Most of the places to eat are along or nearby Road 13, between the Champasak Palace Hotel and the Se Don River. Everything is within walking distance.
Closer to the river on Road 13 you’ll find two Indian restaurants duking it out for business — the long-time favourite, the Jasmin Restaurant, offers Indian and Malay cuisine and Indian breads at reasonable prices. The upstart Nazim Restaurant has opened up in the Phonesavanh Hotel lobby three doors down, offering a similar menu and slightly lower prices, drawing in a steady custom. The owner came here after his restaurant in Phuket, Thailand was wiped out by the tsunami. Unlike the Jasmin, there’s a bonafide Indian cook here and we found this made a difference — the meat dishes are much better than at Jasmin, though the veggie dishes at the latter are comprable. Both also serve non-Indian breakfasts, and open early to feed the morning bus crowds before they board.
Wedged in between the two Indian rivals is the Lankham Cafe, serving only coffee and drinks — the service is pretty bad, but the coffee is excellent, and it’s a great place to go for an internet connection and an iced mocha. One block closer to the river isLien Huong, a small, friendly little place that has a very limited selection of very authentic Vietnamese food — quick, filling, and tastey — definitely try it out.
Another option often neglected by visitors but worth seeking out is the Korean BBQ, which is always a great way to spend an evening with a small group of people. This one doesn’t have an extensive menu — the barbecue is limited to beef and pork, which comes with a generous helping of veggies and noodles to make soup out of (you’ll see how it works when you get there). The other, non-grilled items on the menu are also tasty, and there’s an interesting selection of frog dishes as well.
There’s plenty of Lao food available at noodle stalls and small restaurants around town, but for a slightly more upscale atmosphere, try the friendly Ketmany Restaurant, which does simple Lao and Thai food and limited western breakfasts. Their Lao espresso will leave you bouncing off the walls all day long and the prices are reasonable.
The restaurant in the Lankham Hotel is popular with locals for a Lao breakfast of pho (Lao-style noodle soup) severed up in a huge steaming ceramic bowl. Prompt service and good, cheap food. There are also three places near the Pakse Hotel where you can try your luck: the Phoutnavanh, Xai Mai and Sedone Restaurants — but don’t expect too much.
The Champady Restaurant near the Souksamlane Hotel offers decent Thai food in a reasonable atmosphere with some good coffee. Surprisingly, the best Lao food in town is actually at the 8-kilometre market (Southern Bus Terminal) — stop in at one of the food staffs and try the koi while you’re waiting for a songtheaw — we found some absolutely superb local food here..
Not to be overlooked are the riverside food stalls and restaurants, at the confluence of the Mekong and Se Kong rivers offering super-fresh BBQ seafood, BeerLao and other cold drinks. This is a great place to watch the sunset and relax. There are a few floating restaurants that seem to cater mainly to tour groups: The best of the lot seems to be Thippha Chanh Restaurant, near the Vannapha Hotel — they have good seating on the top deck and a rather interesting menu — fried pig skeleton!
In terms of nightlife, Pakse rolls up its sidewalks at about 11:00 each night so people can get home from work before the nation-wide curfew descends at midnight-there are a few discos along the river, but they close up at about 11:30 as well. If you like your evenings to continue past the witching hour, it makes sense to pick a guesthouse with a good outdoor seating area, like the Sabaidy 2 or the Sedone River Guesthouse, BYOB and — you know — try to keep it down, people are sleeping!
Delta Coffee – Road 13 (east of Road 24), Pakse. T: (030) 534 5895;(020) 543 0063. firstname.lastname@example.org