Pakse, while not a top destination in itself, it is the second largest city in Laos and a central transportation hub with an international airport, bus connections and easy access to Wat Phu, the Bolaven Plateau and Si Phan Don, the 4000 Island region. It’s a working city with decent hotel options and restaurants as well as a thriving wet market.
We stayed in Pakse three separate nights between overnight excursions to the more scenic spots in the region. If you want a more upscale experience you could also use the River Resort in Champasak as a base for exploring the area.
This small colonial style residence turned into a hotel has an old world charm and efficient staff. Madame Sisombat may be a little solemn on the outside but she runs a quality operation. Things work here. The food is good and the services you ask for are done. We requested a private driver to Don Det, which was arranged for us when we returned from the Bolaven Plateau, and the dirty laundry we had left before our departure was clean and waiting for us upon our return.
We upgraded to the superior room, a reasonably spacious room with a smallish bathroom. There is a safe in the room and the usual amenities. The Wifi works well. The room is a bit worn but retains a certain charm and elegance. My only complaint, and this is a big issue for me, is the bed is not comfortable. It’s a very firm mattress with a prominent ridge in the middle – two mattresses made into a large king bed. Generally I like firm mattress but not this one. I’m not sure exactly why. Maybe it is too firm.
The breakfast is served individually starting with coffee or tea, juice, cut fruit, yogurt, a bread basket, this morning including flakey croissants – a real treat – and a good quality raspberry jam. The cooked breakfast is made to order with a choice of eggs. All in all very well done.
Dinner at Sisouk, 5th Floor Restaurant
We started at the 6-7PM happy hour at the hotel’s upstairs bar and lounge. A pleasant room decorated in dark woods with windows that open to the cool evening air. The gin and tonics were good, nothing in this country is very strong. During cocktails we discovered that you can also order dinner here.
Despite a limited menu of mostly Asian and a few Western offerings there is enough of a selection to satisfy most tastes.
We started with the fried spring rolls, Vietnamese style small rolls served fresh hot with a sweet spicy dipping sauce, a great start.
For mains we ordered the chicken in mustard sauce, meaty morsels of chicken breast in a sauce that had a mild mustard flavor. It looked more Asian than a classic French mustard sauce but it was well prepared and made to order.
The pork spareribs were small tasty bites, mostly with bones as expected.
The menu listed no vegetables side dishes so we asked what they had. They brought us a bright medley of broccoli, cauliflower, snow peas and carrots, again well cooked and made to order. All in all we were very happy. Others have complained that their prices are too high compared to other restaurants, which could be, but the quality was quite good for what we ordered.
Second Dinner at Sisouk
Very different from our first experience where we were the only patrons dining, on our second visit there was excitement and nervous tension in the air as the staff was expecting a group of diplomats that evening. Both the hotel and restaurant were full.
The dining room was spotless, not a cobweb or speck of dust to be found. The windows sparkled. One of servers rubs out a last smudge on the otherwise perfect window pane. We sat and watched their final preparation as we sipped our happy hour gin and tonics. Great 2 for 1 deal.
We stayed for dinner, starting with the fried eggrolls and the duck breast and steak for our mains. Both ordered medium rare. The duck was a tad overdone but the steak was perfect. Served with a green salad and fried potatoes, everything was well prepared.
Lunch at Daolin
On a busy street the open air terrace is made comfortable with fast running fans. We ordered the spaghetti Bolognaise, fine but ordinary, and a seafood salad with glass noodles and sweet plump shrimp. The excellent spicy dish, however, didn’t have many glass noodles and would be better ordered as a light meal or with something else.
Dinner at Le Panorama
The hotel top terrace has a great open air setting with sunset views. Their happy hour, however, is rather lame as it doesn’t include gin and tonics, but if you prefer beer you can get 2 for 1.
The menu offers a wide selection of Asian and Western dishes. We started with the fried tiny Mekong fish. Truly tiny and crispy, a real treat. Feeling like Western fare this evening we tried the spaghetti bolognaise, good but not great as it was prepared with too much onion. It was, however, cooked to order and served fresh hot. The anchovy pizza was also pretty good for Laos, quite salty with lots of anchovy.
Early November, 2018
For links to all the posts in this series see the Laos/Cambodia page.