The roads of Pakse are numbered in no particular order, and street signs are non-existent, so if you're going to spend any time here, you'll benefit from a good map. To supplement your handy-dandy Travelfish map, the Champasak Tourist and Pakse City map offers a pretty good view of the city streets, though they place the Sedone Guest House on the wrong side of the river, and the road map is pretty much useless for trips to the surrounding areas. The big, green, Lao PDR government Map of Pakse offers a similar view of the town, but doesn't list much accommodation along the river -- the regional road map is slightly better, but still confusing and leaves out all the major sites! The much-circulated and recopied map provided by Sabaidy 2 Guesthouse is useful, but the city map leaves out a lot of information. However, the regional road-map on the reverse is an excellent, accurate guide to surrounding sites that you'll find essential to bring along if you explore the surrounds by motorbike. Ripped-off copies are available all around, town, but the original is the best.
There are only a handful of internet places in Pakse, but thankfully, they are all quite good. The most popular and convenient is the one at the Lankham Cafe, between Nazim and Jasmin Restaurants on Road 13 -- they also make a mean cappuccino. Service is also available across the street at the Lankham Hotel, and further up the road, past Road 24, you'll find two places that are more reliable, tech savvy, and customer-friendly -- SK Song Com Service and Adam's internet. They all offer printing, scanning, faxing, memory card readers and CD burning -- internet is 100 kip per minute. Hours are generally 08:00 to 23:00, though they may close earlier on a slow day.
There are several ATMs in Chong Mek on the Thai side of the border into Laos, and a Siam Commercial Bank. There are no ATMs in Laos outside of Vientiane, so if you're using a debit card to get cash, this will be your last chance to do so before travelling in southern Laos. Plan ahead, and take out as much money as you will need for your trip. All major travellers' cheques can be cashed at all the banks, money exchange places, and bigger hotels. They will usually charge about US$2 per check cashed regardless of denomination. Although carrying cash is always a little dicey, bringing as much Thai baht as you dare is a very good idea -- it's accepted almost everywhere in all denominations. US dollars run a close second.
Despite all the warnings, travellers always seem to be showing up in Laos expecting to find an ATM, or they run out of money before the end of their stay. If this happens to you, you have three options: (a) receive money by Western Union (through the Lao Development Bank or the Post Office), (b) get an advance on your credit card (at the banks on weekdays, and the money change place next to the Lao Development bank on the weekends,) or (c) go to Vang Tao, walk across the border, and use the ATM. We know, seems too good to be true, but you don't have to show your passport to cross into Chong Mek on the Thai side, and you don't have to officially leave Laos and re-enter. Passports are checked by border guards along the roads leading away from Chong Mek; the Chong Mek/Vang Tao guards only check for contraband. Yeah, we found it hard to believe, so we tried it out for ourselves and it worked. Apparently, local ex-pats do their banking that way all the time and have never run into a problem. We don't know of any other border between Laos and Thailand where this is the case, so don't try it elsewhere. While our best information is that this is safe to do, this is southeast Asia, and we can't absolutely guarantee that no one will ever run into any trouble doing this, so be prepared to act stupid and charm your way out of it if you get stopped.
The Banque pour le Commerce Exterieur Laos (BCEL) is located along the Se Don river road, south of the bridge. The commission on credit card advances is 3%, which is a bit lower than the Lao Development Bank, but they charge a higher rate for traveller's cheques -- $US3 per note or 3%, whichever is greater. The LDP charges US$2 per note, but 4 % for credit card advances.
Travellers heading to Vietnam can stop off at the Laos-Vietnam Bank on Road 13 a buy Vietnamese dong at good rates -- not a bad idea to have some dong on arrival, as kip and baht are useless, though dollars are still widely accepted.
Lao Development Bank - Road 13, East of Jasmin Restaurant
Hours: 08:30 to 15:30 Monday to Friday. Closed weekends and official holidays.
Cash traveller cheques, exchange money, advance on credit cards, and Western Union (when the system isn't down...)
Currency Exchange - Next door to Lao Development Bank
Hours: 08:00 to 15:30, seven days a week (despite what the sign says out front)
Exchange money, cash traveller cheques, advance on credit cards. You can also buy USD and THB.
Laos-Vietnam Development Bank - Road 13, across from the Champasak Palace Hotel, a bit west. T: (031) 251 470 Hours: 08:30 to 15:30 Monday through Friday.
Located on Road 8 just off of Road 11 south of the town center. Hours are 08:00 to 12:00 and 13:00 to 17:00, every day. Western Union is available on weekdays only.
There's a good tourist information centre along the river near the BCEL -- the staff speak French and English.
The Police Station and the Hospital, which offers 24-hour emergency service are near the Champasak Market a block or so from the river.
Jump to a destination
- Hot spots
- Vientiane & surrounds
- Northern Laos
- Southern Laos
Top accommodation by review
4 votes Southern Road 13
T: (031) 212 263
F: (031) 212 781;(031) 252 131
14 votes Road 24
T: (031) 212 992
F: (031) 212 992
6 votes 13 Rd
T: (031) 252 111
F: (031) 252 555
8 votes By the river
2 votes Ban Lak 38
T: (020) 553 1400
F: (020) 553 1411
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