Still pretty much undeveloped and with a tourism industry still based in simple accommodations and experiencing the local lifestyle, South Laos is a beautiful region to explore and relax a bit before you continue your trip. Read on to make sure you don’t miss out when you visit South Laos.

 

Visit South Laos

Come to meet the friendly (and cool styled!) locals of South Laos.

We can consider this southern part of the country as the area that goes from the capital Vientiane to the border with Cambodia, having as major attractions the area around Thakhek, roughly half way from one place to the other, and Plateau Bolaven or the 4000 islands in the southern tip of the country. It’s getting common explore the region with a rented motorbike due to the low price and flexibility to roam around in these sceneries (you can search on the internet for motorbike loop in South Laos to get some maps and more tips about it).

 

Visit South Laos

The rural and relaxed sights of South Laos.

 

Start by exploring the area around Thakhek, not a very interesting town in itself (although you can have nice views of Thailand, just across the Mekong river) but a great starting point to the villages nearby, including the famous Konglor cave. It consist on 7km natural excavated on a massive rock, located on Phou Hin Bun National Park and available to travel by boat. Probably one of the few caves in the world that has a navigable river crossing it from one side to the other! And after crossing the whole cave you can ask the boat driver to wait for a while to give you time to explore some of the tiny remote villages around. Also an interesting place nearby to spend some days is Ban Nahim, a small village where you can find cheap accommodation and a genuine local market, a useful place to serve as base while you travel around in the area.

 

Visit South Laos

One of the many caves around Thakhek area.

Southern than Thakhek region, you can spend some days exploring Plateau Bolaven, a region known for its infinite waterfalls and coffee plantations (it’s a great place to buy some high quality Arabica or Robusta coffee for bringing home as souvenir!)

 

Weird old school amusement park in some random village on Plateau Bolaven.

Visit South Laos

Weird old school amusement park in some random village on Plateau Bolaven.

One of our favourite places is Tad Lo, a nice little village with a couple of home stays and bungalows available to be rented, near to some waterfalls and interesting jungle trekkings — the perfect place to relax by the river and connect with other travelers while experience the local lifestyle. Not far you also have the city of Champasak and its french colonial buildings, Savannakhet and its weird dinosaur theme (with decorations on the street, a dinosaur museum in town, etc) or the Wat Phou temple complex, a Unesco World Heritage site on the style of Angkor Wat (during the Angkor times this region belonged to the Khmer empire).

 

Visit South Laos

Monks bathing themselves in the waterfall of Tad Lo village.

The biggest city in the area is Paksé and, even if it isn’t the most interesting town, is useful as a transportation hub or if you need to extend your visa (also with a huge local market to explore). From there you are a short drive from Si Pha Don, more commonly known as 4000 islands. Well, maybe it’s an exaggeration in terms of number but this area of the Mekong it’s truly filled with little sand banks and tiny islands, most of them unoccupied but still with some interesting places to go depending on what you are looking for.

 

Visit South Laos

The journey to the islands…

 

Try the Don Khong island, bigger and less touristic (but still with a couple of hotels) if you want to experience the local lifestyle, or Don Det for the backpacking experience, cheaper accommodation and plenty of bars to pimp your nights. Depending on your negotiation skills, it’s not hard to find bungalows for 2 dollars per night just a few meters from the river (you can choose the sunrise or the sunset side of the islands, or better, spend some days in each one of them to appreciate both!) You also have Don Khon, a quieter island comparing to Don Det, more upscale in terms of accommodation and with somehow a more family-oriented atmosphere instead of the young/party crowd of Don Det.

 

 

Visit South Laos

View from a 2 dollars/night bungalow by the river… where else in the world can you find this?

Independently of the island you choose, don’t expect so many things to see or visit, the purpose is exactly the opposite: bring a book to read, relax by the hammock, jump to the Mekong for a swim, meet other travelers and appreciate one of the most chill out environments in your entire trip! Nevertheless, one thing you want to make sure not to miss is to visit the nearby Khone Phapheng Waterfall, the biggest one in Southeast Asia and truly a pleasant sight to appreciate.

 

 

Visit South Laos

Market and boat pier on the river side of Ban Nakasang.

Besides the islands, and in case you are looking for a genuine traveling experience, it’s great to walk around and explore some of the small villages in the nearby mainland. Be prepared for some crazy food in the local markets (Lao people eat any kind of animal they can find in the forest!) and some nice conversations over a cheap coffee with friendly locals. The village Ban Nakasang is the only one more touristic due to being where you can take the longtail boat to one of the islands, but take your time to explore around, the rest are mainly off the beaten track.

 

 

Visit South Laos

Big lizards being sold on a local market… Lao people eat everything!

 

As a final note, while traveling here try to reduce your use of plastic and avoid littering at all costs. Waste management is still a fantasy in the area and most probably everything you throw away will end up being burned or thrown into the river. This environment is one of the most fragile areas of Southeast Asia, home to a shrinking population of pink dolphins and giant catfishes, threaten not only by trash and the consequences of the slowly emerging modern lifestyle but also by the construction of a huge dam by the Lao government. So come experience this beautiful area while is still pretty much undeveloped and pristine!

 

If a relaxed and genuine experience is what you are looking for, South Laos is definitely a great option to spend some weeks of your trip. Have a look on Camboticket website for the available routes, for instance Siem Reap to Paksé, Phnom Penh to Paksé, Phnom Penh to Vientiane or even other options directly to the 4000 islands. Come and enjoy the simple and chill out lifestyle by the Mekong!

Categories: Camboticket Team Blog

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