Pakse is the third largest city in Laos by population, and the town is an important economic center that serves as a travel hub for Southern Laos.
Originally founded as a French administrative outpost in 1905, Pakse’s fortunes grew along with the increased trade from Indochina. The city served as the royal capital of the independent Kingdom of Champasak until 1946 when the Kingdom of Laos tied a number of petty kingdoms throughout the region into a unified state.
The Champasak Historical Heritage Museum in Pakse is a repository of cultural artifacts mostly from the area’s medieval history including jewelry, textiles, and handcrafts from the numerous ethnic tribes that inhabit the region. There are 20 or so Buddhist temples and shrines strewn through the city and the surrounding area. Of these Buddhist sites, Wat Phu (Vat Phou) is the star attraction. A Khmer Empire temple structure built sometime in the 11th century, Wat Phu was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2001. There is an exhibition hall near the temple’s ticket showcasing a number of statues and other decorative pieces reclaimed from the ruins.
Pakse’s international airport and growing accommodations make it an excellent base to explore the largely undeveloped province of Champasak and the 4,000 Islands that dot the Mekong River to the south. The verdant forests of the Bolaven Plateau can easily be reached from the city, and Dong Hua Sao National Protected Area has some truly excellent trekking and safari excursions available for guests on our luxury tours of Laos.
Best Time to Visit Pakse:
For the best weather, visit Pakse and the southern reaches of Laos during the annual dry season that runs between November and May. Warmer weather creeps across the land starting and June, and the heat holds on into October. Short rain showers are relatively common during this period, but the extra precipitation helps alleviate high daytime temperatures, and the lush jungles are positively bursting with life during the second half of the year.
How to get to Pakse:
Pakse is the capital of the southern Laos province of Champasak. It can be reached either overland departing from Vientiane or by direct flight to Pakse International Airport.
Pakse is the gateway to the pristine jungles and rivers of Southern Laos, and a destination all its own with a warm, friendly atmosphere and easy-going populace that charms many travelers into overstaying their original plans by a few days or more.
Typical western clothing is fine to explore the city, but the numerous Buddhist shrines and temples including Wat Phu have a thriving community of worshippers, and it’s best to dress in modest attire that covers shoulders to knees while exploring the temples.