Despite its myriad attractions, Champasak’s relative isolation has kept it off the beaten track. The province is closer to Phnom Penh than Vientiane, and until a few years ago, getting here required several plane changes or a lengthy overland journey. Backpackers have been trickling in for years, thanks to cheap accommodation and the sleepy pace of life.
Places of note: Champasak’s most important historical site is Vat Phou, a temple complex of Angkor-era ruins which was a major pilgrimage site during the Khmer Empire. For some adventure, explore the Dong Hua Sao National Protected Area’s trekking route. The trail passes through farmland and coffee plantations before reaching the first of a series of steel zip lines suspended across a deep gorge. There are several restaurants to choose from in Champasak, but the Nakorn Cafe and Restaurant and ChampasakWithLove stand out with views of the serene Mekong River, which guests can quietly enjoy over a fine selection of Asian dishes. Spend the night at the Inthira Champasak, where rooms are clustered around a wood-decked courtyard, or at the La Folie Lodge, a French-run property on the nearby Dong Daeng Island.
How to get there: Lao Airlines flies daily between Vientiane and Pakse, from where it is an hour’s drive to Champasak town.
When to go: Visit during the dry season, between November and April.