Photo: The river slides on by.


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Set on the west banks of the Mekong, Champasak is a sleepy town sandwiched between the river and mountains. It’s primarily known for being the gateway to UNESCO World Heritage-listed Wat Phu.

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Despite its location just 30 km south of Pakse, Champasak is not really on the tourist trail and this to us is a small injustice. The town is historic and charming, with a single road running along the Mekong lined with decaying colonial manors that were once royal residences, side by side with wood-shuttered Chinese shophouses and traditional wooden homes. Even the modern homes have zeal—the locals here seem to love painting them in wildly cheerful colours.

Stunning Wat Phu. Photo taken in or around Champasak, Laos by Cindy Fan.

Stunning Wat Phu. Photo: Cindy Fan

One of the greatest barriers to visiting is the town’s location on the west side of the Mekong, the opposite side of the “mainland” and highway. To get here it was necessary to cross the river by boat. As of 2014, a brand spanking new sealed road on the west bank connects Pakse with Champasak; this road is virtually free of traffic and the scenery is gorgeous to boot but the outside world has been slow to latch on.

If more reasons are needed to add Champasak to the itinerary, the surrounding landscape is magnificent and a daytrip or homestay on Don Daeng island gives you authentic Laos, something long lost on popular Don Dhet and Don Khone. Relatively unknown Wat Muang Kang is a crumbling architectural treasure and we think it’s one of the prettiest temples of the entire country. There’s good accommodation, an excellent spa and sensational food, all within a ... Travelfish members only (Around 800 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Champasak.
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