In Champasak, the villagers greet you with a broad smile and a “Sabaidee! “(” Hello! “), and your days will be punctuated by the parade of children in their uniforms going to & from school. Upon arrival in the small town, you will notice the long road lined with fragrant, frangipani trees and their beautiful flowers, the emblem of Laos. Here, trucks are prohibited, and the human dimension of the village makes it an ideal place to walk or cycle along the charming streets adjacent to its main axis, to discover traditional Laotian life.
On arriving on the street that crosses the town, you will first pass the Champasak Spa. It is in this magnificent, elegantly decorated, wooden house, that you find the best massages of southern Laos. The spa, with its exotic garden along the Mekong, is idyllic. The treatments are precise and gentle, and the products are fresh, organic and produced locally. Do not forget to book in advance as this small intimate space is very popular. You can enjoy a la carte care or relax for half or full days.
Continuing along the street, you will discover splendid colonial villas often restored and modernized with taste, as well as an old abandoned post office. The town also has beautiful traditional Laotian houses, try to find the one called “Huean Moladok”. They typically have detailed narrow windows, their finely carpented woodwork in solid wood and their elaborate systems of natural ventilation on several levels. These are real modern-day jewels, where it has become rare to find this style of architecture. More modern housing has foregone the beauty and is typically simpler houses, inexpensive and built of cement. So, enjoy yourself in the narrow streets of the centre, between the fields and the river, to discover these many classic buildings. Photographers will be captivated by this fascinating architectural mix, and all travelers will be enchanted by the slow pace of the Mekong and the rhythm of the fishermen’s canoes. You will be charmed by the spectacular green rice fields plowed by peasants with triangular straw hats typical of Southeast Asia, and their water buffaloes trudging up and down the ricefields.
On the left of the small roundabout is the Office of Tourism housed in a traditional building on stilts. This style of construction is widely found in the area as it leaves the space under the building in the shade, and so cooler. This is also where you find the pier to Don Daeng and you can take a long-tailed boat across the Mekong to the island. Don Daeng is car-free and stretches for 9 kilometres in the middle of the river. The island is also 3 kilometres wide and is lined with deserted, white sand beaches where you can stroll or bathe in absolute calm. The only interruption to the tranquility may be local fishermen, water buffalo or children playing in the river. There is a scenic view of the river from the island with beautiful mountains, including Mount Khao, in the background.
A few metres from the Tourism Office, you can find the fabulous performances of ATOC during the dry season. The group presents shadow plays twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays, accompanied by local musicians playing traditional instruments. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, the Oscar-winning silent film 1927Chang is shown outdoors accompanied by the same musicians. The film tells the story of a villager in Siam in the face of surprise he finds in the jungle.
In the town itself, you can buy beautiful fabrics and other traditional and ethnic souvenirs. The work in cotton, silk and wood is transmitted from generation to generation across the country and these mills are typical of Laos. Across the country, you will notice women still wearing the Sinh which is the traditional Lao skirt with infinite variations. Make a stop at Chez Maman, just after the roundabout on your right, where you will find beautiful hand-made weavings. The owner of the shop will take you on a real visual and tactile journey through Laos and will talk about his extensive experience with the country’s ethnic populations.
A little further along the main road you arrive at the Residence Bassac. Nestled in an old building which was built at the beginning of the last century as a store and traditional Chinese house. Our friendly staff will provide you with a wealth of information on walks, cultural discoveries and the various activities that the town and area offer to visitors. After leaving your luggage and having enjoyed a delicious refreshment or meal at our Soum Noum restaurant, you can continue exploring the many jewels of Champasak.
A few hundred metres after Residence Bassac, make a stop at the statue of Buddha Sisoumong which is located in the Sikeut Primary School, facing the Mekong. This sacred place was built on Pre-Angkorian ruins and you can see the villagers stop there to make offerings and say prayers. The statue is nestled under a breathtaking Albizia Saman tree whose branches extend over 1500m². The leaves of this tree close during rain to let the water pass and open like magic with the sun rays. During your walk along the road through Champasak, you will notice the various temples of the town. In each of them, observe the splendid sacred Boddhi trees or Cus Religiosa, whose leaves are recognizable by their heart shape. This species is of essential importance in Buddhist culture because it is under one of them that Buddha meditated for years. The Boddhi is also known to Laotians as it houses the spirits of the temples. A little further on, the statue of a second Buddha similarly facing the river can be found under a Boddhi tree.
Staying on the same road, you pass two bridges. The main road continues on to Wat Phou, on the right, but let your curiosity to take you to the beautiful bamboo plantation on your left, which runs along the Mekong for several kilometres. A first surprise is the surprising church The Holy Name of Jesus Christ which is the first of its kind to have been built in Laos. After 2.5 kilometres you will arrive at Vat Phanon Sim and the Vat Meuang Kang Bookstore. Vat Mueang Kang is the oldest active temple in Champasak, which dates from the beginning of the 19th century. Its architectural style is quite particular and complex, with Burmese, Cambodian, French, Lao & Vietnamese influences. The site includes a house that contains sacred texts and is the only building of this architectural style still standing in Southeast Asia. For those who are interested, the villages around the temple specialize in the manufacture of bamboo handicrafts.