Things to Do in Champasak Province
Bolaven Plateau
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Geologic Formations • Waterfalls
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.

4.0
93 reviews
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39
Very good
40
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8
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James V
Vientiane, Laos5 contributions
Family
I am an Aussie who lives on the Bolaven Plateau, on the outskirts of Paksong. My wife and I started buying land here about 5 years ago because the entire area reminded me very much of some of my favourite places in Australia - Atherton Tablelands, D'Aguilar Range, Mt Tambourine & Springbook. The rolling green hills, patches of near-virgin jungle, crystal clear streams, tumbling waterfalls, fabulous climate and clean air are the big attractions to living on the Bolaven Plateau.

The Paksong area has an elevation of around 1200m ASL, which is high enough to be above the ubiquitous SE Asian dust, smoke and haze layer that characterises the region in the dry season. As such, it is one of the few places in Laos where you'll see blue skies during the day and brilliant starry nights. This elevation also makes it about 10 degrees cooler than the rest of Laos. During winter (Dec-Feb) the nights may be as cool as 2-3 degrees and the days are generally about 24-25 degrees. Summer is also fairly mild with temperatures from 16 to 30 degrees. The monsoon season "build up" (April - May) can be hot and humid but nowhere near as unbearable as down on the Mekong floodplain in Pakse, Savannakhet, Thakek and Vientiane.

Over the past 2-3 years, tourist numbers have steadily risen on the Plateau and we now see a steady stream of tourists over most of the year. The best time to visit the Plateau is around early November to late December (but be prepared for cool evening and mornings); at this time of year, the monsoon has finished but the rivers, creeks and waterfalls are still flowing really well, and the countryside is still very lush. By about late January, the dry season has taken hold; the scenery is not so picturesque and the roads are very dusty. The early part of the rain season (up to about June) is also OK to visit but I strongly recommend NOT visiting the area during the monsoon unless you plan to stick to the highways. You don't want to get bogged on a dirt road (often thigh deep in sloppy mud) because it is not in the local people's temperament to help a foreigner who is in trouble. I find that the rain season is the most oppressive time of the year with everything constantly wet and muddy, leeches abundant, our clothes, boots, books and even the raincoats going mouldy!

My wife and I are hoping to eventually set up something a little different than the average Lao guesthouse: hospitable, modern, self contained accommodation with clean sheets, comfortable mattress & pillows, plenty of hot water (and good pressure), modern appliances, etc. Paksong desperately needs something like this! Stay tuned...
Written October 20, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

megaworldasia360
Phuket, Thailand486 contributions
Couples
TAD FANE (WATERFALL): BOLAVEN PLATEAU:

The Tad Fane area, which also comprises the nearby Tad Champee and Tad Yuang falls, is at the Km 38 marker on Highway # 16. From the fruit market (approx. 9 kilometres East of Pakse on Hwy 16) simply go straight and you will begin a gradual but perceptible rise up towards the top of the Bolaven Plateau. As mentioned, coffee growing is a major industry on the plateau and as you make your way on towards Tad Fane it’s quite amazing to see acre after acre of neat rows of coffee trees along each side of the road. Eventually you’ll come to the Km 38 marker and the small locality of Tad Fane. The turn off to the waterfall and resort is to the right and is marked by a large picture of the Tad Fane falls. A dirt road, approx. 800 meters in length will take you directly to the secure parking area. Pay 8000 Kip (approx. USD 1) to the parking area attendant at the checkpoint and walk down to the restaurant and viewing point for the falls.
The best view point for the falls is a few meters below the restaurant. There is a cement pathway with solid hand rails which takes you down to a well-placed viewing platform. Alternatively take a Lao coffee, or some lunch, and enjoy the great view out across the canyon to the falls. The restaurant is part of the Tad Fane Resort and even though it’s a picturesque setting Tad Fane waterfall definitely is not the best waterfall attraction in the area. Its drop is impressive but the fact you can't actually trek down to the bottom of the falls makes it a bit ho hum in comparison to the other falls nearby. If you want to swim then Tad Champee, back across the road, and Tad Yuang, just up the road at Km 40 marker, are much better options. If you're in the mood for a bit of trekking, for USD 10 the half Vietnamese guy named Alex, who runs the restaurant at Tad Fane resort, will take you on a trek across to the head of the Falls, then up through the jungle and across to Tad Yuang. After a swim at Tad Yuang the hike back to the starting point, the Tad Fane Resort, is through a maze of coffee plantations where Alex will take some time to point out and explain the different types of coffee which are being grown in the area. The round trip takes approx. 4 hours. Take good footwear, insect repellent and a litre of drinking water. There is a tough hill climb getting over to Tad Yuang so a good level of fitness is advised.

