If Laos is the least explored corner of Indochina, then Southern Laos is the least explored corner of the least explored corner. The status quo probably won't last, but at present the situation is nigh on perfect - a crowd free and authentic experience in beautiful surroundings but with a couple of lovely boutique hotels in which to rest weary limbs.
Pakse, sitting on the banks of the by now vast Mekong River, is the gateway city into a region characterised by lush green mountain ranges, vividly green paddy fields and literally thousands of riverine islands.
Particular highlights include the dramatic Khon pha pheng waterfalls, the largest in Indochina, and exploring the 4,000 or so islands in the mighty Mekong. A long tail boat trip along the river is the perfect way to see remote villages and paddy fields as well as - if you are lucky - rare Irrawaddy dolphins.
The beautiful ruins of Wat Phu Temple, which pre-dates Angkor Wat, are also a fascinating day trip, and an ideal warm up to Angkor itself. Finally, there's always the option of lounging by the hotel pool or exploring the surroundings by bicycle.