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Capitalizing on its location at the confluence of the Xe Don and the Mekong rivers, roughly halfway between the Thai border and the fertile Bolaven Plateau, PAKSE is the far south’s biggest city. For travelers, the place is mostly a convenient stopover en route to Si Phan Don and Wat Phou, though it’s also a more comfortable base than Paksong for exploration of the Bolaven Plateau and nearby NBCAs, and the border crossing to Thailand just west at Chong Mek makes Pakse a logical entry or exit point for travelers doing a north-south tour of Laos.
Unlike other major Mekong towns, Pakse is not an old city. Rather, it has risen in prominence, from relatively recent beginnings a hundred years ago as a French administrative center, to be the region’s most important market town, attracting traders from Salavan, Attapeu, Xekong and Si Phan Don, as well as from Thailand. The diverse population of Vietnamese, Lao and Chinese today numbers some 70,000.
From Pakse, head south to the charming riverside town of Champasak, past misty green mountains and riverbanks loaded with palm trees. An up-and-coming backpacker town, Champasak serves as a gateway to Wat Phou and other Khmer ruins. Although it is easily possible to visit Wat Phou as a day-trip from Pakse, there is plenty of cheap accommodation available in Champasak, and basing yourself here allows you to take in the sights at a leisurely pace. With its old wooden houses, three temples, Khmer ruins, mountains and river-boat trips, plus guesthouses and good food, it’s easy to imagine Champasak becoming another Muang Ngoi in no time.
If you have time (and actually they’re not too far from each other), just visit those 2 places: Pakse and Champasak, to know how amazing they are.





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