Champassak Province - Pakse
of Champassak is home to one of Asia's great, but least
visited temples, Wat Phu. Pakse, the capital is situated
at the confluence of the Se river and the Mekong (Pakse
means 'mouth of the Se') and is a busy trading town. The
province also houses much of the Bolaven Plateau, an area
that is home to a number of ethnic minorities. To the
south is Si Pan Don (four thousand islands), where the
Mekong reaches up to 14km wide during the rainy season and
the Khone Phapeng Falls.
has a number of comfortable places to stay and is a good
base from which to explore the surrounding area. The town
has one of the largest markets in the region. Within
Pakse is the Champassak Museum where you can see relics
from Wat Phu as well as from the Bolaven Plateau.
(mountain temple) is a site that dates back to the 5th
century. The original temple was built by the Khmer
Hindus at the top of a hill at the site of a fresh water
spring. The peak of the hill is said to resemble a lingum
or Shiva Phallus. The exact history of Wat Phu is
unclear, but was certainly the site of a temple of the
Khmer empire that eventually made Ankor Wat its capital.
The temple is stunning, and very remote, with superb views
of the Mekong valley. At the top of the temple site are a
number of carved rocks, resembling a crocodile, a naga and
an elephant. It is believed that these rocks were used
for human sacrifice.
To get to the
temple complex from Pakse, the most pleasant way is by
chartering a boat down the Mekong. The journey to the
town of Champassak takes about one and a half hours. From
Champassak, a tuk tuk can be taken to the temple, about
Champassak - Pakse - Getting There
You can reach
Pakse by boat from the north or the south, although these
services change regularly.
from Vientiane daily and the journey can take as long as
15 hours. This bus service also serves the towns of Tha
Kek and Savannakhet.
There is an
international check point at Ban Muang Kao on the Thai
border with Chong Mek. You can get a Visa on arrival at
this checkpoint. After entry into Laos, a short taxi ride
to the new Bridge into Pakse. Coming from Thailand, the
nearest airport, train station and bus terminus to Chong
Mek is Ubon Ratchathani - about 1 hour by road from the