There are plenty of transport options available from Pakse heading south to Champasak and the 4000 Islands. Most tourists will arrive on the overnight sleeper bus from Vientiane or by flight to Pakse.
If one is arriving from Vientiane by overnight sleeper bus you will find yourself in one of two bus stations depending on which bus company you use. Freedom Pass works with Chitparsong Bus company rather than Kieng Kai or Sengchaleun. Their bus station is near the river and only around a 100m from the centre of town. With this in mind if your final destination is Pakse you will not need to get on one of the tuk tuks waiting at the bus station. If you are arriving on the morning flight from Vientiane with prior arrangement Xplore-Laos can arrange a pick up and transfer to the minivan departing south to the 4000 Islands.
If you are travelling on our southern pass there will be a representative minivan from Xplore-Laos to meet you. From the bus station you will be transferred to the Xplore-Laos office in Pakse where you will have a chance to relax before you continue your departure. For those of you not travelling on the same day. Your onward departure will still be from the Xplore-Laos office in Pakse (just turn up 30 minutes before your scheduled departure). Normal departures south leave by Minivan at 8:00am. There are several possible routes available when heading south.
1). Pakse – Champasak by boat
Departing from the pier at around 8:30am the boat to Champasak has effectively become a tourist boat as with the development of the road locals do not use the river much any more. The distance is around 35km and it takes around 1 hour and a half down stream this all of course depends on the time of year. At the height of the rainy season the time could take under an hour. It is a nice scenic way to get to Champasak. You can spend the day at Wat Phu and then either spend one night in Champasak or even come back in the afternoon by boat or by car to Pakse.
2). Pakse – Champasak by minivan
Departing at 08:00am you will travel with the clients travelling down to the 4000 Islands the distance by road is also around 35km the turn off is at km 30 on the Route 13 and then it is another 4 km to Ban Muang this is the ferry port on the other side of the Mekong river to Champasak. You will need to cross the river by boat to arrive in the town of Champasak. Doing the trip this way you will probably arrive also at around the same time of 09:00 – 09:30am.
For those of you departing from Champasak in the morning the minivan will be waiting at the pier so you will have to cross over the Mekong by yourself and wait where they dropped you off the day before!!. Again with the Freedom Pass all you do is book this sector online! Alternatively tickets from Pakse – Champasak – the 4000 Islands can be bought at the Xplore-Laos office in Pakse.
3). Pakse – Don Khong / Don Det / Don Khone
After a short detour to drop off / pick up clients in Ban Muang your minivan will head directly to Don Khong from Pakse the distance is 128 Km the road is all in good condition and paved. Normal arrival time would be around 10:00 in Hat Xai Khun. Hat Xai Khun is again the ferry port opposite Don Khong and a short 5 minute boat ride will bring you to the largest of the 4000 Islands Don Khong! The turn off from route 13 to the Hat Xai Khun is around 800m.
The next stop is Nakasang this is the ferry point for the boats to Don Det / Don Khone. It is around 20 km from Hat Xai Khun to Nakasang back south along route 13. Once you have made the turn off it is 3km from the turn off to Nakasang. Normally the minivan arrives in Nakasang around 11:00am. The ferry crossing takes around 20 minutes to Don Det and a little longer to Don Khone. The boat service is run by the village and can sometimes get a little unorganized leading to un-necessary delays.
The minivan then waits at the drop off point before returning to Pakse at 12pm arriving back at Pakse at around 14:30 if their are customers departing to Champasak or to be picked up a quick stop will be made to drop of / pick up customers at Ban Muang Pier.