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Champassak

Introduction
The province of Champassak is home to one of Asia's great, but least visited temples, Wat Phu. Pakse, the capital is situated at the confluence of the Se River and the Mekong (Pakse means 'mouth of the Se') and is a busy trading town. The province also encompasses much of the Bolaven Plateau, home to a number of ethnic minorities. To the south is Si Pan Don (four thousand islands), where the Mekong reaches up to 14km wide during the rainy season and the Khone Phapeng Falls.

Pakse has a number of comfortable places to stay and is a good base from which to explore the surrounding area. The town has one of the largest markets in the region. Within Pakse is the Champassak Museum where you can see relics from Wat Phu as well as from the Bolaven Plateau.

Places of interest

Wat Phu
Wat Phu (mountain temple) dates back to the 5th century. The original temple was built by Khmer Hindus at the top of a hill at the site of a fresh water spring. The peak of the hill is said to resemble a Shiva lingum. The exact history of Wat Phu is unclear, but it was certainly the site of a temple of the Khmer empire that eventually made Angkor Wat its capital. The temple is stunning and very remote, with superb views of the Mekong valley. At the top of the temple site are a number of carved rocks, resembling a crocodile, a naga and an elephant. It is believed that these rocks were used for human sacrifice.
The most pleasant way to get to the temple complex from Pakse is by chartering a boat down the Mekong. The journey to the town of Champassak takes about one and a half hours. From Champassak, a tuk tuk can be taken to the temple, about 8km away.

Bolaven Plateau
Situated on the north east of Champassak province, the plateau covers parts of Salavan, Attapeu and Sekong provinces although there are more options for tourists visiting the plateau in Pakse.

The plateau is fertile farmland specializing in coffee, tea, cardamom and fruit. The plateau houses a dozen mainly animist ethnic minorities, including Laven, Alak, Katou, Ta-Oy, Houne, Ngai and Suk communities. Accommodation on the plateau is limited, but Tad Lo waterfalls have a number of bungalows where you can enjoy trekking and elephant rides.