The museum is home to plenty of artifacts, old photos of former cultural events, musical instruments, and handicrafts of different eras. Stelaes from the 15th-18th centuries will provide you with more detailed information on local history, and the various ethnic clothing, jewelry, and farm implements will give you a better understanding of local life.

The museum was formerly located in the city center and had been moved to Phon Sa Ad Village where you need to ride a bike or motorbike to get to.

2. Appreciate Ancient Temples

As the local culture is intertwined with Buddhism, Pakse is left many antique temples. Below are some of the most popular ones that you can put into your to-do list in Pakse.

  • Wat Luang Temple: Located on the bank of Sedone River, Wat Luang Temple was built in 1935 and is known as the largest as well as the most sacred temple in Pakse. It is famous for its exquisite murals, ornate decoration, and traditional alms-giving ceremony. The temple is just a stone’s throw away from Pakse city center, easily accessible on foot.  
The huge Buddha near Wat Phou Salao in Pakse
The huge Buddha near Wat Phou Salao
  • Wat Tham Fai (aka Wat Pha Bat): With a large Buddha footprint being enshrined, the temple is also called the Temple of Buddha Footprint by locals. It is hidden in a riverside garden and is dotted with colorful stupas, exuding an extremely peaceful atmosphere.
  • Wat Phou Salao: Most people come not to visit Wat Phou Salao, but to the huge Golden Buddha sitting atop a hill along the Mekong River. The eye-catching Golden Buddha offers an ideal platform for the panoramic view of Pakse City, the Mekong River, and the mountains.

3. Make a Trip to the Bolaven Plateau

Sitting over 1,300 meters above sea level, Balaven Plateau enjoys a cool climate and is covered by large areas of coffee and plantations. As the No. 1 coffee-producing place in Laos, Bolaven Plateau is where you can see a string of coffee plantations and sip some of the best coffee in this country.

Far more than coffee, Bolaven Plateau is also blessed with many tribal villages which still practice ancient ceremonies and customs and primitive farming tools. The enchanting waterfalls are what makes the region more attractive, the top recommended waterfalls include Xeset Waterfall and Tad Fane Waterfalls.

Bolaven Plateau Tea plantation
Bolaven Plateau Tea plantation

4. Explore 4,000 Islands (Si Phan Don)

4,000 Islands, as its name implies, is a cluster of tiny islands dotting a large area of the Mekong delta. Sitting near the Laos-Cambodia border, the 4,000 Islands area features a laid-back atmosphere and has become a popular destination for short breaks and relaxation.

Most of the islands are too small to be inhabited and the pristine nature of this area is still preserved intact, leaving it a great place to encounter endangered Irrawaddy Dolphin and many other species.

Some large islands, like Don Khong, Don Det, and Don Khone, offer boutique guesthouses, local specialties, and cheap drinks for tourists to stay overnight. If you’re tired of island exploration, then try to refresh yourself at the Khone Phapheng Waterfall – the largest waterfall in Southeast Asia.

Panoramic view of Si Phan Don (4000 Islands) in Laos
Si Phan Don Panoramic View

5. Try the Laos Massage

Do you want to relax your tired body both physically and mentally after a long-day trip? Then, don’t miss a massage experience. It’s easy to find many massage shops in the Pakse downtown area, in which, you can enjoy either a Laos Oil Massage or Herbal Steam Massage. You just need to wear pajama and lay on the mat while the professional masseuses soothe you with tender touches and soft music.

6. Explore Many Colonial Heritage Buildings

During the colonial era, many European-style buildings were built from 1893-1954 to serve as the French colonialists’ administrative offices and residential houses. Until now, many of them are still retained in Pakse. You can walk or bike around the city to see some great examples of architectural gems from that era. Our top recommended one is the Chinese Society Building in Franco-Chinese style.

7. Check Out Dao Heuang Market

The fresh market is always a good choice for those who want to get close to local life. As in Pakse, Dao Heuang Market, the largest morning market in this area, should definitely be your first choice to look into local daily life. Similar to most morning markets, Dao Heuang is a gathering place of local fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, farm products, home goods, and various handicrafts. For coffee fans who don’t have enough time to Bolaven Plateau, the market is where they can buy some Bolaven Plateau-produced coffee beans or powder.

Pakse Weather: Best Time to Visit Pakse

Generally, Pakse is warm all year round with a slight temperature difference. If pleasant weather is what you are after, the best months to visit Pakse are from November to February when the city receives less rain, and the temperature is comfortable for outdoor adventures. Though the high temperature usually reaches 36 °C in March and April, these two months are still good when the city still sees many sunny days.

The rainy season of Pakse lasts from June to September when the average monthly rainfall is usually around 600mm, even over 770mm from July to September. May and October are periods when Pakse has tolerable weather, neither too good nor too bad.

Pakse Transportation: How to Get to and Get around

How to Get to Pakse?

By plane

Pakse International Airport is the nearest airport to Pakse, which operates domestic flights to/from Vientiane, and Luang Prabang. If traveling to Pakse from outside Laos, visitors can reach Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, or Siem Reap which operates direct international flights to/from Pakse.

The Pakse International Airport is only about 4km from the city center, and a taxi transfer between the two places will cost about 9 USD. Alternatively, you can try the cheaper tuk-tuk ride which will cost about 4 USD per person, and take about 15 minutes.

By bus

Going by bus is also a handy option to reach Pakse. You can travel to Pakse by bus from many important cities in Laos. From Vientiane to Pakse, the bus ride will take about 12 hours, and cost about 180,000 KIP.

Since the city is near the Laos-Thailand border and Laos-Cambodia border, it is possible to take a bus to Pakse from Siem Ream in Cambodia, and Bangkok in Thailand. From Siem Ream, the ride will take about 9.5 hours, and cost about 30 USD. And From Bangkok, a sleeper bus ride will cost you about 35 USD.

How to Get around Pakse?

For tourists, it is convenient to travel around Pakse by tuk-tuk, and motorbike/bike.

Tuk-tuk can be found on every corner of Pakse city center, costing about 3,000-20,000 KIP per person for a short-distance ride. And for long-distance transfers, you may expect a price of around 20,000 or more.

Motorbike/scooter rental, usually, will cost about 50,000-70,000 KIP per day. The price may be higher for an automatic vehicle.

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