As more and more tourists make their way south to Pakse, the number of day-trip options has begun to grow. Ban Saphai, a silk-weaving village north of the city, offers the chance to see villagers weaving sin according to age-old practices, and experience life in a traditional town on the island of Don Kho in the middle of the Mekong. In the hills south of the city, the villagers of Kiatngong raise elephants, which can be hired for trekking, while nearby Ban Phapho presents the opportunity to observe elephants being trained for work in the forest.
From Pakse, daily sawngthaews head south to the charming riverside town of Champasak, past misty green mountains and riverbanks loaded with palm trees. An up-and-coming backpacker town, Champasak serves as a gateway to Wat Phou and other Khmer ruins. Although it is easily possible to visit Wat Phou as a day-trip from Pakse, there is plenty of cheap accommodation available in Champasak, and basing yourself here allows you to take in the sights at a leisurely pace. With its old wooden houses, three temples, Khmer ruins, mountains and river-boat trips, plus guesthouses and good food, it’s easy to imagine Champasak becoming another Muang Ngoi in no time.
Other sights, such as the coffee plantations and waterfalls of Bolaven Plateau, can also be taken in on day-trips from Pakse.