Sabaidee! Khawp jai lai lai for taking time to join me on this journey through Laos. While it may have taken me months to finish the whole Laos Chronicles, the actual trip lasted only 14-days including transit from February 5-18 2009. I would have wanted to wraps thing up quickly but there are so many details to write about the place and I want it written in a way people are traveling with me as well. So here’s the summary of the trip with itinerary details and budget.
I really had a pleasant stay in the Champasak Region of Laos. I was able to visit some of the waterfalls of Bolaven Plateau, visit the UNESCO Ruins of Wat Phu and has a pleasant stroll around the city of Pakse. On the night of the third day, it was time to head to Vientiane. I already booked my bus ride the day before to make sure I already have good seats. The main VIP bus station is near the Dao Heung Market about 2km from the city center. But after strolling around the City I found that there is another VIP Bus Station nearby which is walking distance from my guesthouse just along the same side of the tourism office near the Sedone River.
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.
My next destination in Southern Laos was one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in the country, the khmer ruins of Wat Phu Champasak. But like Bolaven Plateau, the site is at least an hour away, 46km from Pakse going south. It was still dark when I left my inn to head to Dao Heueng Market, where most of the transportation heading in and out of Pakse originates. I was planning to take the public transport this time but what worried me was my way back since I had to catch my 8pm bus ride to Vientiane that night.
After kick starting our day with a spicy breakfast of Foe noodles, we finally made our way to Bolaven Plateau. About 50km from Pakse, Bolaven Plateau is at the North Eastern province of Champasak located up to 1300 meters above sea level. With the cool climate, abundant rainfall, rich volcanic soil, it has been world reknown for its coffee. I’m not there for the coffee though but for the number of waterfalls found in the area.
It was already afternoon when I arrived in Pakse. I changed some of my dollars to Kip then had dinner nearby. A few years ago, dollars were accepted in Laos but now the government urges tourist to use their local currency instead. At dinner, I was plotting where I would go the next day. Pakse is a fairly small town and most of the sites in Champasak are at least an hour away. The only way to go around was by motorbike. There are motorbikes for hire around Pakse but I don’t drive bikes so I decided I should find a driver/guide with me so it’ll be easy to find the places.
Laos has been under my radar for quite a while as I continue my quest to visit some of the UNESCO heritage sites in Asia. So it’s just a matter of time until I finally get to step on this land, popularly known for its “Laid back Lao Life”. Originally I had planned on visiting sights both on Thailand and Laos since it’s so close together. Coming in from Bangkok up to Sukhothai then Chang Mai then Chang Rai. Border crossing to Huay Xai taking the Slow Boat there to Luang Prabang, Laos. That’s the usual route going there, but after thorough planning there is just so much to see in Laos that I decided to drop Thailand altogether and focus on Laos itself. Thailand is just a flight away from Manila but Laos is a different story so I decided to take a different route.