Pakse, which is the capital of Champasak Province, was my home base during my stay is Southern Laos. In between my travels to Bolaven Plateau and Wat Phu Champasak, I was able to do some exploring of the city. Pakse is fairly small and only has a few sites of interest nearby. One could even cover the whole place in half a day. But despite this, I was grateful that this is my first stop in Laos since I was able to catch my pace here and learn the going arounds in this country.
I think one of the most interesting sites in Pakse is Wat Luang, just near the bridge crossing the Sedon River. Built in 1849 by Aijan Ku Khom Mak Now Keo, it has become the foremost monk’s school around the region and is also home to the province’s head monk. The Wat also has an interesting architecture with ornate doors and windows. Morning is an interesting scene as I found monks doing some chores.
There is another Wat just beside the main road when entering the city. Wat Pha Bat also known as Wat Tham Phai can be easily spotted. There’s nothing much to see here aside from the spacious grounds and the sacred Buddha Footprint.
The streets of Pakse is easy to navigate. Roads are wide and well paved, ideal for biking or motorbikes. And the city is fairly clean since it’s small and easy to maintain. There are a number of guesthouses lined up by the main road and eateries can be easily found. Internet cafes dot on some locations but I found them still lagging behind on speed but I’m still thankful there is internet access. Provisions are easy to buy there from small stores to moderately sized groceries. They even have ice cream variants we don’t have here.
Money exchange here can be tricky. Some money changers are picky when it comes to accepting dollars. They look at Benjamin Franklin’s eyes and bills that have some parts erased are not accepted. I found some others which are in the inner streets do and they even have better rates.
Even though I’m not an avid coffee drinker, I just had to try the famous Lao Coffee from Paksong served at the Sinouk Cafe. I had a Choco Mocha Latte and a Croissant bread. I thought the coffee was real smooth and rich with an added choco and mocha flavor. I downed the whole coffee which is a rarity for me.
Since there are no major shopping malls or cinemas here in Laos, most people would just spend their time after works at the banks of Mekong River. There’s a nice view of mountains, the Japan-Laos Friendship Bridge and of course the Mekong River. There are a number of restaurants there and small food stalls with street side Lao Food and beer. Locals spend a lot of time here, just enjoying the view, having good food and drinks in hand.
My stay in Pakse, aside from the travels to Wat Phu and Bolaven Plateau was more on getting familiar with the culture, on how people trade and even the in and outs of their transportation. I can say I enjoyed my stay here and it’s time to move on my next destination which is Vientiane.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.