Unlike the mountainous north, southern Laos is flat and fertile land with verdant landscapes and tropical palms. Small villages with their own distinctive customs dot the region with Pakse being the only major town. Pakse sits on the confluence of the Mekong and Don rivers and is blessed with a laid back lethargy yet boasts the largest market in the country, famous for its coffee. A number of temples in town are worth visiting, including the Big Buddha temple with views over Pakse and the river. The town also serves as the base for trips to the Bolaven Plateau, known for its diverse and intriguing minority villages, as well as its dramatic waterfalls and plantations, and for trips to Si Phan Don or ‘The 4,000 Islands’, a riverine archipelago of idyllic islands.