TAD CHAMPEE (WATERFALL): BOLAVEN PLATEAU

Tad Fane is great as a lunch spot while you get some impressive shots but if you want to go for a swim then the best two options are Tad Champee and Tad Yuang. Tad Champee is probably the easier of the two to get to as the walk down to the falls from the parking area is reasonably sedate compared with Tad Yuang. The road down to Tad Champee is on Highway # 16 and directly opposite the track down to Tad Fane. The 2 km road is actually more of a pot holed dirt track so care should be taken with regards to the speed you travel on your motorbike. Park your bike at the small restaurant, pay the 8000 Kip and walk down to the falls. Due to the thick stand of trees surrounding Tad Champee there is a shadow across the swimming hole until midday. For this reason most of the sightseers don’t get down there until after lunch. If you’re not worried about the water being a bit cold then get there at 10 – 11 am to avoid the crowds of tour groups which come up from Pakse for the day. I got there at around 10 am and was the only one there for nearly an hour. The trail from the parking area descends gradually down to the river’s edge and you then need to cross the stream on a boarded walkway to get to the edge of the swimming hole. At 11 am the sun’s rays will still light up the seating area on the far side of the swimming hole so if you’re concerned about the water being a bit cold in the shadow, strip off and get a tan until it gets higher and the shadow disappears. A nice feature of Tad Champee and one worth spending a few minutes to check out is the cavern, or overhang, behind the curtain of water. There’s a small trail around the left side of the swimming hole which will take you to the cavern/overhang. Use good footwear and take your time negotiating the slippery rocks as you work your way in behind the curtain of water.

TAD YUANG (WATERFALL): BOLAVEN PLATEAU

Tad Yuang, which is 2 km further on from Tad Fane, is perhaps the pick of the three waterfalls in this area. It is the most picturesque and has an easily accessible swimming hole at the bottom of a steep stairway from the restaurant/viewing area above. If you are coming from Pakse the turn off is on the right, at the km 40 marker, on Highway # 16. Follow the 800 meter dirt track down to the parking area and checkpoint, pay your 8000 Kip and then walk a further 200 – 300 meters to the head of the falls. The area is well set up with toilets, showers and a large open style restaurant which looks out over a picturesque stream coursed landscape at the top of the falls. Beyond the restaurant a wide stairway will take you down to the lower level viewing area. At the far corner is a steep stone and cement stairway leading all the way down to the swimming hole at the foot of the falls. Take care with the climb down and make use of the handrails provided at all times. Some of the stone steps are broken and at the lower half of the descent the track is wet and slippery in places. The falls and the swimming hole is an idyllic spot and the opportunity for an invigorating swim should not be missed, even though water is a bit on the chilly side. Once you arrive at the bottom there is a trail around the left side of the swimming hole which will take you all the way to the foot of the falls. Use good footwear and use due care when working your way around as the lava terrain is jagged and quite slippery in places. Be sure of your footing and hand holds otherwise a tumble into the swimming hole is highly likely.
Written May 20, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

copikat
Edmonton, Canada35 contributions
Couples
The Bolaven Plateau was a little disappointing for us. Especially compared to some of the beautiful Laos landscapes in Nong Khiaw, Vang Vieng, and around Tha Khek, the plateau was quite boring. Essentially it's a lot of agricultural land with views of nothing but the occasional small hill. There are some ok waterfalls (though we missed Tad Fan as it was clouded over when we were there). The coffee and tea plantations were quite small. I think the tea we saw was only planted for tourists sake, as there were a few small bushes, barely enough to make a cup of tea. Compared to a real tea plantation this was a huge let down.
We made our way around the small loop to Tad Lo as well and weren't much more impressed. The falls were ok, nothing special.
The villages you can visit along the way were not for us at all. But that's more because village visits really aren't our thing in general.
The best thing we found was the Pha Saum falls, which were quite pretty. Apparently they can be overrun by Thai tour groups but we were there almost by ourselves on a Friday afternoon.
Honestly,if you need to break up a bus ride in Pakse and have some time to kill and don't mind spending money then it's an ok thing to do. Otherwise I wouldn't bother.
We had originally planned to spen a night or two in Tad Lo or Paksong but after seeing them and the sights on offer I am glad we didn't.
Written September 16, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

