Nestled in a large bend of the Mekong River, Pakse is an important city in the south of Laos and a great spot for the adventurous traveller to get a different taste of the country. Untarnished by the heavily trodden path of previous tourists, the city retains its small town feel and is an attractive spot to explore for a few days. Numerous attractions await the traveller, from cultural relics of the past, engaging nature to simply enjoying local food and drink by the Mighty Mekong. The city can be easily included in any travel plan, thanks to a new international airport and its close proximity to Thailand.
Once serving as a French administrative outpost, Pakse is still characterised by a good variety of colonial buildings, some of which now function as guesthouses and shops. A more typical taste of Laos life can be found at the city market, which buzzes with produce and the friendly sellers make this a great spot to try the fine tastes of traditional Lao cuisine. Other superb spots for food include the numerous al fresco dining options along the Mekong River. Indeed, as afternoon turns to evening, many locals will descend to the riverbank to enjoy a drink and watch the sun lazily slip behind the mountains.
Pakse also serves as a wonderful base to head out by road or river on day trips and to enjoy some local exploration. The ruined Khmer temple of Wat Phu is one of the area’s highlights, and is only a short trip from Pakse. Located at the base of the spiritually important Phu Kao mountain, the temple remains a key centre of Buddhism, and is a must-see in this region. Further afield, one can catch a rare sighting of the freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins that inhabit the waters around the Si Phan Don (4,000 islands) archipelago. There are also a good number of waterfalls accessible in the wider area around Pakse. The local roads are in reasonable conditions, so renting a motorbike is an appealing option for more adventurous souls.
Hotel options are expanding all the time around Pakse, with new up-scale options now joining the more affordable guesthouses that line the centre streets of the town. The better hotels also feature good restaurants, some with excellent views over the town and surrounding countryside. As the city is small, most accommodation is within easy reach of the main markets and temples. Whenever you find yourself needing to reach a slightly more distant spot, you can do as the locals do and snag a tuk-tuk to get you around town. Despite the city’s cursory mention in many guidebooks, its low-key approach to life will most likely seduce you into spending much more time than you had planned in this southern Laotian gem.
Original source http://www.vatphou.com/pakse.html
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