Welcome to Pakse
Pakse is a city located between the rivers Xe Don and the Mekong in southern Laos. It was founded by French colonialists in 1905 and served as the capital of the Kingdom of Champasak until it was unified with the rest of Laos in 1946. Pakse International Airport connects the town to neighbouring cities like Siem Reap, Vientiane, and Bangkok.
Pakse is known for its relaxed pace of life, warm hospitality and rich cultural, historic and natural heritage. The province has been ruled by various kingdoms through the ages, and today there are many archaeological remains scattered throughout the province. To the south of Pakse is the Wat Phou Temple Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Attractions also include the Ancient City, historic colonial buildings, and Done Daeng Island, known for its traditional livelihoods and forested trails. In the southern region of the province is Done Khong and the Four Thousand Islands, or Si Phan Done in Lao. On this stretch of the Mekong is the largest waterfall by volume in Southeast Asia, Khone Phapheng, as well as Li Phi waterfall, noted for its cascading emerald green waters. The endangered freshwater Irrawaddy Dolphins inhabit the Mekong near the Lao-Cambodian border and can be observed from locally chartered boats.
WAT PHOU (THE UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE)
The Wat Phou Temple Complex is one of Southeast Asia’s best examples of both early and classic Khmer architecture dating from the 7th to 12th centuries in year 2001. This UNESCO World Heritage Site includes the ancient city of Shestrapura and many little known but interesting archeological sites along the banks of the Mekong River. There are also many fine examples of traditional Lao homes and buildings from the colonial period. If you are in Champasak during February, don’t miss the Wat Phou Festival.
KHONE PHA PHENG WATERFALL
Just 13 kilometres from the Cambodian border and east of Don Khon on the Mekong River is the pearl of the Mekong, Khone Phapheng Waterfall. Here the Mekong Cascades across a wide fault line, which slopes in a curvilinear pattern and causes the river to pass through with awesome power. Khone Phapheng is the largest waterfall by water volume in due to its great power and steep descent, the waterfall renders this area of the Mekong unnavigable, before flowing peacefully south into Cambodia and Vietnam.
TAD SOMPHAMIT WATERFALL (Li Phi)
Som Pha Mit (Li Phi) Waterfall is another amazing natural site to visit. Here you canrelax, enjoy the scenery, watch people fishing, and enjoy a dish of freshly caught Mekong fish. This waterfall is named after a sacred Buddha image (Pha), which was dropped in the water-never to be found again by the first King of Laos, Jao Fa Ngum, who was travelling the region by boat.
Known also as ‘Si Phan Don’, the Four Thousand group of small islands are dotted across the Mekong. The southern islands of Don Dhet and Don Khong are the two most visited as the remaining majority stay wild and uninhabited, largely due to their minute size. Both islands are situated close to the Cambodian border and as such provided a vital connection between Saigon and Laos during the French Colonial times when a railway was built to connect the two sides. Don Dhet is the most laid back of the two, although it has some bars and restaurants, Don Khong is the biggest and easier to reach and often a little busier with accommodation getting overcrowded at times. The waters surrounding the islands are home to the rare and illusive Irrawaddy dolphin and provide plenty of fish to the local villagers. Self-sufficient villages survive on local produce including rice, coconuts, sugar cane and vegetables, with clothing and textiles made by their own weaving techniques as and when required. The islands are a great place to discover a new very rural side to Laos, rich in tradition and culture with old buildings, walking trails and a choice of places to sleep and eat.
TAD PHA SAUM WATERFALL
Tad Pha Suam is a wide 6m high waterfall that stretches around a U shaped cliff. Its name ‘suam’ means ‘room’ in Lao. The falls flow year round from the Houai Champi River as it descends across the Bolaven Plateau from the north in Salavanh province. Spend a lazy afternoon swimming in the large natural rock pool beneath the falls, or enjoy a picnic or lunch at the nearby Uttayan Bachieng Resort restaurant. You can also visit the ethnic Lavae model village nearby where you can discover housing styles from different ethnic groups and see handicrafts in the making.
TAD FANE WATERFALL
If you are visiting Southern Laos, you will want to put Tad Fane at the top of your waterfall list, together with the Li Phi and Khone Phapeng waterfalls further south on the 4000 islands. Tad Fane, in the Dong Hua Sao National Park on the Bolaven Plateau, is breathtaking feat of nature. One of the most magnificent falls in South East Asia; it combines two rivers to form stunning twin 120m high waterfalls. Treat yourself to more than the glorious views with a leisurely lunch at the Tad Fane Resort. Immerse yourself in the beautiful scenery with an overnight stay in a bungalow set amongst the towering trees of the forest. Indulge your adventurous spirit with half and full day treks up to the top of Tad Fane falls and to nearby ethnic villages.
TAD YEUNG WATERFALL
Make the time to visit Tad Yuang waterfall on the Bolaven Plateau as it has become more accessible and tourist friendly in recent years. This is thanks to the work of volunteers who developed the area creating safer viewing platforms and other amenities. Visitors can enjoy the many vistas of this impressive waterfall by following a path to lookouts at the top, middle and bottom of the gorge. There’s even a picnic area above the falls to pause and take in the views. Whilst it’s not the highest waterfall on the Plateau, it’s just as picturesque. Do watch your step maneuvering the slippery staircases. Cooling off in the pools is possible but take care around the rushing waters.
TAD CHAMPI WATERFALL
Less frequented than the other main waterfall attractions on the Plateau, Tad Champi waterfall offers a quiet and peaceful retreat into nature, suitable for picnicking or quiet meditation. A path to the left of the parking lot can be followed down to the edge of the stream, where you can relax on either long wooden benches or on its natural round boulders.
Laos Office: Ban Viengsay, Luang Prabang. Tel: +856 209 800 0752
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Ba Khan Village resort: No 1. Khan Ha, Son Thuy, Mai Chau. Hoa Binh.
Mon – Sat 9.00 – 18.00 Sunday and public holiday CLOSED