As I arrive at Champasak Palace Hotel another couple leave. They desperately shout down my tuk-tuk and disappear. 11pm. In a city which was asleep hours ago. Where were they going? I am still baffled by this. Anyway… welcome to the Ghost Palace. Under a backdrop of lightning and a deafening chorus of bugs, lizards, frogs and jungle creatures. This was officially the scariest place I’ve stayed. And I love it for it. After check-in I make my own way to the room. In a glass elevator I arrive to the third floor to be greeted by darkness and a little dread. Being ballsy I step out into the maze of pillared halls and numbered rooms, a numbering system I never did manage to grasp. I navigate darkened corridors past sinister shrubs, walls of lizards and giant flying bugs. I circle the floor, circle it again and eventually find my room. I bash through the doors and fall onto complete darkness. With the help of my camera guide light, I flick the light switch, slam the doors shut, lock them, check under bed, hide… Curiousity soon gets the better of me and I go poke around.
Morning at the Palace
I wake to complete contrast the following morning. Opening my decorated window shutters I find unforgettable views of the Mekong River. Impressive. What looked similar to Mordor last night now sat peaceful and serene. I realize now where the extreme noises were coming from. So I do admit it I was a little lucky with the room. Only two rooms on my floor offer these amazing views (323 and 234… you want 323). In contrast the rooms at the Palace front offer views of dusty roads and the manic traffic of Pakse.
My Very Own Palace
For the day I felt like Babar. A Palace of my own. No-one else on my floor and I rarely venture downstairs to where the people are. Staff. Passing them on quick quests for fresh baguettes or a bottle of wine. I was in room 323. Next to me was room 324 which sat empty and silent. I made the most of the situation spending the day lazed on the balcony eating and drinking like a Prince. Cheaper and better than the mediocre views at the city’s popular Le Panorama restaurant. My stay at Champasak Palace already paying for itself.
Did I Mention It’s a Palace?
Champasak Palace was former residence to the Prince of Champasak. Now a 3* hotel. Thankfully the hotel is these days a little run down. If it were pristine I could never afford to stay. It is a palace after all. So on a $30 a night budget it is hard to do better. Spacious rooms with hardwood decor. Affordable on-site facilities. While I did use the restaurant and massage (Vietnamese) I’d recommend getting into the city for these. A quick stroll finds restaurants. Cheap massage found next to Champasak Shopping Centre and night market.
The Palace Comes to Life
On the final night the Palace is all lit up and shiny. I venture downstairs to find the hotel come to life with celebrations at a ground-floor reception hall. It appeared to be a slightly bizarre beauty pageant for Thai hill tribes. Young girls show off traditional dress and dancing. The event presented by a hefty ladyboy wearing a Tiara. Queen of the Palace. Certainly interesting.
Champasak Palace is the Destination
On my stay in Pakse the Champasak Palace Hotel became the destination. The city itself now an afterthought. I was blinded by the views and was always itching to get back and relax in my own palace. Surrounded by birds, lizards and the sound of Mekong beasts. It was a truly unique experience on so many levels. Definitely worth a return visit if I ever make it back. If planning to stay at Champasak Palace Hotel be sure to book in advance (ask for room 323?). Prices are a lot cheaper than walk-in. I booked just hours before arrival. For booking check below.