Borrow a complimentary bicycle for a casual round on the Parkland’s pathways; peddle slowly through our neighboring village to see firsthand the lifestyle of rice farmers and fishermen; then bike to and tour charming and historic Champasak Town, about 3 km from the Resort. A few very hardy and adventuresome guests, not minding the daytime heat, continue onward by bicycle to and return from Wat Phou (8 km each way from Champasak Town).
Guests also may cross the Mekong to nearby Don Daeng Island in mid-morning on the Resort’s Riverboat, bicycles on board; enjoy a relaxing 1 or 2 hour cycle around the Island; and, on order from our Restaurant in advance, end the excursion with cool drinks and perhaps also a light snack on the Riverboat as it returns upriver to the Resort. A similar journey may be made in mid-afternoon.
Charming old Champasak Town was once the residence of the Champasak Kingdom’s royal family. The Town is renowned for its French colonial architecture, including the last King’s Residence and many shop-houses; a teakwood royal residence in traditional Lao style (said to be the best remaining teakwood house in the south of Laos); and many temples, such as Wat Thong, where royal remains are interred.
Guests enjoy a relaxing walk or peddle by bicycle through this very laid back Town in the morning or late afternoon, beginning or ending with a sweet Lao coffee, a Beer Lao or a taste of local cuisine at one of the Riverfront restaurants. The sidewalks are “rolled up” after dark.
Travel from the Resort to Champasak Town (about 3 km) by tuk-tuk or on one of the Resort’s complimentary bicycles.
WAT PHOU - UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE:
The Wat Phou temple complex is one of Southeast Asia’s best examples of early and classic Khmer architecture dating from the 7th to 12th centuries. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001, the temple complex is situated on the terrace of Kao Mountain, from where the beauty of the Champasak countryside, its fields and the Mekong River can be enjoyed. Visitors interested in history and culture will find a very fine museum on the site.
Round-trip travel from the Resort to Wat Phou (about 11 km each way) by tuk tuk or van. A few very hardy and adventuresome guests, not minding the daytime heat, venture by complimentary bicycle from The River Resort to and from Wat Phou.
Starting at The River Resort by boat, guests cross the Mekong to a waiting van for a 45-minute ride to the Elephant Camp in Xe Pian National Conservation Area, a vast expanse of land barely touched by modernity and protected because of its many endangered species of wildlife.
For the elephant journey, one or two guests sit in a wooden chair on the elephant’s back, the mahout astride the elephant’s neck.
The usual trek is to the peak of Mount Phou Asa and takes about two hours round trip. On a clear day, the view of the vast meadowlands below is spectacular and the ruins of an ancient temple on the peak are a window on the history of Lao culture yet to be fully explored by archaeologists.
Alternative journeys by elephant or aboard a dugout canoe are offered through the nearby wetlands (seasonal bird watching in the morning), and guided walks are also available. Advance reservations for all of these adventures are desirable.
4,000 ISLANDS (Si Phan Don):
The Mekong’s 4,000 Islands (Si Phan Don) region lies about 2 hours by van south of The River Resort, close to the Cambodian border. It has unique geology, French colonial-era history and a quiet rural lifestyle, now sometimes adversely affected at night time during High Season by an excess of carousing backpackers. Highlights of a one-day visit include: the Khone Phapheng Waterfalls, the largest in Southeast Asia, with a succession of raging rapids; the highly endangered Irrawaddy Dolphins, viewed by small boat near the Laos-Cambodia border; remnants of French colonial architecture and of an early 20th century narrow-gauge railway, built to allow cargo vessels to circumvent the rapids and waterfalls that abound on this section of the Mekong. Canoeing, kayaking and bicycling are also available.
Guests generally cross the Mekong in the morning on the Resort’s Riverboat, a van waiting on the other side to carry them to the Islands, and transfer there to small inter-island boats; and at the end of the day return to the Resort by van in time for dinner and a good night’s sleep. If guests wish to spend a night in the 4,000 Islands, there are only a few guest houses and hotels that are up to international standard. Bookings should be confirmed in advance.
Alternatively, a pleasant riverine day-trip downriver to the 4,000 Islands (about 4-5 hours), starting very early in the morning, can be made by local longboat from the Resort’s private dock; and at the end of the day returning to the Resort by van. However, if guests are not traveling in a group of 6 or more who will share the cost of the longboat, it may be a very expensive journey. To avoid surprise, it is best for guests to confirm the price in advance with our Front Desk Manager, who will speak with the Operator of the longboat to ascertain availability and the current rate.
Rising over 1,500 m. above sea level, the rich volcanic soils and cool climate of the Bolaven Plateau produce some of the world’s finest Arabica coffees. It was here that French colonials started coffee plantations towards the end of the 19th century. These days there are many coffee cooperatives throughout the Plateau. Guests may enjoy visiting a coffee plantation to learn about the plantation and production process, from the nursery to fields of coffee bushes, picking, cleaning and sorting the ripe beans, and roasting.
The Bolaven Plateau abounds in beautiful waterfalls, such as Tad Fane and Tad Yeung. Depending on the weather, and with good walking shoes, it is possible to hike with a guide between some of them.
Travel to and from the Bolaven Plateau is by van, and may be done as a half-day or whole-day outing from the Resort, perhaps stopping for a tasty lunch at one of the waterfalls and for sightseeing and shopping in Pakse Town on the way back to the Resort.
Pakse Golf Course, about one hour from the Resort by van, has a pleasing 18-hole course and, for guests traveling without golf clubs, offers reasonably priced daily packages, including green fees, clubs, golf cart, caddy fee and golf shoes.