Arriving into Pakse tomorrow lunchtime.
Bit of advice required.
Is Pakse worth a night stop over or should I skip it?
How often are the buses to Si Phan Don? Could I get on one as soon as I get to Pakse?
Am I right in saying the bus will drop you at Muang Khong then you get a boat from here?
Finally, which islands are best to stay on for a little nightlife but nothing too extreme(I want to relax a little but would like to meet other travellers too). Of course, I want cheap guest house accommodation too so I'm not sure if some islands more expensive than others?
I'd appreciate any suggestions and advice you can give.
Ps - can I book onward travel to Siem Reap whilst on the
Thanks a lot.
There isn't a whole lot right in Pakse, it is mainly used as a base point to either go see the ruins at Champasak or to do tours of the Bolaven Plateau. If you aren't big on either of those heading straight to the islands is likely your best bet.
That said depending on when you arrive might have to stay the night as the last bus is early afternoon I believe with most heading out first thing in the morning.
The bus will depend on what you book, it is easy to buy combination tickets to any of the 3 main islands ( Don Khon g , Don Det or Don Khon). Don Khong has a different departure point wherease both Don Det and Don Khon take boats from Ban Nakasang.
Don Det is the backpacker/hippy island. It has the most restaurants and accommodation although I honestly wasn't that impressed with anything there.
Don Khon seems to have decent accommodation and restaurants but doesn't have the backpacker/hippy feel to it. It is also the island with all the main attractions(rapids, dolphin viewing area etc). I didn't stay there but now that I have been there this is definitely where I would stay if going back.
Don Khong is more of a quiet island, I didn't go there and most people that do seem to do so to avoid the more heavily touristed islands of Don Det and Khon. Unless you have a lot of time or want to avoid most other tourists I wouldn't bother going there myself.
It is possible to book onward travel, you will pay a premium here but they have a monopoly on buses so even if you try and do it yourself it you will likely just end up paying more as one girl found out when I did the trip. Note if Siem Reap is your next stop it is advisable to only book a bus as far as Kratie , travelling all the way to Siem Reap is a long uncomfortable affair with you leaving early in the morning and arriving near midnight. Even just going to Kratie will take you until around supper time thanks to the way they waste time at the border. I chose to break up the trip by stopping in both Kratie and Kampong Cham, although it isn't necessary to stop in Kampong Cham I am glad I did as it made the trips that much more comfortable and it was a nice enough town to take a quick look around that night.
I'm assuming that you are arriving in Pakse after a long bus ride, and I always think it is worth breaking up these long journeys so that you're not spending 20 hours straight on buses. For this reason alone I would recommend stopping off in Pakse, then moving on the next morning. There are some decent restaurants and some bars, so you can relax for the afternoon and evening and then get some rest before continuing your journey.
Likewise with the Si Phan Don to Siem Reap route, as advised above it is definitely worth your while to stop off in Kratie. That journey is not fun when done in one go, and you will arrive in Siem Reap very late and are more likely to get stuck with poor accommodation since many places will be shut.
"I'm assuming that you are arriving in Pakse after a long bus ride, and I always think it is worth breaking up these long journeys so that you're not spending 20 hours straight on buses."
This is excellent advice. The best bus ride, is no bus ride at all. But if you are stuck with this miserable mode of transportation, and you might well be, then breaking up the legs into short chunks is the way to go. Buses suck. Some suck a lot, some a little, but they all suck.
Thanks for all the replies. You have been very helpful.
I decided on Don Det as a few friends I met elsewhere were heading the same direction so it was great to meet up with them again.
Don Det seems nice enough but very quiet. I guess all the islands are the same.
I was going to go direct to Siem Reap but once discovering the bus is 8am to 10pm I'm thinking Kratie is most definitely the best option just to break the journey up.
Does anyone know what bus times are from Kratie? Would like to get something early morning(7/8am).
8am to 10pm is optimistic. I wasn't checked into a room in Siem Reap until well after midnight, after being on the move since 7am.
You can find out what time the buses are when you arrive in Kratie , your guesthouse can get your ticket for you.
Were you planning on visiting Phnom Penh at all during your trip? Kratie to Siem Reap is still quite a long journey, so you could break it up even more by stopping off there for a night or two, or even just go straight to Phnom Penh from Laos, skipping Kratie. I've never been to Kratie but Phnom Penh is worth a quick visit (some people love it, can't say I'm the biggest fan).
Pretty much all the buses leave at the same time, I think from the islands around 8 or so. Just book your ticket and they will let you know. You will finally leave Ban Nakasang after an hour or so of wasting time and filling out border forms. Then when you get to the border will likely sit there for an hour or two waiting for others to arrive and the bus to be ready. We didn't get in to Kratie until close to 5 if I remember right so I definitely wouldn't want to go much further then that. Still 6 or 7 hours to Siem Reap I believe, take the bus as the minibuses in Cambodia get crammed full of people(I tried one Kratie to Kampong Cham, there was I believe 15 adults and 2-3 kids(in a 11 seat bus) in it by the time we were finished, the driver was sharing his seat with another person...).
I would stop in Stung Treng myself. Do an overnighter there, then another in Kratie and then a week or so in PP before moving on to Siem Reap. That would break the legs up into small, bite sized chunks and allow you to enjoy the trip instead of being tortured to get to Siem Reap.