Laos // The far south //

Practicalities

Buses and sawngthaews (20,000K from Pakse) should let you off at Champasak’s tiny roundabout, where you’ll find almost everything you need, including a post office (open until 9pm weekdays for phone calls), and a tiny bank, which can exchange cash and travellers’ cheques. The wooden tourist office t 020/2206215 has a few useful maps and handouts. The ferry dock is about 2km north of here; tuk-tuks wait at the boat landing. Sawngthaews may drop you at the Anouxa Hotel, 1km north of the roundabout, claiming you’re in the centre of town. It’s a peaceful enough location, but the bungalows here are overpriced.

There are two proper hotels in town: Siamphone (120,500–200,000K), a huge apricot-coloured eyesore near the roundabout featuring basic, air-conditioned rooms with hot water and TV; and the boutique-style Inthira ($41–60), which has luxurious Lao-style rooms and suites. The most popular guesthouse is Vongpasit (40,500–80,000K), 2km south of the roundabout, which has en-suite bungalows and a restaurant with a nice deck overlooking the Mekong. Just south of the roundabout, Kham Phou (40,000K and under) has roomy doubles and triples and wooden en-suite bungalows in the garden. Fifty metres south, the Souchittra Guesthouse (40,000K and under) has above-average rooms in another old wooden house with a shared bathroom, plus self-contained bungalows on the lawn overlooking the Mekong. Dok Champa Guesthouse, on the roundabout, offers the best selection of Lao dishes in town and also rents bicycles, as do most of the guesthouses.

Moving on, three Pakse-bound buses pass by Champasak each morning on Route 13; (2hr; 20,000K); to catch one you’ll need to board a ferry to Ban Muang (7000K) and then take a tuk-tuk to the main road. For bus connections to Si Phan Don, cross the river to Ban Muang (ferries leave when full), get a lift up to Route 13 and wait for a bus heading south.