Pakse is the capital of Champasak province in Laos. Pakse (pop. 70,000) is one of the biggest towns in Laos and a major transportation hub for southern Laos. If you plan to go to the Bolaven Plateau or Si Phan Don you will probably have to spend some time here.
Pakse International Airport is some km north of town and offers scheduled flights to Vientiane and Siem Reap.
Bangkok Airways offer direct flights from Bangkok, Thailand.
Tuk-Tuks and Motos will carry you to the town for US$1-3.
There is a regualar slow-boat service to Si Phan Don. Departure is around 8AM but check the day before. The boat landing is near the mouth of the Xe Don river.
Pakse has two bus stations for public transport. One serving traffic to north and one to south. Station serving to north is located a couple of kilometers north of city centre. Station serving to south is located 8 kilometers to south. Getting to right station with tuktuk is easy if you just tell the driver which place you are heading. Public transport is naturally cheaper than “VIP” buses.
“VIP” buses from/to Vientiane operate from near the Champasak shopping centre in the town centre. The journey takes about 10 hours and should cost around (March 2008)150.000 /170.000 Kip depending on whether you buy the ticket in the bus station or at tour agencies.
“VIP” buses from/to Thailand via the Chong Mek border crossing take about 2 hours and charge US$5 (200 baht)
Pakse is a small town so easy to walk around. Otherwise there are enough tuk tuks around. A trip to the market will cost around 5000 kip and US$1 to the bus station.
Things to See and Do
There’s not so much to do in Pakse but this is the base for travel to the Bolaven Plateau and Si Phan Don.
It’s possible to organize a day-trip to Wat Phu near Champasak, where you can also stay easily.
Rent a motorbike and head east towards Pak Song (Paxxong). The ride is pretty, and there are heaps of waterfalls to stop by near Pak Song. Admission tends to be the same at every place, 5000 K per person, 3000 for the bike.
These are several internet cafes on the corner near Nazimes Indian restaurant that charge around 6000k/h. The smart new ‘Tour Lao’ Cafe on the southern end of the market plaza has WiFi too.
- BCEL Bank (on Th 11, just next to Wat Luang in the town centre) changes money, cashs traveller cheques and does cash advance on credit cards. There is also an ATM in front of the building but as of October 2007 only international card it accepted was Mastercard. When heading south this is the last ATM until Kompong Cham in Cambodia.
- The Lao Development Bank to the North of the city can exchange Kip to US$, vital if travelling onwards overland to Vietnam. Across the road, directly opposite the bank is an ATM which accepts international cards such as Cirrus. There is a limit of 700,000 Kip per transaction although you can withdraw numerous times.
- There is a Morning Market that lasts most of the day. It can be found about 200 m south of the town centre.
- The huge Talat Dao Heuang (New Market) is about 2 km south-east out of town on Road 13 near the Japanese bridge over the Mekong.
Restaurants and Eating
The restaurants are concentrated on the main street between the roundabout and the French bridge. The variety is quite diverse for the size of the town. For a more genuine Lao eating experience have a look in the streets south of the main one.
- Nazim Restaurant, on the main street next to the Phonsavan hotel, serves Indian dishes at about 10000-20000 Kip. Portions are small, food is OK. Plenty of vegetarian options.
- Jasmin Restaurant is next door to Nazim and serves exactly the same dishes at the same price.
- Baguette stalls can be found along the main street between the roundabout and the French bridge.
- Lan Kham Noodle House, directly below Lan Kham hotel serves enormous bowls of noodle soup with fresh herbs and salad. Price from 15,000 – 17,000 Kip. Open from approx 10AM, closes early.
Bars and Nightlife
- Enjoy the sunset with a beer lao at the Mekong River. Go to the French bridge and then head south along the Mekong. After having passed the Wat you come across countless places to have a drink.
- Lotty is a nightclub