Previously overshadowed by bigger hitting destinations further north, the southern section of Laos is coming into its own as a magnet for tourists.
From the limestone karsts and dense forests of the Phou Hin Boun NPA (National Protected Area) to the coffee plantations and roaring waterfalls of the verdant Bolaven Plateaux, southern Laos is prime territory for nature lovers who relish deviating from the beaten path. The landscapes brim with potential for derring-do with prime activities including motorcycle odysseys into the wilderness or kayaking or rafting amidst pristine nature.
There’s also plenty of scope to ease things down to the more familiar laid-back pace of life in Laos. A good spot to indulge in such a recharge is Si Pan Don. Better known as the 4000 Islands, this riverine archipelago hard by the border with Cambodia offers palm fringes islands set against a lazy and winding section of the Mekong River.
Si Phan Don is not the only Mekong River attraction worth diverting to in the southernmost Champasak province of Laos. The beautiful island of Don Daeng, directly opposite Champasak town, is ideal for exploration by means of pedal power and is close to Wat Phou, a UNESCO-listed pre-Angkorian temple that is arguably the most impressive religious relic in Laos.
The Mekong River towns of southern Laos make great bases for exploration of the area. The regional hub, Pakse, is relaxed, while Champasak offers charming colonial architecture as well as several acclaimed riverside boutique boltholes.
TREASURES OF SOUTHERN LAOS (4 DAYS / 3 NIGHTS)
Southern Laos is a natural playground for the intrepid traveler, with hills and waterways prime for exploring. Trek to pristine waterfalls and through villages untouched by time, stopping to meet friendly locals on the way. Take a boat trip among the ‘4000 Islands’ of the southern Mekong River to seek out the elusive Irrawaddy dolphin.
- Coffee Discovery. At one of Laos’ famous coffee plantations, join an expert to learn about and taste the country’s best brews.
- 4000 Islands Boat Excursion. Travel by long-tail boat amid Laos’ 4000 islands, stopping to visit impressive waterfalls and to seek out Irrawaddy dolphins.
- Wat Phou. Explore Wat Phu, a UNESCO heritage site that pre-dates Angkor Wat and is in remarkable condition.
FULL DAY TOUR: BOLAVEN PLATEAU LOOP
Discover the natural beauty and local culture of southern Laos on this full-day tour of the Bolaven Plateau loop. Trek to cascading waterfalls in the lush jungle and witness the lifestyles of the plateau’s ethnic groups. Join a coffee expert for a walk through a plantation and dine on organic, locally-grown produce.
FULL DAY TOUR: A DAY IN THE 4000 ISLANDS
Bike and boat through southern Laos’ 4000 islands, getting in touch with the local culture and close to nature. Pedal through tranquil villages and past colourful farms on Don Khon Island. Drift down the Mekong River to the Lippi waterfalls and seek out the endangered Irrawaddy Dolphin.
WAT PHOU CRUISE UPSTREAM (3 DAYS / 2 NIGHTS)
There is no better way to explore the Mekong River than aboard a river cruise. Spend three-days exploring the section of Southern Laos known as the ‘4000 islands’. Watch life drift by from the ship’s deck and go ashore to visit timeless villages and wander through ancient temples.
FULL DAY TOUR: JEEP JOURNEYS AND COFFEE CULTIVATION
Step away from the tourist trail and into the heart of Southern Laos with an off-road adventure through the Bolaven Plateau. Visit the best coffee plantation in Laos and trek to a historic wartime cave shelter. Explore local farms and villages and swim in the cool waters of a hidden waterfall.