Transit: Riding the VIP Bus from Pakse to Vientiane

Pakse VIP Bus Station

Pakse VIP Bus Station

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.

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Laos: Pacing in Pakse

Laos Wat Luang Sweeping Monks

Laos Pakse Wat Luang Sweeping Monks

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.

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Laos: Bun Wat Phu Champasak

Wat Phu Champasak Festival

An impressive Dvarapala (Sentinel Figure) at the stairs entrance way

After crossing the Mekong River, it was around 10-15 minutes drive along an old rural town of Champasak until we reached the main gates. The road was rough and dusty and as we near the park entrance, stalls and eateries line up on both sides. We decided to finally have breakfast there. Ping had a stir fried rice and I had a grilled chicken with sticky rice for breakfast, both amounting to 46000 kip. With satisfied tummies we drove towards the main gate of Wat Phu Champasak Site.

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Laos: Crossing the Mekong River to Wat Phu Champasak

Wat Phu Waiting at Mekong River

Waiting by the Mekong River at Champasak, Laos

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.

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Laos: Portraits of a Laven Tribe

Laven Ethnic Tribe Playing Music

An ethnic Laven playing a native guitar

Just a short walk from Pa Suam Falls, is an ethnic village where we found a community of Laven Tribe. The Laven Tribe is the most predominant tribe in Southern Laos. Bolaven Plateau actually came from the name Bolaven which means “Home of the Laven”. Before, when people say Laos, the first picture that comes to mind for me are monks and temples. So I’m glad to be able to interact with some indigenous tribes in Laos as well.

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Laos: Waterfalls hopping at Bolaven Plateau

Bolaven Plateau's Majestic Tad Yuang Falls

Bolaven Plateau’s Majestic Tad Yuang Falls

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.

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Laos: Learning the ropes in Pakse

Laos Eatery

Market breakfast eatery at Pakse Laos

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.

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