Pakse is the third largest Laos city by population and as its name means, is situated on the mouth of the river Se, in the southern province of Champasak. It has a population of 87,000 and was the capital of the former Kingdon of Champasak, until unification with the rest of the country in 1946. This delightful Southern town was founded as a colonial outpost by the French in 1905 and served as the primary seat and residence of Prince Boun Oum Na Champasssak. His former palace is now the magnificent Champasak Palace Hotel.
Pakse is home to Wat Luang its largest and most beautiful temple. It is home to the Buddhist Monk School. The alms giving ceremony here is well worth watching. Unlike similar ceremonies in cities like Luang Prabang, you will be one of only a few tourists, making the whole affair much more authentic. Wat Phabad is close by and is the oldest temple here. It is believe to have a footprint of the Buddha.
In 2011 the Big Buddha temple complex was completed across the river. It is accessed by crossing the old Japanese bridge. Here you can climb just a few steps to the top and be rewarded with magnificent views of the city and the river.
The town has many good restaurants and cafés and is a quiet and sleepy place, but a perfect spot from which to investigate the locale. It is close to several attractions including The Bolaven Plateau. Here coffee fields, waterfalls and scenic beauty await. Less than three hours away is Si Phan Don, also known as 4,000 islands is popular with ecotourists and trekkers come for the village stays.
Pakse is easy to get to as it is a major transport hub for the southern region of the country. It also now has an international airport bringing in visitors from Saigon, Bangkok Siem Reap and of course the Lao capital, Vientiane.