John D
Yangon (Rangoon), Myanmar11 contributions
Couples
My girlfriend and I recently took a trip to Southern Laos. Overall we were not highly impressed with Laos, so take this review with a grain of salt if you're loving your trip. We visited during Songkram (Water Festival) and I think that this has a lot to do with the negative experience. The people of the Bolaven region had very limited English ability, but they also did not try very hard to communicate. It seemed to me like they kind of disliked the tourism in the region, and from what I read this may have something to do with with how tourism only affects 1/11 people in a positive way in Laos. During our trip on the Bolaven we rented a motorcycle and did a three day exploration. We visited many waterfalls and each of them were very very crowded and all required you to pay some fee for parking. Also during the drive it was impossible to stay dry due to kids whipping buckets of water or guns at you while you drive. At first this is a lot of fun and helps cool you down during the hot day, but after a while it gets very old. At one point I was driving through Tad Lo and a kid shot me directly in the eyes, which is never a good place to be hit while riding a motorcycle. Once again this is a lot to do with it being Water Festival, but I felt like people were incredibly rude and disrespectful. Tad Lo was also a giant tourist trap, not an impressive waterfall or swimming spot, and inundated with backpackers staying at low quality guest houses. We did really enjoy E Tu Waterfall resort. It was a great value resort with private bungalows, restaurant, and walkway to coffee plantation and E Tu Waterfall. This is one of the prettiest waterfalls I've seen in my life. Also Tad Champee was very nice, but crowded with Laos Water Festival celebrations. To sum up, we did not have a great experience. We felt people in Laos were rude and unwelcoming, but it may have had a lot to do with it being Water Festival. Although we did like some of the waterfalls along the Bolaven (small loop) we felt it was highly overrated. If you go, definitely check out E Tu Resort, and Tad Champee. Also don't bother with Tad Lo, it's a backpacker tourist trap. Hope you have a better trip then we did in Laos. As always remember that this is only my opinion and it is best for you to go travel and make your own opinions as well.
Written April 21, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

valueformoney71
Thalwil, Switzerland149 contributions
Couples
We did the 2 day loop by motorbike. It's not mind blowing, but a ice experience. Make atops at Mr. offee, sleep at Tad Lo (Fandee is nice), take a village tour the morning of the second dayand learn a out animists. The waterfalls are nice, depending on what you've alread seen in your live. All in all a good thing,but we found 2 days are enough.
Written April 5, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

smatt000
Melbourne, Australia39 contributions
Couples
We did the 1 day tour from Pakse, organised through one of the many tour operators on the main road. USD 15 per person covered the vehicle, English speaking driver and water.
The waterfalls were probably the only stops worth the visit , but nothing totally spectacular. Otherwise the tea and coffee plantation was terrible - our "guide" just pointed at the tea area and said "that's where we make the tea" and that was the extent of information given to us. The weaving stop was literally just a shop...No actual weaving going on. The village stop was just a village on the side of the road. Our guide showed us some ladies peeling tamarind...That's it.
I wouldn't do that tour again. I would hire a motorbike and stop off at the places I want to see.
Written February 18, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Stefano M
Penang Island, Malaysia228 contributions
Couples
A huge plateau, average height about 1000 mts, between the Mekong and Sekong river valleys. Very rainy, part jungle and part plantations (cofee, vegetables, durian, other fruit). Lots of opportunities of buying excellent fruit from stalls along the roads. The only paved road across the plateau is Pakse-Paksong-Tha Theng - Sekong/Salavane. The Paksong - Sekong/Attapeu road connection is spectacular but impassable during the rains; same for the Southern road Attapeu - Pakse. Don't miss what I think are the best falls in Laos: Tad Fane, 5 kms W of Paksong. There is a nice hotel with bungalows on the edge of the chasm (choose room 7a or 7b), with WiFi. Hope the clouds are not too low in the rain season.
Written July 25, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Peter Mueller
Sitiawan, Malaysia1,515 contributions
Friends
Experience this Agricultural Plateau. There are so many different things to do ...
Visit the Bolaven Plateau Coffee Producers Cooperative. ... A MUST . . Champel Coffee Arabica + Robusta and the nice Highland Tea. Organic & Fairtrade certified coffees - higher quality with specs for export loads. Stay a while have a great Arabica with some Snacks.
Written December 20, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Liloo J
Ngwe Saung, Myanmar57 contributions
Couples
We enjoyed a 4 days tour on our own in this rural, green and still wild area. The air is cool there and it's a great opportunity to meet "real" Laos life. We had stops in several villages, eating in market foodstalls. Authentic and tasty experience. The different waterfalls are really nice. We just regret our stops in tribal villages and felt like in a human zoo.
Written October 12, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

RachelH350
Halifax, UK67 contributions
Couples
The waterfalls at Tad Fane are spectacular and the walk to them is very worthwhile as you can swim at the top of the 225m fall, 5 metres from the drop!!!! The resort at Tad Fane is in need of a lot of TLC even by Laos standards.
Written December 1, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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