After Luang Nam Tha I orginally wanted to go to Phongsali in the far north, but I heard it was difficult to find trekking there as a solo traveler and I did not have the time or the money to wait around for a trek. I resolved to go back to Luang Prabang for a night and then down to Pakse so find trekking there.
To get to Pakse I spent a night in Luang Prabang. (I stayed at Spicy Laos Backpacker Hostel the worst accommodation I have had this trip NOT RECOMMENDED!) Then made the 8 hour overnight bus journey to Vientiane, where I immediately got on a 14 hour local bus to Pakse. It was crowded and there was a moment where I thought I would go crazy, but I had a good book and a fully charged I-pod so it really wasn’t that bad. I arrived in Pakse around 10:00 PM. The cheapest accommodation I could find was 90,000 Kip, the most I have paid so far. The next morning I found a cheaper room and moved immediately. And set out to look for trekking. I knew nothing would come of it until evening so for the day I went to Tad Fane, the tallest waterfall in Southeast Asia. I thought taking local transport would be easier and cheaper so I went by songtheaw at the public bus station. I have never seen so many things and people on one vehicle. At one stop we made we unloaded 18 cases of Beer Lao and 15 people and it was still packed. It took 2 hours for what should have been a 45 minute drive.
When I finally arrived at Tad Fane it was beautiful. Although I was told I couldn’t trek it without a guide and it was too late in the day to hire one since the bus back to Pakse stopped running at 3 PM.
I got back to the main road right at 3 PM and pretty much had to hitch a ride back. The first bus I found was coming from Vientiane to Pakse, they tried to charge me the Vientiane price and I flat out said no and stood by the door until they let me off the bus, so I started to walk until I flagged down a songtheaw and asked “Pakse?” It was a lot less crowded than the first one. There were about 6 ladies and one girl all wearing their long wrap around skirts and hats and masks, like the food vendors at the bus station, the rest of the space was taken up by their empty baskets. It was really funny to see them relaxing after work, they were all chatting and counting their money and what they had left, one of them had a roll of clear tape they were passing around to fix ripped bills they had gotten throughout the day. We only made one stop on the way back to pick up some wood at a lumber yard and then we were back to the terminal where I started that morning. When I was paying the ladies were trying to look in my purse and to their disappointment I only had 20000 I waved goodbye and hopped in a motorbike tuk tuk back to the city center.
Essentially I couldn’t find any trekking in Pakse, and if you can’t trek and don’t want to do a one day tour in a bus to coffee plantations there is nothing to do there. If you hire a motorbike I guess it is a good starting off point for the Bolaven Plateau but other than that Pakse has nothing to offer.
I made a last-minute decision to head north-east to Tad Lo at the top of the Bolaven Plateau. Tad Lo is famous for its waterfalls, villages, relaxed atmosphere, and cheap home stay accommodation.