Photo: Don Dhet sunset.

Two weeks in Southern Laos

Southern Laos sees far few backpackers and independent travellers than the north of the country, so if you're looking for less touristed destinations and a more "authentic" experience, then this trip could be for you. Many choose to visit the south on their second trip to Laos, as the single month visa doesn't really allow sufficient time to do the north and the south justice.

Itinerary map


Starting in Vientiane, this trip takes you down the panhandle of Laos, stopping at most of the larger towns on the way down. Many opt to do the Vientiane to Pakse run in one hit, but unless you've got very limited time, we'd say this is a mistake -- allow a bit more time to slowly work your way through the south.

You can do this trip in either direction, and with international border crossings -- to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam -- this can be easily combined with other trips.

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Suggest trip length

The suggested minimum time for a trip like this is two weeks, though three weeks will be a far more comfortable pace.

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Sample plan

1) Vientiane -> Tha Khaek (stunning scenery, caves)
2) Tha Khaek -> Savannakhet (National parks, colonial architecture)
3) Savannakhet -> Pakse (riverside town, day-trips)
4) Pakse -> Champasak (Ruins, riverside town)
5) Champasak -> Don Khong, Don Dhet and Don Khon (waterfalls, islands, boat trips, backpacker scene)

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Save some time

Two days: Skip Savannakhet of Tha Khaek (not recommended)

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Take a side trip

Four days: Head inland from Pakse to investugate the remote southern provinces of Salavan, Sekong and Attapeu.

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Combine trip plans

This trip links in easily with the Cambodia one month adventure.

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Sample Trip Times (in hours)

To help you work out how you'll get around, we've listed the trip durations for the various forms of transport available. Note that with the exception of flight times, these are average trip times, so no hate mail if you take the slow train.

LAOS: Southern explorer -- experience laid back southern Laos
Vientiane Tha Khaek - 6:00 - -
Tha Khaek Savannakhet - 2:30 - -
Savannakhet Pakse - 6:00 - -
Pakse Champasak - 2:00 - 3:30
Champasak Don Khong - 4:00 - 5:00-8:00
Don Khong Don Khon & Don Dhet - 1:00 - 1:30
Pakse Salavan - 3:00 - -
Salavan Sekong - 2:00 - -
Sekong Attapeu - 2:30 - -
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The region

This is where itinerary planning really becomes fun. Be sure to check up on our visa, border crossing and visa sections to make sure you're not trying to do the impossible. Also, remember you're planning a holiday -- not a military expedition.