Cruising around the unique 4,000 Islands, spotting rare Irrawaddy dolphins, watching birds in vast wetlands; highlands studded with coffee plantations, misty waterfalls, Mekong river home-stays, the ancient city and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Wat Phou, and jungle covered mountains of the Dong Hua Sao and Xe Pian National Protected Areas. These are only few of the outstanding highlights in this southernmost province.
Champasack lies to the Southwest in Laos. The capital city is Pakse, located at the confluence of the Mekong and the Sedon Rivers. Southeast Asia’s biggest waterfall, Khone Phapheng, is within easy reach by boat or by road. This is one of the main political and economic centers of Lao PDR. The people of Champasack Province are dwell along the of Kong Se Done River bank. In this province you will find ancient temples which were influenced the Angkor people who settled in Cambodia. There are many different minorities in Champasack who have their own language, culture and lifestyles. The distance from Vientiane to Pakse, the provincial capital of Champasack is 610 kilometers by Route 13 (south) via the provinces of Bolikhamxay, Khammouane, Savannakhet and Salavanh.
Champasack Province is known for its relaxed pace of life, warm hospitality and rich cultural, historic and natural heritage. The province has been ruled by various kingdoms through the ages, and today there are many archaeological remains scattered throughout the province. To the south of Pakse, the provincial capital is the Wat Phou Temple Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Attractions also include the Ancient City, historic colonial buildings, and Done Daeng Island, known for its traditional livelihoods and forested trails. In the southern region of the province is Done Khong and the Four Thousand Islands, or Si Phan Done in Lao. On this stretch of the Mekong is the largest waterfall by volume in Southeast Asia, Khone Phapheng, as well as Li Phi waterfall noted for its cascading emerald green waters. The endangered freshwater Irrawaddy Dolphins inhabit the Mekong near the Lao-Cambodian border and can be observed from locally chartered boats.
The Xe Pian National Protected Area covers 2,400 square kilometer in the province’s southeastern region and is rich in biodiversity of global significance. Xe Pian’s dry deciduous forest and wetlands are home to tigers, Asiatic Elephans, white-cheeked gibbons, green peafowl and the giant ibis. Established ecotourism opportunities include elephant riding, bird watching, trekking and village home-stays. In the northeastern region of the province, rising over 1,500 meters above sea level, are the rich volcanic soils and cool climate of the Bolaven Plateau. This area produces some of the finest Arabica coffees in the world, which can be purchased directly from the local growers. The breathtaking Tad Fane Waterfall located on the edge of Dong Houa Sao National Protected Area cascades over 100 meters off the plateau. In Bachieng Chaleunsouk district the picturesque Pa Suam falls are easily reached by road from Pakse.
Located in the northern corner of the province is the Phou Xieng Thong National Protected Area and Khong Mountain, known for its locally guided tours through an orchid conservation area to Hin Khong or ‘Fish Basket Rock’ which overlooks Ubon Province in Thailand. Just north of Pakse is Done Kho Island, the original French colonial capital of Champasack Province and well-known producer of Lao textiles. Other points of interest in northern Champasack are the Buddhist temples and traditional Southern Lao homes in Ban Saphai, as well as the sacred temple, Wat Pho Sayalam, in Ban Vernxay.
The Wat Phou Festival is the province’s largest and draws a huge crowd from the entire Lao-Thai-Cambodia region. The event is held at the Wat Phou Temple Complex and falls on the 3rd full moon of the Buddhist lunar calendar, usually in February.