Champasak is a small, charming town in southern Laos, on the west bank of the Mekong River about 30 km south of Pakse, the capital of Champasak Province. The town was once the seat of the Kingdom of Champasak, an independent Lao state which was abolished by the French in 1945 when they created the Kingdom of Laos by combining the then three Kingdoms of Laos (Champasak, Vientiane and Luang Prabang) into one. You can still find French style colonial houses from this era, some of which are currently still owned and occupied by the descendants of the last Royal family of Champasak. The town of Champasak consists of one long street that runs for 5 km along the banks of the Mekong and is a combination of smaller villages or “Bans”, all with their own temple.
In and around Champasak
The majority of the guest houses, restaurants and other businesses that cater to tourists, are located in the area around the tourist information centre. Here you can also find two atm’s and one local bank branch. During high season, you will be able to attend a shadow puppet theatre / open air movie theatre with traditional live music performed by locals, this is certainly worth a visit
The famous and UNESCO world heritage site of Wat Phou is located only 10km from Champasak and can be easily reached on a good road, either by car, tuktuk, motorcycle or bicycle. On the way to Wat Phou you will pass multiple temples and the old city walls which are less visited.
Similar in construction to Wat Phou, this temple also predates Angkor Wat, with the initial construction starting in the 7th century. The temple was later reconstructed during the 11th and 12th century, however, very little remains of this once bustling hub. When visiting Wat Tomo we recommend you travel early in the day in combination with site-seeing on Don Daeng, thereby making the most out of your stay on the island.
Wat Muang Kuang
The oldest still active temple in Champasak, this temple has been operating since the 19th century. The fascinating architectural style of the temple complex is influenced by Cambodian, Burmese, Lao, Vietnamese and French Colonial architecture. Additionally, the villages before and after Wat Muang Kang specialise in bamboo handicraft, for those who wish to experience traditional Lao crafts.
DON DAENG ISLAND
In the Mekong, parallel to Champasak, you can find the Island of Don Daeng. This peaceful and small island is ideal for a walk or bicycle ride along its country path. During your visit, you will be able to see traditional Buddhist temples, basket weaving villages, and a protected forest which houses an ancient stupa.
The tranquil town of Champasak is also a perfect base to explore the rest of the province and region as it provides easy access to the 4,000 Islands and the Bolaven Plateau. The international airport at Pakse gives easy acces to the rest of Laos and the neighbouring countries (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand).
The Bolaven Plateau is an elevated area in the South of Laos, famous for its plethora of waterfalls and coffee plantations, due to its elevation. Noteworthy waterfalls to see include the Tad Lo falls and Tad Fang, the tallest waterfall of Laos. The elevation of the plateau, average temperature, as well as the richness of its soil, produces some of the best coffee in South East Asia. There are numerous tours from the hotel, with prices depending on the package you choose.
In Lao, Si Paan Don translates to the 4000 islands. The islands vary greatly in size and tourist attractions, with the most famous islands being Don Det, Don Khon, Don Khong and Don Daeng. Life on the islands is definitely a lot slower than on the mainland, with Don Det seen as the most lively island. When visiting the island you can spend the entire afternoon enjoying a drink in hammocks or traveling the island (recommended by bike), while there are ample party opportunities at night. For those who wish to get away from the more touristic Don Det, Don Khon is only 4 km away, and is linked by a direct bridge connection to Don Det. Additionally, the southern tip of the island of Don Khon is famous for its population of Irrawaddy Dolphins, with boat tours to the dolphins departing for as low as 20,000 Kip. The most northern island of the bunch is Don Daeng.
The capital of the Champasak province, Pakse is currently the 2nd most populous city in Laos. The city is home to one of the biggest markets in Laos, the Dta Lat Dao Heuang Market, as well as numerous festivals and events. From Residence Bassac it is a mere 30 minute drive into the city.