Southern Laos is a part of Laos/Asia that’s still lesser discovered by tourists. I visited Laos before, 6 years ago, but only went to Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang and Vientiane in Northern Laos – like most people do when they visit Laos. When we’re invited to go on a FAM trip to explore the beauty of Southern Laos we can’t say no. We get a return ticket from Bangkok to Pakse and are ready to go!
Not sure it has anything to do with small planes, but we experience one of the bumpiest flights ever. We are on the smallest plane we both have ever been. Luckily Lao airlines gets us safely to Pakse where we are welcomed with open arms. I actually had never heard of Pakse before but it’s Laos second biggest city. The first thing we explore is the ancient Khmer temple complex, Wat Phou. As we visited Angkor Wat before we are spoiled, so we are a bit disappointed with Wat Phou. It’s very small and the inside of the temples aren’t as wonderful as the ones in Angkor Wat. Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful place to go to, especially because of the amazing scenery.
Recommended read: The Ultimate Travel Guide to Pakse, Southern Laos
4000 Islands | Si Phan Don
Something I have heard of before is Si Phan Don aka the 4000 islands. And luckily that’s where we are heading as well! On the way from Pakse to the 4000 islands, we stop at the widest (or biggest, nobody seems to know) waterfall in Asia: the Khone Phapheng Falls. We enjoy lunch next to the waterfall. Or well, enjoy, the scenery is amazing but we aren’t huge fish lovers. And in Southern Laos, they eat lots of fish from the Mekong river, we find out we like sea fish better. We get to know the rest of the people of the FAM trip, mainly bloggers based in Bangkok who travel around as we do. It’s always wonderful to meet like-minded people!
The 4000 islands are located close to the Cambodian border and you can probably tell by the name; there are many islands! The islands lay in the Mekong Delta and most of the islands are uninhabited. As soon as we arrive on the island Don Det we feel we have to stay longer than just one night. The vibes are great, there’s such a laidback atmosphere and there are many fun cafes and restaurants. And look at this sunset, how can you not love this place?!
Dolphins in the Mekong River
Something really cool is there are dolphins in the Mekong River. Dolphins?! Yes, dolphins, and very special ones. The Irrawaddy dolphin is a critically endangered species. Apparently, there are only 92 of them and only three of them live in the Lao Mekong river. The others live in the Cambodian/Vietnamese part of the river. My first thought when jumping on a boat to spot the dolphins: how are we going to find three dolphins? Luckily they are always swimming in the same area so we spot them quite easily. Sadly they didn’t feel like jumping out of the water for us. They have a very funny round head compared to other dolphins. We only see their back and fins. Nevertheless, we’ve seen them!
Our next stop is the Bolaven Plateau. It’s called a plateau because it’s located higher than the other surrounding regions. I knew Northern Laos has many beautiful waterfalls, but now I know Southern Laos has many of them as well. Especially in the Bolaven Plateau area. And the thing I like most about them: you can zip line at some of them! How crazy cool?! I go for it at the Tad Fane waterfall and it’s the highest zip line I have ever done, check this out:
Coffee and tea Plantations
The altitude of the Bolaven Plateau makes for the perfect climate to grow tea and coffee. Laos is a huge coffee country and they export lots of coffee every year. We never visited a coffee plantation before and we are glad we do now! It’s very interesting to learn more about the progress. Especially for Maartje as she’s a hugeee coffee lover.
Pakse and Bangkok
It’s the end of our trip with the group but we decide to stay a couple days longer in Pakse. We really like Laos and the Lao people, they are so friendly. In Pakse we do a bit more exploring, relaxing and working before heading back to Bangkok. It’s funny: we’ve been in Bangkok already many times before but every time we come back we have a whole new list of things to do. We have plans to go to the railway market, floating market, abandoned graveyard and a couple more very special and exciting things. And after just a couple of days, we will leave for Africa and we are super excited about that but also a bit nervous. We will tell you everything about Ethiopia in our next travel journal!