Sleepy remote villages, thousands of islands...
Often left off harried backpackers' itineraries, southern Laos can be a rewarding part of the country to explore, with some great obscure sites along with a package of traveller favourites.
Although those who do make it tend to dash straight down to the far southern hub of Pakse, there's a lot in between that is well worth exploring, so don't be too hasty in jumping on that overnight bus -- slow down -- this isn't a race!
The capital of Khammuan, Tha Khaek, offers plentiful options for exploration from funky caves and colonial swimming holes to aging French buildings and the relaxed Mekong riverbank. The interior of Khammuan is particularly rewarding for the determined traveller who is willing to strike out into uncharted territory.
Further south and you'll reach Savannakhet, where the beret-wearing old men still play petanque between the crumbling French colonial buildings -- they'll happily welcome you to join a game. From Savannakhet you can head into the hinterland to explore some of the parks -- don't make the mistake of thinking you can only go trekking in northern Laos.
Pakse, the transportation and trade hub of southern Laos, is the gateway to both the Bolaven Plateau and the sublime Four Thousand Islands. The interior behind the Bolavan, covering what is often referred to as the "Remote South" -- the provinces of Salavan, Sekong and Attapeu -- is a highlight for those who want to rough it and get well and truly off the beaten track.
Meanwhile, just shy of the Cambodian border, lies Si Phan Don, idyllic islands where a bamboo bungalow goes for a buck and the stunning sunsets are free. Cycle around, see the dolphins, savour the atmosphere -- a visit to Don Khong, Don Dhet and Don Khon is the highlight for many -- don't miss them!
Get orientated with a map of Southern Laos
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