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Pakse is a city in the Champasak province of Southern Laos. It's one of the biggest towns in Laos and a major transportation hub for southern Laos. If you plan to go to the Bolaven Plateau, Wat Phou, or Si Phan Don you will probably have to spend some time here.
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Points of Interest in Pakse
- Ban Keosamphanh. The most beautiful green rice fields of Pakse, a former French army camp, and is home to the oldest market of Pakse.
- Big Buddha. In Aug 2011 a Big Buddha temple complex was built across the river, adjacent to the Japanese bridge. More than a few steps to the top, a great view of the river and city.
- Dao Heuang Market, Rd 38. Acres and acres of food stalls are laid-out before your eyes, a feast to the eyes and nose as well, democracy and freedom at its finest in this communist country where the small time entrepreneurs outdo the big box supermarket capitalist store chains.
- Wat Luang. The biggest and most beautiful temple of Pakse, and home of Buddhist monk school. This is also the best place to see the monk alms giving rituals often seen in Luang Prabang. If you miss that one, this is one up close and personal opportunity.
- Wat Phabad. The oldest and largest temple of Pakse, and believed to have Buddha's footprint, from which its name is derived.
Popular events in Pakse in the near future
There's not much to do in Pakse itself. However, this is a good base for travel to the Bolaven Plateau and Si Phan Don.
Pakse can be considered as a staging point for archaeological tourists in this part of Laos for two reasons: 1) it is where the Champasak Provincial Museum is located as an introductory to local archaeology, and 2). it is an alternative to Champasak city as a jump off point for those wanting to see Wat Phou. Wat Phou is a designated UNESCO site and boasts the Lao counterpart to Angkor Wat/Angkor Thom. It's the finest of its genre outside Cambodia.
The museum is close to the new market, 500 m north of the banks of the Mekong.
It's possible to organise a day-trip to Wat Phou 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. The Champasak Provincial Tourism Department puts out a nice few nice brochures including one on the Bolaven Plateau that details these including Tad Fane, Tad Champee, Tad Ueang, and Tad Pha Suam. Admission tends to be the same at every place, 5,000 kip per person, 3,000 kip for the bike.
Tad Sae waterfall is located off of Rte 13 at a fairly large T-junction with a bunch of fruit sellers lining the road. Not as large as some of the others it nonetheless offers a beautiful place to stop and eat or hang out for a while. Note, if you search for Tad Sae on the Internet you will be directed to the one near Luang Prabang which is not the same.
As in Vientiane there is also a proper bowling alley located in town. About a 15-20 minute walk away from the centre or a short tuk-tuk ride away head down the main road and turn right towards the big white building in the distance. It is not far away from the river so if you are over there already you can walk along there to find it. If you want a ride home you should arrange for a tuk-tuk to stay since you won't find many patrolling there later in the evening.
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, look in the streets south of the main one.
- Bolaven Cafe, South Rd 13 (opposite Sang Aroun Hotel), ☎ +856 20 97874632. 08:00-20:30. Classy, with a blue theme. Western menu, many locals come in for a cappuccino. Free Wi-Fi.
- Cafe Sinouk, No 11 Rd (close to the Champasak Shopping Centre). Cafe has free Wi-Fi for patrons and fancy frappe drinks, cakes and basic restaurant menu.
- Delta Coffee (on the main Road 13 across the street from the Champasak Palace Hotel). One of the best Western food options in town, although they also have good Lao food, with a full range of pastas (20,000-30,000 kip), pizzas (35,000-50,000 kip), sandwiches, hamburgers (15,000-20,000 kip), and desserts baked on-site in addition the their fine coffee. Prices are quite reasonable and the staff friendly.
- Dornsokdee Restaurant (on the main Rd 13 south, opposite the museum and between IndoChina Bank and ANZ Bank). This restaurant is number 1 in town. Serves Thai food, Vietnamese food, international food. What makes this restaurant popular is Korean BBQ and sukiyaki which is "cook it yourself"-style that can make you enjoy travel time together with your friends or partner. The price of food is reasonable compared to the value of food, however, fried rice starts only 10,000 kip.
- Hasan Indian Restaurant, Rd 24 (North of main Rd 13), ☎ +856 20 55555624. A much welcome addition to the local food scene. Serves standard but tasy Indian food. Vegetarian dishes 13,000-15,000 kip, meat and seafood 28,000-35,000 kip, breads 5,000-10,000 kip.
- Jaidee Bar and Restaurant, Rd 11 (in front of the Sleeping Bus Station for the bus to Vientiane). They serve dinner, sandwiches and fruitshakes. An Italian and a Lao chef prepare the dishes. Free Wi-Fi.
- Korean BBQ (walk down the main street past the BCEL ATM and turn right, walk down one block and turn left). Korean BBQ style place on the corner. Featuring a more economical option than the hot pot above though the atmosphere inside can be overpoweringly smokey when busy, try to sit at one of the few outside tables or come early/late.
- Lan Kham Noodle House (directly below Lan Kham Hotel). 10:00-early. Serves enormous bowls of noodle soup with fresh herbs and salad. Price from 15,000-17,000 kip. Used to be very popular with the locals, especially government workers, but current customers are mostly the foreign backpackers.
- Pizza Boy, Th. 13 (next to the Lan Kham Noodle House). Italian restaurant with decent pasta from 30,000 kip, excellent espresso coffee at 7,000 kip and tasty ice cream at a very reasonable 5,000 kip for a (large) scoop. Pizzas were quite expensive at 45,000 kip for a Margherita or 60,000 kip if you wanted anything on it. 30,000-60,000 kip.
- Royal Pakse Hotel. Has a fairly extensive Lao/Thai and Indian menu also featuring Thai-style sukiyaki with an a la carte selection of options to choose from.
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 will come to countless places to have a drink.
- Katuad cafe, NE corner of Rte 13 and Rd 24. 07:00-21:00. Good cafe in the centre of town. One of the only places in town with free Wi-Fi. Coffee is local and good. They have no qualms about your staying for a few hours; after a while may give you free tea. 8,000-12,000 kip.
- Le Panorama (Pakse Hotel), Bane Watlouang, Rd 4, ☎ +856 31 212131. 16:30-23:30. The only rooftop restaurant in Pakse. On the 7th floor of Pakse Hotel, with a beautiful view over the town and the Mekong. Western, Asian and fusion dishes, especially created for the restaurant by the French chef. Not cheap, but the view makes up for it, and you'll find probably the best pizza and Western dishes in town. 40,000-85.000 kip.
- Victory Hi Tech. Loud and dark local nightclub a couple of kilometres out of town down Rte 13. Packed with locals most nights and is about the only place in town you can party at until midnight. Beer Lao is 15,000 kip.
- BCEL Bank (On Rd 11, just next to Wat Luang in the town centre). Changes money, cashes traveller cheques and does cash advances on credit cards. There is an ATM in front of the building that accepts most foreign cards. There are a lot more ATMs in southern Laos these days. When heading south this is the last ATM until Kompong Cham in Cambodia. However, there is now an ATM in Attapeu, though the charge is 20,000 kip per withdrawal with a 700,000 kip per transaction maximum.
- Lao Development Bank, Rd 13. closes at 15:30. Can exchange kip to US$, vital if travelling onward 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. Those who are heading to Cambodia, gather a few riel to tide you over for your first few hours in Cambodia from the Lao Development Bank.
- Morning Market (About 500 m south of town centre near the Se Don River). Lasts most of the day.
- Talat Dao Heuang (New Market) (About 2 km southeast of town on Rd 13 near the Japanese Bridge).
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Pakse on Wikivoyage.