Champasak, a place with so much history and tradition, largely untouched, is waiting to be discovered. From the ancient Vat Phou Temple to the colonial mansions and the old Lao wooden stilt houses still in use, life seems much the same as it was centuries ago. Slow down to truly enjoy the charm of this little town and its surroundings.
Champasak was once a great and prosperous land, founded in 1713 by the Lao King Nokasad as one of three Kingdoms of Laos. It is fascinating to imagine the hive of trade and activity that went on here, with markets selling spices, rubber, wax, resin, skins and horns to traders from Thailand and Indochina. Champasak was greatly desired and fought over by its Cambodian and Siamese neighbours as well as the French colonial powers, and finally, after many skirmishes, it fell to the French in 1893. 50 years later in 1946, the French left Laos and Champasak became a province under the first unified Laos.
Today, the once grand Champasak kingdom is a small and charming town on the Mekong River with two main parallel streets. It is worth staying here to visit Vat Phou, the UNESCO World Heritage listed temple complex, discover French colonial buildings and Buddhist temples, or simply enjoy an evening in the Shadow Puppet Theatre. You could also take a relaxing massage at the Spa or take a boat to the Mekong island of Don Daeng to relax in its tranquil environment and discover local village life on a bicycle.
How to get there:
From Pakse you can take a local bus leaving from Daoheuang Market. You can also take a bus or minivan that heads to/comes from the Four Thousand Islands and get off at Ban Muang. Take a ferry across the Mekong to Ban Phaphin, a few hundred metres north of the centre of Champasak. You can also rent a motorbike, a car and a driver, organise a tuk tuk, join a tour, or organise a boat from Pakse to Champasak.
Where to stay:
In Champasak you can find a range of accommodation options, from low-budget guesthouses to up-market hotels, along the two main parallel roads running through the centre of the city. The upmarket River Resort can be found just a few kilometres north of town. You can also stay on Don Daeng Island, either in La Folie Lodge or in a basic community guesthouse.