The sweet aroma of Laos coffee will awaken your senses. When the coffee doesn’t work, the lush green surroundings will do the trick. The sound of the tumbling waterfall waters gives you so much tranquility that you feel you are in heaven. This is the Bolavan plateau, tucked deep in the southern part of Laos.
In spite of its scenic beauty, this place is very sparsely populated and even a lot of tourists give it a miss. But, why? May be, because there is close to zero modes of public transportation to get here. This is a surprising element, but if you somehow manage to bypass it, you will be treated to Laos’s cheapest destination in an already super cheap Laos.
The people here are warm and welcoming. The lifestyle here is very easy going. There are no cities and everything is countryside. Hence, you can always bet on waking to a rooster call in the morning. You need not go to the bathroom here to take a shower as there are so many waterfalls and mountain streams here that you will be spoilt for choice.
There are two ways to explore the Bolavan plateau. One option is to take a 1 to 3 day tour and travel with a group vehicle. The second option is to hire/rent your own car/motorbike. The second option is better if you like to call your shots and dictate where you want to go. Rental agencies are available in Pakse to do the needful. A good motorbike should cost you about 50,000 kip per day. Fuel extras will be additional.
If you do a self managed trip to the Bolavan plateau, you can either do the short or the long loop. The short loop would be Pakse –> Tad Lo –> Thateng –> Paksong –> Pakse and this could last anywhere between 2 to 5 days depending on how many days you wish to spend at Tad Lo and the other places.
The longer loop would be Pakse –> Tad Lo –> Salavan –> Thateng –> Sekong –> Houaykhong –> Paksong –> Pakse. This could take anywhere between 3 to 7 days. Both the loops are equally beautiful and scenic, but if you have time on hand, it is recommended that you try out the longer loop.
The Tad Lo, Tad Fane, Tad Gneung, Tad Luang and more waterfalls are what you will encounter on the way. Each waterfall will scream for special attention and be better than the other ones or at least that is what you will feel as each waterfall is beautiful in its own way. The special thing about these waterfalls is that they carry lots of water even during the height of summer. And this is precisely the reason why the Mekong downstream swells as waters from the Bolavan plateau flow into the Mekong, which then crosses the 4,000 islands and then into Cambodia.
This place is totally worth it so don’t miss it when you visit Laos. It might not have the latest facilities, but has a lot of old world charm, picturesque nature and lovely people. For its price, I would never think twice before returning here for a longer holiday. I am sure you will too once you get a feel for this place.