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Laos > General information > Region and city guide > Pakse travel guide


Pakse (Pakxe) 


Pakse is a pleasant town with a few remnants of Colonial architecture, an interesting market, and a much better selection of hotels and restaurants than in Champasak. Many people make Pakse their base and day-trip to Champasak and the surrounding temple complexes. 


Since there is an airport here and decent road and air connections to Thailand, Pakse is a useful place to handle housekeeping details such as reconfirming or arranging flights, arranging bus, boat, or van travel to the south (Mekong Islands), and resting up if you’ve just returned from the south. 


Historically Pakse is of little significance, so there aren’t any sights worth your attention. A museum displays a few relics from Wat Phu and other nondescript wats in town. The Morning Market is worth a visit, but that’s about it. 


The Morning Market is pretty comprehensive, but doesn’t have much in the souvenir department. 


The town is small enough to walk almost everywhere.  A bicycle (available at most hotels and guesthouses for a small charge) is another good option. You can also hire a tuk-tuk –especially for the trip to the long-distance bus station or the boat quays. 


Getting there and away.  

For bus travel, make sure you go to the right station – there are two. If you are going north, you need to go to the station at KM 7 on Highway 13. The other terminal is at KM 8 on the south side of town. Take a tuk-tuk to get to the station. Tell the driver where you plan to go so you end up at the right place!  The buses operate on a schedule (in theory), but in reality many don’t leave until they are fully loaded (some would say over-stuffed) with passengers and cargo. Our bus to the Mekong Islands was quite dilapidated. It left over an hour late and was loaded down the center with a double layer of bags of concrete. The late arrivals had to sit on the concrete.  Baggage went on top – no guarantee it wouldn’t fall off or be taken by someone else. The alternative was an overloaded boat that took longer than the bus. 


Fares are about $4 (40,000 Kip) to Vientiane (12-15 hours, leaving every few hours beginning at 7 am). To Champasak, plan on leaving at 9 am (two hours, $1.50/15,000 Kip). To Don Khong (the main Mekong Island) plan to leave about 9 am and spend four-five hours en route ($1.50/15,000 Kip).


If you are going to Thailand you need to take a ferry across the river (at the end of Rd. No 11) to the village of Muang Kao.  Then you can get a mini-bus or share taxi to the Thai border at Chongmek. From there you get a share taxi or bus to Ubon Ratchathani. It takes five hours altogether. Tip: Having done this before, I think next time I will fly to Vientiane then go by road across the Friendship Bridge! 


Right now you can’t get to Vietnam or Cambodia by road from Pakse (unless you go to Vientiane). This is changing, but not yet. Van/mini-bus is the way to go to Vientiane or Don Khong. Check with the better hotels for vans going your way.  


By boat, you’ll find the boats are rickety (unless you arrange one through a private company) with no safety vests or padding. Still, the people I traveled with who took the boat trip south enjoyed it.  The ride to Don Khong takes six-seven hours and costs about the same as the bus. The ride to Champasak takes about two hours and is also on par with the cost of the bus. Boats leave from the jetty at the south end of town.  Going north by boat (to Vientiane) is not really feasible any more. 


By air, Lao Airlines has daily flights to Vientiane and three-four flights a week to Savannakhet. 

See also  

Overview and suggested itineraries in Laos 

Main places of interest , Top sights and activities in Laos 

History of Laos 

Climate of Laos 

How to get to Laos 

How to get around Laos 

Travel guide to Vientiane 

Bokeo, Plain of Jars, Savannakhet, and Vang Vieng 

Travel guide to Champasak 

Travel guide to Luang Prabang 

Adventures in Northern Laos 


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Travel guide to Laos : Pakse - Many people make Pakse their base and day-trip to Champasak and the surrounding temple complexes, Pakse travel guide