If you’re entering Laos from the middle of Thailand, you may find yourself in Pakse for a day or two waiting to sort out bus or flight arrangements. While the town itself is mostly falling apart, it’s the outlying areas in the Bolaven Plateau that bring people to the here. If you’re looking for a relaxing day either on a mini bus tour or on the back of the scooter (I always prefer scooter) it’s a good location to stretch your legs after a long bus ride and get some fresh air. There are a number of impressive waterfalls in the area that can easily be scootered too. It’s usually around a 10,000 kip per person to enter, plus 2000 kip for your bike, or roughly $3 CA. Some of the signs for the waterfalls are very small so make sure to keep your eyes peeled.
If you’re looking for a good souvenir gift for friends and family back home, the famous Bolaven Plateau coffee makes for a delicious present. It is surprisingly harder to track down in gift form than you might think. There is one main coffee shop near the main plantation that sells the beans, but you can get a better price if you shop through the coffee stores back in town. If you’re running short on time, I noticed that the bus station was one of the few other places in town that sold the beans.
You probably won’t need more than a day in Pakse, and if you’ve opted for the overnight sleeper bus from Vientiane you’ll arrive at 6 in the morning which gives you more than enough time to see the sights and head out the following day. A word of advice – the sleeper bus from Vientiane is just that, a bus with very small beds that are shared between two people. Great for those travelling in pairs – but be warned if you’re travelling solo, you might just find yourself sharing your bunk with a very friendly stranger.