Pakse is the capital of Champasak Province, founded by French colonialists in 1905. The kingdom was destroyed in 1946 after which the Kingdom of Lao was created.
Pakse is located at the mouth of the rivers Xedong and Mekong. The term Pakse means the ‘Mouth of the River Se’. This city is inhabited by around 80,000 people.
Pakse doesn't measure up to the low-key splendour of Luang Prabang, but nevertheless it has a definite charm, some beautiful wats and two rivers -- great for enjoying some relaxation by the waterside and watching the sun set into the horizon.
Pakse in recent times has made a transition from transit point to staging area -- the Lao government has put a lot of careful work into cultivating new, ecologically friendly and quite well-regulated tourist destinations that combine the adventure of exploring the unknown with the convenience of regular and reliable services. You can easily spend a week or so just making daytrips and overnights from Pakse and winding up right back in town to plan the next stage of your journey.
• How to get there
Pakse International Airport serves as a link to the Bolaven Plateau.
You can take a flight from Siem Reap or Vientiane to the Pakse International Airport. If this airport is not functional for any reason you can fly to Savannakhet in the south from Luang Prabang and Vientiane instead. Bangkok has direct flights to the city via Lao Airlines. You can take a flight from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam as well.
At over 600 Km from Vientiane, flying is the logical choice to visit Pakse.
• Food and accommodation
Most of the places to eat in Pakse are along or nearby Road 13 stretching east from the Se Don River for about a kilometre. A great range of local eateries are located down by the Mekong, but almost all have the same Lao offerings. There are not too many hotels in this more remote area compared to the larger towns.
• Health and safety
Pakse does not have much in the way of good medical facilities, and so like most of it’s neighbours, Thailand and Bangkok in particular is the go-to centre for anything of a serious nature. There are direct flights to Bangkok. On the plus side Laos as yet does not really suffer from petty crime as much as neighbouring Thailand, Vietnam or Cambodia. However common sense is recommended, as is a good medical insurance policy.
• Where to go
Mount Phou Asa: If this is your first visit to Pakse you must visit Mount Phou Asa. There used to be a temple on the mountain which has now unfortunately been reduced to ruins. The view of the plains from this vantage point is breathtaking.
Wat Luang: Wat Luang is deemed as the most beautiful temple in Pakse. It is also where Wat Phabad, the Buddhist Monk School is located. Rumour has it that Lord Buddha left his footprint here, at Wat Phabad, the biggest and oldest temple of Pakse.
If you want to buy some souvenirs for your family and friends back home check out Champasak Plaza Shopping Centre. You will find silk, electronic products, clothes and small items perfect for gifts here. However, if you want to experience higher quality shopping, you are better to wait till you visit Luang Prabang or Vientiane instead of Pakse.