When you think about Southeast Asia Laos might not be the first spot that comes to your mind. Other countries might be more prominent like Cambodia or Thailand but that is no reason to tick Laos already from your list. When you come from Thailand or Vietnam and want to relax from the crowds then Southern Laos is a good option. Shift a gear back, take it easy and relax.
Their must be a rule in Laos that says the more you go to the south, the more relaxed the people are. “Sleepy” might be the most fitting description for this amazing scenery. Here are the things you shouldn’t miss when you spend one or two weeks in Southern Laos.
4,000 Islands (Si Phan Do)
When you come from Siem Riep then I really recommend taking a few days break at the charming 4,000 islands. The 4,000 islands at the mighty Mekong River helps you to completely lower your blood pressure. Enjoy the quiet and beautiful riverfront at Don Det or Don Kon.
Hire a bike or motorbike for a few days and go around the islands. Watch the rare Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris, called pąa khaa in Laos) or take a look at the impressive Tat Somphamit (Li Phi Falls). Otherwise simply take it easy and relax!
Make sure you get a room at Mr. Tho’s Bungalows in Don Det. Mr. Tho has a cozy guesthouse with a nice restaurant terrace at the riverfront. The charismatic couple speaks good English and will provide you with all you need. They can also organize trips from the 4000 islands to Pakse or Bangkok.
Once in Laos it’s unavoidable that you hear about the Vat Phou (What Phu) complex. It’s a unique Khmer Temple ruin laid in the Champasak region. Since 2001 it is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and can be referred as the “little” Angkor Wat of Laos. But you won’t be disappointed if you’ve already been to Angkor archaeological park. Because the imposing temple buildings from the 11th to 13th will mesmerize you anyway.
It’s a nice day trip from Pakse to Vat Phou. Once you have reached the temple complex, you have to master the steep stairs to the top . Therefore you’re rewarded with a breathtaking view over the Champasak region at the top of the 1,400m high Phu Pasak range.
Laos can toast you during the dry season (Dec-Feb). So it’s advisable to escape the hot sun for some time in the cooler Bolaven Plateau. It’s famous for its stunning waterfalls, high-grade coffee plantations and fertile soil.
Exploring the Bolaven Plateau is best by bike or motorcycle. If you have only a day then I recommend a day trip from Pakse to one of the waterfalls Tad Yuang or Tad Fan. At Tad fan the water drops about 120m and a nice restaurant will prevent you from starving.
If you have at least a few days then do the Southern Swing Loop and see rural villages and the countryside of the southern provinces.You can make a detour to the Katu or Alak villages and visit Tad Lo, that become a backpackers paradise during the last years. Make sure to check out the Tad Lo Lodge to take the opportunity to ride on an elephant. Other destinations could be Sekong or the Attapeu Province.
It doesn’t matter whether if you want to go for an adventure or just take a few days break from hectic Southeast Asia. Southern Laos offer you both options and is a great alternative to the usual spots you go. If you need more information on where to go, just contact me.
Laos Travel Information
When to go: November to January
Visa: 30-day visas at arrival; around $35 (citizens from Japan or one of the ASEAN member states don´t need a visa)