Cycling from Pakse to Wat Phu, Champasak
Pakse offers several opportunities for bicycle adventurers, such as the Pakse Waterfalls roundtrip, or heading south on the fantastic gateway to 4000 Islands, Don Det and Northern Cambodia.
Champasak is located 35 km south from Pakse, on an easy flat road that follows the Mekong River. It’s a small, lovely and well maintained village on the western side of the Mekong. Champasak has a wide variety of hotels, guesthouses and restaurants, the majority of which face the Mekong River and offer beautiful sunset vistas! (as you can see in the video)
Wat Phu (Vat Phou):
“Temple-mountain” is a ruined Khmer Hindu temple complex. It’s located at the base of mount Phu Kao, about 10 kilometers from the center of Champasak.
The temple has a unique structure, in which the elements lead to a shrine where a ‘lingam’ dedicated to Lord Shiva was bathed in water from a mountain spring. The site later became a center of Thevada Buddhist worship. It remains so today.
These days, the site is open to the public for both religious and touristic visits.
Opening hours are 8:00 am – 6:00 pm, and the entrance fee is 50.000 LAK (about 5 Euros).
The site also features a museum which houses temple artifacts dating back several centuries, such as statues of Shiva, Vishnu and Nandin, as well as Buddhist statues.
The building of the museum has been limited to a specific size in order to minimize the impact on the underground site and the views.
From Champasak to 4,000 Islands:
If you’re riding from the north, your next stop will be 4.000 Islands. The main pier to Don Det and Don Khon is Nakasong pier, which offers passes to the islands.
The main road to 4,000 Islands:
The main road that connects Campasack and Nakasong follows the eastern side of the Mekong River, as you can see on the map.
How to cross the Mekong in Champasak:
In Champasak there’s a small pier on the northern side with a boat service that crosses the Mekong.
It’s possible to ride south on the western side of the Mekong:
If you’re looking for the authentic experience of riding and photographing the rural and more ‘untouched’ side of the Mekong, get yourself over to the western banks!
- The first way is to pass Don Talet and Sukhuma if you can find them on the map… This is a good new road far from the Mekong River through the countryside. The river crossing is easily 100-120 km. from Champasak (north) and 52 km. from Nakasong (south).
- The second way is my favorite!! Throw away the map, switch off the smartphone and follow the ‘Wild Trails’ along the Mekong River …
I’ve done it few times, and it’s amazing!!
Things are changing quickly on the western side of the river though, so I’m sorry to say my advice may be outdated. There aren’t any hotels or restaurants on this ride, so you’ll be on your own.
We usually buy rice and some dry food in Champasak, enough to ride south for a couple of days. There are plenty of villages on the way but it’s impossible to plan where to get some food. The best way to enjoy this journey is to ask for a Homestay.