Pakse is the capital of Champasak province in Laos. Pakse (pop. 70,000) is one of the biggest towns in Laos and a major transportation hub for southern Laos. If you plan to go to the Bolaven Plateau or Si Phan Don you will probably have to spend some time here.
Bangkok Airways offer direct flights from Bangkok, Thailand.
Tuk-Tuks and Motos will carry you to the town for US$1-3.
There is a regualar slow-boat service to Si Phan Don. Departure is around 8AM but check the day before. The boat landing is near the mouth of the Xe Don river.
Pakse has two bus stations for public transport. One serving traffic to north and one to south. Station serving to north is located a couple of kilometers north of city centre. Station serving to south is located 8 kilometers to south. Getting to right station with tuktuk is easy if you just tell the driver which place you are heading. Public transport is naturally cheaper than "VIP" buses.
"VIP" buses from/to Vientiane operate from near the Champasak shopping centre in the town centre. The journey takes about 10 hours and should cost around (March 2008)150.000 /170.000 Kip depending on whether you buy the ticket in the bus station or at tour agencies.
"VIP" buses from/to Thailand via the Chong Mek border crossing take about 2 hours and charge US$5 (200 baht)
This is a small town so walk around. Otherwise there are enough tuk tuks around. A trip to the market will cost around 5000 kip and US$1 to the bus station.
It's possible to organize a day-trip to Wat Phu near Champasak, where you can also stay easily.
Rent a motorbike and head east towards Pak Song (Paxxong). The ride is pretty, and there are heaps of waterfalls to stop by near Pak Song. The Champasak Provincial Tourism Department puts out a nice few nice brochures including one on the Bolaven Plateau that details these including Tad Fane, Tad Champee, Tad Ueang, and Tad Pha Suam. Admission tends to be the same at every place, 5000 K per person, 3000 for the bike.
One waterfall not mentioned is Tad Sae which is located off of Route 13 at a fairly large t-junction with a bunch of fruit sellers lining the road. Not as large as some of the others it nonetheless offers a beautiful place to stop and eat or hang out for a while. (Note that if you search for Tad Sae on the internet you will be directed to the one near Luang Prabang which is *not* the same one here.)
These are several internet cafes on the corner near Nazim's Indian restaurant that charge around 6000k/h. The smart new 'Tour Lao' Cafe on the southern end of the market plaza has WiFi too.
As in Vientiane there is also a proper bowling alley located in town. About 15-20 min walk away from the center or a short tuk-tuk ride away head down the main road and turn right towards the big white building in the distance. It is not far away from the river so if you are over there already you can walk along there to find it. Be warned though that if you want a ride home you should negotiate a tuk-tuk to stay since you won't find many patrolling there especially later in the evening.
The restaurants are concentrated on the main street between the roundabout and the French bridge. The variety is quite diverse for the size of the town. For a more genuine Lao eating experience have a look in the streets south of the main one.
Most hotels and guesthouses in Pakse can be found along the main street between the French bridge and the roundabout or a short way into its sidestreets.