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Southern Laos is often overlooked as eyes are drawn to the splendors of Luang Prabang and the dramatic scenery of the north. Southern Laos offers something different especially if you have a little more time or intend to travel from Laos across into Cambodia, a journey that is now very easy. Pakse is not as packed with old French colonial buildings and glittering temples as other cities but although it's a commercial hub it is a relaxed place to base yourself with a good location, good facilities, a compact and convenient center, and some good restaurants. Champasak is a riverine gem and the southern islands of Si Phan Don have become the favored chill-out zone of a whole new generation of budget travelers. The Bolaven Plateau provides a welcome relief from the heat. Above all the real gem of the south is the ancient Khmer temple complex of Wat Phou, one of a chain of several spectacular architectural relics running north of Angkor itself across Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand.