The Southern Hub, PaksePakse is a town in southern Laos, it’s location crucial for the dispersion of both goods and people throughout Laos and the rest of Southeast Asia. Sitting alongside the Mekong River, the township is within hours of the Thai, Cambodian and Vietnamese boarders. With the location helping boost the commercial development in the area, the potential for expansion is incredible. For us, Pakse has served as a bit of a transit town. We have stayed here a huge 8 nights in total, using it as our base for a bit of recovery (after being crook in Tha Khek), the Tree Top Explorer and the Bolaven Plateau loop.
ACCOMMODATIONWe stayed in Alisa Guesthouse the first two nights in Pakse. While it was clean and tidy, the second day there was no power in the room. After mentioning it to the staff early in the morning, we were assured it would be on within the hour. By 7pm it was still off, and only then was the boss called. A pretty frustrating process that left a real sour taste in our mouths, we lucked in when we hired a scooter from Nang Noi Guesthouse. With the popular Miss Noi’s scooters sold out, we were sent to Nang Noi. Not only did the have a great scooter, the guesthouse was well set-up and had a room available for when we returned. Win-win! The guesthouse has been great and we have enjoyed our time here.
FOODWe have found our favourites here, Daolin Restaurant and Sabaidee Restaurant, which sit opposite one another. Huge portions of tasty Lao, Thai and Vietnamese food have satisfied our hunger on numerous occasions. I’ve enjoyed the rice porridge with chicken meatballs daily for breakfast while Jimmy has stuck with more traditional egg based options. We also tried sweet sticky rice with mango for dessert. We have been travelling for over two months and have seen this option on multiple occasions and just tried it for the first time. I wish we had tried it earlier, it’s amazing! A bit strange to have sweet rice, I can now happily say I have had rice for every meal and loved every bit of it!
ACTIVITIES & ATTRACTIONSWe used Pakse as a bit of a base, heading out both to the Bolaven Plateau and the Tree Top Explorer before returning to the town. Aside from these trips, we’ve enjoyed the food (as usual) and the relaxed café scene. As the Bolaven Plateau id renowned for it’s coffee production, the coffee here has been exceptional!
Wat PhuWe travelled to Wat Phu, the UNESCO World Heritage Khmer ruins in Champasak. Not only were the ruins incredible, the drive down was unbelievable. On the back of the scooter I was able to truly appreciate the cool breeze coming off the Mekong on one side and the rice paddy fields stretching beneath another Lao limestone mountain range on the other.
With parts of the temple constructed as early as the 5th century, Wat Phu is one of the oldest archeological structures in Laos. The temple was built to demonstrate the relationship between nature and humanity, as seen by Hindu visionaries. An axis from the top of the mountain was used to lay out a geometric pattern of temples, shrines and waterworks. This extends up to 10km. Excavation works started in 1991 and they continue to work to uncover the exact map of the archeological site.
As we entered the site we went past two rectangular ponds before reaching a long pathway with short sandstone pillars lining the way leading to partially ruined temples. These temples have ornately carved stone gateways and pillars, all which symbolise specific aspects of Hindu religion. A steep staircase lined with frangipani trees lead up the side of the mountain to another temple, which is still used today for Buddhist worshipers. The outlook from here was incredible, I can see what the Khmer people used this place to plan how they wanted to outlay the various temples, shrines and waterworks.
Phu SalaoMore commonly known as the Golden Buddha, Phu Salao is a huge statue of a Buddha on the side of a hill. This was an incredible place to watch the sun setting over the Pakse township.