Pakse is the capital of Champasak Province in southern Laos. Its name means mouth of the river, and it’s located on a peninsula between the Mekong and Xe Don. Pakse is the starting point for visitors looking to visit the Bolevan Plateau or 4,000 Islands, but the town itself is charming. Here are the top things to see and do in Pakse.
Wat Luang is located near the bridge that spans the Xe Don. This temple has many beautiful paintings depicting the Buddha’s life and his his teachings. Stroll through the well-kept gardens and check out the intricately carved wooden doors.
Champasak Provincial Historical Heritage Museum
The Champasak Provincial Museum stores and maintains historical documents pertaining to Champasak. Check out the photos of political figures, collection of traditional musical instruments as well as a model of Wat Phou.
Massage at Dok Champa
Take a break from all the touring and relax with a Lao massage or oil massage. The price is right, and you’ll feel rejuvenated after an hour on the mat. Clients wear pajama-like attire and lay on a mat on the floor for traditional massage in Laos.
Dao Heuang Market
The Dao Heuang Market, also called the Km 2 Market, is a huge morning market selling homegoods and food located near the Lao-Japanese bridge in Pakse. The largest market in southern Laos, you’ll find stand upon stand of meats, fresh flowers and vegetables.
Champasak Palace Hotel
The Champasak Palace Hotel is an elegant hotel and was the former residence of Chao Bun Oum, the prince of Champasak. Abandoned in 1974 when the royal government was ousted by the Pathet Lao, it’s been a hotel since 1995 and is well worth a look.
The Friendship Mall in Pakse contains a supermarket, movie theater and department stores. It’s a good place to cool off and hang out to beat the heat. Check out the outdoor market area where vendors sell street food.
Check out the happy hour at the rooftop bar of the Pakse Hotel and Restaurant. La Panorama has two-for-one cocktails and the most gorgeous views of the sunset. Stick around for dinner and watch the stars come out over Pakse.
Visit the Golden Buddha
Atop a hillside across the Mekong from downtown Pakse sits a giant golden Buddha at Wat Phou Salao. Hire a tuk tuk or rent a motorbike to take you across the Lao-Japanese Friendship bridge. Opt to take the steps or ride up the road to the temple.
Cooking Class at Xuanmai Garden Resort
Mrs. Ngoc is a great chef and even better teacher when it comes to instructing visitors on the cuisine of southeast Asia. Her menu rotates but favorites include spring rolls, pad thai, mango sticky rice and curries.