Sometimes the best days are those completely unforeseen. I did not plan on visiting Pakse or the Bolaven Plateau while I was traveling through Laos but as it were, we ended up here on accident.
My boyfriend and I booked an overnight ‘sleeping bus’ from Vang Vieng to Sannavnkhet and were due to arrive at our destination at 6 am. After a rough, wild, and slightly uncomfortable night in the back of a bus with no windows, we woke up to the Lao bus driver yelling at us to get off the bus as we were at the last stop. Disoriented and barely awake we hopped off the bus and to our surprise we were in the city of Pakse.
I don’t know if you’re familiar with the country of Laos but we over shot Sannavnket by 2 and a half hours! Whoops! Having our full fill of the “bus life” we decided to stay exactly where we ended up. To our surprise, Pakse and the surrounding Bolaven Plateau has lots explore.
If you find yourself here by accident or plan to explore this part of Laos here is what to do, where to stay, where to eat and how to spend 1 full day here.
WHAT TO DO:
First rent a moped: 80,000 KIP for the whole day because I think everyone should experience and explore the Bolaven Plateau this way.
There are many waterfalls clustered together located 45 minutes to an hour outside of Pakse. You follow the only road that leads out of town and you’ll pass through some villages.
Tad Fane is the first waterfall you will visit. Two waterfalls cascading down and the most popular waterfall in Southern Laos and reminds me of a scene straight out of Jurassic Park. I had traveled here during the wet season and so there was a lot of fog on the day that I explored this area but it was still such an epic sight to see.
Tad Yuang is the next waterfall you will visit and was my favorite. In the dry season you can take a dip above the falls or below the falls and there are restaurants and tourist shops that line the parking lot if you’re looking to grab a bite to eat. It cost 25,000 KIP to enter each waterfall.
Keep journeying 20 minutes past Tad Fane and check out a coffee and tea plantation. Koffie’s Coffee tour is a unique, highly informative tour with an overload of information about coffee growing, harvesting, processing and quality of coffee around the world and they teach you how roast coffee. If you’re willing to splurge on a experience gozip lining and drink coffee above a waterfall. Bucketlist Goals thats all I have to say.
If you plan to spend more days exploring the area keep going and head to Tad Lo which is a 10 meter high waterfall on the banks of the Xe Set. Tad Hang is also close by where in the summer you can swim around in the pools that surround this fall. If you are staying in this area there is a long, scenic walk that takes you to all three falls on a well marked trail.
But if you’re only staying 1 day to explore the Bolaven Plateau then once you’ve had your fill of waterfalls head back to Pakse to grab dinner and get ready for another travel day tomorrow.
WHERE TO EAT:
- Salachampa – Connected to Salachampa Hotel, a perfect place to sip a Laobeer and try some Lao dishes.
- Daolin – Serves a variety of pastas, Thai food and offers a lot of vegetarian options. Great price point. Open daily 6:30 am – 9 pm.
- Cafe Em – an outdoor coffee shop using organic, freshly roasted Arabica beans from the Bolaven Plateau. Open daily from 6 am – 7 pm. Located by Tad Lo and Tad Hang.
WHERE TO STAY:
- Chato Hostel – Nice chill out area, kitchen, clean and comfortable beds. Beds start at $6 a night.
- Salachampa Hotel – Located in the center of Pakse, Salachampa Hotel offers simply furnished rooms and the convenience of an on-site restaurant. Includes services like luggage storage and laundry. Rooms start at $20 a night.
- Tad Fane Resort – Located walking distance to the Tad Fane Waterfall. The rooms are basic but you if you’re looking for a retreat in nature this is the spot for you. Every room comes with a balcony and A/C. Prices start at $30 a night.
- Tadlo Lodge – Amazing location on riverside and 5 min walk to Tad Lo waterfall. Prices start at $45 a night.
- Champasak Grand Hotel – Large spacious rooms tastefully decorated and located 15 minutes away from the airport. Spa, fitness center and a large outdoor pool. Prices start at $50 per night.
- Le Jardin Hotel – A quiet but central location. Comfortable beds and an outdoor pool. Prices start at $90 a night.
BEFORE YOU GO:
- VISA – The USA and most European countries need a visa to travel Laos and you can obtain these at the border. The cost of a visa is $30 USD but varies depending on which passport you are holding. Check here to find out how much a visa cost for you.
- PURCHASE World Nomad’s Travel Insurance. I never travel without it as I’m a better safe than sorry type of gal.
- CURRENCY: Laotian KIP is the currency of Laos. 8,000 KIP is about 1 USD. Average daily budget is $40 USD’s and that’s not denying yourself of pleasures.
- Read my 2 Week Laos Itinerary for more Laos inspiration.
Basic Lao Phrases to Help you on your Trip:
Sabaidee (suh-bye-dee) – Hello
Sabaidee Bor? (sui-bye-dee baw) – How are you?
Khop jai (khop Chai) – Thank you
Karlunaa – Please
Doi or Men – Yes
Baw – No
Baw mee – Don’t have
Lakorn (lah-corn) – Goodbye
La karthaodai? – How much is this?
Tham Keo! -Cheers
I loved how I unexpectedly explored this beautiful place by moped! Have you had an experience that wasn’t planned but turned out beautifully? I’d love to hear about them in my comments. And follow me @imjess_traveling to see my adventures as I romp around the globe!