- Encounters with locals
At first sight Pakse is a pleasant city located on the left bank of the Mekong River, where you can find great street food at the many stalls and markets.
Nonetheless, I found the city relatively charmless and lacking any real point of interest. Nonetheless, I found the city relatively charmless and lacking any real point of interest.
So, I would consider Pakse as a stopover city only, as a base for touring the beautiful Bolaven plateau region or as a stepping-stone on your journey through Laos toward the south and the 4000 islands. In my opinion, this one of the few good reasons for stopping there.
I arrived in Paksé after a 10 hour bus journey from Vang Vieng, and after quickly choosing a hotel to stay in for the night, I went off to explore the town and find something to eat. The town itself isn't very interesting but, like most travellers, I was there to sort out my itinerary for a motorbike tour of the Bolaven Plateau.
So I spent the next day finding out information about the possible routes, choosing the faithful steed that would carry me during those days, exploring the town and going to see Wat Phou, a pre-Angkorian temple which is about an hour from Paksé and isa UNESCO World Heritage Site. A really full day to prepare me for my departure to Bolaven! A town that's worth adding to your itinerary during your trip to Laos.
What can I say about Pakse? It's not unpleasant but at the same time held no particular interest for me. Geographically it's convenient, as you can hire a moped and spend several days touring the Bolovens Plateau.
Pakse is, today, an important Laotian economic centre. For information, this little town is home to the first and largest supermarket in Laos. You can buy anything and everything at a competitive price. Seeing as the country has no exports and has to import all goods, you'll find that prices across Laos are higher than Thailand and sometimes even the UK. So I suggest you hit the aisles and stock up on everything you're likely to need before heading to the Bolovens or Champasak.
Apart from that, at the risk of repeating myself, there's not a lot else to do. Pakse is a little town where you can kill some time during a trip to Laos.
During my trip to Laos, my visit to Pakse proved to a be a pleasant surprise. I wasn't expecting anything special. As it was, the town had a lovely feel and the residents were really welcoming.
Pakse is surrounded by mountains and you can climb up a number of them to get magnificent views of the town and River Mekong. Mount Phou Salo is one of the best places for this.
I also climbed the numerous, occasionally very steep, steps that lead to the Golden Buddha. Once at the top, I was surprised not only by the size of the statue but also the panoramic view.
If you want a taste of local life, there's a huge market.
And for an evening out there's a wide choice of bars, restaurants and clubs!