Southern Laos is a really an interesting, nice and cheap destination to come for your holiday of around 5 days. The total cost for a 5 days and 4 nights tour in Pakse with all the experiences of playing, kayaking, foods and drinks, bars, massage and so on is just around 4 million dong, which is so cheap for a travel tour abroad.
At 5 am, we showed up in Go Vap, Ho Chi Minh City to catch Binh Minh Coach to travel directly to Pakse and the expected time to arrive at the destination is 4 pm. After a period of arranging the seats for people on the coach, we hit the road leaving Saigon at almost 6 am.
After running of around 1 hour, we all felt extremely hot. The coach stopped suddenly and the driver said the air conditioner was out of order. After around 1 hour of standstill, the coach started to move without air-conditioner. The driver said that on this border gate area, there is no repair shop and we could find one only when arriving in Laos. It was such a terrible route for us which took lots of time. Normally, we shall arrive in Pakse at around 5 pm, but this time, we did not reach the destination until 10 pm.
Arrived in Pakse, we all chose to stay right at the hostel of the coach provider as we have no time and no energy to look for other one. We made efforts to look for the place for diner and then had a tight sleep as being too tired. The next morning, we got up, had breakfast, café and bargain for the price for a tuk tuk to take us to visit Wat Phu. It cost us 250,000 Kip for a group of 7 people.
Pakse is located in Champasak province which is a large province in the Southwest of Laos, nearby the border with Thailand and Cambodia. Two large rivers of Mekong and Se Don pass this province. The neighbor provinces with Champasak include Salavan, Xekong and Attopu to the north and Cambodia provinces to the south including Stung Treng and Preah Vihear and a Thailand province of Ubon Tatchathani to the west. Champasak is now the largest province among 18 provinces in Laos. It took us around 1 hour to arrive at the attraction of Wat Phu. It is considered a must-see destination in Pakse.
Wat Phou is located at the foot of a sacred mountain called Phou Kao (or Elephant Mountain). According to the histologists, Wat Phu is one of the most ancient temples in Laos which used to serve as the center of Hindu Religion worshipping for Shiva God. As can be seen in the history of Laos, the temple was built from the 5th century and 7th century with the relic of Crethapura Palace – the first capital of Chan Lap.
When Buddhism became the national religion of this country, Wat Phou was restored to become a Buddhist Temple. At present, Wat Phou Festival is celebrated every year as the Buddhist Festival of the Southern Laos which is one of the most important festivals in this country. The festival takes place during 3 days of middle March in Lunar calendar. Wat Phou was recognized as the world’s Cultural heritage in 2001 by the UNESCO.
After 2 hours wandering around the relic, we got on tuk tuk to come back Pakse Market for lunch. One of the impressive images at the market is the range of grilled foods including fish, meat, beef, ribbon served with white sticky rice. In the afternoon, we did not get very special experience but just walk around Pakse to see the local daily life. The landscapes seems to be the same as that in the Western provinces in Vietnam and temples look a bit different in architecture.
Foods in Pakse are very cheap which we can be full of foods with just around 80,000 VND per person. One of our favorite experience here is just sitting on a food stall with some good dishes while admiring the water currents flowing gently as well as watching for the local daily life with adults going to work, children coming back from schools and so on. We did not come back to the hotel until the late evening.
The next morning, we asked to hire a whole minivan with air-conditioner to travel directly from Pakse to Khon Waterfall. From the fall, we move to the ferry wharf to start the tour to visit 4000 islands. The fee to rend a minivan for that tour is 650,000 Kip. We decided to hire this vehicle even though it was more expensive than the normal market buses but we were still afraid of the market bus without air conditioning that we met yesterday. It is in need of invest for being healthy enough for the visit to 4000 islands.
Khone Phapheng is a waterfall on Mekong River in the area of Champasak province in Laos which is nearby the border with Cambodia. The Khone Falls serve as the largest complex of falls in southeast Asia and they are the main reason that the Mekong is not fully navigable into China. If you have ever come to Myanmar, the peaceful of Inle lake impressed you. On the contrary, the Khone falls are characterised by thousands of islands and countless waterways, giving the area its name Si Phan Don or ‘The 4,000 islands. Arriving at the fall, I was surprised and it was the first time I’ve ever seen such a strong and large waterfall.
The visit end when we stopped playing with the fall and had some ice cream. There is a thing that I am not very satisfy with the service here which is the way the sellers offer the price of their goods. The initial offered price for an ice cream is different from the price after we have the cream and ask for payment. Thus, it is advised that we ask clearly about the price before buying them when coming to some remote areas like this. Anyway, Pakse in Laos is still an interesting destination for your weekend for a cheap and exciting tour.