Once a seat of royalty, the sleepy town of Champasak lies on the west banks of the Mekong River. The town’s old colonial manors sit side by side with wooden Chinese homes, giving Champasak a charming, historic vibe. The Champasak area is the best spot in Laos for a bit of R&R, and, despite Laos being landlocked, is home to a handful of beaches.
The best way to get here is by road from Pakse, but you can also arrive by boat for a more laid-back journey. Whilst you’re here, you must visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Wat Phu. This is one of the most impressive Khmer temple complexes you’ll find outside of Cambodia. If you’re looking to explore in peace and quiet, avoid the end of January and early February as the Wat Phu festival brings three days of prayers, processions, dance performances and live music to the complex.
For the most authentic Laos experience, we’re slightly in love with Don Daeng Island. Life here hasn’t changed much for hundreds of years and there are 10 tiny villages and a number of temples worth exploring. Things move at a slower pace on this island, with life revolving around the river. You can explore on foot or by bike and head to the river at sunset to bathe with the locals – absolute bliss!
Speaking of bliss, the spas in Champasak are renowned as great places to relax and unwind. Many are set in traditional Lao houses and use local, natural ingredients such as papaya, coconut and turmeric in their treatments. After you’re finished you’ll usually be offered tea and fruit, with plenty of time to unwind and watch the world go by.
For a cultural activity that also supports the local economy, why not rent a bike or motorbike and head for Ban Nong Bueng Woodcarving Village? Famous for its wood carvers, the village has a number of workshops you can visit to see the craftsmen at work. It’s best to come in the morning, as they siesta around lunchtime. The wooden sculptures and carved reliefs incorporate influences from Lao and Taoy cultures and make the perfect souvenir of your trip.
We love Champasak’s sleepy, peaceful vibe, so if you’re in need of some quiet time, this could be the perfect place to chill out.
Plan your trip to Champasak today.